The Ouija Broads Guide to Good Vibes and Happy Thoughts

Even ghost stories can be stressful sometimes, what with the usual horrible death pre-requisite. Here we have collected the episodes that we think are the most light-hearted and require the fewest content warnings. In fact we’ll even put in some extra notes about potentially stressful stuff in the descriptions below so you can pick the chillest episode for your personal requirements!

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101: The Political Animal (June 17, 2019)

It's technically politics, but we promise it's zero stress. The first story in the episode is about Boston Curtis, a long-eared mule that was briefly elected as a Republican precinct committeeman in Milton, Washington. The second story is about Mayor Stubbs, a tail-free marmalade cat who spent most of his twenty years of life as the mayor of a small town in Alaska.

Stress rating: The guy who helped Boston Curtis get elected coordinated a prank where a teen did get thumped in the head with a firehose, but everybody is okay.

Does an animal die: Stubbs does die, but peacefully and at a ripe old age.


94: Man’s West Friend March 4, 2019

Devon tells Liz about a four-legged explorer and his journey with Lewis and Clark. This is the tale of Seaman, the Newfoundland who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their famous journey.

Stress rating: Seaman is briefly abducted and Meriwether Lewis threatens to go full John Wick on a whole village, but the dog is returned in time. He also gets bitten by a beaver, but survives. The colonialism is minimally referenced but inherent to the setting.

Does an animal die: One story claims that Seaman pined away and died with grief upon his master’s grave.


88: A Noble and Absurd Undertaking (December 10, 2018)

Devon and Liz swap tales of more Good Dogs of the Northwest, including a very big beagle and Bobbie the Wonder Dog. The first story is about the Dog Bark Park Inn, an Idaho hotel in the shape of a beagle for no particular reason. The second story is about Bobbie the Wonder Dog, a scrappy pup who did a real-life Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey.

Stress rating: Pretty minimal except when Bobbie gets lost.

Does an animal die: Bobbie passes eventually, after being reunited with his family.


Bonus Audio: It’s Not Bro Time, It’s Show Time (Liz and Devon watch Magic Mike XXL) (August 13, 2018)

You can get the movie and watch along with us or just enjoy our out of context reactions, we basically never shut up unless it's the part where the ladies kiss. 

Stress rating: Zero.


70: You’re It, Huckleberry! (July 2, 2018)

Liz tells Devon about a Spokane game that's gone Hollywood! Specifically, a decades-long game of tag.

Stress level: If anything around guns stresses you out, skip the part where Devon tells the story of the bearskin prank. Nobody is harmed, though.


69: Eat Weird, Oregon! (June 17, 2018)

A light-hearted overview of some of the tasty treats special to the Beaver State. Topics covered include Dave's Killer Bread, Tillamook, hazelnuts, marionberries, Burgerville, Voodoo Doughnuts, breweries, the humongous fungus, lithium water, the biggest chocolate waterfall in the world, ice cream rolls, eating pigeons and bugs, Taco Time, crustos, and strip club wars.

Potential stress rating: Maybe if strip clubs and conflict around veganism stress you out?

Episode Transcript: #12, The Skydiving Beaver and the Arboreal Octopus

If you would like to volunteer to transcribe an episode, or even part of one, please contact us at and we can connect!


The transcript can be read in full below, or downloaded as a pdf at this link.

Ouija Broads Episode 12, The Skydiving Beaver and the Arboreal Octopus.

Opening theme music (The House is Haunted) plays and fades in.


LIZ: You are listening to Ouija Broads. This is Liz—

DEVON: --this is Devon—

LIZ:-- and I have brought to you our very first Idaho story!

DEVON: I’m so glad we’re crossing borders.

LIZ: Yes! The kind of border you can walk to from where I’m at.

DEVON: Yeah.

LIZ: But it counts.

DEVON: It does count. We had a friend that, uh skateboarded—longboarded from Spokane to Idaho, so if she can do that, you can definitely walk there.

LIZ: Well, do you remember when her husband ran all the way from his house to Coeur d’Alene?

DEVON: Yeah, and at the end he danced, because it wasn’t enough running.

LIZ: Yeah.


LIZ: What’s wrong with people?

DEVON: I don’t know why we’re friends with these people. They just make us feel bad about ourselves.

LIZ: **laughing** I drove to that restaurant, and I ate some food next to him, so I did my part, okay?

DEVON: You did your part, yup. You’re pit crew.

LIZ: Yeah, exactly. Except I just showed up at the end to say good job.

DEVON: That’s all he needed.

LIZ: I gotta start talking about the actual thing because my stomach’s growling—

DEVON: Go for it!

LIZ: --this isn’t going to be good!

DEVON: Tell me about Idaho!

LIZ: Okay. I’m going to set the stage for you. It’s 1948 in Idaho—

DEVON: You-da-hoe. **laughing**

LIZ: I gotta warn you, there’s gonna be a lot of opportunities for low-hanging fruit in terms of double entendres, so just get it out of your system now.

DEVON: **laughing** I’ll stop, I’ll be good. Please. Please set the scene.

LIZ: **laughing** All right! Housing boom after the war is great for Idaho, but is actually very hard on the local wildlife, right?

DEVON: Yeah.

LIZ: There’s all this new development, and in particular, one animal that’s having a really hard time with this is the beavers.

DEVON: **laughing**

LIZ: Yeah, got anything?

DEVON: **through laughter** I’m being good. I’m being good. Nope. I love a beaver with a hard time.

LIZ: **affectionate sigh**

DEVON: Go ahead, please!

LIZ: They don’t mix well with all the new development because they are their own little engineers. And they like to make dams and chew through things, and they damage homes, and they screw up the irrigation systems for farms, and all this kind of stuff.

DEVON: Yeah.

LIZ: But even in the forties, they understand that beavers are a really important part of the ecosystem, so they’re not just going to kill them. They know that when you have beavers around, it reduces the risk of flash floods, and there’s less erosion, and they improve the habitats of other creatures.

DEVON: Okay.

LIZ: So they decide to relocate them. They have two problems that are connected. One is that the places that they did want the beavers to live were very underdeveloped, and they didn’t really have roads where you could take a care.

DEVON: Okay.

LIZ: And the usual way of getting around in these areas was you would use a horse or a mule.

DEVON: Right.

LIZ: And the beavers did not care for this very much.

DEVON: **laughing**

LIZ: They did not like being put in little transportation boxes and bounced around in the heat. And you know who else didn’t like it was the horses.

DEVON: **laughing**

LIZ: Cuz the beavers did not smell good, and they had a couple of incidents where they would try this, and y’know, as soon as you let the beaver out the beaver would just be like “Nope, fuck this, fuck you, fuck everything, rarararar.”

DEVON: Oh yes.

LIZ: The horses would be mad, the conservationist would get bitten, and it was just a bad scene.

DEVON: Oh, dear.

LIZ: So. It was pretty miserable for everyone involved.

DEVON: Oh, dear.

LIZ: Here’s where they come up with a brilliant plan. Surplus… World War Two… parachutes.

DEVON: What.

LIZ: They put a lot of effort into this project... to airdrop beavers.

DEVON: **explodes in laughter for several seconds**

DEVON: **through laughter** Oh, I’m crying. Oh, my God.

LIZ: It’s an entirely true story and when I went digging for weird Idaho stuff, I found this and I was like, “Well, I’m done.”

DEVON: **is still dying from laughter**

LIZ: “I don’t want to do anything else before this.” Beaver parachutes!

DEVON: **weakly** Beaver parachutes. **still laughing** Please… give me a second…

LIZ: **laughing**

DEVON: **away from mic, still laughing* …hyperventilating… it’s just really funny to picture… please continue… I’ll be good…

LIZ: Well, I’m sorry to say that they didn’t put them in little vests.

DEVON: They didn’t?

LIZ: If only. They built these special wooden boxes that they held together with linen strips.

DEVON: Okay.

LIZ: And it took them a while to find the right design for this. Because the trick was, they needed something that after they landed, the beavers could get out, but they would not chew their way out while they’re still in the plane.

DEVON: While they’re in air!

LIZ: --therefore, yeah… therefore sprinting around the small propeller plane and distressing everyone.

DEVON: **laughing** Especially the horses. I assume the horses are still part of it, right? They’re in the plane as well.

LIZ: **laughing** Yeah, well, they wanted to see how it worked.

LIZ: So they made these boxes and they tested them with this one really patient beaver who was named Geronimo, of course.

DEVON: Good God.

LIZ: And they dropped him off the plane with a parachute many, many, many times.

DEVON: **laughing**

LIZ: And… yeah, and it got to the point where, when he would pop out of it, he would actually just go to them and wait to be put back in the next iteration, because he knew this was his job.


LIZ: His reward for his patience is, he got to be the first airlifted beaver who got relocated and they sent him with three female beavers to keep him company.

DEVON: **approvingly** Yeah, Geronimo!

LIZ: Way to go, Geronimo, yeah. All in all, they airdropped 76 beavers.

DEVON: Good God, that many?

LIZ: Yeah, 76. 75 of them were fine, and one of them apparently, halfway down, got out of the box somehow and jumped off it. Like, he would have been fine if he’d just stayed on the box.

DEVON: If he just stayed on the box!

LIZ: Probably panicked. But I would have been pretty alarmed.


LIZ: These are not small animals, like, I don’t even like putting a cat in a carrier or a kid in carseat. So—


LIZ: --the idea of capturing a wild beaver and cramming it into this little thing with a parachute, a surplus parachute.

DEVON: Oh, my God. This is my favorite day. I can’t believe this is what human beings came up with.

LIZ: Yes! They looked at this problem and they didn’t say, “oh, well, I guess we’ll just put up with y’know, how unpleasant this is,” or “Maybe we’ll wait until they put a better road in,” or “let’s just give up on this project,” they said “we can crack this!”

DEVON: “We have the technology!”

LIZ: “What’ve we got lying around? We can make this work! What do we got extra of these days, parachutes? Sweet!”

DEVON: So I want to do a limited edition run of drawings that I make related to some of our episodes and this is definitely on the list of things to draw.

LIZ: Oh, yeah. It’s so good.

DEVON: Beaver drop.

LIZ: And these were not artists, or anything. These were conservation officers. So that is a lot of dedication.

DEVON: That is a lot of dedication! Man, they really wanted this to work.

LIZ: Mm-hmm, yeah. Seventy-five beavers. And you know what, it was really successful. Their descendants are still around.

DEVON: No way!

LIZ: Yeah, they’re still around supporting the habitat and making dams for free, basically. You don’t have to get a corps of engineers in, you can just airdrop some beavers in there. They haven’t done it since. It was successful and it accomplished what they were trying to do, and they really haven’t had that circumstance come up again, but it was the kind of thing where it happened and it made the news a tiny bit from what I was able to find, but then it just completely fell out of the public consciousness until a couple years ago, because God loves us, somebody found a videotape

DEVON: What. Are you serious?

LIZ: Yes! They make this sort of… it’s very late forties, early fifties video of—

LIZ: **fifties announcer type voice** “Science On The March!”

DEVON: Yes! Yes!

LIZ: And I will put it up on Facebook and Twitter for everyone to enjoy.

DEVON: Immediately! Oh, gosh!

LIZ: Well, when the episode comes out. Cuz otherwise they’re going to—the surprise will be ruined.

DEVON: I have not wanted anything more in my life than this video right now.

LIZ: Yeah. There’s not—this is a tricky one. I really should have picked a second topic, because that’s the whole story. You know the whole story as soon as I say the words “beaver parachute.” But I can’t not bring beaver parachutes to you.

DEVON: That’s all I need! I don’t need it to be a long story. It is perfect in its simplicity.

LIZ: Yeah! It’s really—it’s sweet, only one beaver is harmed in the making of this ludicrousness—

DEVON: And he did it to himself.

LIZ: It’s a real animal, it really happened. Our tax dollars went to this project. And I’m frankly quite sad they abandoned it, because I think it would give us a real tactical advantage in some places.

DEVON: **laughing**

LIZ: The element of surprise.

DEVON: What would you dump, Liz? Would you dump, like, wolverines?

LIZ: What wouldn’t I dump?

DEVON: **laughing** That is fair. That is fair.

LIZ: All I’m saying is, if you want to win hearts and minds in whatever country we’ve decided to go to war with this week, just be like, “But would you like… some puppies?!”

DEVON: Take note, United Nations. Stop dropping food and water into war-torn places.

LIZ: More dogs is what people want. Extra mouths to feed.

DEVON: More… beavers then, it is.

LIZ: Yep, beavers. For places that need some irrigation and so forth. There were actually coyote puppies on the cover of the Spokesman today and I was like “Look Matt, wolverines!”

DEVON: I was gonna say! It’s too bad that Manito Zoo was shut down, cuz they could’ve just walled the beavers off, much like Manito.

LIZ: **laughing** Yeah! If it had been twenty years earlier, I’m sure one of these things could have caught a stiff breeze and ended up in Spokane and they would’ve gone, “neat! Free beaver!”

DEVON: “Stick ‘em in the zoo with the others!”

LIZ: “Yeah!”

DEVON: Or he would have run off to the wilds to live with the escaped grizzly bear that, I’m sorry, they looked for for… four days?

LIZ: Four whole days.

DEVON: Fuck that.

LIZ: Well I mean, for some of those days, they knew where it was, they just couldn’t catch it.


LIZ: Yeah.

DEVON: Oh, God.

LIZ: They said it was really good at… what it was doing, so--

DEVON: Bein’ a bear, man. Just bear stuff.

LIZ: --they bailed, yeah.

LIZ: I got so wrapped up in all that, that I didn’t even tell people that that’s why Spokane is called the Lilac City, because they started a lilac garden that started a huge trend of having lilacs in your gardens. So now I’ve said that! That’s why Spokane is the Lilac City.

DEVON: Oh, I thought this was going to relate to the bears.

LIZ: Yeah, that bear’s name was Lilac, and it was—

DEVON: Whatever.

LIZ: --so famous!

DEVON: You will bullshit as long as I keep hitting record, so..

LIZ: **laughing**

DEVON: I want to believe it, too.

LIZ: This story has been so true up to this point, I had to throw something in there.

DEVON: You did. You had to keep me guessing. Geronimo the beaver just let them do this, eh?

LIZ: Yeah, he—yeah, suddenly Canadian Devon, he did.

**both laughing**

DEVON: That’s how I indicate a question mark when you can’t see my face!

LIZ: **laughing**

DEVON: Giving you verbal cues!

LIZ: Yeah, and then he got to be Geronimo the polygamous beaver.

DEVON: Geronimo’s living the life we all want to live.

LIZ: Yeah, that was a very non-traditional marriage for Idaho, I gotta say.

DEVON: Wasn’t that the truth.

LIZ: Yeah.

DEVON: You know, you have given me something new to associate with Idaho, because up until this point it’s been the Coeur d’Alene Resort and the Bennett Bay sex hotel.

LIZ: **laughing** Where you can pretend that you are in space, having sex!

DEVON: You’re an astronaut! Or you’re in the jungle!

LIZ: God love you, Bennett Bay, but when your website brags that you clean the hot tubs once a week… it makes me think about it too much.

DEVON: It makes me really consider… the timeline, here. Uh, sorry, my cat’s on my lap and he’s eating my headphone cords, so do you have a spare parachute? Because I have an animal I’d like to drop out of a plane right now.

LIZ: That’s a solution to your moving problem.

DEVON: Bangarang, let’s do it. All right, I’m on it.

LIZ: So yeah, it’s a happy ending, and a real animal, but a very weird story.

DEVON: Oh man, I love it when a beaver has a happy ending.

LIZ: **laughing** You made it a good fifteen minutes without doing that so—

DEVON: --it was like holding back a sneeze, Liz! It gave me a headache!

LIZ: Oh, okay… I’m going to give you a preview of some Idaho stuff that I’ve found. Did you know the Center of the Universe is in Idaho?

DEVON: I did! I have been to it!

LIZ: Have you? Oh, that’s amazing!

DEVON: I’ve been to the Center of the Universe and I have a picture of my husband standing under the sign.

LIZ: Well jeez, put that up, that sounds really good.

DEVON: On it.

LIZ: Excellent.

DEVON: Sorry—tell me something I don’t know.                                                                                                                

DEVON: That came off really snotty and challenging and I didn’t mean it that way!

LIZ: No, it’s amazing that you went, I have considered it, but I’m also like, that’s a long road trip for a picture.

(Side note: Liz did eventually get to Wallace, Idaho in summer 2019).

LIZ: Um, let’s see, what else do I have. Do you know there is a brothel museum from the 80s?

DEVON: The 1880s?

LIZ: No, the 1980s.

DEVON: This I did not know about, and this I need to know about.

LIZ: There was a raid and everything has been left exactly how it was when all the women ran out, except they have put some mannequins in to wear the outfits.

DEVON: Oh, that improved it.

LIZ: Yeah.

DEVON: Good Lord.

LIZ: But it’s a little time capsule now!

DEVON: Okay, let’s go there!

LIZ: There has been a request for a brothel episode, which I definitely think we can do.

DEVON: Oh, yeah.


**”The House is Haunted” fades in abruptly, then back out.**


LIZ: Oh, Devon.

DEVON: Oh, Liz!

LIZ: Our beaver episode came in really short, so I thought we should cover another topic that we recorded at a later date, just to make sure our listeners get all the content they deserve.

DEVON: I really like that idea. I hope that it’s also about a cute adorable fuzzy creature and it has some good stories that I can tell people about, because I’ve told so many people about beavers being dropped over Idaho since we recorded that episode.

LIZ: **laughing** It’s the best, because it has it all in the name…


LIZ: …which also made it a very short episode.


LIZ: The creature I want to tell you about, Devon, is cute? Adorable… not fuzzy.

DEVON: So it’s me.

LIZ: I’m sorry. Two outta three ain’t bad.

DEVON: **laughing** No, it isn’t.

LIZ: I’m gonna tell you about the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.

DEVON: **delighted gasp** What is that?

LIZ: Octopus paxarbolus…

DEVON: What is that?!

LIZ: It lives in the Olympic peninsula – you’ve never seen one of these?

DEVON: I’ve never seen one of these. I’ve spent a lot of time here!

**both laughing**

LIZ: You can’t keep it together!

DEVON: Okay, I’m calm. No, I’ve never seen one. I’ve never seen one over here.

LIZ: Okay, well, they don’t live in the water. They live in the trees, hence the name.

DEVON: Yeah.

LIZ: Yeah. So when they’re born, they live in the water, but as soon as they become adults they come out and they live in the rainforest, and because they’re adapted to it, they can live outside the water and they’re the only octopi? Octopodes? Octopuses?

DEVON: I think octopuses.

LIZ: --that can do that!

DEVON: No way. Dude, no way.

LIZ: They’re really intelligent!

DEVON: Well, I mean, cephalopods are known for being really intelligent, which is great, but the fact that these have evolved to climb trees? Like, that’s even smarter than a normal octopus, because that means you get the best of a watery world and a tree world.

LIZ: Right, well, if you think about the way a octopus is laid out, too, it makes sense. Like, they’re probably really good at climbing. They are the sloths of the water.

DEVON: Oh, they have to be.

LIZ: Or… monkeys or something like that. No, they’re cool in a lot of ways, too. So, this-- This gives them access to a whole new ecosystem as omnivores—


LIZ: --so they can get an egg, or they can eat bugs as they climb around.

DEVON: Yeah!

LIZ: They have really good eyesight, and they actually change color, not like a mimic octopus does in order to conceal itself so much as to, this is how they show emotion and what’s going on with them—

DEVON: What?

LIZ: --is that they’re very social—

DEVON: Wait, they live in groups in the rainforest, and I have not seen one yet?

LIZ: Well, they—every year in spring, they go back to the Hood Canal area, and they congregate and they find mates, and that’s when they make their egg clusters—

DEVON: Okay?

LIZ: --and the female guards it and cares for it.

DEVON: Okay.

LIZ: But probably why you haven’t seen them is they’re severely endangered.

DEVON: **sad sound* Ohhh.

LIZ: It’s not as happy a story as the beaver story, right? Because there’s a lot of logging going on, there’s—it’s hard for them to cross the road, cuz they’re so little, and damp—

DEVON: Oh, right. Oh, they’re so wet.

LIZ: Yeah.

DEVON: They stick to everything.

LIZ: They do. And their natural predators are really taking out the ones that are left, including the Sasquatch, which is a huge natural predator of the Pacific Tree Octopus.

DEVON: **laughing** Just stomping around with his big feet. Oh, well, so… do Sasquatch then, they eat calamari? Is that what you’re telling me?

LIZ: Yeah, just raw! Just raw, and it’s really hard really hard on the Pacific Tree Octopus, cuz they have this major threat of being a completely fictional creature.

**both laughing**

LIZ: Thank you for playing along with me.

DEVON: I lost it so many times!

LIZ: I wonder how many people are gonna tweet at us before they get four minutes into this.

DEVON: Before they get to the end of it – oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness Liz, I’m so excited. I’m just so excited.

LIZ: I felt like that was about as far as I could keep it together.

DEVON: Yeah, yeah.

LIZ: Yeah. This is a internet hoax that’s from the late 90s. There’s this guy named Lyle Zapato, who—


LIZ: --came up with all this, and so if you search the Pacific Tree Octopus, you find some fairly plausible looking sites.

DEVON: **laughing**

LIZ: And they, uh—they use it a lot in internet literacy classes because they’re trying to teach, like, seventh graders how to critically evaluate what you see on the internet. And not—Devon, did you know? Sometimes people lie on the internet.

DEVON: What? Like you just did, just now?

LIZ: Oh my God, I’m part of the problem.

DEVON: God, you are part of the problem.

LIZ: Nooo!

DEVON: Elizabeth!

LIZ: **laughing**

DEVON: Every now and then, people lie on the internet. Do we call them alternative facts, or are you just gonna go balls-out and say it’s a lie?

LIZ: I’m just gonna say it’s a lie. It’s an untruth, it’s a falsehood.

DEVON: It’s a falsehood.

LIZ: And you can even get stuff like what I was reading past some people, even if you say that their predators are things like Sasquatch.

DEVON: **heavy sigh**

LIZ: People don’t read! I’ve noticed this! I’m an educator, and honestly, people don’t read what you give them sometimes. One semester –and I’m not gonna get in trouble saying this, because if any students listen to this, then they’ll have listened to my podcast. Good, you get an A plus –

DEVON: You get an A plus, kid.

LIZ: I put a secret part in my syllabus in the Academic Honesty section about if they had read that far, I told them, “okay, just e-mail me and tell me that you read that far, and I’ll give you some extra credit points.”

DEVON: That’s incredible. How many students did you get an e-mail from?

LIZ: …maybe ten percent.

DEVON: Oh, damn.

LIZ: I think I also made them do, like, a very short quiz. Like a four-question thing that was already online, so it was just like click, click, click, ridiculously easy. Not to say that 90% of them didn’t read that far, I’m sure there was some component of them who looked at it and were like “heh, no. Life’s too short.”

DEVON: **laughing** All right.

LIZ: But our research standards for this podcast are… better than some? But fundamentally you and I are not biologists or geologists or conservation officers—


LIZ: I think we do our best. But I wanted to throw in the Pacific Tree Octopus and I was having a hard time figuring out how to do it, because I knew you already knew it wasn’t real.

DEVON: Yeah, but I’m willing to pretend I can act.

LIZ: Thank you for playing along, you’re a very good actress.

DEVON: You’re very welcome. Can I tell you my one octopus story that I have? It’s not the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, it’s just a regular run-of-the-mill, you know, Pacific Octopus.

LIZ: Devon, there’s no such thing as a run-of-the-mill octopus.

DEVON: Bless your heart.

LIZ: They’re all amazing. And delicious.

DEVON: You’re so gross, I can’t believe you eat them. They’re like rubber bands. Salty rubber bands.

LIZ: Mmm, get at me.

DEVON: And I can get those for free. **laughing** Gross.

LIZ: Tell me your octopus story.

DEVON: Well, we learned about this in museum school. There was a.. you know, when you’re in museum school, you also learn about aquariums and zoos and stuff that has live collections.

LIZ: I mean of course, because you made museum school up. I’m sure you learned about ponies and fairies and stuff.

DEVON: **laughing** Actually, I did, because I went to elf school in Iceland with a bunch of my museum people! And I have a textbook from elf school and it talks about fairies, and it talks about Icelandic ponies. So clearly, you went to this same class and you got this same textbook.

LIZ: Oh, Icelandic ponies are real, actually, I’ve ridden them.

DEVON: **laughing**

LIZ: It’s true! They have a special pace in between a walk and a trot, it’s called toelting. I bet you didn’t know I knew so much about Iceland ponies.

DEVON: **through laughter** I had no idea! I don’t even know enough—I don’t have the wherewithal to refute that argument, or that statement. I have no idea. I’m going to tell you my octopus story, which I learned in museum school, which I did not make up – or if I did, I gamed myself, because I paid a fuck-ton of money to go to museum school.

LIZ: **laughing**

DEVON: There was an aquarium we learned about that had a problem, and the problem was that some of their exotic fish were going missing every evening. They’d have ten fish, they’d lock up the museum, they’d come back the next day and there’d be three fish and they’d go “What the fuck is happening to our fish?” So the folks at the museum got really conspiracy theorist, you know, they thought there were, um, workers in the museum that must be selling these fish to exotic fish breeders—

LIZ: Oh, yeah.

DEVON: Or, you know, the janitor had a saltwater tank at home that he was stocking with his own, you know, ill-got fish from the museum. So they put up cameras, and what they found out is their Giant Pacific Octopus figured out how to get itself out of a two-inch hole in its tank—

LIZ: Criminy!

DEVON: --and it—I love criminy, you’re from 1920s England—

LIZ: This is what happens when you have a kid, all of a sudden “jeepers creepers” is what’s coming out of your mouth.

DEVON: Cheese and rice!

LIZ: Cheese and rice!

DEVON: Anyway, this octopus was getting out of this tiny little crack – jeepers – and was climbing out of his tank at night, helping himself to whatever fish he wanted to eat, and you know, arming himself back across the floor and back into his tank before the keepers came back in the morning.

LIZ: That’s amazing.

DEVON: How cool is that?

LIZ: He was like, “I cannot sit in this tank all day watching the buffet and not help myself when you’re not looking.”

DEVON: Oh no, that’s just torturous, that’s mean.

LIZ: They are really smart. The one in the National Aquarium, they actually put baby toys in with it, so it has something to play with.

DEVON: I love the Seattle Aquarium because they catch their giant octopus off of the coast – I mean, they catch them here locally and they have them on display for six months before releasing them. If you keep them any longer, they’re so smart that they get depressed.

LIZ: Oh!

DEVON: So the Seattle Aquarium takes great pains to make sure that they have them long enough so that they inspire conservation activities in visitors, and then they let them go back to being octopuses in the wild.

LIZ: This is 100% what it would sound like if aliens had a podcast and they were discussing humans.

DEVON: **laughing**

LIZ: They’re like, “you scoop ‘em up and after like, a week, they’re—they’re really smart, you wouldn’t believe it but they’re really smart, and they get depressed, and you have to go put them back in the grass field you found them in.”

DEVON: Man, if they only did that instead of mutilating our cattle—

LIZ: Mm-hmm.

DEVON: What a world.

LIZ: **laughing** I mean, if they gave you some toys and stuff, it wouldn’t be so bad.

DEVON: Dude, if they--  Okay, they’re feeding me? They’re giving me great medical care, I have a tank to myself.. At the Seattle Aquarium, every Valentine’s Day, they put the male and female together to see if they’ll make some babies. Um, yeah. So it sounds like a really good deal. Sign me up.

LIZ: **laughing** Excellent. All right, I’m going to have us do an outro just to help me edit it all together when we get there.

DEVON: Absolutely.

LIZ: So, let’s see. You’ve been—

DEVON: You’ve been listening—

LIZ: Ah! **laughing**

DEVON: Sorry! I was going to take the initiative and do it for you.

LIZ: I way overreacted to that!

DEVON: **laughing** No, that was an appropriate reaction to me actually doing some damn work.

LIZ: **laughing** Okay, you take it.

DEVON: All right. You’ve been listening to Ouija Broads. This is Devon.

LIZ: …this is Liz.

DEVON: And we—ah ha ha, wait, what the hell am I doing? I did an intro, didn’t I?

LIZ: That’s okay, I’m just gonna tell them—

DEVON: Go for it.

LIZ: You can find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at Ouija Broads. Please rate, review, and subscribe if you’re a fan of the show, and keep your eyes on our social media where we’re gonna be sharing information about giveaways and swag.

DEVON: We will!

LIZ: Can I say swag, or am I too old?

DEVON: You can say swag, cuz you have swag.

LIZ: Thank you.

DEVON: Thank you.

**awkward pause**

LIZ: Live weird…

DEVON: …die weird…

LIZ: …stay weird.

BOTH **laughing**

LIZ (fading out): Okay, let’s stop and save this…  

Theme music (The House is Haunted) plays and fades out.

Episode Transcript: #96, The Witch's Castle

Huge, huge thanks to Kathryn Leonardi for her transcription of this episode! If you would like to volunteer to transcribe an episode, or even part of one, please contact us at and we can connect!


The transcript can be read in full below, or downloaded as a pdf at this link.

Transcript: Ouija Broads Episode 96, The Witches Castle.


Special thanks to Kathryn Leonardi for her transcription work.


Opening theme music (Me and the Man in the Moon) plays and fades in.


LIZ: You are listening to Ouija Broads. This is Liz!

DEVON: This is Devon. You didn’t do a slate, my friend.

LIZ: Oh, I didn’t! Okay. Let’s do one now. 3,2,1… **clap noise**

DEVON: The slate is my favorite part.

LIZ: I’m sorry I left it out, I don’t know-- I think I was just so busy yelling about work that I assumed we had already done it.

DEVON: **laughing**

LIZ: That’s what that’s like.

DEVON: Nope, nope, just you being mad.

LIZ: Mmhmm, just me being mad. All right, what I have for you today is an Oregon story--

DEVON: Okay.

LIZ: -- because I felt like we hadn’t done Oregon in a little bit.

DEVON: I love Oregon.

LIZ: I like to shake it up and I like to do some things that we haven’t done in a while. And then of course, I think that we are doing that and then I look and I’m like, “we just did, like, eight ghosts in a row.”

DEVON: Whatevs, it happens. I think you are very equitable. You always try to make sure that we hit every place that we consider Pacific Northwest as well as all the genres that we cover in a good rotation. I am just like animals animals animals ghost, more animals animals animals another ghost.

LIZ: **laughing** But you’re so good at it.

DEVON: I love those ones.

LIZ: I thought since we have had so much uplifting stuff I could get away with a ghost that was the result of a murder. Do you think we could handle that?

DEVON: I think so. Fuck. Let me get a seatbelt on this chair though.

LIZ: All right, yeah. Shake your shoulders out, take a deep breath, it’s okay-- it happened a long time ago, if that helps.

DEVON: All right. But I’m just worried that I am real close to Oregon and what if the ghost is still there and what if it’s going to get me. It’s getting dark out Liz, and we’re recording this at night.

LIZ: How far can ghosts travel from where they haunt?

DEVON: Well, depends I guess…

LIZ: Yeah, cause if they’re a train ghost, pretty far.

DEVON: Yes. Precisely. So, I am not sure what you are going to tell me. I am just going to buckle in and not look out the dark scary window that’s over here to my left and listen to your sultry voice.

LIZ: It’s so sultry. I just got over one cold and I am starting another cold, and I burned a bunch of twigs today because we had our trees worked on. So really just, hitting all the best things to do for somebody who has an important thing to do with their voice in their life.

DEVON: Mmhmm.

LIZ: Okay. What I wanted to tell you about was the Witch’s Castle at Macleay Park.

DEVON: What the fuck is this?

LIZ: **laughing** I love castle stories. We haven’t done a castle in a while.

DEVON: Yeah. God damn. But it’s got like all the words that I Google search. This should have come up in my search history. How do I not know about this?

LIZ: It may sound more familiar as I get into it. But we will see. So near downtown Portland just to the west-- oh that’s another reason why I wanted to do this one, is because I like trying to do ones where people can actually go there. Sometimes it’s like this place is long gone, or it’s private property, or there’s nothing to see. This, you can straight up go. So if you go to Forest Park, which is a 5000-acre park just west of downtown Portland--

DEVON: Fuck.

LIZ: --it’s extending for 8 miles along the Willamette, it’s the largest urban forest in the United States. So.. it’s reserved. It’s-- Portland can’t expand and take over that. There’s just this gigantic forested park.

DEVON: Take that, gentrification.

LIZ: Take that, this is for deer and raccoons.

DEVON: And some squirrels even though Liz hates them.

LIZ: Well, they’re okay there, just stay out of my dumpster. That goes for everybody.

DEVON: **laughing**

LIZ: Macleay park has 70 miles of trails. Which is pretty impressive to me.

DEVON: Oh my God. Yeah.

LIZ: But this one you don’t have to hike all day. You basically go for a mile on this one trail that is called the Lower Macleay Trail, also known as the Balch Creek Trail. And you will see on a hill, a stone building that is weathered, it has grey stones covered in moss. There’s just spaces where the windows were, it is-- the structure is still there but basically you can like walk through the doorway, you can see through the windows, there’s no roof.

DEVON: Oh cool.

LIZ: There’s an upper level and a lower level.

DEVON: Oh wow.

LIZ: It’s all deteriorated and it is known as the Witch’s Castle. Yeah… so it’s said there are strange occurrences in this area. Of course.

DEVON: Of course there are.                 

LIZ: So, like, mmm orbs, like you can definitely get some good orb photographs there like you can most places that aren’t paved.

DEVON: **snorts** -- that you can get anywhere, where there’s a slight amount of dust in the air and refractable light.

LIZ: Yeah, mmhmm.

DEVON: I have seen a couple photos of orbs – purported orbs. Where I am like -- oh that almost looks like it has its own luminescence. That, you know, that looks kind of legit. I wouldn’t just say that’s light refracting off dust. But those are few and far between. If you are going to get real orbs, it’s going to be around a place called the Witch’s Castle though, so I buy that.

LIZ: Yes, it has-- it reminds me a little bit of the “Thousand Steps,” in that it has a lot of different things attached to it. It actually has its own steps that lead up and of course it’s in this wet Portland forest, so of course they’re all mossed over and eerie looking too. Some people say you can actually see apparitions that seem to be fighting with each other.


LIZ: Some people say that it is a site for rituals.

DEVON: Mmm, of course

LIZ: Satanic rituals.

DEVON: Boooo

LIZ: Or, mmm maybe human sacrifice.


LIZ: Or, the bad kind of witchcraft.

DEVON: Super boo.

LIZ: There’s the story that sometimes people who have come here at night have disappeared--


LIZ: --and have eventually been found wandering on the park trails completely bewildered having lost their minds. I think probably not. But there is a lot of creepy graffiti because it’s pretty heavily vandalized. And I should say “some people say” as in,

DEVON: **snorts, laughing**

LIZ (reading): “I got hammered here all the time with my buddies as do many high school kids, it’s not haunted sorry.” **laughing**

DEVON: **laughing**

LIZ (reading): Or there’s this other one I like-- “Dude, I was there Friday night, there were tons of spirits there if you know what I mean. Huge party spot.”

DEVON: Oh my God.

LIZ: **laughing**

DEVON: Oh my God.

LIZ: But then there are other people saying, I have got EVPs there, I have been pushed and touched by an entity, there’s weird stuff that you can pick up even though there is no electricity in the area.

DEVON: Okay.

LIZ: Yeah. Oh, I like this one.

LIZ (reading): “This sounds weird but I think I keep traveling here in my dreams. I finally looked it up and found this building. I have been to Portland but not to this place.” So people are all over the place as to whether it’s a totally normal place where you just go to like smoke weed and spray paint your high school’s mascot on stuff.

DEVON: Yeah.

LIZ: Or whether it’s obviously hugely full of ghosts and bad energy and warring spirits and stuff. But what we always like to do on Ouija Broads is say, “okay, so that’s what people say they’re experiencing - presuming that ghosts are real, what happened on this spot that would make that happen?”

DEVON: Yeah.

LIZ: So. Remember how I said this is Balch Creek Trail.

DEVON: Yes, and what’s it also called, sorry, the park?

LIZ: That’s Forest Park. And then its Lower Macleay Trail.

DEVON: Lower Macleay Trail, thank you. Balch Creek Trail or Lower Macleay Trail.

LIZ: I think, basically, it’s a couple of parks that got merged. So they also just call it Macleay Park.

DEVON: No fucking wonder the spirits are fighting, it’s a turf war.

LIZ: Confusing!

DEVON: So confusing.

LIZ: In the very early days of settlement in Portland, before this was on the border of Portland, it was owned by a man named Danford Balch. This was the 1850s. So Danford came out here on the Oregon Trail with his wife, Mary Jane and they had 9 kids.

DEVON: Holy shit.

LIZ: It was kind of like a Brady Bunch situation. Where it was like some of her kids from her first marriage and some of his kids. I don’t know if they had kids together but they had a lot of kids.

DEVON: Lot of kids, man.

LIZ: Nine is a lot. They had a cabin, as you do in the Oregon Trail days.

DEVON: I hope a big one.

LIZ: Yeah, **laughing** I know, right? Like, the Shining Lodge type like—it’s more of a hotel.

DEVON: **laughing** Oh, man.

LIZ: Just a little cottage.

DEVON: None of this Brady Bunch 3-bedroom bullshit for 9 people, no.

LIZ: **laughing** Well, they moved out there and they had 350 acres of land.

DEVON: All right.

LIZ: Which is hefty, and they were working on, “civilizing it”, right? So the family’s settling in, and they’re doing the settler thing. They’re going to sell some of this timber, they’re going to clear some of this land for crops. And Danford, who sometimes in the record you’ll find as Danforth, because spelling is just whatever you wanted it to be in the 19th century--

DEVON: Yeah you just get the first three letters right and the rest is a grab bag.

LIZ: Yep. In October 1858 they are clearing land, and the 9 kids, the oldest one is 15 and she’s a daughter. So he didn’t have the 7 brides for 7 brothers, like “I’ve got a bunch of young men who I can just, like, distribute to this task, I need to get some outside help.” So there was another family nearby whose name was Stump. Not why Portland is called Stumptown, but apt somehow.

DEVON: I guess. Apropos.

LIZ: Apropos! And so he hires the son from that family, who-- they’re technically in Vancouver Washington, because it’s all a big whatever. Like, I understand why they made the river the division of the state but it’s pretty arbitrary.

DEVON: Yeah.

LIZ: So he gets Mortimer Stump, who I am not sure how old he is, but he’s pretty young.

DEVON: Stop it.

LIZ: Yes, Mortimer is young. **laughing*

DEVON: Oh my God. Danford and Mortimer, I am just not into these names. But please continue. I’ll try to get down with Mortimer and Danford.

LIZ: Yes.

DEVON: I will try and be more charitable here.

LIZ: You can do it. You can envision Danford is like a Pa Ingalls wearing his flannel shirt, clearing the land, head of the household. And Mortimer is the young guy from the next household over who comes over. And so I’m unclear as to whether he was like an older teenager or in his early 20s. But he was of the age--
DEVON: Anything goes when we’re marrying off our oldest daughter.

LIZ: Oooh, you see where we’re going with this.

DEVON: I do, but tell me anyway.

LIZ: Well, so Mortimer moved in with the family because obviously he wasn’t going to commute from Vancouver, that wasn’t super convenient. And he became smitten, as they say, with Anna who is the 15-year-old daughter. And Anna is likewise smitten with him. And Mortimer goes to Danford.

DEVON: **laughing**

LIZ: What?

DEVON: Well, he’s the only man around that isn’t related to her, so of course she is.

LIZ: Right? She’s like, “Wow, you sure look like not my family.”

DEVON: **laughing** Exactly

LIZ: I love the way you’re not my stepfather. that’s cool.

DEVON: I know, right. I love the way you’re not my weird Greg Brady and I am your Marcia and we’re going to have some erotic tension here.

LIZ: **laughing**

DEVON: New genetics, yes, please. Sorry, go ahead, Anna and Mortimer.

LIZ: You are like so far ahead of me that it’s awesome.

DEVON: Ah man.

LIZ: So there’s this reciprocal positive energy and no big barriers. And of course, as we know from the Mercer Belles and so forth, you kind of needed to lock that shit down. It’s not like he could wait like 5 years and come back when Anna was 20, she would have been long gone, like long gone, of marriage or diphtheria. Who knows?

DEVON: Sick typhoid is not just a name.

LIZ: A log fell on her, a lot of things can happen. A bride of Sasquatch, that’s a perennial issue.

DEVON: Oh it is, wow.

LIZ: But Mortimer goes to Danford and says “Hello, I’d like to marry Anna, please.” And Danford says, “Absolutely not, you are my employee.”

DEVON: **gasps** What?

LIZ: So apparently they are out in the middle of nowhere, like they, all these families have come out on the Oregon Trail but apparently Danford, with his weird little Brady Bunch accidental cult compound is like, “no, I am your social superior.” It’s like, how do you figure? Like, we all wear underwear that has two buttons on the back so we can poop out the butt. Where are you coming up with this?

DEVON: Right?! **muffled laughter**

LIZ: How are you my social superior in any sense, my dude. Neither of us have seen sugar in three years. I don’t know where he is coming up with any of this.

DEVON: **through muffled laughter** You and your butt flap britches better get off your high horse.

LIZ: **laughing**

DEVON: Wonderful.

LIZ: So Danford is having none of it. And it’s not just that they’re like oh, okay, this will be awkward for a week. He’s like, “and you’re fired, and you don’t live here anymore.” And you know what is amazing? Is Mortimer didn’t go “oh well, I tried.” He and Anna, of course, elope.

DEVON: Oh ho! Saw that one coming.

LIZ: Right. So on November 4th, Anna and Mortimer move back in with his family. Because his family is not being so weird about this--

DEVON: I am sure his family is happy to have a strapping young lad back on the fucking homestead to fight wolverines and plow fucking land. And now they got themselves a house maid.

LIZ: Yeah. Better than nothing. She’s there.

DEVON: Yeah. Smart, the Stumps. Good job.

LIZ: Let me read you what Danford said about the night he came home and found that Anna had run away to marry Mortimer.

DEVON: Oh my God. Oh my God. Can I, can I guess some of the words?

LIZ: Go for it.

DEVON: Yeah there has to be, if he thinks he’s so fucking good with his little butt flap britches, like you pointed out, like he shits in a hole in the ground, then there’s got to be some kind of use of flowery language. Like he talks about his heart being besieged. Or about the, not, what’s a fancy word for double cross, or for being, you know, maligned by-- Anyway, I just, in my head it is this like, “Winter’s Evening, 7pm, I sit and stare at the flames of mine fire.” And then he talks shit. No, please tell me.

LIZ: **laughing** Okay.

LIZ (reading): “The night I came home and found the girl gone, it struck a pain to my heart. Like a knife cutting me. I ate a little supper and went to bed but did not sleep a wink all night. In the morning, at once after getting up and started for town and it seemed that my stomach would burst from anxiety and grief which were more than I can express.”

DEVON: Oh, God.

LIZ: Which, like, dude. Your 15-year-old stepdaughter got married and moved out. This is a massive overreaction.

DEVON: Right? Right? This is trending into like, you were using her as backup wife in case your second (presumably) wife, maybe died of a snake bite.

LIZ: Thank you. Yeah. So there is at least one historian, Diane Goeres-Gardner, who says, “This sounds like a man describing the loss of his lover not his daughter.”

DEVON: Yo, called it.

LIZ: And I am not trying to make assertions about a dynamic that obviously I have no more information about than what I have told you, but suffice to say he did not take it well.

DEVON: **snorts**

LIZ: He’s not good with it. He had already been drinking heavily for several years before this went down.

DEVON: Oh Lord.

LIZ: So I’m sure that really contributed to Anna’s readiness to get the fuck out of Dodge.

DEVON: Yeah. GTFO is right.

LIZ: Yeah! So, okay… oh, that’s right. They elope to Vancouver on November 4th. And on November 18th they take the ferry-- so there’s a ferry that goes back and forth from Vancouver to Portland at this time. I don’t remember if there still is. I think there’s just a bridge.

DEVON: Now it’s just Bridge of the Gods or whatever that is.

LIZ: I think so. I don’t know. So when they go into Portland to get supplies… they run into Danford.

DEVON: Oh no.

LIZ: Danford is drunk.

DEVON: Yeah.

LIZ: Danford says, “you need to come home with me, Anna.” She says “no, I’m not. I am a married woman now, I live in Vancouver, I am not coming back to our weird cabin on 350 acres of nothing. I’m good. Pass. Hard pass Danforth.” Like…

DEVON: **laughing**

LIZ: And then, here are some more good names for you. Mortimer’s dad is with them, and Mortimer’s dad is named Cuthbert. Cuthbert Stump.

DEVON: **laughing**

LIZ: And what Cuthbert Stump has to say to Danforth—‘cause all of these sound like I am kind of drunk, like **speaks unintelligibly/mumbles all syllables of names mentioned** –Mortimer. Yeah. So they’re having a big fight on the street in front of God and everybody. And here is what Cuthbert thinks will like, soothe the waters of this dynamic. He says, “you’re making a great fuss about your child, she’s an ordinary little bitch. I don’t know what the hell you want with her.”

DEVON: Oooooh

LIZ: **laughing**

DEVON: Cuthbert.

LIZ: Good. Good move Cuthbert, way to de-escalate.

DEVON: Wow, buddy! That’s gasoline on the fire.

LIZ: Not a helpful move.


LIZ: Not a helpful move. So, that confrontation was witnessed by a lot of people because they’re right in downtown. They’re in front of one of the few stores that’s in town and is owned by the Sheriff at the time and who is also the former Mayor. Because there’s like seven people who are allowed to do that ‘cause like, only white dudes of a certain age and education. And they’re just like I don’t know, you want to be mayor this year?

DEVON: I mean who was it, Jimmy Carter had to sell his peanut farm. Apparently this guy can be Sheriff and Sears and Roebuck.

LIZ: It was a part time gig. Yeah.

DEVON: The sheriff-ing.

LIZ: The original gig economy. Well, Oregon’s not even really a state at this point, it’s either about to become a state or it has just been a state. Let me see specifically.

DEVON: Right, I would have said it was… 1859.

LIZ: **speaks to self while you can hear keyboard typing in background** When did Oregon become a.. okay, yeah. Oregon became a state on February 14th, 1859.


LIZ: You fucking nailed that. How did you know that?

DEVON: I don’t know!

LIZ: So Oregon is a couple months out from becoming a state when this happens. And…

DEVON: Well, yeah, it’s ‘cause the Cuthberts, and the Danforths and Morti-pies of the world are all fucking fighting over an ordinary bitch apparently.

LIZ: Yeah, apparently Portland is just four giant lots of land with a cabin each. That’s my best guess. And a—and a shop.

D; And a shop. It’s how we play Risk.

LIZ: I want to put one dude on all of Kamchatka. Hold it down there, Trevor.

DEVON: You’re doing fine, Keith.

LIZ: Hold down Kamchatka for me. So, that whole, “She’s an ordinary bitch,” that kind of ends the discussion for the time being. I don’t know what you can say to that, because it’s such like a-- you’re getting hit from a bunch of directions. Where it’s like, you’re getting mad cause they took her and you want her back, but they’re putting her down, but also they won’t give her back, and you’re like, I don’t know what thing to argue with first. “I.. no, yes, no. Yes, she is, give her back. No, she’s not, fuck you. I don’t even know what I’m supposed to say!”

DEVON: It’s like in Futurama, “She does NOT look good for a truck stop girl!”

LIZ: **laughing**

DEVON: I don’t know how.

LIZ: She’s no ordinary bitch!

DEVON: She’s my extraordinary bitch.

LIZ: I love that album. Okay.

DEVON: **laughing**

LIZ: So Danforth, if you’re Danforth what you do is… you’re waiting for like, for the right thing to say to come to you, so you go home and you drink a lot. And according to some people, your wife also really hypes you up.

DEVON: **laughing**

LIZ: This is a key part of marriage for me, is having somebody who you go home and you’re like “guess what this fucko did?,” and they’re like “what did that fucko do?” and they’re automatically on your side and you’re like “urgggh, I don’t have to be fair and balanced about this, I am in the privacy of my own home and I am just going to tell the version of this story where I did everything right and they did everything wrong and we can all agree that I am awesome and everyone should listen to me. Yeah!” So, I imagine that is the discussion that they have.

DEVON: Mmhmm.

LIZ: Which in fairness, if anybody went home and said, “So I ran into the in-laws and what they have to say about our daughter is that she’s an ordinary little bitch and they don’t know why the hell we want her back.” I feel like there’s a good starting point that’s probably going to keep you busy conversationally for a while.

DEVON: Totally, there is a lot you can say, man.

LIZ: Yeah. So he’s at home. He comes back to town. He comes back to town to catch up with the Stumps. So we have Cuthbert and Mortimer and now Anna… Balch-Stump, I guess. I don’t know if she hyphenated. I don’t know how she saw this.

DEVON: Neither one of those names is good. So I hope she just whacked them both off and just went by Anna.

LIZ: Balch-Stump

DEVON: Nope.

LIZ: And he comes back and he has his double-barreled shot gun.

DEVON: Oooh, one for each of them.

LIZ: Yes. And he catches up with them. They are getting back on the ferry to go home to Vancouver. So they are like, so close to getting literally out of the state where this guy is drunk and belligerent.

DEVON: Yeah.

LIZ: He shoots Mortimer in the head and kills him. Both barrels.

DEVON: Awwww.

LIZ: Basically, takes his head off according to some of the resources that I looked at. Witnesses confirm he was extremely drunk.

DEVON: Good shot.

LIZ: Yeah, well, I mean it was pretty much point blank, is the problem. Oh no wait, I think that’s a term of art. I don’t know what point blank means. It was right there. It was extremely close range because they were all on this ferry. Which I don’t imagine was like one of those big ferries you drive a bunch of cars onto. I am pretty sure it was like some logs that were assembled.

DEVON: It was a Mark Twain kind of ferry. It’s a raft.

LIZ: Mmhmm, it was a raft. So people grab him because it’s not that much of a wild west. They’re like “uhh excuse me, you just decapitated that man. That’s not allowed. You can’t just do that.” They have a rental building that they’re using as a jail.

DEVON: Oh, Lord.

LIZ: Now what’s complicated about this is, because of the whole Kamchatka situation as previously discussed, they didn’t exactly have a smooth running justice system that can process this guy. There is no night court. There is no day court. They have what’s called the Assizes Method. Which is basically, there’s a traveling judge who rides the circuit and when he comes to town he just handles all the cases at once. And then you just have to wait till he comes around again.
DEVON: No way, oh wow. Oh, I am glad we are out of that system.

LIZ: Yeah, yeah. So, they have to keep this guy in jail for a long time.

DEVON: Well, he can sober up.

LIZ: Yeah, there you go. So, it’s November when he shoots Mortimer. They’re like “oh shit, we have to hold onto this guy until spring when the judge comes back.”

DEVON: Nooo, fuck! Yeah.

LIZ: So naturally he escaped.

DEVON: Of course.

LIZ: And where does he go?

DEVON: Of course, they’re in a rental building.

LIZ: Yeah exactly, it’s probably like, “now, do you like promise not to leave?”

DEVON: “I am going to shut this door. We gotta leave it cracked cause the cat likes to come and go.”

LIZ: **laughing**

DEVON: “Ya gonna be here when we come back?”

LIZ: “Where else are you going to go, Danforth?” And of course, I mean, he is like the cat. He goes straight home. That’s all that occurs to him to do. Which I guess, who’s he going to go to? I don’t know if he has any friends. He can’t go to the Stumps, so he goes straight back home. Which, I mean, it helps that he has a 350-acre forest. Like he’s probably going to hide successfully there more then we could in a split-level suburban thing.

DEVON: In my town house I have three levels, thanks very much, Liz.

LIZ: **laughing**

DEVON: I have many closets.

LIZ: Do you have many good hiding places?

DEVON: Well, I did before I gained all this weight. Now I can’t fit under the beds anymore.

LIZ: My whole escape strategy relies on people not knowing I have a second staircase.


LIZ: I mainly use it to startle house guests. But--

DEVON: Wow. The one in your kitchen that you can pop out of like so much kitchen help.

LIZ: Exactly, yeah, the staircase for the help. Because even though this house is tiny, apparently it needed two staircases.

DEVON: I think that that’s great for fire egress.

LIZ: It’s good for fire egress and it’s going to be great for when we turn this place into our Ouija Broads museum cause that means it will be up to code although I don’t know how the hell we’re going to get it ADA compliant. And it also facilitates a lot of great French farce type situations where you’re trying to tell somebody something as you come up and they’re going down… a lot of door slamming.

DEVON: And jangly music, and—I can see it now.

LIZ: A straight up Frasier episode.

LIZ: **happily** I am having a lot of fun with this episode. I am enjoying this.

DEVON: I can tell, I can tell, you’re enjoyable, my dear.

LIZ: Awww, I love you.

DEVON: I love you.

LIZ: So it’s-- at least one thing says that they think he actually tried to fake his own death because there’s allegedly-- and it wasn’t in the newspapers I have access to but that’s some old-ass newspapers, there’s not a lot that remains-- allegedly at one point, Mary Jane rolls up into town because they have a drowning victim. And she says, “Oh yeah, that is totally my husband.”

LIZ: **as townsfolk** “What?”

DEVON: Haha, come on, Mary Jane.

LIZ: **as townsfolk** “And then who was this dude lurking outside your cabin?”

LIZ: **as Mary Jane**  “I don’t know. Do you know him? I don’t know him.”

DEVON: **as Mary Jane** “Never seen him before.”

LIZ: **as Mary Jane** “Weird. It’s almost like we have 8 kids together.”

DEVON: **as Mary Jane** “We had another kid, didn’t you know. Keith. That’s Keith.”

LIZ: So, the police find him 8 months later. So they capture him in the fall. He’s supposed to go to trial in the spring. They grab him in the summer. And it finally goes to trial.
DEVON: Okay.

LIZ: And the trial is of course as much of a mess as you would expect.

DEVON: Oh, what a shitshow

LIZ: I know, there’s nothing else to do. So everybody who wants to see it is rolling up. He, in an exciting twist, is shocked that he is in trouble.

DEVON: For real?

LIZ: And he’s like, “I’m defending my property.”

DEVON: For real?

LIZ: “I do not understand why I am in trouble for defending my property.” He feels that everything he did was completely justified. There’s a lot of witnesses who are around to say, “okay, two things that happened a lot before the crime happened. One is that this dude sat around in bars a lot talking about how he was going to kill Mortimer and the other is that his wife would hang around with him and bug him to do that.”

DEVON: No. **laughing**

LIZ: Which is not a great look for either of them.

DEVON: **laughing** Wow. If you’re going to premeditate, you just keep that in your head. You don’t put it in your journal or your Facebook or tell people at the bar.

LIZ: It’s not like they walked past your window. Like, you had to make an effort to be someplace that people could overhear you in Portland in the 1850s.

DEVON: Right? Right? Right? You had 350 other acres you could have gone to and said whatever the fuck and they never would have known. Come on now, Danford.

LIZ: Yeah, well. Danford says, “I have never seen these people before in my life.” **laughing**

DEVON: **laughing** I mean he probably seen them twice ‘cause you were so fucking drunk you were cross-eyed.

LIZ: He’s got a barrel for each of them.

DEVON: He’s got a barrel for each of them. **laughing**

LIZ: What they do with this-- he becomes-- because he’s dragged it out so long, while he was running around doing whatever in the woods, Oregon became a state. So Danforth goes on the record books as the first person to be executed in the state of Oregon.

DEVON: There you go, Danford.

LIZ: So they hang him by the neck until dead. About 600 people show up.

DEVON: Fuck!

LIZ: Naturally.

DEVON: Natch.

LIZ: But the one that everyone focuses on being there is… Anna.

DEVON: Is it! Oh, oh, I wanted to know this.

LIZ: Completely dry-eyed.

DEVON: Yeah!

LIZ: With her in-laws.

DEVON: Yeah!

LIZ: And they watch him die.

DEVON: Cold.

LIZ: So, October 18th, 1859, ten months to the day after he takes off Mortimer’s head with his double barreled shot gun, Balch is hanged in front of these people who he deprived of their son and husband respectively.

DEVON: Yeah… fuck.

LIZ: There was a reporter there from the Portland Oregonian who was real upset about Anna being there and not crying.

DEVON: **protesting sound**

LIZ: Here’s what he had to say -- I am assuming it was a he, I think I am pretty safe as it’s1858, no 1859-- okay: “The idea of a daughter by her own volition, attending the execution of a father upon a gallows is a disgrace of the intelligence of the age, and to every principal a filial affection manifested or exhibited by every species of the brute creation in the sea and upon the earth.” So apparently mermaids are included in this.

DEVON: Yeah, well.

LIZ: **reading** “The fact is that of a character that we cannot pass unnoticed and must meet with the surprise reprobation and detestation of the whole community.”

DEVON: **laughing**

LIZ: So what the reporter thinks the real takeaway of this is, “man, that Anna. What’s her problem?”

DEVON: How fucking dare she want justice for her husband?

LIZ: Yeah, it’s like what do you mean, why is she not crying? Was it the part where he literally tried to treat her like a piece of property or the part where he exploded her husband’s entire skull next to her?

DEVON: Right? Right?

LIZ: Yeah. Or whatever was going on with that possessive dynamic.

DEVON: Right?

LIZ: Which, not a good look. Not a great look.

DEVON: I’m sorry. Captain Incest went and pulled a Lee Harvey Oswald on this poor woman, like 150 years before Lee Harvey Oswald was a thing and she’s supposed to cry when he dies?

LIZ: Yeah, she’s supposed to be like, “well, what’s really sad is that this guy that I met when I was 13 and then murdered my husband 2 years later, it’s just such a bummer the way that he’s going to die.”

DEVON: “Yeah, this sucks.”

LIZ: **as Anna** “I am just really torn up about this.”

LIZ: I don’t know, was it the reporter’s first day? Like, they just got there and all they know is they’re like sitting there with their little pad of paper like “who’s this guy?”

LIZ: **as other person** “Oh he’s getting hanged for murder.”

LIZ: **as reporter** “And who’s she over there?”

LIZ: **as other person** “Oh that’s his daughter.”

LIZ: ** as reporter** “Oh, she’s not even sad. Oh shit, deadline! Okay.”

DEVON: **as reporter** “Let’s just print it!”

LIZ: **laughing**

DEVON: No. he sounds like Oregon’s first incel. Congratulations, reporter.

LIZ: Yeah, that’s the incident. And as usual there’s like a concrete incident which is fairly well attested in historical record. There’s all the stories on the other end. And then there’s like everything that happens in between. Mary Jane, for whatever reason, when her will was read when she passed away--

DEVON: Wait, who’s Mary Jane?

LIZ: The mother.

DEVON: The mother, sorry.

LIZ: When the mother passes away, she leaves her property to none of the children.

DEVON: Yo, bitch move MJ.

LIZ: She ends up not leaving it to any of the kids. There’s some people who want to go back and say, oh, she’s the witch.


LIZ: I have never seen anything that convinces me that Danforth tried this, but some people say that he claimed that she bewitched him to kill Mortimer.

DEVON: Okay.

LIZ: That doesn’t concur at all to me with the defense that he actually took.

DEVON: Right, right. It sounds like he was totally like “yeah, I did it cause I wanted to.”

LIZ: Yeah.

DEVON: That’s enough!

LIZ: That’s allowed. “Gentlemen of the jury, would you like to not have this option if your 15-year-old stepdaughter that you’re creepily involved with happened to marry somebody?”

DEVON: **laughing**

LIZ: Where does it end?

DEVON: Where does it end?

**both laughing**

LIZ: So it passes through a bunch of people’s hands and in 1897, it ends up with this guy named Donald Macleay, who’s got a chunk of the former Balch property. And he’s pissed off because they’re charging him taxes on it. And he literally is like, okay, this is a hillside with a bunch of trees. I cannot get money out of it, but I have to pay money for it. I don’t care for that. Portland, you have it. And that’s how they got Macleay park.

DEVON: **laughing**

LIZ: It’s kind of a spite park.

DEVON: It is a spite park. I kind of like the pettiness of it. I don’t want to pay taxes on it. Here city, you pay taxes.

LIZ: Yeah, you do it.

DEVON: Or you use taxes to take care of it, you know what I mean.

LIZ: You throw this away.

DEVON: You throw this away is right.

LIZ: He actually had an interesting requirement. Let me see if I can find this here… Well, one of the things that he asked when he donated the property is that it be accessible to wheelchairs. Which is, you know, it’s what, eighteen, um… ninety-seven or so? So it’s a hot 100 years before the ADA, so I found that intriguing because of the whole day job thing. And it becomes a part of the Portland Parks system, other properties in that area get donated, so it kind of gets combined into Forest Park. Now, significantly, they lived in a log cabin.

DEVON: Yeah, yeah.

LIZ: The Witch’s Castle is a stone building. So how do we get a stone building there?

DEVON: Thank you.

LIZ: Well, I will tell you.

DEVON: It’s all the stones they picked up off the trails that were in the way of wheelchairs.

LIZ: Ooooooh.

DEVON: And they put them into a castle, I don’t know why. I have ran out. I just-- all I can think of is like, this is awesome, I am super glad with how progressive he is… Museum people, you can’t take a gift for—this is why you have collection policies that don’t allow you to take a gift that have restrictions on them. Because you’re looking at this park going, how the fuck do we get wheelchairs in here? It is 1900 my friend, these are not cool, new 4-wheel ATV wheelchairs.

LIZ: No-ho-ho.

DEVON: These are those old wicker porch chairs that somebody put spindly little ass wheels on. The fuck do we do?

LIZ: Good question. So I have read two versions of when that structure came into play, but let me see first… I don’t like to give you too many puzzles. But imagine… let’s put ourselves in the Spokane setting. Let’s say that were in a park, were in Manito, we’re in Lincoln Park. What are the buildings that are built in those parks?

DEVON: Ohhh! They’re—yeah! They’re bathrooms.

LIZ: Nailed it! The Witch’s Castle is a bathroom.

DEVON: Fuck! **laughing** A two story bathroom? We are living high and mighty from the days of butt-flap pants-shitting in the woods on stumps, my friend.

LIZ: Ah, progress marches on.

DEVON: This is a commode with an abode. Holy shit.

LIZ: **laughing until she starts coughing**

DEVON: A can with a plan!

LIZ: (away from mic as she recovers) You can’t do that to me, I’m going to die.

LIZ: Okay, so I am unclear from these resources whether it was built in the 30s or the 50s, but somewhere in that window they built a rangers’ station - kind of just a, y’know, “let’s keep our shit in here,” not literally-- but also it was mainly a bathroom.

DEVON: **laughing**

LIZ: And in 1962 there was a big storm and it was heavily damaged. And they didn’t bother to repair it. So, from 1962 until now, it becomes the party hang out, it gets mossy, it gets graffiti, and it becomes known, somehow -- probably high school students I’m gonna guess -- as the Witches Castle. So I love that, because I am fairly sure everyone who decided it was spooky worked backward from it looking spooky.

DEVON: **laughing** Yeah.

LIZ: So the entire story of murder, potential incest, a daughter watching her father hanged from the neck until dead with dry eyes-- fucking nothing to do with this. It’s just a spooky-ass former shit house. And that’s good enough for us.

DEVON: **laughing**

LIZ: I love this story.

DEVON: It’s my favorite quote in the world. Oh my God.

LIZ: I mean, alternately, if I am going to put on my other, more open-minded hat. Potentially, this building… attracted the spirits who are always in conflict and at war, even though neither of them died there, because all this bad stuff happened and also a building was built on it that happened to look spooky, but it’s legitimately haunted because bad shit went down. I mean that’s another way it could happen.

DEVON: Sure. **laughing** Sure, Liz, that’s another way that can happen.

LIZ: Sure. I am just trying to be fair.

BOTH: **more laughing**

DEVON: Someone said, “dookey” but they heard “spooky” and it just became this terrible game of telephone. In which teenagers were like, “fucking witch lived there!” And you’ve got one of them going “nah man, I heard on this podcast it used to be an outhouse.” “No bro, no it couldn’t be that.”

LIZ: And that’s when you’re like, “How do I recover… uhh satanic, Satanist, Satanists did spells there, look there’s still blood!” “I think that may be spray paint.” “No dude. That’s definitely blood”

DEVON: Fucking sacrifice.

LIZ: I was really excited-- I had known about this story for a while. So most of my resource here is Weird Oregon. But then I also have some other links that I will actually try to put up. I am actually trying to put the show notes back together, because I am trying to transfer them from Wordpress and it’s hard… I have a lot happening.

DEVON: You have a lot happening.

LIZ: But Weird Oregon was the main source for this. And I love this because it has many components that I like. It has an actual historical thing, of the first man to be executed in the State of Oregon.

Devon: Mm-hmm.

Liz: But then it also has a magical haunted toilet.

DEVON: **laughing**

LIZ: And you don’t usually get both of those in one story.

DEVON: No, no…

LIZ: And it’s only a mile walk apparently. So, I super want to go next time we’re in Portland. I want to see this thing.

DEVON: **still laughing**

LIZ: It also makes me want to like, just start building stuff in parks. Like, it’s like, seeding a coral reef. You know how sometimes they deliberately sink a yacht or whatever cause they’re like “yes and then all those little corals will grow on it.” That’s what you get when you abandon a property in a forest park. You come back in 50 years and there’s going to be so much ghost on that.

DEVON: So much ghost all up on that.

LIZ: They love it. It’s their habitat.

DEVON: They’re drawn to it. Oh, oh, can you and I please build a little structure in Lincoln Park. And then, let’s just wait. Let’s just, how many people can we get that haven’t listened to this episode that contact us and are like, did you know about this?

LIZ: Yeah, well, all I’ll say is Lydia is kind of outgrowing her playhouse. So I feel like, if she ever loses interest in it. And we put in a solid day, get some sandpaper, rough it up. Carve some spooky things in it. We can put that in the back of a Ford and find some good place to put that.

DEVON: Farragut Park Lookout! I don’t think it’s considering littering when we’re doing it for a podcast.

LIZ: Yeah. It’s both art and science.

DEVON: Uh yeah, it is an installation, hello.

LIZ: It’s also conservation. It’s not littering when you put a bird house on a tree.

DEVON: Right, we’re seeding the fucking coral reef with our shitter.

LIZ: (whispering) We’re not lawyers. Don’t do these things. **laughing**

DEVON: **laughing** No. Do do them. Absolutely do them. And my defense will be the same as Danforth’s basically, which is like, “yeah, it was a good idea.”

LIZ: **laughing**


LIZ: Yeah, or the combined thing of what he actually did and what people thought later. Which is, “I didn’t do it, if I did do it, I had a good reason and if I didn’t have a good reason, a witch made me do it.” Tell me what situation you can’t walk out of with those defenses. I mean.

DEVON: I mean! Oh, I’m putting that on a cake for you one day.

LIZ: Yeah, I want a cake, and maybe like a, I want to put it on um-- like a motivation quote, like a beautiful picture of a sunrise over a mountain. “I didn’t do it, if I did do it, I had a good reason, and if I didn’t have a good reason, a witch made me do it.”

DEVON: I would buy that poster. Coming soon to our store.

LIZ: So that’s the story of The Witches Castle in McLeay park and also Forest Park. A park within a park.

DEVON: It’s a park within a park. And it’s a toilet within a castle.

LIZ: Yeah. There you go. I don’t think there’s actually literally any toilets left. But also if you have a bunch of drunk toilets. Or shit--

DEVON: A bunch of drunk toilets.

LIZ: A bunch of drunk toilets.

DEVON: Tell me more.

LIZ: If you have a bunch of drunk teenagers anywhere, everything is a toilet, so…

DEVON: Fucking gross.

LIZ: Close enough.

DEVON: What a wonderful story.

LIZ: I want to go see it someday. I… want people to join us on social media. I want them to come to Facebook, twitter, Instagram. Look for the Ouija Broads. Come to Just yesterday, when I am recording this, I put up the Ouija Broads guide to Badass Women of the Northwest.

Devon: Boom!

LIZ: Because it’s Women’s History Month and I was like, yes, it’s time. We got your Stagecoach Mary, we got your Eagle Lady, we got your Ada Blackjack, we got your Mercer’s Belles. And of course, we got your Nelly Cashman.

DEVON: Damn right, you do.

LIZ: Yeah! Let me see, what else do we want to tell them about? Patreon.

DEVON: iTunes.

LIZ: If you go to sorry I am just going to talk over you? And carry on?

DEVON: Do it, edit me out.

LIZ: You can get old episodes, in fact I would recommend that everybody, if you’re ever like, “man, I am so bummed that they went to an every other week schedule.” Hop on, go to the button that says episodes, and then I want you to scroll all the way down, so you’re going to go through all the-- at this time, God, what are we at, 93, 94 episodes?


LIZ: Dang. Okay, you’re going to go all the way down. And once you go past our very first episodes, you’re going to find a section that says, “Guest Spots, Lost Episodes and More” So what you will find when you go to that is the other shows that we have been on and other stuff. So, let me tell you a little bit about it. So what I was listening to the other day that was making me very happy was when we went on a show that is all about friendship, called Best Forevers. Our episode is called “Cosmically Correct” because that is how we feel about our friendship. That’s very fun. If you’ve ever been like, how did they meet and why are they so weird together? I don’t know if this will help, but maybe it will give you more data points. There’s Devon, this is the most recent one, Devon ghosting-- **laughing**

DEVON: Yes, I was. Boooooooo.

LIZ: **laughing** Oh, that was an accident.

DEVON: Oh woman. It is 8:30 and you are not that drunk. Are you having a stroke?

LIZ: I had one cider. Devon guesting on “Insanely Haunted” talking about the Ghost Adventures episode of the Lizzie Borden house. Very wonderful.

DEVON: Thank you. Yeah, shout out to Max and Cassie. They’re fucking rad.

LIZ: Shout out! Okay, I went on Historical Hotties back a while ago, Fall 2017, man that feels like a long time ago.

DEVON: Yeah. That was our first guesting. Wasn’t it?

LIZ: Yeah it was, we were like, really new.

DEVON: Babies

LIZ: Babies. They were doing a category of the Old West. So we talked about who was the Historical Hottie. They have a very structured thing. They rate them on different categories and you have gotta pick a number. And it’s very organized, and it basically reminds me of a less aggressive version of “Fuck, Marry, Kill,” where it like gives you the framework to make a really passionate case for what you argue about, but you don’t have to say you’re going to kill anybody. And I love that part.

DEVON: I do appreciate that. It’s just the order in which I would mate with you.

LIZ: There you go. I stood up for Josie Earp, so Wyatt’s wife. The Sisters Nelson presented Annie Oakley the sharpshooter and John Ware who was a legend of Calgary as a black cowboy. So some really interesting stuff to dig into there.

DEVON: Yeah it is.

LIZ: I don’t know if I put all this in there, but I feel like I have never really gone through all of it on the show.

DEVON: No, I think it’s great. It’s really good. Talk about Nostalgia Magazine, unless you want me to bring it up.

LIZ: I will get to that. We’ve got more episodes to get through.

DEVON: God damn, do we?

LIZ: I just titled this one, “Liz Has a Day Job?” Someone reached out and I went and talked about some of the stuff that I do looking into health policy and people with disabilities. Talking about health insurance, talking about Medicaid work requirements. Because of the nature of the gig, the Medicaid work requirement stuff is fairly out of date at this point. But you can hear me talk about that on Healthcare Dialogue from Spokane Public Radio KYRS. And then of course, if you want to get in on the Patreon, we have these séances, and I have never really talked about what-all they are. Now there is one that I have to find, because I know we did an episode where I told you about the nurse who killed the hit man and like two other women who destroyed their attackers. And it’s not on this list, so I have to find it, hopefully I will find it by the time people actually see this, or hear this. Séance number one we talked about intuitive readings that we’d had and talked about-- what I put here that we talked about was lucid dreaming, bullshit situations, lizard ownership, sad flowers, charismatic megafauna and wind. So I feel like I need to re-listen to that because it sounds like a Stefan bit on SNL. They have Lizard Ownership and Sad Flowers.

DEVON: It sounds like everything we talk about every episode. You could apply that to all of them.

LIZ: Yes. Then we Séance number two -- or whatever number depending on where this nurse kills hitman one goes -- I focused on the Spokane Street Hotel murders. Interesting. Séance number 3, I named after a quote that I think is in my top 5 Devon quotes of all time, which is “We Can Ford That Shit.” **laughing**

DEVON: Well, I thought we could.

LIZ: That’s when we played the Oregon Trail. I listened to that one the other day and it made me happy. Séance number 4 is when we just kind of churned through a bunch of topics that we wanted to talk about, the faceless roamer, Mel’s hole and Seattle’s Umbrella Man and then we did one just the other day about depictions of the Northwest that we like, which cryptid we’d be and our zodiac signs.


LIZ: So just if you’re ever like wow I really want to listen to an episode but I have listened to all of these too recently, go to backslash episodes-- forward slash? I don’t know which slash that is…slash. Slash them episodes. And get in on some of this stuff. If you’re looking more for written word stuff, is also good for that. I’ve written up a couple of cases including F. Lewis Clark and the Fircrest Phone Hack, I Prefer Lemons, that thing-- and you should really be subscribing to Nostalgia magazine where I am writing up some weird history. Do you want to get in on that some time? You’re welcome to.

DEVON: Oh my God, I would love to. Is that an option? I am so much better at writing shit than writing it then remembering it to tell you in an episode.

LIZ: Yes, let’s do that for the next one. Let’s pick something good and weird for Spokane. And that’s the first-- my Mom doesn’t listen to the show, but she did get Nostalgia magazine and put it up on the fridge. So now, I’vee really made it.

DEVON: That’s so sweet. You have got the fridge Buddy.

LIZ: I got the fridge. Yeah.

DEVON: That’s the front page of the family.

LIZ: **laughing** That is the front page of the family! Aw. All right. So those are places that you can go to get more of what we’re doing. But we will be back in a couple weeks to tell you more stuff. And you know what want you to do.

DEVON: You do know!

LIZ: We want you to live weird--

DEVON: --to die weird--

LIZ: We want you to stay weird. And thank you for listening.

DEVON: Thank you for listening. 

Closing theme music (Me and the Man in the Moon) plays and fades out.

"I Prefer Lemons." Was the mysterious cell-phone harassment of several people in Fircrest, WA a terrifying hack, or a teenage hoax?

mobile-phone-game (1).jpg

It began innocuously. 16-year-old Courtney Kuykendall received texts from her friends one night in 2007 asking why she had simply texted them the word “gay.” Courtney hadn’t texted “gay” at anyone, so was somewhat confused. Pretty forgettable, except for what came next.

Before long, Courtney and her friends and family were receiving relentless, threatening texts and phone calls from an unknown figure that they came to call “Restricted,” after the name that appeared on their Caller ID when these calls came through. Restricted said that he was going to kill them, rape them, kill their pets, attack their school. The messages came around the clock, to the family’s landline as well as their cell phones. Switching their phones, getting new accounts, and turning the phones off didn’t seem to help at all. Once, while Courtney and another victim were explaining the situation in the presence of a police officer, their phones turned themselves on and called each other.

When the police got involved, they traced the threatening messages back to Courtney’s own phone – which seemed to be able to send messages and make calls even when it was turned off. When the Kuykendalls got home from meeting with law enforcement, they had a voicemail that consisted of a recording of the conversation they had had only hours earlier. They took Courtney’s phone away, but the calls just kept coming.

Even more alarmingly, Restricted seemed to be able to see them, even inside their own home. When they got a new security system keypad for their home, they received a call moments later from Restricted, saying that he knew the passcode. Sometimes he would comment on their clothing. The quintessential quote from this case is from Andrea McKay, who was cutting limes on the counter when she received a message from Restricted: I prefer lemons.

One night, someone even banged on the side of the Kuykendall house and ran off. Blocking the camera lenses with tape and removing the phones’ batteries didn’t seem to help.

Courtney, her family, and the other victims of the harassment were terrified. The cops were baffled. There seemed to be no way to hide away from where their phones could hear and see… or to avoid what Restricted wanted to say.

Aaaaand that’s kind of where the whole story trails off, which is exasperating. I have found some resources that indicate that the FBI became involved and the calls stopped around that time, but very little follow-up on this story from any of the media outlets that were so eager to cover the initial mystery. (It was right around when the first iPhone came out, which I think didn’t hurt the popularity of the story.) If the case was officially solved, it was not discussed publicly by law enforcement or by the victims.

Having read many, many iterations of the same article from when this story peaked, I want to clarify one thing - many articles refer to the victims as “three families,” which can make it sound like this was three unrelated groups of people. It was Heather Kuykendall and family, her slightly older (married, living with her husband in a different house) sister and family, and Heather’s friend who lived across the street and family. At least one other friend of Heather’s also said that her phone’s ringtone changed without her involvement to a guttural voice saying “answer your phone,” but she tends not to get included in the count.

So what the hell happened here? Obviously, most people jump to a hoax, and Courtney tends to get the lion’s share of the blame – I mean, not only was it her phone, but she was a pretty blonde teenager who got to go on national TV with this exciting story. Courtney’s rebuttal was, “Why would I do that to people I care about? Why would I harass my own family?” For what it’s worth, her mother also was adamant that Courtney was not involved.

Some argue that Restricted was using some kind of hack or virus to control the phones, possibly with inside help from either a deliberate confederate (e.g., someone who could smuggle their family member’s phone out to Restricted for some hands-on fuckery) or a clueless accomplice (e.g., a theory that Courtney kept re-infecting her new phone by visiting her MySpace page). I am not a tech person, but discussions online seem to range from “turning on a phone and having it send messages/make calls without being in the room with it is very possible” to “in 2007, that would have been some military-grade technology and very hard to pull off without having physical access to it at some point.” But for what it’s worth, the family did live close to McChord Air Force Base, and Heather’s brother-in-law worked there. In fact, he received a Restricted text at one point that said, “McChord needs us.”

At least one skeptic online has also pointed out that you don’t have to either hang the entire story on “spooky phone can see you cutting up limes with its all-seeing lens” vs. “utter hoax.” There are some more low-tech approaches that enable you to make sinister statements about someone’s meal prep or how their shirt looks, such as looking through the damn window or texting with someone who is in the next room from your victim. One law enforcement officer suggested that they might have a “tech-savvy teenage boy” in their neighborhood who was doing this. Sure, or a kid who lives in the neighborhood – or even across the street – and can creep on people the old-fashioned way.

At this point I’m wondering, did any of it actually happen? Almost every one of the technological wonders ascribed to Restricted and the cell phones is based on the report of one of the victims. Even the “the phones turned themselves on while the police officer was sitting right there” and the “we had a voicemail recording of ourselves talking to the cops” stories are based purely on what the families say. If the police officer who saw the phones turn themselves on was around in 2007, he didn’t make any statements on the record. If you’ve ever gotten a pocket dial from someone or have accidentally opened your camera app when pulling your phone out of your pocket, you’re aware that we don’t exactly spend much of our lives in situations where our phones can record nice clean audio or have a good view of what we’re doing – all the less so in 2007, when watching Hulu on your screen while you fixed dinner wasn’t an option.

As far as I can tell, nobody’s ever confessed, and there was no big resolution – just the FBI getting involved and the calls stopping. The media got very excited about this story, which let them make excited noises about cyber-bullying as well as the mysterious sexy power of cell phones and how they’re just such a part of our lives all the time, much like the new iPhone, coming out now! And then they lost interest, and moved on.

My personal theory, just based on what I’ve read (of which basically everything pertinent is shared here) is that Heather or her friend sent threats to someone via phone, then got scared of getting in trouble and decided to cover their asses by turning it into a whole “I was totally hacked! Other people send threats from my phone all the time! They even threaten me and my family!” thing. (Like how people who fuck up on Twitter tend to allege that they were hacked, and that’s why they accidentally shared hardcore porn on their account or made racist statements or whatever.) Whether the person who did this actually went to the trouble of making the phone do mysterious things, or simply said that it was (possibly with some help from an accomplice), I can’t say.

The one explanation I find very unlikely is that someone with no physical access to the family or their phones decided to relentlessly harass them around the clock, but then abruptly stopped. There are simply much faster, lower-energy ways to be an asshole to somebody, and 99.9% of people will just use one of those – egg their house or put gum in their hair at school or whatever. There is a small proportion of people who would get into this kind of campaign (ala the Watcher who pesters that family in New Jersey), but I feel like they don’t just peace out forever (or at least for 12 years and counting) based on a little law enforcement involvement.


Cell hack geek stalks pretty blonde shocker

Stalker Terrorizes Family Via Cell Phone?

Cell Phone Stalkers Harass Washington Family

Metafilter discussion on the case.

I originally shared this post on Reddit’s UnresolvedMysteries subreddit, and the ensuing discussion has many interesting insights and theories.

The Mysterious Disappearance of F. Lewis Clark

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Francis Lewis Clark, the “elegant entrepreneur,” left his mark on many parts of Spokane, Washington. A famed yachtsman, he named his award-winning craft “The Spokane.” He made much of his fortune in Idaho, and spent much of his fortune on a 900-acre estate, Honeysuckle Lodge, on Hayden Lake.

The Disappearance

Francis was married to the willowy and charming Winifred, and they liked to winter in California. On January 17, 1914, F. Lewis accompanied Winifred to the train station in Santa Barbara - she was traveling visit a family member in San Francisco. According to some reports, they quarreled. After seeing her off, he dismissed his chauffeur, saying that he planned to walk back to the hotel himself. He asked for a key to the side door of the hotel.

He was never seen again.

Investigation, Phase 1: Suicide or Accident

The first theory, of course, was that he went into the water, either intentionally or unintentionally. Santa Barbara is a coastal town, and the railroad tracks are only a few blocks from their famous deepwater pier, Stearns Wharf. A few days after he disappeared, Clark’s hat was found floating a mile off-shore, focusing the search on the water.

Investigation, Phase 2: Intentional Disappearance

On January 20th, Winifred volunteers that Francis may be in a sanitarium somewhere in Los Angeles. Evidently their winter plans had been “disarranged suddenly” by Clark deciding to take a “rest cure” in San Diego. According to this version of events, relayed by unnamed “friends” who she spoke to on the train, she was unhappy that she wouldn’t get to see much of him if he were in San Diego, and had decided to go back north to be with family. I think from context that "going back north" is referring to San Francisco (300 miles north of Santa Barbara) and not Spokane.

“Clark Is Alive Is Belief of Police,” says the Associated Press on January 21. Clark’s valet volunteers that he does not think that Clark was suicidal when he left the hotel that evening (to take Winifred to the train station). Mrs. Clark agrees that she does not think there was anything that might have caused him to take his own life, although “he had been in ill health for some time.” Winifred turns back toward Santa Barbara, and Clark’s son, Theodore, departs Cambridge to join his mother in California.

On January 21st, Winifred’s brother-in-law offers a $5,000 reward for finding Clark alive, or $200 for his body. He states, “We are unable to disabuse our minds of the possibility that Mr. Clark is in some sanitarium, hospital, or even held in duress in this vicinity.” As of the 24th, detectives have searched area hospitals and sanitariums for Clark, without success.

Investigation, Phase 3: Abduction

By January 29, 1914, Clark had been missing for 12 days. The Los Angeles Chief of Police makes public the fact that he has a ransom note from a group claiming to be holding F. Lewis Clark. The letter reads as follows:

We are holding Millionaire Clark for ransom of $75,000. State in Examiner if his folks will pay it or not. He is well taken care of. Yours, THE BLACKMAILERS

Across the top they added, “Make prompt reply in the papers as he is very anxious to get out.”

Mrs. Clark says she is willing to pay the ransom if they can prove that they’re the real deal, but the police are skeptical. Mrs. Clark and the detectives both ask for some kind of evidence - a personal item or key sentence that would prove the reality of the message. Evidently they do not get this, because by the 31st, an article on the case notes that police are confident that the kidnapping message was a hoax, and that there are a lot of “tin-star” detectives who want to “get a finger” into Clark’s money.

It’s certainly not unheard of for people to affiliate themselves with prominent crimes just for the attention, or for money. But we actually have some very, very plausible candidates for the authors of this note, and they were not rubberneckers or “tin-star detectives.” They were the most bizarre criminal ring that you’ve never heard of. They had various names, including “The Big Five” and “The Ring” but my absolute favorite is “The Long Beach Spook Trust.”

Meet the Long Beach Spook Trust

The activities of the Spook Trust were revealed over several court cases, many court appearances, and multiple locations between mid-1914 and 1916. The first strand of the web unravels when the Trust overreaches itself and tries to blackmail the mayor of Santa Monica. Going after the mayor was a bit too close to the bone even for experienced fleecers like the trust. The mayor went to the police, who gave him marked bills with which to pay the blackmail. The bills ended up in the hands of two Spook Trust members, private detective Edgar C. Byron and Santa Monica police officer C. C. Minger, both of whom are arrested on May 28, 1914.

CLEVER WOMEN USED AS BAIT, one headline proclaims excitedly. The scope of the ring is coming into focus - it’s clear that they have connections and operations even over in major East coast cities - and their appearance in the papers is bringing out other victims. The police issue a dozen warrants, including four for unnamed female badger-gamers ( and one specifically for “Clarice the Blondy.” These women would apparently “get acquainted with wealthy young society men shortly before their marriage” and then start blackmailing them, in addition to working the “time-worn badger game."

It rapidly becomes clear that this is a massive and complex operation. Byron’s home is full of telegrams, wire reports, letters, and codebooks - including some that indicate he was behind the ransom letter for F. Lewis Clark.

The Ring and F. Lewis Clark

In May 1914, Detective Felts had posed as a “Dr. Edwards,” a representative authorized to pay $50,000 for the safe return of Clark, and met with Mrs. Byron, who said she was aware of the whereabouts of Clark. He then met Mr. Byron by appointment at a hotel. Felts was “hot on the trail” when the mayor blackmail case broke open and Mr. Byron and Constable C. C. Minger were arrested.

“Developments” in the Ring's case led Felts to suspect that they may have had a hand in Clark’s disappearance, and that in fact Clark could possibly still be alive - months after his disappearance - and held hostage on an island off the coast. The Californian detectives prepared to search for Clark, while the Spokane detectives interrogated Mrs. Clark about conversations she had had with members of this psychic ring. There was evidence that Mrs. Clark, when she came to Los Angeles, was met by a female medium who said she could locate Mr. Clark.

Felts claims that he has reason to believe that Millionaire Clark was induced to take an interest in spiritualism. Through this, according to Felts, the millionaire induced his wife to leave Santa Barbara and go to San Francisco. Shortly after she left Santa Barbara Felts believes that the conspirators persuaded Clark to go aboard a steam launch. Then, as the detective reasons, the millionaire was taken away in bondage. With this accomplished, Felts believes that the blackmailers then approached Mrs. Clark through a medium. Felts claims that one of Clark’s most intimate associates was acquainted with a man who is now being sought as an alleged accomplice to Private Detective Byron… (The Oregon Daily Journal, May 31, 1914.)

This sounds outlandish, but it was completely consistent with the activities of the Spook Trust. They specialized in cons that involved a dose of spiritualism, a promise of riches, and a long grift that generally ended in blackmail. They preyed on wealthy widows, preferably those from out of town. They had both male and female mediums in the gang who regularly would do cold approaches on their targets, saying they had received a message from the spiritual realm.

One of the Ring's advertisements

Clarice the Blonde is arrested in connection with the Clark case in early June, and is said to have been involved with several other of the ring’s blackmail and extortion plots. She says “it’s all a mistake” as she’s taken in. “I have never heard of Clark, whom I’m supposed to have kidnapped, and I never heard of Alexander, McCullough, or Byron.” (If you’re thinking that it would be unusual for her never to have even heard of the missing millionaire from her area, we’re on the same page. That’s like somebody in 1991 Los Angeles saying they haven’t heard of Rodney King.)

Marie Ella Allen, a.k.a. Clarice the Blonde

Clarice is released only four or five days after her arrest, and the newspapers say that “their investigations have failed to uncover any facts that might connect the ring with the disappearance from Santa Barbara several months ago of J. (sic) Lewis Clark.” The rest of the ring is rounded up over the next few months. The ring is broken when two of them quarrel over how to divide up the loot and one shoots the other. A few sentences are handed down. All in all, it’s estimated that the ring took over $200,000 from its targets.

The trials of the ring shed no further light on Clark’s disappearance and/or their connection to it. He is not found, dead or alive, by any searches of the islands. Several of his business ventures are closed or sold. His will leaves $700,000 to Winifred and $10 to Theodore.

The Confession The story jumps ahead to February 1929, when Marie Allen Kelley - formerly known as Marie Ella Allen, or Clarice the Blonde - comes forward to Los Angeles police, saying that she had played a role in Clark’s death and wished to confess.

Marie’s story is as follows. Back in 1914, a man who she calls “Blackie” paid her $800 for riding with Clark in a taxi from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, where a “mob” (later clarified as five men) was waiting to rob Clark. Specifically, Marie was going to meet Clark at a hotel. Marie asserts that she did not know that the mob planned to kill Clark until it was too late. She eventually discloses the real name of “Blackie” to the police, and an address for him in Chicago.

I have told you that I did not see Mr. Clark killed. I drove with him to Santa Barbara, as I have told you, and he left me out at a hotel there, promising to return later. I knew the mob was coming up there and probably would rob him but I did not know of the murder until several months afterward.

The police are skeptical of her claim, and give her a sanity test in which she is examined by two “alienists” (the contemporary term for psychologists) to determine whether the story is a product of her imagination. Marie is defiant.

I saw in this morning’s papers where they believe I am a mental case. If I look like an insane person put me down as one and let it go at that. I am trying to help you solve a case that has weighed on my conscience for many years. Call all the alienists and psychiatrics you desire and I will gladly face all of them.

The case closes again in early March, when the Chief of Police for Santa Barbara declares that Marie’s story is a “fabrication which could not be checked or proven if true. Her story differs in some key material points previously authenticated at the time of Clark’s disappearance. The facts determined at the time of the episode were enough to convince a Coroner’s jury that it was a case of suicide and Mrs. Kelly’s story hasn’t been sufficient to warrant a reopening of the case.”

Besides, it’s been fifteen years, he says. Attempts to check records of hotels were futile, as were their attempts to find the parties she named. “We couldn’t have a criminal case against anybody in connection with Clarks’ disappearance as things stand now.”

After being questioned for several hours and hearing the Chief’s verdict, Marie is described as “resigned and noncommittal about the case.”

The police have done all they can do, I guess. Maybe I’m crazy. It all seems like a dream now. There is something funny about the whole works. I hope I’m not goofy. If it was a dream, it was a bad one.

The trail goes cold again. F. Lewis Clark becomes a story in a roundup of “famous mysteries” that papers can publish on a slow news day.

Did the Long Beach Spook Trust Kill F. Lewis Clark?

I honestly can’t claim that I know what role the Spook Trust played in Clark’s disappearance, but their involvement complicates an already mysterious case. I think there are two main ways that you could plausibly interpret the pieces of evidence that we have.

Interpretation #1: All a hoax.

The most popular interpretation over the years. In this theory, the Spook Trust was totally unconnected to Clark before his disappearance (whether it was an accident, self-harm, or foul play at the hands of an unrelated third party). Given their exhaustive interest in wealthy out-of-towners, it’s likely they were tuned in to who he was, where he was staying (newspapers printed this in those days for notable figures, I was able to find the record for Clark’s hotel), and that he was married. It would have been very easy to deploy one of their faux psychics to Winifred with enough vague but hopeful details to hook her, putting the psychic in the position to prime Winifred for a ransom letter the Trust would later send. When the Trust wasn’t able to provide Winifred adequate evidence - since they didn’t actually have Clark - the plan fell apart.

The part that puzzles me with this interpretation is the 1929 confession. Marie seems to have been surprised that law enforcement was uninterested in doing anything with the information she brought forward. She received some attention for her confession, but no money that I know of, and plenty of negative press. It’s possible that she concocted this story as a way to get revenge on a former partner (business, romantic, or both), but it was several days in before she reluctantly gave contact information for her accomplice, and as far as I know he was never apprehended. If it was a revenge plot, it wasn’t very organized and she didn’t pursue it very aggressively.

Interpretation #2: Ripoff gone wrong.

Another interpretation is that F. Lewis Clark was caught up in one of the Spook Trust’s standard cons. This is what Marie asserts happened, give or take. The tendency of the trust to lure victims to hotels puts a slightly different light on Clark’s insistence on dismissing his staff and walking himself home that fateful evening after dropping off his wife. Was he actually planning on going back to his usual hotel, or was he heading to another location for a rendezvous that he didn’t want anyone to know about? Did the shakedown go awry and the Trust ended up with a body instead of a blackmail victim?

It’s possible, but I think unlikely, that the Trust was holding Clark alive at some point and sending ransom letters but then something went wrong and the kidnapping turned into a murder. One way or another, I’m pretty sure that Clark died the night that he disappeared - there’s zero evidence that he was alive for long after he said farewell to his chauffeur.

The question I’d ask Marie about her story, if I could, is why on earth the Trust would then double down on their involvement in the case by writing a ransom letter. If you’ve actually killed someone, claiming that you are holding them alive and will release them for the right sum is what we might call a high-risk, high-reward maneuver. On the other hand, this was a group who did get violent with victims who didn’t pay up, not to mention each other. Would they have gotten this audacious?

If the police in 1929 thought that it was a case too distant in the past to solve, we can hardly do better 89 years later with only newspapers to work with. There are just too many pieces missing in this puzzle.What we do know is that the Spook Trust lied. To their victims, to the newspapers, to the police, and to each other. In 1914, Marie claimed to have nothing to do with the Clark disappearance. In 1929, she said that she led Clark to his death. Which one was the lie?

Some references:

Wikipedia's page on the Disappearance of F. Lewis Clark.

A picture of Clark's Spokane home, which is now used for offices.

A history of Clark's Idaho home, now a bed and breakfast.

The Clark House's own history of his life and disappearance.

So what do you think happened?