This is a story of anarchy – but not in the UK. Anarchy in P-A. And in New York, and well ok, in the UK for a little while, then back to P-A, and New York. It’s like the title of Bilbo Baggins journal: There and Back Again. Although this journey doesn’t have a happy ending. This is the story of Nancy Spungen – a daughter, a sister, a genius, a rebel and a desperately tortured soul from the time of her birth almost every day until the day she died. Her death was something she predicted, it was something she attempted multiple times throughout her short life, even before she was a teen ager. It’s the story of a young woman with whom I was a little enamored when I was a teenager. She obsessed over music, she lived in New York, she landed the ultimate bad boy. What girl wouldn’t want that life? I guess I should say what teenager in the 80s wouldn’t want that description of a life. Because Nancy Spungen’s life was so much more, so much harder not only on her but her family, her parents, her siblings and especially her mother. This is Nancy’s story, and so much of this story includes her life in the Philadelphia suburbs, and her mother Deborah Spungen. And it includes Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols. This story is broken out in two parts, two episodes, because to tell you the truth, I couldn’t get through it all in one sitting that would have been over an hour. Nancy’s story tears me up, and you’ll hear that in these episodes. Start with Part 1, and finish with Part 2. And then go listen to some amazing music. It doesn’t have to be punk, it just has to move you.
This week I had the opportunity to meet a delightful man who owns Philadelphia’s oldest continuous operating ale house in the city – and that’s McGillin’s. If you’re not familiar with McGillin’s old ale house, it’s on Drury lane between Juniper and 13th. Its a tiny little street and McGillin’s Is pretty much the only business there. You can’t miss it – there’s this enormous old fashioned neon sign on the front of the building and it looks very much the way it did almost 160 years ago, although since then owners have acquired more property on Drury and its definitely expanded. Owner Chris Mullen and I talked about the history of McGillin’s, the impact the ale house has on the country’s perspective of Philly as a beer town, the great food and drink you can get there, and the ghosts of Ma and Pa McGillin. Yes, McGillin’s is haunted! Check out McGillin’s on their website – www.mcgillins.com, and be sure to visit for their very own McGillin’s craft beers, mile high meatloaf, an Eagle-tini and some fish and chips. Plus you can keep an eye out for Ma McGillin’s ghost on the second floor between the bar and the TV. Apparently she prefers conversation to the animated box.
As always, thanks to Emmy Cerra for the music in this week’s episode. You can find out more about Emmy on her website at emmycerra.com and download her music on iTunes. Follow TwistedPhilly Podcast on social media: Twitter @Twisted_Philly, Facebook at the TwistedPhilly Podcast which is the promotional page, or the TwistedPhilly Podcast Discussion Group where we shoot the shit with one another!
This time of year gets so busy for me – and it’s really my own fault. Because there’s so much in he city I love to do especially in early spring, which seems to the be only time we actually have spring out here on the east coast. There are a few weeks where the temps hover in the 50s and 60s, it’s still cold at night and the air is damp almost every day. Besides fall that’s my favorite time to go out in Philadelphia and visit some of my favorite outdoor spaces. It’s been a while since I’ve talked about activities in Philly so that’s what I’m going to do today, tell you about some of the best places to hang in the city this spring. And since I was very small, one of the spots that has always been incredibly special to me is the Philadelphia Zoo.
There are pictures of me with a second or third cousin when I was about two sitting on a sculpture of a turtle, or at least I think it was a turtle. We’re wearing matching clothes and you can tell we’re having the best day. Some of my earliest childhood memories are from the Philadelphia Zoo and it’s one of those places no matter how old I get I’ll still feel like a little girl every time I visit. And…… it’s haunted. Mwahahahahaha! Join me for tales of spectral sightings, doors that open and close on their own, footsteps and thuds, disembodied voices, plus a few other of my favorite spots in Philly this time of year.
Follow TwistedPhilly Podcast on Social Media – Twitter @Twisted_Philly, Facebook TwistedPhilly Podcast or the TwistedPhilly Discussion Group. Thanks to Emmy Cerra for the music in this week’s episode. You can find out more about Emmy on her website at emmycerra.com and download her music on iTunes.
Did you know the very first earth day, well, really it was earth week, started right here in Philadelphia in 1970? It was a group of students and professors from University of Pennsylvania Design School who first conceptualized the idea of earth week – activities dedicated to focusing on our planet and how we can improve and preserve the earth. One of the stand outs from that first earth week was a broadcast on CBS – people all over the country could see the massive outpouring of support at teach in’s and events in Fairmount Park and Independence hall. And during that special there was a local man who stood out, not an honored speaker but someone who happened to be on the microphone for a few minutes, those minutes were captured in the CBS special and next thing you know, this guy was telling anyone who would listen he was one of the organizer’s of the country’s first earth week. That guy was Ira Einhorn, also known as the Unicorn Killer.
Einhorn was a local activist – around the Penn campus where he went to school and around the city. He ran in circles with some of the biggest names in social and political activism. He had a lot of names for himself – he was the self professed Hippie Guru of Peace and Love. Businesses and corporations in Philly took care of Ira Einhorn. They paid his living expenses and gave him money for food in exchange for his unique and unconventional consulting services. And he wasn’t visiting them in their board rooms – he set up shop almost like a mafia don at a desirable table in a Philly restaurant called La Terasse in University City And that’s where he met Holly Maddox, a recent graduate from Bryn Mawr College who moved here from Tyler, TX.
His politics aligned with hers, his activism was exciting, being in his presence was an experience and Holly Maddux was completely taken with him. But their relationship born of peace and love became one of violence and turmoil. After 5 years Holly finally found the courage to end things for good. But Ira wouldn’t take no for an answer, and on September 9, 1979, Holly Maddux disappeared after a visit to the apartment she once shared with Einhorn. Eighteen months later Holly’s mummified remains were found inside a trunk in a locked closet in Einhorn’s Philadelphia apartment. What followed was a 23 year man hunt that spanned an ocean in an attempt to bring Einhorn back to the states to face justice.
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Recently I realized it’s been quite a while since I’ve told any Pennsylvania ghost stories – I think it’s been since Haunted Hill which was the third episode?And there are so many from around Philadelphia and all over Pennsylvania. I’ve told you I believe in ghosts – or maybe spirits is the right word. That sounds better. So it’s time to sit around a warm fire, bundle up under a blanket, turn off the lights and let’s get our ghost stories on! I share some of my own experiences with spirits, and twisted tales of witchcraft, murder and hauntings . Follow TwistedPhilly on social media: Facebook – TwistedPhilly Podcast and TwistedPhilly Discussion Group. Twitter @Twisted_Philly. As always, thanks to Emmy Cerra for the music in this episode. You can find out more about Emmy on her website – emmycerra.com and download her music on iTunes. Want to sponsor TwistedPhilly? Go to www.patreon.com and search for TwistedPhilly or click the following link – https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4093396
Rehmeyer’s Hollow & Nelson Rehmeyer
TwistedPhilly received a one star review this week. I received a one star review. The first.
I’m not the first podcast host to receive a one star review, nor will I be the last.
I don’t expect everyone to love this show, and I respect the comments listeners share when they don’t enjoy TwistedPhilly. Primarily those comments have been attributed to the profanity. I don’t love every podcast I try, and I respect the efforts hosts put forth even if I choose not to listen.
But this one was different. It was different because the review was specifically about the Grace Packer episodes. And it was about me personally; that I made these episodes about me and talked more about myself than I did the victim. That broke my heart.
I’ve never told the story of an active case. I’ve never told a story about something in real time and Grace Packer’s story is as close to real time as it gets. I want to tell Grace’s story through the people I meet who knew her, or knew of her, or didn’t know her at all but are members of the suburban Philadelphia community whom were touched by her story. And I’m one of them.
Through the podcast and social media I not only met the women who founded On Gracie’s Wings, I’ve become friends with them. And yes, as the reviewer points out, I wanted to help them. Telling their story, the story of how I met them and their willingness to welcome me into their world, is also part of Gracie’s story.
And yet, I am willing to consider the critical assessments of this reviewer. Is there something I can do differently in the next episode about Grace Packer to make sure she is the priority, or the board of On Gracie’s Wings is the priority?
I know there may be people in the suburban Philadelphia community who may not like these episodes because they are connected in one way or another to Grace Packer. And I’m genuinely trying to be mindful of those concerns.
Maybe this listener was surprised at my editorial style, something with which long time listeners are quite familiar. I don’t only stick to the facts, although I’m trying to put less opinions in the Grace Packer episodes. Something I said triggered a negative emotional response for this listener and for that I’m sorry. She doesn’t know me personally, none of you do, so she has no background with me to use as a compass for determining if I’m a genuine person, something she questioned – and something I’m not going to defend.
These episodes are important to me because Grace’s story touched me in a way I cannot explain. The women who founded On Gracie’s Wings touched me. Some of you have responded positively about Grace’s story and for that I am most grateful. And for Nancy39967, I appreciate you taking the time to tell me how you feel. You’ve definitely given me something to consider. Through my work with On Gracie’s Wings, I’ve become part of this and that won’t change.
Thank you for your continued support.
When the news broke about Grace Packer’s death it was worse than anything any of us could have imagined. First, it was shocking to realize she hadn’t been missing. It was disturbing to think Sara Packer knew since the moment she walked into Abington police station and reported Grace missing, Grace Packer was dead. You couldn’t get away from the news. You couldn’t hide from the details of how Grace Packer died, how she spent the last hours of her life.
How do we know what happened to Gracie? Jacob Sullivan admitted what he did. On December 30, 2016, emergency services personnel were called to their bottom floor apartment in a house in Horsham PA. Katherine Allbright, the third of their threesome, found Jacob Sullivan unconscious. He was taken to a Abington hospital and before the dust settled back home, Katherine was driving Sara Packer to the same hospital because later that same day she found Sara also unconscious. The two of them had taken pills as part of a suicide pact. While he was in Abington hospital Jacob Sullivan broke down and told both his family and hospital staff he and Sara killed Grace Packer. Abington hospital saved Jacob Sullivan’s life and then called Abington police and told detectives about Sullivan’s admissions. Jacob Sullivan told the story all over again, this time to Abington detectives. Both he and Sara Packer were arrested shortly thereafter. Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub asked Who will remember Grace Packer? Who will now speak for Grace Packer? We will. And that’s what I want to do too, speak for Grace Packer, help give her the voice in death that she didn’t have in life. And I’m not the only one. You can find out more about the charity started in Grace Packer’s honor – On Gracie’s Wings – by joining the Facebook page of the same name. You can also donate to the Go Fund Me page – the Abington Loves Grace Packer Memorial Fund. This organization founded by a few Abington mothers has already funded two scholarships in Grace’s name for the 2017/2018 school year.
For the Love of Gracie is a special presentation from the TwistedPhilly Podcast covering the life and tragic death of Abington, Pennsylvania, teenager Grace Packer. This series will follow the investigation into Grace Packer’s disappearance and homicide, while sharing stories from people who knew Grace, and the community that came together in love to preserve Grace Packer’s memory. This series may at times contain mature subject matter and is not intended for young listeners. (Although there is less profanity than you’ll typically find in TwistedPhilly.)
On Monday, July 11, 2016, Grace’s adoptive mother Sara Packer walked into the Abington police department a little before 7PM and filed a missing person’s report. Sara is Grace’s adoptive mother. Grace was born in August 2001 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. When Grace was barely three, she and her siblings were removed from her parental home and placed into foster care in Berks County. And that’s how Grace and her brother wound up in the care of Sara Packer. Grace, her brother and sister were fostered with Sara and her ex husband David Packer, and by 2007 the packers filed to adopt Grace and Josh. The adoption was approved in March 2007. Grace was missing for almost 5 months when the Montgomery, Bucks and Luzerne counties held a joint press conference on December 22 announcing Grace Packer’s remains had been found on Halloween. It took weeks to identify her body because she’d been dismembered. Soon after that her adoptive mother and her mother’s boyfriend, Jacob Sullivan, were charged with her murder.
In this first special presentation about Grace Packer we review what transpired between July 11 and December 31, 2016, how her mother Sara Packer hid her death for months, pretending to be a concerned parent searching for a missing child, when all the while she knew Grace was never coming home. You can find out more about the charity – On Gracie’s Wings – by joining the Facebook page of the same name. You can also donate to the Go Fund Me Page – the Abington Loves Grace Memorial Fund. This organization founded by local moms from Abington township, has already funded two scholarships in Grace’s name for the 2017/2018 school year. TwistedPhilly is also selling t-shirts to support the fund. You can find the design For the Love of Gracie on our merchandise site at twistedphillypodcast.threadless.com. All profits from the sale of that design will be donated to the charity On Gracie’s Wings. Thanks for listening. “Go on hitch a ride on the back of a butterfly, there’s no better way to fly.” Special thanks to Emmy Cerra for the music you heard in this episode. You can download Emmy’s music on iTunes or find out more information about her at emmycerra.com
On Gracie’s Wings – https://www.facebook.com/groups/807076019431507/
Actually, it’s my most favorite thing, my most favorite building in Philadelphia: City Hall.
This is my self-indulgent episode, the 6 month special episode for me, because it’s the story of the largest municipal building in the country and what was destined to be the largest building in the world when it was constructed, but we never quite got there.
City Hall cost $25m to build, over $7b in today’s economy. And it would have cost just as much to tear it down, which is exactly what the city wanted to do over 50 years ago because they thought it was a eyesore. To me, it’s nothing short of magnificent, rich with history and turmoil, and seedy stories like you’d never believe.
I love this building so much, and it’s history, I made it my logo. That’s dedication (some would say obsession but I tell those people to STFU!)
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City Hall under construction
The artist and his muse; Calder and the head of William Penn
Calder’s statue of William Penn as it stood in the courtyard before it’s final resting place atop the clock tower
I cannot believe I’ve been doing this for 6 months already, and at the same time I cannot believe it’s only been 6 months.When I launched TwistedPhilly I wanted to share stories that meant something to me, stories that I loved or stories that scared me, stories that made me consider another perspective, sometimes stories that make me mad as hell or even make me cry, but all of them about this city and state, many of them about the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection. Yes, I’m getting my intro updated to reflect that too, it’s just not ready yet.
This is a tale listeners have been requesting since day one. It has history, it has true crime, it has some seriously dark twisted shit and there’s even some movie trivia in here too. There’s even a little personal anecdote in here that’s twisted in it’s own right. It’s a story I wanted to wait to tell until I had a number of episodes under my belt because I didn’t want to start with a big boy out of the gate – This my friends is the story of Gary Heidnik. Gary was one of the most notorious serial rapists, serial torturers and murderers in the United States in the late 80s and certainly he was the boogey man here in Philadelphia. Gary was eventually caught and arrested in 1987, and there is a mother load of horrific events leading up to his capture. On March 24, 1987, Philadelphia police received a call from a hysterical woman telling a wild, unbelievable story. Her name was Josephina Rivera. She claimed she’d been held hostage for over four months in a dirty house in North Philadelphia, chained in a pit with other women, at least two of whom were dead. They’d been shackled, beaten, raped every day, tortured and electrocuted. Gary Heidnik’s house of horrors began with Josephina Rivera. And it ended with Josephina Rivera.
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