Bonus Episode: Toto, I Have a Feeling We’re Not in TwistedPhilly Anymore

As you may have guessed from the episode title, Toto I I have a feeling we’re not in TwistedPhilly anymore, we aren’t.

Well, technically we are, or at least I am, but last weekend I was not.  I was in upstate New York at the Snowtown Film Festival.  It was a much needed long weekend filed with creativity and making new friends, in beautiful, and freaking cold, Watertown New York.  I went to the festival for a couple of reasons.  I wanted to see Captain Fantastic on a big screen, I wanted to see Captain Fantastic on a big screen, and not only did I get to see this beautiful, powerful quirky film that makes you think and question your logic and view of society as a parent and as a human being, but I was in the same room as Viggo Mortensen. 

I was also super psyched to spend the weekend watching independent short films by unique, talented writers and directors, actors.   One of the films that caught my attention when I saw the lineup was Garrow.  It’s a short film, it’s chapter one of what will eventually become a longer film, about Robert Garrow, a serial rapist and murderer from upstate New York.  Granted, Robert Garrow isn’t from Philadelphia, or Pennsylvania but TwistedPhilly was on the road, and there was no way I was passing up the opportunity to talk with the production company of Garrow if I could.

I spent close to an hour with Lori Kelly, Garrow writer and director, also the writer, director and producer of the film Mineville about New York Iron Ore miners, and writer of Silent but Deadly, a dark horror comedy.  With Lori was the producer Joel Plue, who is also an actor, a writer, partnered with Lori on the films I mentioned, and is Lori’s son.  Plus I got to meet two cast members, Angus Andrews who portrays young Robert Garrow and Richard Waddingham, as Garrow’s father.  Please join me for a different kind of TwistedPhilly tale, one that take place out of state filled with beautiful scenery, creative new friends and a serial killer twisted enough to find a home in this podcast  You can find out more about Garrow, the film, on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/garrowfilm/ and you can support the film by visiting the Go Fund Me site and making a contribution at https://www.gofundme.com/garrow.  And you can watch Chapter 1 on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jU92bqUhjWc

 

Episode 23: Me, Myself and Irene

This week I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with Philly author and public relations expert Irene Levy Baker, author of 100 Things To Do In Philly Before You Die.  And this is a very family friendly episode; nothing spooky, creepy or macabre, or too grown up for little one’s ears.  Ok well, we do talk about one ghost story……

This book is an absolute gem, filled with the best of the best restaurants, museums, concert halls, everything that’s wonderful about the city of Brotherly Love.  Leveraging her experience providing tours for travel writers, whom are not easily impressed, Irene presents the gems of our city – some hidden, and some well known but not the way Irene knows them – creating a guide book that’s great for visitors,  and equally as wonderful for Philly natives.

Yours truly found a few spots which not only had I never visited, I never even knew existed.  Yes, I’m hanging my head in shame.  Irene Levy Baker is funny and smart, curious and charming and I know you’ll love her as much as I do.

Irene is offering a special bonus for TwistedPhilly listeners.  When you order her book on her website – http://www.100thingstodoinphiladelphia.com/ – Irene will autograph your copy before mailing.  Thank you for such a great opportunity for our listeners!

You can also follow Irene on Twitter @100Philly

Special thanks to Emmy Cerra for the music in this episode.  You can find out more about Emmy at www.emmycerra.com and download her music on iTunes.

And that dessert over which we went gaga?  Its the  Salted Caramel Budino at Barbuzzo.   http://www.barbuzzo.com/

 

Episode 22: Indigo Locks and the Three Heads

Yeah, that’s a strange, convoluted episode title.  It went through two other iterations before landing on this one; Philly Gives Good Heads, and Baby Got Head.

‘Cause this episode is all about heads.  Missing heads, severed heads, brains that have been stolen from heads and animal heads used to insult and intimidate.  WTF is up with this state and severed heads?

In this episode we go back in time over 100 years for the tale of a severed head in Shamokin, PA, and then travel back to the future for the story of an embalmed severed head that sounds like something out of Phantasm. Did I mention the eye sockets of this particular severed head?  No?  Well, you’ll just have to listen and try not to get totally creeped out AF!

Huge What Ups to Justin Glawe of the Daily Beast for taking time to talk with me about the embalmed severed head of Economy, PA

Shout outs in this episode to the #PodernFamily, listeners, Book vs Movie Podcast, the Epic Film Guys Podcast and cool ass Aussies Wayne and Paul from the Countdown TV and Movie Podcast.  Plus we’ve got more music from Massachusetts singer/songwriter Emmy Cerra (emmycerra.com)

You can find TwistedPhilly on Twitter @Twisted_Philly and Facebook at the TwistedPhilly Podcast.

Show your TwistedPhilly pride by wearing a TwistedPhilly tee – www.twistedphillypodcast.threadless.com.  Men’s, women’s and kid’s styles in all shapes, sizes and colors.

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The severed head of Shamokin, displayed in the Anthracite Heritage Museum in 1976.

Link to the Daily Beast article, “The Head With No Body – and No Answers” by Justin Glawe, our gracious TwistedPhilly guest on this episode.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/02/15/the-head-with-no-body-and-no-answers.html

Sculptural reconstruction of the embalmed severed head found in Economy, PA, in December, 2014.  The head has since been buried. Victim is a 50 something white female with curly gray hair, thought to have been residing in Western PA, Western MD, Ohio or NY State within 7 months before her death. Sketches show what the victim looks like today, and what she may have looked like 20 years ago.

Episode 21: Philly’s Unknown Children

Here’s the thing about Philly – it’s the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection – and sometimes we don’t demonstrate either of those traits.  There’s a lot to love about Philadelphia, and I do love this city of mine, yet sometimes it leaves me in tears.  And this couldn’t be more true than in this week’s episode about two of Philadelphia’s unknown children.

I know cities all over the world have cold cases, cases of unidentified victims, Jane and John does.  Sometimes those cases remain unsolved, and sometimes after years of unrelenting efforts by the police and the public, the victims are identified.  In the case of children these stories are that much harder, at least for me, because we are supposed to protect children. Not merely our own but everyone’s children.  And for two little souls in Philadelphia, protection was what they needed but never received. 

These are the stories of The Girl in the Trunk and the Boy in the Bag.  Yeah, we have more than the Boy in the Box.  I hate that our city has stories like this, stories of children who are considered to be disposable, tossed out like trash, discarded.  These are the stories of Jerell Willis and Aliyah Davis, two children who spent years without names, without families.  These are the stories of children who were on the radar of human service organizations before their deaths, yet no action was taken to protect them. 

Grab your tissues cause I sure as shit needed some while I recorded.  You can find TwistedPhilly on social media. Follow me on Twitter @Twisted_Philly and on Facebook by liking the TwistedPhilly Podcast.  Like what you hear?  Subscribe, rate and review – it helps other people find the show and helps me keep this dream going.  The other way you can help the show is by contributing to the show on Patreon.  For a $5 contribution, Patreon supporters will receive an original short story by yours truly.  Yeah, I’m a writer too.  https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4093396  

Frank Bender’s sculptural reconstruction of Jerell Willis, and Jerell’s headstone. 

Frank’s sculptural reconstruction of Aliyah Davis.

Special Announcement: For the Love of Gracie

This is Deana Marie, the host of the TwistedPhilly Podcast.

If you follow me on social media, you know I’ve been following the story of a beautiful young lady from Abington, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia.  It’s the story of Grace Packer, or as I recently learned, Gracie, as she liked to be called.

Gracie loved butterflies, so much so that she even drew butterfly wings in her name. She loved the colors pink and purple.  She loved spending time with her cousin who lives out of state.

Like many children in America, Grace Packer and her younger brother were in foster care when they were very young, and adopted.  Unlike so many children who are taken from their families and placed in a new home with the expectation of love and protection, Gracie was let down.

Grace Packer was reported missing on July 11, 2016.  She was just 14 years old and for months she was considered a runaway.  From the very beginning, something didn’t sit right about her story.  For almost over five months we heard very little about Gracie’s disappearance.  School friends wondered and worried, parents in the Abington community, filled with close knit supportive neighborhoods, looked for answers where there were none.  Until December 22 when we learned Grace Packer’s remains had been found along a wooded area in upstate Pennsylvania, over 100 miles from where she lived.  What started as a missing persons case became a homicide investigation spanning three counties.

Early today, January 8th, parents in suburban Philadelphia awoke to the news the Bucks County District Attorney charged two suspects in Gracie’s murder – her adoptive mother Sara Packer and Sara’s boyfriend Jacob Sullivan.

How did this happen?  How did our systems in Pennsylvania established to protect children fail this beautiful little girl? What compels a parent to be so allegedly depraved and despicable? Was there no one Gracie could turn to for help? 

Over the next few months I’ll be brining you a special series called for the love of Gracie.  In this series, I’ll cover Gracie’s story – and I’ll try to bring you more than her tragic ending.  Because as sad as Grace’s story is, there’s beauty emerging from devastation, like a caterpillar when he transforms into a butterfly.  Gracie wasn’t unloved and unwanted, she just didn’t know it.  the community of Abington, and in particular five amazing, captivating mothers, is determined to show their love and commitment by honoring Grace Packer’s memory.

We’ll talk about Grace’s life, I’ll talk with people who knew her, or knew of her, we’ll understand why she often walked with her head down in the hallways of her junior high, and why she smiled even when it may have seemed like she had no reason to be happy.

We’ll follow the investigation – the tireless work of law enforcement in Montgomery, Bucks and Lucerne counties who worked together to solve Grace’s murder, and the trials of her murderers.  throughout this series we will remember and Honor Grace Packer, Gracie, and do everything we can to keep her memory alive.  I hope you’ll take this journey with me.  You’ll be able to find out more about For the Love of Gracie on Twisted Philly.

Episode 20: H. H. Philly

Happy New Year, Twisters!  Yeah, about that break I was going to take this week…… I just couldn’t stay away!  And I have a break coming up in mid to late January because of some cross over episodes with other podcasters and interviews I’m hosting so I couldn’t skip a week now when I’ll have to skip one later this month.

So what are we talking about today?  I want to tell you the story of an infamous serial killer, probably one of the most notorious and prolific serial killers in American history.  No, I’m not talking about Gary Heidnick.  I told you I don’t want to talk about him yet.  I want to tell you the story of H.H. Holmes.  Now you’re probably thinking WTF?  He’s not a Philly serial killer.  Maybe not, but there is a significant Philadelphia connection, in fact it was a crime he committed right here in TwistedPhilly that stopped his reign of terror, scams and bigamy. And it was in Philadelphia where he spent the last year of his life, incarcerated at the old Moyamensing Prison.  It was here in Philadelphia where he stood on the scaffolding and spoke his last words before a noose slipped around his neck.  And it was here in Philadelphia where suspicious deaths surrounded many of the players associated with Holmes and his trial for almost 20 years.

This is a history lesson about the life and eventual death of H.H. Holmes which you may not yet have heard.  And you know me, I love taking a walk down the twisted path of history, especially when we’re walking those streets in Philadelphia.

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You can also own your very own piece of TwistedPhilly with a TwistedPhilly tee!  We’ve got styles for the entire family, even the little twisters.  And we just released a new design “It’s Never Just a Mannequin” ’cause,  ya know, how many stories start with police saying “I thought it was a mannequin?”

H. H. Holmes in 1895, “Accused of more crimes than any other man living.”

Moyamensin Prison, where Holmes spent the last year of his life in South Philadelphia, PA.  The prison was closed in 1963, and torn down in 1968

             

Episode 19: Merry Chirstmas, Ya Filthy Animals

So….. what’s this episode about?  Is it true crime?  Is it some haunted history or a weird, twisted legend?  Is it about New Years in Philly?  No. Nope, nada.  This episode is twisted but it has very little to do with Philly other than the fact that your host – moi – is in Philly.  One of my most favorite activities this time of year, besides all the events and spots I mentioned in our holiday happenings episode – is to watch horror movies, Christmas horror movies to be exact.

Yeah, I have loads of favorite Christmas movies but everyone talks about those.  I want to talk about my favorite Christmas horror movies.  So before you give me shit like “this isn’t a movie podcast, what are you doing?”  You’re right, this isn’t a movie podcast, but I can’t think of anything more twisted than films that take what many consider the most wonderful, magical time of year and blend that with blood and guts and monsters and gore!  The juxtaposition of the two – beautiful jolly old man in a red suit and an ax or creepy old Christmas legend that grows legs and becomes more than fairy tales.  Mmmmm delicious!  It’s like a big old plate of Christmas cookies!  Which, if you follow me on Twitter, you’ve seen that I’ve been a baking fool this week.  Yes I bake, and I say fuck a lot.  I’m a complex woman.  In this episode I share stories from my favorite Christmas horror movies and tell you why I love them as much as I do. 

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Episode 18: ‘Twas the Murder Before Christmas

‘Twas the murder before Christmas and all through Middletown, in the Wholaver house no one made a sound.

That morning mom Jean rose early and packed the car for a trip to her parents who lived a bit far.

Daughter Vicky was 20, and Izzy a teen, still asleep in their beds, in slumber, in dreams.

Their plans had been set for later that night, a Christmas Eve dinner that ended in fright.

Jean and her girls never showed at her parents, no one knew they were victims of behavior abhorrent.

Before sun up that day, while Jean’s girls were still sleeping, estranged husband and father Ernie came creeping

What motive, what reason, a holiday tale so chilling

I’ll tell you that tale right here on TwistedPhilly.

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Episode 17: Arsenic, Incorporated

Twisters I present to you – Arsenic Incorporated, the story of the South Philly Poison Ring.  We are going back in time, something you know I love to do.  I’d say we’re going back to a simpler time but dodging a poison ring doesn’t sound all that simple.  In the 1930s Philadelphia, like the rest of the country, was suffering from the great depression.  While the rest of the country was at a 15% unemployment rate, Philly was doing much worse at 25% unemployment.  There were about 2million residents in the city of Philadelphia then so we’re talking about a half million people out of a job.  That’s a lot of stressed out, desperate people in one city.

In desperate times some people see an opportunity.  The dregs of humanity are attracted people’s desperation.  The scum of the earth looks at people’s misfortune as an open door to take advantage of their fellow man, and woman, and Philly was rife with opportunity to scam, bamboozle, swindle and steal. 

Enter the Petrillo cousins, stage left…. Dun dun dun…  What began as two men trying to make a buck, running insurance scams and counterfeiting money, quickly became the largest poison ring in history.  The Petrillo cousins business was murder, and business was good.  With help from Dr. Morris Bolber – a faith healer, and Carina Favato – sometimes referred to as a marriage consultant, other times referred to as a witch, 16 people were eventually arrested for the murders of over 50 immigrant Philadelphians between 1932 and 1938.  This is by far one of the most sordid stories of TwistedPhilly’s history. 

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Episode 16: TwistedPhilly Holiday Happenings

Pull yourselves out of your tryptophan coma and listen up, twisters!  Today, November 24, isn’t just Thanksgiving.  It’s the 3-month anniversary of TwistedPhilly!  This is a special anniversary episode for me, an opportunity to say thank you to each and every one of you for joining me on this twisted journey.  And since the winter holidays are upon us, I’d like to share with all of you some of my favorite Philly holiday activities. 

So cut yourself another slice of pie, pour another cup of coffee and curl up next to the fire as we talk about some of the best places to see spectacular light shows, Christmas trees, shopping and shows.  And remember, you don’t have to celebrate Christmas to decorate a tree.

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