Author Archives: Shannon

Why Do You Wake Up at the Same Time?

“I always wake up at 2:46 am, what does this mean?”

I cannot tell you how many times I have seen  countless variants of this question. As a long time paranormal researcher and educator it is my obligation to let you know that it does not mean that the ghost cat of your long dead Aunt Miranda is trying to let you know she is being held captive by a demon. It also probably does not mean you’re “gifted” and getting messages from the other side. It doesn’t have anything to do with being around the purported “witching hour”. Unless you are being yanked out of bed at that time and dragged down the hall by your hair or you have a garbage truck beep beeping outside your house at that time every day, it more than likely means your body is trying to tell you something.

Pop culture has gone a long way in influencing the way we see things related to the paranormal. More than 300 years ago people were hung, burned, compressed, and all sorts of nasty ugly things for even a hint that a person might be “gifted”. In the 1800’s spiritualism gained momentum and the pop culture of the time made it “cool” to visit mediums and go to séances. Somewhere in the 1900’s paranormal phenomena became taboo again, no one wanted to admit their house might be haunted and people scoffed at mediums. Now we are in the 2000’s, inundated with paranormal entertainment, and once again it has become “cool”. Mediums and “gifted” people are coming out of the woodwork. I can think of at least 4 shows on tv right now dedicated to mediums and that doesn’t even include the ghost shows that feature them as part of their investigations.

Now, before you try to burn ME at the stake, don’t get me wrong. I do believe ghosts and in mediumship. By very definition it means someone that communicates with the dead, and isn’t that what we as paranormal investigators do? Yes, some of us have an elevated level of that gift and can communicate in ways other than through question and answer sessions using voice recorders and spirit boxes, and we take that ability very seriously because quite frankly it can be an awesome and VERY scary experience at the same time.

I digress though. When we do a client interview, a large part of it is dedicated to medical questions. No, we are not being nosy. We do it because those of us that care about our clients do everything in our power to find the normal explanation first, and SO many things can be attributed physiology. The effect of our environment and medical conditions on our body can be amazing if you take the time to seriously look into it.

Adrenal glands are a good example, and one that speaks to the “waking up at the same time every night” problem. Cortisol, produced by the adrenal gland, is normally highest in the morning (6-8am) and then slowly lowers itself throughout the day until it is at its lowest around 11pm – midnight, allowing your body to prepare for sleep. SO many things can affect this, among them, stress, too many carbs during the day, diabetes, and EMF exposure.

EMF is most often talked about as “proof” of ghostly activity, but EMF affects people in ways that is really not talked about enough and it’s a real presence in each and every home in the world that has electricity. Even short term exposure to EMF can cause you to think you’re seeing/hearing ghosts (i.e. hallucinate) and being followed (i.e. paranoia). Long term exposure is even worse on your body. How many people have you heard say, every time I lay down at night I see faces, hear sounds, get sick to my stomach, feel scared etc? When we have a client that says that, the very first thing we do is an EMF reading on what is right there beside their bed, and how far out it radiates if we do get a reading. We have seen your normal big box store alarm clocks give off readings as high as 60 at the clock and radiate out to around 30 around the clients pillow. This IS going to affect how you sleep, it is also quite possibly going to affect your long term health. Studies now are linking long term EMF exposure to cushings syndrome and other adrenal problems including tumors. Fixing this is simple, move the alarm clock to where you are not sleeping in the radius of EMF output (or get a clock that does not need to be plugged in).

That is just one example of something that can cause you to wake up at the same time every night. There is something called the Chinese Medicine Meridian clock (TCM). You can look at this clock, find your “time” and see which organ relates to that time. Phooey you say? Let me give you an example.

I have a specific time I wake up every single night. My time falls between the liver and lung time. It is well known I have ongoing lung issues, but even without that, I am diabetic. Something is tripping my sleep-wake cycle that needs to be corrected, most likely a spike in my cortisol and adrenaline levels and that something is a drop my blood sugar. Your body increases epinephrine levels when your blood sugar drops too low so it can pull glucose (sugar) from glycogen (stored sugar) from your…wait for it…..LIVER. Your body will increase cortisol to break down valuable anabolic amino acids from protein to convert into glucose to elevate your blood sugar. That surge in either stress hormone will wake me up.

I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2008 and not long after I started waking up at the exact same time every night. A few months later we acquired a cat and he would wake me up at the same time I had been waking up on my own every single night (and 10 years later he still does it). I talked to my doctor about this and she let me know right quick that my sugar was low and that believe it or not my cat could tell this and was waking me up to alert me I needed to do something about it. This directly correlates to the TCM.

As you can see, there is a myriad of reasons you’re “waking up at the same time”. Take a look at the clock, find your time and see which organ falls into that time frame and then do some due diligence research of your own and you might just find that your “demon” is your body trying to tell you something.

The 12 at the top of the clock is PM and the 12 at the bottom is AM. So 3 PM is bladder and 3 AM is lungs

Pearl Bryan 1874-1896


Where is Pearl’s Head?

The last decade of the 1800s was a murderous one. Bloody Victorian crimes were making sensational headlines and adding to the coffers of newspaper owners. In 1896, coming off the heels of the Borden murders and H.H. Holmes, a murder occurred that encompassed 3 states and just about every newspaper in the nation carried the saga, some of it bordering on tabloidism just so they could have something in print. Along with the “normal” murder case betrayal and lies, it included unrequited love, chemistry, conspiracy for a criminal operation, feticide, mobs making a mad dash to collect muderabilia, monies made from crime scene touring, a fetus in a peppermint stick jar, and a manhunt for a head. The 21st century sees people adding even more fantastical details that keep what was once deemed the “crime of the century” in the headlines and keep it a money making business.

There is no way of knowing how many thousands of people have paid to investigate Bobby Mackey’s Music World in Wilder, KY; and there is no way of knowing how many of those people did their own research before going instead of listening to the urban legends that are told in books and tv shows about the location. A lot of money has been made since a book published in 2001 made the first untrue claim that it had been a place of satanic worship in the 1800s. The snowball effect had been started and it gets bigger every day. Patrons and paranormal investigators have had lies that line the pockets of “parastars”, book publishers, and tv producers shoved down their throats for decades; and it makes me wonder why the majority people seem to care so little for the truth of what actually happened.

The basic story told today regarding the Pearl Bryan murder goes something like this: Pearl Bryan was pregnant with Scott Jackson’s baby. She wanted to get married and he tricked her into coming to Cincinnati from Greencastle, IN. When she arrived, he and Alonzo Walling murdered her and because they were members of a satanic cult, they beheaded her and threw her head down a well located in the basement of an abandoned slaughterhouse as a blood sacrifice. Bloodhounds used in other famous cases were brought in and they tracked Pearl’s scent to the same slaughterhouse. Refusing to tell anyone what had really happened, they stood on the scaffold the day they were hung and threatened to come back and haunt everyone.

Would you like to take a guess how much of the above is true? Four things. If I have peaked your interest, be sure to pick up a copy of “Paranormal Fakelore, Nevermore: The Real Histories of Haunted Locations”   to learn the real history behind this haunting case.



















Lavinia Fisher 1793-1820

Old Charleston Jail - 1864

Old Charleston Jail – 1864

Most anyone who is the slightest bit interested in “ghost hunting” has heard of Lavinia Fisher and her exploits outside the city of Charleston, SC and at the Old Jail, but in case you haven’t, let me give you a rundown of the “facts” that are given on true crime blogs, ghost hunting shows, haunted location shows, and ghost tours.

It goes something like this:

Lavinia Fisher was America’s first female serial killer and the first woman executed in America (how is that for history making!). She, along with her husband John, were arrested, tried and convicted of mass murder and hung at the Old Charleston Jail. Wearing her wedding dress (and a noose), she shouted, “If any of you have a message for the devil, say it now for I shall see him in a moment” and flung herself off the platform before the hangman could perform the duties for which he would be paid in alcohol (good thing it wasn’t tea).

Lavinia and John were innkeepers who drugged their patrons with a special tea (rumored to be oleander) and secreted them down into their cellar via hidden trapdoors in the bedrooms to murder them (the number of victims varies). One man, John Peebles (or Peoples), a weary traveler looking for a bed for the night, was almost a victim. 

After sharing a late dinner with the Fishers, Mr Peebles retired to his room and a short time later Lavinia brought him some  of her “special” tea to help him sleep. He did not like tea, but he probably did not want to offend his host so he dumped it out of the window when she was not looking (She was probably trying to make sure the bed was in the proper position for her nefarious plan).  Mr. Peebles was concerned about personal questions the Fishers had asked during dinner and it occurred to him that he might have said too much and they might attempt to rob him, so instead of going to bed he decided to wait out the night sitting in a chair. A little while later, he was stunned to see his bed disappear (and the tea cannot be blamed). Mr. Peebles escaped out the same window and ran to the police to make a report (we have no record if he was tea stained or not). The sheriff hastened to the inn and during the investigation he found a cellar with hidden tunnels full personal belongings from those that had been reported missing and approximately 100 skeletons.

They were tried in May of 1819 and convicted of murder and sentenced to hang. They were housed in the jail until they were hung in February of 1820 and they were buried in the Unitarian Church Cemetery in Charleston.

Maybe she isn’t as ‘at rest’ as she should be? It is reported that Lavina is one nasty spirit that not only haunts the Old Charleston Jail, but attacks people as well.

I think we can agree this is basically the story most of you are familiar with can’t we?

What would you say if I told you that there are only 3 facts in that tale that are actually true? Will you call me a paranormal blasphemer or will you save handing down a judgment that is just as unfair as the one passed on Lavinia and hear me out? Yes?  If you are interested in reading about the real history be sure to pick up a copy of “Paranormal Fakelore, Nevermore: The Real Histories of Haunted Locations”

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The Real Story of Cold Mountain (William Pinkney Inman 1840-1865)

Pink & John's Grave

What a lot of you might know, is that many years ago a book was written (by my cousin) about a soldier’s odyssey during the civil war called Cold Mountain. Eventually, it would be turned into a movie with Jude Law playing the character of my uncle. What a lot of you don’t know is that decades before that, I had a school project involving family history and the family story I focused on is one that would fuel my passion for genealogy and historical research until the day I die. The book/movie took real people and their lives and fictionalized it, because in all honesty, the only things that are the same are the name of the main character and the fact that he was a soldier in the civil war and was shot on top of a mountain.

In the movie the beautiful (if you like those kind of looks), but the useless Ada Monroe (played by Nicole Kidman) moves to “Cold Mountain” with her preacher father where the town is conveniently building a church which leads to many an awkward run in between Inman and Ada where little conversation is actually exchanged.  Evidently she just looked great carrying around trays of drinks. In actuality this church was not built until 1902, when Pink had been in his grave 37 years.Inman's Chapel

We spend the first half of the movie being “convinced” these non conversations have the two of them falling so madly in love that when Inman gets wounded at Petersburg he spends way longer than it should have taken, trying to get home to her. The second half of the movie shows us just how useless Ada is while being berated (brilliantly) by Ruby Thewes for all her short comings. I have to stop and say right here, that the casting of Renee Zellweger in this part was masterful, there are still women up there today just like Ruby, and they scare the pants off of me! We get to enjoy Inman’s (mis)adventures on his way home which provides us with more than the token amount of nudity and makes you ask yourself, “remind me why he’s going home to that waste of space Ada?”

***Spoiler Alert*** Inman makes it back home, they manage to have time to shave his beard AND have sex before the token albino shoots him dead in a scene straight out of a wishing well (yes, I know Charlie Hunnam is not an albino, but they HAD to do something to try to “out goth” Jack White didn’t they?) In the end we see that the all too brief pre-buckshot carnal relations high on that mountain result in a child and everyone else lives happily ever after. At least he died without that awful awful beard.

Now that we have recapped the fiction, please indulge me and pick up a copy of “Paranormal Fakelore, Nevermore: The Real Histories of Haunted Locations” to read the real story of my great uncle Pink.

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The Exorcist House & Boy – 1949

Exorcism Ritual Book

Exorcism Ritual Book circa 1776


******Authors Note 10/13/2016 – If you are new to this website, chances are you found this page because Destination America aired a 6 year old mockumentary last night called The Haunted boy. Why, Shannon, what do you mean by “mockumentary”?  I’m so glad you asked! A mockumentary is a term I use for something that is presented as fact in the guise of a documentary but is full of misleading information or out right lies, as is the case with The Haunted Boy (and another shameful one by the same people called Spooked that is about Waverly Hills Sanitorium). Nothing gets me on my soap box faster than paranormal entertainment that is presented as fact. Please keep in mind that para entertainment does not have a goal to actually educate you with the truth about the paranormal and if you can find even one lie in something, it degrades the entire thing. Those of you that have heard me speak at various events or on radio/podcasts know my passion for haunted history to be factual because I believe it does a real disservice to those that have gone on before us.  If you are reading this article now because of last night airing, all I ask is that you take note of the misinformation presented in the show, read the documented facts here and then ask yourself, when are we going to start holding Para “Celebrities” accountable?  When are you going to start demanding that your entertainment be truthful?*****End Authors Rant

Ok, let’s see a show of hands of who watched Exorcism: Live! on October 30, 2015. You know, that three ring circus of incorrect information interrupted by commercials every five minutes that was presented on cable tv for our “Halloween” entertainment? It’s ok, you can admit it, I certainly did, but mainly because I wanted to see who had sold their souls (and any reputation they MAY have had before October 30th) for the sake of para-entertainment, to the devil parading as “factual tv” (please read that doing Dr. Evil’s air quote pantomime). We were led to believe we would not be lacking in experienced people participating in this event to rid the world of a horrible evil. We had a paranormal investigation team, a couple of mediums, a “documentary” filmmaker and a bishop just to name a few.

I have a VERY small circle of friends that are actually serious researchers when it comes to “haunted locations” and we were all of the same opinion beforehand: it was going to be crap. I don’t know why, but I was really surprised to see some of the people that were involved in this on one hand, and totally expectant of some of the other people because their screwed up version of the “truth” of this location has been making its way around the internet for years.

There are some things you should know about the “Exorcist House” if you want to talk about it factually.  Be sure to pick up a copy of “Paranormal Fakelore, Nevermore: The Real Histories of Haunted Locations” to get the facts!

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Is Waverly Hills Sanatorium Haunted or Haunting?

waverly hills postcard


As always, let me preface this by saying that I am in NO way implying that Waverly Hills Sanatorium does not have reasons to be haunted. It most certainly saw a lot of death in the TB days and accusations of abuse of the elderly in the later part of the 20th century. My ongoing goal is to provide you with accurate information so that IF you are going to investigate you know the real facts, not the manufactured ones, beforehand. The patients at Waverly were real people with real lives that were disrupted or ended by this horrendous disease, and the story SHOULD be about the great strides made at this cutting edge facility to try to give them a longer life, not the fakelore that has been fabricated about events that never happened. I personally find it disrespectful to walk into the place a person took their last agonizing breath and try to communicate with them by asking questions that have no basis in reality.

I’m sure no one can say exactly when the tales of hauntings started. I’ve seen interviews with nurses from the geriatric phase talk about weird goings on, but nothing before that (not to say people weren’t reporting it, just that I can’t find documentation) Someone somewhere knows who made up the erroneous tales that have fascinated folks so much they are willing to fork over their hard earned money to participate in ghost tours or private investigations but it is doubtful that information will ever be forthcoming.  Current rates are $22.86 for a two hour guided public tour up to $1500 for an overnight private investigation. Rumors have been circulating for years that the current owners want to turn it into a hotel but nothing has come of it yet. Still, you can give them even more money and obtain cute items via their gift shop.

Don’t get me wrong, I realize a place this expansive costs a lot to keep up and I am all for contributing to the preservation of a historical location. But (and yes, with me there is always a “but”) if I am going to hand over my hoarded grocery money or pawn my first born to spend a night there, how about giving me some real history or so I can conduct a real investigation?

When you google Waverly Hills, or watch any of the countless tv shows and movies filmed there, you are usually told (in no particular order) that there were over 63,000 deaths there, a nurse by the name of Mary Hillenburg was either murdered or committed suicide in room 502 (the year this supposedly happened varies depending on who you listened to), the fifth floor was for the mental patients, there was a blood draining room where dead patients were sliced open like wild game to bleed out thru a drain that led to the sewer system, there was a room for electro shock therapy and the death tunnel was used to remove bodies of people because they were dying at a rate of 1 or 3 (depending on who you’re listening to) an hour.

In 2001, Waverly was featured on Scariest Place on Earth (Season 2 Epi#23) with the new owner, starting the perpetuation of bad information and in 2006 a “documentary” called SPOOKED The Ghosts Of Waverly Hills Sanatorium covered all of these things in glorious detail via interviews with previous patients, staff employees from both the sanatorium and the geriatric center, some security people, a band, a ghost tour guide from a local paranormal group and the current owners.  I have to give one of the previous patients some props here, when asked about those claims, he would state those were things he did not know or had never heard about, and in what he DID talk about he came across as a man that doesn’t forget anything. TV shows like Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures followed suit… using all the same mantra in the history they presented. I knew it was going to be bad when the opening of the “documentary” showed erroneous facts. It says that in 1928 there were so many deaths from TB in Kentucky that a monstrous sanatorium was built, complete with body chute AKA The Death Tunnel, constructed to remove the bodies and then informs us that it closed in 1958. Now, if you’ve forgotten the timeline I gave you above, the original hospital was built in 1910, a larger one was constructed and opened in 1926 and it closed in 1961. See? Bad start to said “documentary”

spooked01 spooked02

spooked03 spooked04


Do I have your attention now? If you are interested in reading about the real history be sure to pick up a copy of “Paranormal Fakelore, Nevermore: The Real Histories of Haunted Locations”

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The Origin of Spirit Writing



Chinese Planchette – Fuji – Writing

The first thing I want to say is that this article is in no way intended to start a debate about the effectiveness or evilness of a spirit board or spirit writing or spirit communication in any form. The purpose of the article is to educate you on the fact that spirit writing was around LONG before the Victorians decided to patent it and make it a parlor game. If you get yourself into any of the millions of discussions worldwide on “what do you think of Ouija boards” whether it be in person or on the internet you realize really quickly what a can of worms has been opened… or is it a can of demons?

Different cultures have had their own version of this, it’s gone by different names and a few different beliefs are behind it. The bottom line is still the same: someone using an implement of communication whether it is a Ki, dragon’s bones or a planchette, is getting notes “from the other side”. Dragon’s Bones date back to around 1250 BCE, Ki dates back to around 618 AD and the planchette to around 1890. So as you can see, other cultures were way ahead of the game.

I have seen it said by Ouija historians that they don’t know where the origin of the Ouija board came from. Really? It doesn’t really take that much digging by someone that knows how to do research to figure it out. There is a book that details the religious systems of china that pretty much tells you exactly where it came from.

The Chinese conversed with gods and spirits, practiced exorcisms (I think one of my favorite descriptions is the exorcism of oyster ghosts), made charms and amulets, and believed greatly in the gift of mediumship, as did other cultures.
Think about that for a minute.

Spiritualism is not something invented in America in the 1840s by the Fox sisters. It is not something based in television and movie entertainment. It was something revered by the ancients. Even the bible says it exists.

During the T’ang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD) mediums would use an something called a ki pit or divining pencil and there were very explicit directions on how to obtain this magical instrument.

First and foremost it had to be made of peachwood as it was believed all specters feared this. If peachwood could not be found, it was acceptable to use willow. You had to cut a natural fork from the southeastern side of the tree because it had been constantly exposed to the sun and because it was imbued with the light of nature it was the source of universal divine intelligence. Once an 18 inch branch had been obtained, it was painted red as extra insurance against evil specters.











The shape looks familiar doesn’t it?

The short projection is the part that was used to write the divine messages in sand or incense ashes that were either poured on a table or a divining platter. This picture is a modern day reproduction


A medium would hold one arm of the fork with his right hand while another member of the divination club, an auxiliary diviner, would hold the other fork with his left hand. This person had to be neutral and not interfere with the movement of the medium.

There were fashionable clubs dedicated to this, where the gods had alters with sacrificial food dedicated to them.  The Ki might also be decorated in such a way to be pleasing to the god. The medium and the secondary, holding the Ki invited or invoked the spirit to grace them with their presence and the communication session would begin if the god was in the mood to play along.

Modern men showing how to hold it properly

Modern men showing how to hold it properly

Like a hammer, it jumps up and down, scrawling the message. Normally, the first thing said was an introduction and greeting from the god. When they have the name, the spirit is politely asked by the medium if it will now give a message which is answered in another round of hammering writing. There is a reader that dictates what is written to a scribe for the official record. This is a difficult job especially when the spirit decides to be prankish and guide the medium to write upside down or mix up the words of the phrase. This video shows you an example of what it was like to watch

The medium will pose the questions for the day and the spirit will answer and sometimes give their opinion of the person to whom the question pertains, praising or condemning the man’s spirituality or quantity of sacrifices and good works.

For the same unknown reason it is said to happen in modern times, sometimes it goes all wrong and an undesired spirit shows up and takes possession of the Ki with the intent of causing evil. It is said these episodes did not last long as the god the intended communication was for, shows up and lays the smackdown on the evil specter. Sometimes an unintended god will show up and butt in with his own advice.

Many a person’s fate and even his health was decided by this form of spirit writing because it was taken so seriously. Can you imagine these ancient men in today’s world seeing what their revered form of divination has been turned into?

pink board

Dyatlov Pass Incident

Last Group Shot

Last Group Shot

57 years ago something so strange happened it has inspired books, movies and conspiracy theories that include everything from soviet death rays, to yeti type scenarios, to UFO stories. All that is known for sure is that a group of nine people lost their lives in an area known as Holatchahl or Dead Mountain in Russia. It was dubbed the Dyatlov Pass Incident, named after Igor Dyatlov, the man who was the leader of the group who wanted nothing more than to get a higher hiking certification and have an adventure.
In January of 1959 eight men and two women some of whom were students and some who were graduates of the Ural Polytechnical Institute in Sverdlovsk (now called Yekaterinburg), traveled by train to enjoy a strenuous cross country skiing expedition to earn their Grade III hiking certification. In order to obtain this coveted distinction, they had to cover a minimum of 186 miles, (1/3 of which had to be challenging terrain), be out a minimum of 16 days (8 of those days had to be in uninhabited regions) and at least 6 nights in a tent. Once they achieved these requirements, they would be considered Masters of Sport and allowed to teach. The group that consisted of engineers, construction specialists, students and a WWII veteran left with high expectations and no doubt in their minds they would achieve their goal. Sadly, none of them would obtain that on this trip and nine would die under mysterious circumstances.


Yuri Yudin hugging Lyudmila Dubinina as he prepares to leave

Yuri Yudin hugging Lyudmila Dubinina as he prepares to leave

The group had several days journey from their town to their starting point which was an adventure in itself. During this time Yuri Yudin was having a flair up of chronic back pain that he suffered from, each different mode of transportation and each night spent in a new town making it worse. During the last leg of the trip, before they were no longer in civilization, he managed to make the strenuous 3 hour ride from Vizhai to Sector 41, the last inhabited outpost before the Otorten range, his pain kicked into overdrive almost making him quit. Only the fact that Sector 41 was a geological settlement made him stay quiet. As a geology student he was determined to see what he might find in the deserted buildings. After spending the night sleeping on a hard floor, Yuri could not move the next morning and the decision was made for him to finally turn back so he would not be a burden on the rest of the group. On January 28th, Yuri hugged his friends while they took some last group photos, clueless that he would never see any of them alive again. In later years, in interviews, he would say “If I had a chance to ask God just one question, it would be, ‘What really happened to my friends that night?’ and he is not the only one wanting the answer to that question.
After saying goodbye to Yuri, the group unknowingly set off for their date with death and spent the next few days traversing the countryside, taking photographs and detailing campfire discussions in their trip diary. It is those photographs and diary that tell us they set out for a very difficult leg of the trip on the morning of February 1st. There is nothing else to tell us what really happened, even the condition and location of the bodies when they were found raised more questions than gave answers.

setting up camp

Setting up camp

The group was supposed to arrive back in Vizhai on February 13 and send a telegram back to a comrade that they had returned safely. Trips like this can sometimes go a little longer than planned, so family members let few days past before starting to become alarmed that none of them had been heard from. On February 17, the university sent a telegram to Vizhai to find out if the hikers had returned and the families requested a search plane. When the answer to the telegram, “The Dyatlov group did not return”, was received, Col. Georgy Ortyukov attempted to assemble a formal search party, but they could not find the groups approved route. When Yuri left his friends at Sector 41, he went to visit his family so he did not return to school until well after the group should have been back and even then he failed to tell them that the group had been running 3 days behind their schedule. Their advisor and only other person besides Yuri who knew their mapped route was surprised when he returned and they were not back. Because of these delays and lack of information, the official search did not start until February 20. That same day, a criminal investigation was ordered. From that point on it was a search party including schoolmates, the government and local Mansi tribesmen. The search team spent days recreating the route and trying finding remnants of the spots they camped each evening. On February 25 a pilot spotted ski tracks and instructed the search party to alter its route. The team discovered the tracks and evidence of one of the group’s campsites. On February 27th they made it to an abandoned encampment on the eastern slope of Dead Mountain listed as 1079 (that’s how many meters high the location was on the mountain). One of the searchers, Mikhail Sharavin, said they discovered that the tent was half torn down and covered with snow but that he used an ice ax laying in the snow in front of the tent to rip it open. It was empty of people, but all of the group’s belongings, food and shoes had been left behind neat and orderly, as if they had just been laid out. Sharavin and his fellow searcher, Boris Slobtsov, collected a jacket, camera, flask of medicinal alcohol, a pair of skis, a Chinese torch and the ice ax to take back to base camp to make a new search plan.

Tent Remains

Tent Remains

When the search resumes the next day, many yards from the tent they find nine sets of footprints, some of them indicating the person that made them was not wearing shoes. Sharavin was looking for a new bigger area to set up basecamp when he came across an area with burned cedar partly buried in the snow and what appeared to be a fire pit. A little ways from the pit they notice a knee sticking out of the snow. After alerting the others, an excavation revealed the bodies of two men lying side by side. One is wearing nothing but his shirt and a pair of swimming trunks under his long underwear that only contains the material for the right leg. The other man was wearing an undershirt, shirt, long underwear, briefs and socks. Even though this clothing is on their bodies, it is completely shredded and their hands a bloody mess. The searchers noted that a cedar tree in the area seemed to have had the branches snapped off to a height of almost 15 feet. Testing later proved the two had tried to climb the tree, leaving their skin behind in the bark. The search team puzzled over the fact that there were no animal tracks nearby but something had removed the mouth and eyes of the man lying on his back. So far there were no clues as to what had scared these men enough to abandon camp with no warm clothes or shoes in frigid temperatures, winds of 40 mph, and no light because the moon would not rise for six hours after their flight from the tent which took them a mile away.

A few hundred yards away, the team leader, Igor Dyatlov, was found underneath several inches of snow, lying on his back wearing a shirt, sweater, fur vest, ski pants, and mismatched socks griping a tree branch with ungloved hands and apparently protecting his head from something unknown. The watch still on his wrist has stopped at 5:31.
A female member was found even further away, dressed in a hat, ski jacket, pants, and socks with traces of blood on her face.
On March 5th, about 1,000 yards from the tent site, midway between where the last two members had been found, another team member was found wearing a cap, shirt, sweater, pants, and several pairs of socks. He was lying face down in the snow. His head is discolored, indicating trauma. Examinations would later show that all 5 of these team members had died of hypothermia.
Three of the bodies were found in a line from the tent to the fire pit area, but they all appeared to be hiking back towards the tent they had all fled from earlier. Testing would later prove that someone had cut the tent from the inside in three different places to escape.


Map of body locations

Map of body locations

The diary and undeveloped film did nothing but add to the mystery. The last entry in the journal only detailed the day before their deaths and the morning of while they were still at camp. There was not much in either to help them figure out what had gone on. After the discovery of the 5th body, it was decided to halt the search to wait for some of the snowpack to melt in the spring thaw. It took two more months for the other members remains to be found about 225 feet from the fire pit area, opposite the tent site. On May 3rd they started finding an odd trail of clothes near the creek area they had been excavating. The next evening they found a body they could tell was male wearing a gray sweater and oddly enough two wrist watches, but the decomposition was so bad they could not tell who it was. As they kept digging they uncovered three more bodies. The female was wearing a cap, undershirt, sweaters, pants and two socks on one foot. The other foot was wrapped in a sweater. The two men were found in an embrace indicating an attempt at getting warm. These four were found fully dressed in a ravine 24 feet deep and three of them had suffered severe internal injuries. One had extreme fractures to the head, one had five fractured ribs, and one nine fractured ribs. The medical examiner was disturbed to find that the female was missing her tongue. The investigation later revealed that these four were wearing clothing from other victims, which later explained why the first two bodies found were not wearing much as it was surmised the 4 had taken the clothes to keep warm and use in a hole they had dug for shelter. Unfortunately, they could not have used this shelter for long since they were the last four to die.
The ongoing investigation surmised that the team had made it to that slope on February 1st around 3 pm, ate a dinner of cold biscuits and ham around 9 pm and then settled down for the night. Based on stomach contents, pathologists concluded that the deaths started to occur between 2 to 4 hours later. Sometime before midnight the group had been frightened by an unknown event and ripped through the fabric of the tent in a state of panic. The shoeless tracks proved they had scattered in all directions but some of them had joined up in the wooded area where they were successful in making a fire, everything after that is speculation, but at some point 2 tried to climb the tree and later died, 3 tried returning to the tent and died, and four made their way to a ravine, supposedly fell about 24 feet and died a little later of resulting injuries. It took 8 hours for all 9 to die.
At the funerals, family members noted that the skin of the victims was a strange orange color or extremely dark and they had grey or white hair and some of the clothing they retrieved was so radioactive that it exceeded the standards for someone working with radioactive substances. The leader of the group, Igor Dyatlov was so unrecognizable, he could only be identified by the gap in his teeth. Later investigations into these strange circumstances revealed that the strange skin color was a result of the elements and that the radiation traces in the clothing was not as dire as first reported and that Lyuda’s missing tongue was due to the fact that that she had been lying in melted snow and water had decomposed it.
There has been absolutely no evidence to point to a conclusive cause of events which leads to theories with no basis. A run in with the local Mansi tribesmen, known for their brutality? The Mansi were peaceful people who were known to shelter lost hikers. In fact, another group of hikers had been the recipients of Mansi hospitality just a few days before the incident.
A group of hikers camped out 32 miles south of the skiers reported strange orange spheres in the northern sky and in the next month and a half other residents in the area reported the same thing. An investigator claimed in a 1990 interview “I suspected at the time, and am almost sure now, that these bright flying spheres had a direct connection to the group’s death” but that he had been ordered to close the class and classify the findings as secret. Does the last photo taken by the group lend any credence to the alien theory?


One of the last of the photos taken by the hikers

Other suppositions included Soviet missile testing, a bear attack, mythic artic dwarves, some kind of concussive explosion, poison by moonshine causing instant blindness and an avalanche. After the close of the investigation, the authorities barred access to pass to Holatchahl and the surrounding area for three years. The lead investigator, Lev Ivanov, wrote in his final report that the hikers had died as a result of “an unknown compelling force”. The one person who lived because he was in too much pain to continue later told people that when he was asked to identify the belongings, there were items that he could not account for including scraps of clothing that looked like a soldier’s uniform and skis that did not belong to any of the hikers. This led him to believe the hikers had unwittingly stumbled onto a secret military test and had been killed for it. The only thing that is certain is that when you view the photos taken of the skiers remains nothing is certain. There are just too many odd findings to point to any one thing, although at a 2008 conference attended by the six surviving search party members and 31 technical experts, it was concluded “that their deaths were likely the unintended result of a secret military test”. A more recent investigation by Donnie Eichar, a man who diligently tried to recreate the hikers trip to the best of his ability, surmises they were the victim of an infrasound phenomenon as a result of a Karman vortex. I HIGHLY recommend Donnie’s book, Dead Mountain: The true story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident. It is well written and simultaneously tells the story of the original hiking team, the rescue team, and Donnie’s own expedition through the pass after interviewing living family members and Yuri Yudin to try to find the truth.
While an army of alien military yeti would sell a lot more books and movies (and could you imagine the costumes at Dragon Con!), the infrasound theory/Kármán vortex, at least to me, seems to make the most sense and since it had not been deemed a scientific fact at the time of the incident, it would never have been considered a possibility. Could it be something as “simple” as a tragic event caused by elemental factors that resulted in a “perfect storm” simply because of where the hikers pitched their tent in relation to the dome of the mountain peak? One thing is for certain, 57 years later the unprovable theories are still being talked about which means that these young people have not been forgotten.

Memorial - Dmitriy Nikishin

Memorial 2 - Dmitriy Nikishin

Yuri Doroshenko “Doroshenko”: Age 21 Studied radio engineering.
Lyudmila Dubinina “Lyuda”: Age 20 The youngest of the Dyatlov group, and one of two women. A student in construction and economics.
Igor Dyatlov “Igor”: Age 23 The leader of the Dyatlov hiking group and engineering student.
Alexander Kolevatov “Kolevatov”: Age 24 Studied nuclear physics
Zinaida Kolmogorova “Zina”: Age 22 One of two women in the group. Studied radio engineering.
Yuri Krivonishchenko “Georgy”: Age 23 Studied construction and hydraulics
Rustem Slobodin “Rustik”: Age 23 Mechanical Engineer
Nikolay Thibault-Brignoles “Kolya”: Age 23 Civil Construction
Alexander Zolotaryov “Sasha”: Age 38 WWII vet and engineering student.