“The Unnatural Mother”

Episode 120

Can we apply today’s true crime labels to centuries old murders?  Can a woman be considered a family annihilator?  Does murdering your family make you a serial killer?  How could what we know today about mental health disorders change the outcomes of jury verdicts and sentencing 100 years ago or more?

In 1889 the city of Philadelphia hanged it’s first woman.  Sarah Jane Whiteling was found guilty of murder; she killed her husband and two young children.  People struggled to find a motive but there were none to  be found other than greed.  Multiple medical examinations resulted in the same diagnosis: Sarah Whiteling was of sound mind when she made the decision to poison her family, and calculating enough to spread out their deaths hoping to hide her crimes.

Was Sara a monster?  Was she suffering a mental health disorder and therefore not accountable for her actions?  Did she just tire of her life in Victorian Philadelphia and long for something easier,  something richer? Would this story be any different today, 130 years later?

Research for this episode includes

  • Death Penalty Information Center
  • The Cambridge Journals of Medical History: Diagnosing Homicidal Mania; Forensic Psychiatry and the Purposeless Murder
  • The Old Bailey Papers (oldbaileyonline.org)
  • Serial Killers and Sadistic Murderers: Up Close and Personal by Jack Levin
  • Philadelphia Inquirer 1888/89
  • Philadelphia Times 1888
  • Lancaster Semi Weekly New Era 1889
  •  Pittsburgh Dispatch 1888/89
  • Cincinnati Enquirer 1889
  • New York Herald 1888

TwistedPhilly is part of the bPod Studios Network. bPod is dedicated to curating a diverse collection of audio offerings designed to inspire moments of surprise and delight. For more information about podcasts available on bPod Studios Network, check the website at https://bpodstudios.com/

Check out the TwistedPhilly merchandise shop.  Tees, bags, mugs, beach towels, multiple designs, colors and styles for the entire family (even onesies for the little twisters.  Onesies also make great dog tees.)   https://twistedphillypodcast.threadless.com/

Support TwistedPhilly on Patreon! Get access to exclusive content and podcast swag!  https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4093396

Fairmount Charms: Strawberry Mansion and Lemon Hill

Episode 119

In West Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park sit a number of historic homes, some dating back to the late 1700s. Long ago this section of the city was nothing but farmland and forests, an area where Philadelphians built country homes far from the noise and congestion of the city.

These properties are rich with history, some are filled with hauntings, and all of them stand in what is known as the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood in Philadelphia, a community with it’s own history very different from the grand Fairmount charms that stand within the park.

In this episode we’ll tour two of these historic homes and wander their stately rooms,. We’ll hear from a medium who believes the ghost of the original owner still resides in one of these properties and we’ll talk about how the residents of the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood are supporting their community, one with struggling schools and the second highest crime rate in Philadelphia.

Research sources for this episode include:

  • Historic Strawberry Mansion.org
  • The Schuylkill Villas – the 2006 Loan Exhibit
  • The Charms of Fairmount Park – Park Charms.com
  • US History.org – Signers of the Declaration of Independence
  • Biography of Robert Morris (http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/biographies/robert-morris/ )
  • The Philadelphia Times: 1790-1870
  • Haunted Philadelphia: Famous Phantoms, Sinister Sites and Lingering Legends by Darcy Oordt
  • CBS 3 Philadelphia

The Town that Cancelled Halloween

Episode 118 – Special Re – Release from Halloween 2018

On Friday morning, October 30, 1992, the battered body of eleven year old Shauna Howe was found in a shallow creek bed a few miles outside the town of Oil City, Pennsylvania.   Shauna was abducted Tuesday night, October 27, a few minutes after leaving a Girl Scout Halloween event.  For days Oil City police, the Pennsylvania State Police, family and neighbors searched for Shauna, hoping to return her to her family alive.  Sadly, their hopes were crushed when she was found murdered.

While we know small towns aren’t immune to the same tragedies we suffer in bigger cities, Oil City experienced very little violent crime.  Most of their criminal activity centered around property theft and petty crimes.   They weren’t prepared for a case like this one, a little girl abducted on her way home from a Halloween party, just a few blocks from her house.  Oil City, which sits about an hour and a half north of Pittsburgh, cancelled Halloween.  No one wanted their children out at night, after dark, for any reason whatsoever.

Police tested DNA from over 100 people in the community, including all the men in Shauna’s family, expecting to get a match to the DNA found on Shauna Howe’s body and clothing, but they didn’t.  It took 10 years for someone to uncover what happened to Shauna, and bring her killers to justice.   Yet once her murderers were behind bars, the city hadn’t reinstated night time trick or treating.  Eventually Halloween was reinstated, but only from 2PM till 4PM,  Finally in 2008, a little girl not much different from Shauna Howe convinced Oil City council to let their children trick or treat again at night.

TwistedPhilly is part of the bPod Studios Network. bPod is dedicated to curating a diverse collection of audio offerings designed to inspire moments of surprise and delight. For more information about podcasts available on bPod Studios Network, check the website at https://bpodstudios.com/

Check out the TwistedPhilly merchandise shop.  Tees, bags, mugs, beach towels, multiple designs, colors and styles for the entire family (even onesies for the little twisters.  Onesies also make great dog tees.)   https://twistedphillypodcast.threadless.com/

Support TwistedPhilly on Patreon! Get access to exclusive content and podcast swag!  https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4093396

History Behind the Hauntings

Episode 117

Pennsylvania is filled with folklore and ghost stories from all over the state: ghost stories, cryptids, haunted houses and abandoned towns with misty forms wandering the forest.  These legends aren’t enough for me.  I always want to know the history behind the hauntings, what’s the real story that inspired the folk tales, and are these folk tales even based on truth?

As we inch closer to Halloween, it’s time to gather ’round the fire for some scary tales from Philadelphia and other parts of the keystone state filled not only with strange sightings but the history behind these stories.  Were these ghosts real people, what was their story,  where and when did they live and why do we think they haunt the land of the living?

Research for this episode includes:

  • The Big Book of Pennsylvania Ghost Stories by Mark Nesbitt and Patty Wilson, available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and eBook on Google Play
  • Tadeusz Walendowski, Polish American Historical Association, Polish American Studies Vol. LVII, No2 (Autumn 2011)
  • Ghost Stories of Berks County by Charles Adams, Available on Amazon
  • An Autobiography of a Quack by Dr. Silas Wier Mitchell, published 1905
  • Reading Eagle News, January, 2019
  • The Lewisburg Chronicle 1905 – 1911
  • The Belfonte Republican 1910-1911
  • The Altoona Tribune 1910-1911
  • The Altoona Mirror 1905-1906
  • New York Academy of Medicine, Beyond the “Yellow Wallpaper” by Joanna Goldberg
  • The National Museum of Civil War Medicine

TwistedPhilly is part of the bPod Studios Network. bPod is dedicated to curating a diverse collection of audio offerings designed to inspire moments of surprise and delight. For more information about podcasts available on bPod Studios Network, check the website at https://bpodstudios.com/

Check out the TwistedPhilly merchandise shop.  Tees, bags, mugs, beach towels, multiple designs, colors and styles for the entire family (even onesies for the little twisters.  Onesies also make great dog tees.)   https://twistedphillypodcast.threadless.com/

Support TwistedPhilly on Patreon! Get access to exclusive content and podcast swag!  https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4093396

Halloween Happenings 2019

Episode 116

Are you ready for a supersized, super spooky TwistedPhilly Halloween Happenings? If you’re looking for scary adventures, family fun, fall festivals, spooky shopping, twisted events, ghost tours, Halloween bars and so much more, look no further. Listen to Deana Marie’s recommendations for some of the best ways to celebrate fall and Halloween in and around the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection!

TwistedPhilly is part of the bPod Studios Network. bPod is dedicated to curating a diverse collection of audio offerings designed to inspire moments of surprise and delight. For more information about podcasts available on bPod Studios Network, check the website at https://bpodstudios.com/

Check out the TwistedPhilly merchandise shop.  Tees, bags, mugs, beach towels, multiple designs, colors and styles for the entire family (even onesies for the little twisters.  Onesies also make great dog tees.)   https://twistedphillypodcast.threadless.com/

Support TwistedPhilly on Patreon! Get access to exclusive content and podcast swag!  https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4093396

Mount Moriah Cemetery & the Friends of Mount Moriah

Episode 115

Incorporated in 1855, Mount Moriah Cemetery sat high up on a hill next to Cobbs Creek at the edge of Southwest Philadelphia. Like Laurel Hill Cemetery in the 1830s, the location of Mount Moriah was chosen for it’s distance from the busy city, the pastoral setting and beautiful views. Originally 54 acres, the cemetery grew to over 200 acres before the turn of the century. For decades Mount Moriah was a beautiful, peaceful final resting place for many Philadelphians, but gradually the cemetery was allowed to decline.

Vandalism, illegal dumping, mismanagement, and a lack of maintenance settled in at Mount Moriah Cemetery, which over time expanded to cross Cobbs Creak into Delaware County. Finally, in April 2011, without warning Mount Moriah Cemetery closed, even though they continued accepting burials up until the day they closed their gates.

Enter the Friends of Mount Moriah, a group of concerned, dedicated community members who didn’t sit around waiting for someone to fix it. They were the someones. For the past 8 years the Friends of Mount Moriah have cared for the cemetery, reclaiming half of the 140 acres that remains today. Today I’m joined by Ken Smith, Friends board member and long time volunteer. He’ll share the history of their organization, their work to preserve the cemetery and it’s history, and the support they provide to people all over the country who have friends and loved ones buried at this historic cemetery.

Research sources include:

  • FOMMCI – http://friendsofmountmoriahcemetery.org/
  • Ken Smith, President of the Board, Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery
  • Vanishing Philadelphia: Ruins of the Quaker City by JP Webster
  • What Happens When a Cemetery Dies, David Murrel for Philadelphia Magazine, 2016
  • Philadelphia Inquirer Archives 1855 – 2011
  • Hidden City Philadelphia

Thank you to Emmy Cerra for the music you heard in this episode of TwistedPhilly.  You can find out more about Emmy on her website at emmycerra.com and download her music on iTunes. 

For tickets to TwistedPhilly podcast live show with Hillbilly Horror Stories podcast, on Saturday, October 12th in Philadelphia,  go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/twistedphilly-and-hillbilly-horror-stories-live-in-philly-tickets-64698058635?aff=ebdssbeac

Check out the TwistedPhilly merchandise shop.  Tees, bags, mugs, beach towels, multiple designs, colors and styles for the entire family (even onesies for the little twisters.  Onesies also make great dog tees.)   https://twistedphillypodcast.threadless.com/

Support TwistedPhilly on Patreon! Get access to exclusive content and podcast swag!  https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4093396

Twisted Artist Series featuring Cabinet of Curious Clay

Episode 114

For about a year I’ve wanted to start a series called Twisted Artists, where I bring a Pennsylvania artist or crafter who’s work I appreciate onto the show to get to know them, their mediums, learn more about their creations and how they began their journey as creators.  I am a huge fan of local art and artists, crafters, not just here in Philadelphia or Pennsylvania but everywhere.

Today I’m joined by Pennsylvania artist Lindsay Keating, creator of Cabinet of Curious Clay, unique pottery and ceramics with a dark, slightly macabre and certainly twisted flair. Lindsay is also the founder of Darksome Art and Craft Market, an event showcasing independent creators and their amazing work.

I’m thrilled to start the Twisted Artist series on TwistedPhilly.  Every few months I’ll feature a bonus episode like this one where you’ll get to know a Pennsylvania or Philadelphia artist.

You can learn more about Lindsay Keating, Cabinet of Curious Clay and Darksome Art and Craft Market on her website at https://www.cabinetofcuriousclay.com/ and follow Lindsay on Instagram @cabinetofcuriousclay

Thank you to Emmy Cerra for the music you heard in this episode of TwistedPhilly.  You can find out more about Emmy on her website at emmycerra.com and download her music on iTunes. 

For tickets to TwistedPhilly podcast live show with Hillbilly Horror Stories podcast, on Saturday, October 12th in Philadelphia,  go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/twistedphilly-and-hillbilly-horror-stories-live-in-philly-tickets-64698058635?aff=ebdssbeac

TwistedPhilly is part of the bPod Studios Network. bPod is dedicated to curating a diverse collection of audio offerings designed to inspire moments of surprise and delight. For more information about podcasts available on bPod Studios Network, check the website at https://bpodstudios.com/

Check out the TwistedPhilly merchandise shop.  Tees, bags, mugs, beach towels, multiple designs, colors and styles for the entire family (even onesies for the little twisters.  Onesies also make great dog tees.)   https://twistedphillypodcast.threadless.com/

Support TwistedPhilly on Patreon! Get access to exclusive content and podcast swag!  https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4093396

“If I Stop Today, It Was Still Worth It” – The Story of Gia Marie Carangi

Episode 113

Her faced graced the cover of vogue and cosmopolitan dozens of times.  She represented brands like Dior, Versace, Armani and Yves Saint Laurent.  She was photographed by some of the world’s greatest photographers including Francesco Scavullo and Richard Avedon.  She popularized the concept of a single name long before Madonna.  And she grew up in the great northeast – that’s northeast Philadelphia.

Gia Marie Carangi moved to New York City 1978 when she was barely 18 years old to pursue a career in modeling.  She’d been signed by the one of the biggest agencies in New York, Wilhelmina Models, Inc.   There was very little runway leading to success for Gia.  She landed and was almost instantly a superstar.  Within just three years her career was on the decline because of her struggle with drug addiction.  By 1983 she moved back to Philly permanently, hoping to overcome addiction and find a new path in life.  Sadly, Gia passed away in 1986 from AIDS related complications.  She was 26 years old. 

This is the story of Gia Carangi, a woman whom many call america’s first supermodel.  There are other women who believe they hold that claim to fame,  but when you realize how quickly Gia rose to the level of the most desired model in the world, it’s hard to attach that phrase to anyone else.  In this episode I’m joined by my good friend and podcaster, Margo D, someone who is also enamored with this beautiful young woman.  

Research sources for this episode include:

  • Gia, HBO Docudrama, released January 31, 1998, Directed by Michael Christofer, written by Michael Christofer and Jay McInerney
  • Thing of Beauty:  The Tragedy of Supermodel Gia, written by former Philadelphia Magazine editor Stephen Fried, 1993
  • Philadelphia Inquirer Archives
  • Philadelphia Daily Local
  • Elle Magazine, April 2013 interview with Stephen Fried
  • V Magazine, October 2014 interview with Sandy Linter
  • 20/20 January 6, 1983
  • Sandy Linter and  Harry King, 2012 interview 

Thank you to Emmy Cerra for the music you heard in this episode of TwistedPhilly.  You can find out more about Emmy on her website at emmycerra.com and download her music on iTunes. 

TwistedPhilly is part of the bPod Studios Network. bPod is dedicated to curating a diverse collection of audio offerings designed to inspire moments of surprise and delight. For more information about podcasts available on bPod Studios Network, check the website at https://bpodstudios.com/

Check out the TwistedPhilly merchandise shop.  Tees, bags, mugs, beach towels, multiple designs, colors and styles for the entire family (even onesies for the little twisters.  Onesies also make great dog tees.)   https://twistedphillypodcast.threadless.com/

Support TwistedPhilly on Patreon! Get access to exclusive content and podcast swag!  https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4093396



Part 2: The Luzerne County “Kids for Cash” Scandal

Episode 112

NOTE: If you have not yet listened to part 1, pause this episode and listen to part 1 first.

Judge Mark Ciavarella sent thousands of children from Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, to juvenile detention centers for infractions that in many cases might have landed them in after school detention. But even the school districts preferred his heavy handed “zero tolerance” policies about juvenile crime. Instead of calling someone’s parents, schools often called the police, and contributed to the funnel that kept the state’s juvenile detention centers full, especially two centers: PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care.

Over a period of years in the early to mid 2000s, judge Mark Ciavarella, and president judge Michael Conahan, accepted over $2.6 million in “finder’s fees” from the developers of two private detention centers. While they claimed this wasn’t a bribe, they entered into a placement agreement with these facilities, one that cost the state millions more and cost many children in Wilkes Barre, PA, their futures.

In 2009 Ciavarella and Conahan, along with others whom we’ll discuss in this episode, were charged with racketeering and conspiracy. They had a plea agreement in place which would have landed them in jail for about 7 years, but Ciavarella refused to accept the idea he took money to detain kids. And that refusal cost both him and Mike Conahan their plea deal.

In this episode we’ll talk about the indictments and trials, Ciavarella’s attempt earlier this year to garner a new trial, and you’ll hear more about children who were deeply affected by placement in juvenile detention at the hands of judge Mark Ciavarella.

Research sources for this episode include: 

  • Kids for Cash. 2012, by William Ecenbarger; available on Amazon in hardback, paperback or Kindle
  • Kids for Cash documentary, 2014, by Robert May; available for rent or purchase on Amazon Prime Video, rated PG-13
  • The Wilkes Barre Times Leader: 1994 – 2019
  • The Wilkes Barre Citizen’s Voice; 1994 – 2019
  • The Scranton Times Tribune; 1994 – 2019
  • The New York Times; 2009 – 2019
  • CNN Online; 2009 – 2019
  • The Associated Press; 2009 – 2019
  • Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Center
  • The Juvenile Law Center
  • The Judicial Conduct Board of Pennsylvania
  • Democracy Now Online News Program
  • United States Census Bureau, City Data.com
  • PA State Juvenile Judge’s Bench Book
  • PA Courts.us – Juvenile Court Procedures

Thank you to Emmy Cerra forthe music you heard in this episode of TwistedPhilly.  You can find out more about Emmy on her website at emmycerra.com and download her music on iTunes. 

TwistedPhilly is part of the bPod Studios Network. bPod is dedicated to curating a diverse collection of audio offerings designed to inspire moments of surprise and delight. For more information about podcasts available on bPod Studios Network, check the website at https://bpodstudios.com/

Check out the TwistedPhilly merchandise shop.  Tees, bags, mugs, beach towels, multiple designs, colors and styles for the entire family (even onesies for the little twisters.  Onesies also make great dog tees.)   https://twistedphillypodcast.threadless.com/

Support TwistedPhilly on Patreon! Get access to exclusive content and podcast swag!  https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4093396



Part 1: The Luzerne County “Kids for Cash” Scandal

Episode 111

In January 1996, attorney Mark Ciavarella was appointed a Luzerne County judge in Wilkes Barre, PA.  Less than a year later he was made a juvenile judge, a position which according to the Pennsylvania State Juvenile Judge’s Bench Book gave him responsibility for presiding over juvenile cases and overseeing the entire juvenile delinquency program and operations in Luzerne County.  

In 1999 the Juvenile Justice Center of Philadelphia was contacted by the parent of a child in Wilkes Barre whom was sent to a juvenile detention center by Judge Ciavarella without legal representation.  The justice center escalated to the state supreme court and Ciavarella told the state he’d made a mistake, one he’d never make again.

It wasn’t a mistake, it was the M. O. of Ciavarella’s courtroom where between late 1996 and 2008 thousands of kid were sent to juvenile detention centers at a rate twice as high as any other county in Pennsylvania, and usually without legal counsel.   In part one of this two part episode we’ll take about Mark Ciavarella, the children of Wilkes Barre who entered courtroom, only to be ushered out within minutes wearing handcuffs and shackles.  Ciavarella didn’t do this alone – he had help in the form of a fellow judge, a local developer and a wealthy financier who paid Mark Ciavarella kickbacks to keep the bunks full at private juvenile detention facilities.

 

Research sources for this episode include:

  • Kids for Cash. 2012, by William Ecenbarger; available on Amazon in hardback, paperback or Kindle
  • Kids for Cash documentary, 2014, by Robert May; available for rent or purchase on Amazon Prime Video, rated PG-13
  • The Wilkes Barre Times Leader: 1994 – 2019
  • The Wilkes Barre Citizen’s Voice; 1994 – 2019
  • The Scranton Times Tribune; 1994 – 2019
  • The New York Times; 2009 – 2019
  • CNN Online; 2009 – 2019
  • The Associated Press; 2009 – 2019
  • Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Center
  • The Juvenile Law Center
  • The Judicial Conduct Board of Pennsylvania
  • Democracy Now Online News Program
  • United States Census Bureau, City Data.com
  • PA State Juvenile Judge’s Bench Book
  • PA Courts.us – Juvenile Court Procedures

Thank you to Emmy Cerra forthe music you heard in this episode of TwistedPhilly.  You can find out more about Emmy on her website at emmycerra.com and download her music on iTunes. 

TwistedPhilly is part of the bPod Studios Network. bPod is dedicated to curating a diverse collection of audio offerings designed to inspire moments of surprise and delight. For more information about podcasts available on bPod Studios Network, check the website at https://bpodstudios.com/

Check out the TwistedPhilly merchandise shop.  Tees, bags, mugs, beach towels, multiple designs, colors and styles for the entire family (even onesies for the little twisters.  Onesies also make great dog tees.)   https://twistedphillypodcast.threadless.com/

Support TwistedPhilly on Patreon! Get access to exclusive content and podcast swag!  https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4093396