The Shame of Pennsylvania: Pennhurst State School and Hospital Part 1

Episode 100

Pennhurst State School and Hospital was once called the Shame of Pennsylvania.  It sat only about 25 miles outside of Philadelphia yet it may have been a world away considering how few people knew about the decline of the institution, and how that decline impacted the residents. 

In 1903, the state of Pennsylvania approved the creation of the “Eastern State Institution for the Feeble Minded and Epileptic.”  Eventually this facility became known as Pennhurst State School and Hospital, a 1400 acre state owned and state supported institution committed to the “care, treatment, education and vocational training” of children and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

Soon after opening in 1908, Pennhurst was plagued by overcrowding that continued throughout the facility’s 80 year operation.  The campus was self sustaining, with independent power grids, a fully functioning farm, everything anyone could want except proper care and support for it’s residents which at one point reached over 3500.  

In 1968, NBC 10 reporter Bill Baldini released a five part series about the conditions at Pennhurst State School and Hospital which forced the public to acknowledge the horrific conditions in which the residents lived; overcrowding was the least of their misery.  Restraints, unnecessary sedatives, physical and emotional abuse were commonplace at Pennhurst.

This is part one of a two part series about Pennhurst State School and Hospital. In this episode we’ll explore Pennhurst’s history, it’s 80 year operation, the children who lived there, why it finally closed down in 1987, and it’s legacy since then.   Part two will be released in a few days, featuring  paranormal stories about Pennhurst.  

Research sources for this episode include:

  • Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News Archives
  • Pennhurst Memorial and Preservation Alliance
  • 1968 NBC 10 Series “Suffer the Little Children” by Bill Baldini
  • Pennhurst the Shame of Pennsylvania
  • Images of America: Pennhurst State School and Hospital
  • NPR.org
  • Disability Justice.org – Halderman v. Pennhurst State School and Hospital
  • law.justia.com – Halderman v. Pennhurst State School and Hospital
  • PARC v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
  • The ARC.org
  • SpArc Philadelphia sparcphilly.org

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

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/

Thank you to Emmy Cerra for most of 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. 

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/



Special Re-release: The Disappearance of Ashley Morris Mullis

About two years ago I met a couple named Don and Leandra Morris while Attending CrimeCon in Indianapolis, IN. Don and Leandra were hoping to get into the convention to increase awareness about their daughter, Ashley Morris Mullis, who disappeared in 2013. I interviewed Don a few weeks later and shared Ashley’s story in an episode of TwisedPhilly in the summer of 2017.

Today is Ashley’s birthday, and in honor of that I am re-releasing my interview with her father Don Morris. Please give this episode a listen, follow Don on social media and if you’re in or around the Muncie, IN, area, please do what you can to help spread the word about Ashley.

The Frankford Slasher

Episode 99

Between the summer of 1985 and fall 1990, eight women were brutally murdered in the Frankford section of Philadelphia.  Police already had their hands full between Gary Heidnik and his house of horrors and Marty Graham, whom the press dubbed the Corpse Collector.  

Philadelphia had three serial killers operating at almost the same time in this city, but because the locations of the slasher victims seemed unrelated, and inconsistent intervals between killings, these crimes weren’t linked as the work of one sadistic killer for over three years.   Eight women lost their lives, but they weren’t the only people who’s existence were devastated by the Frankford Slasher.  Leonard Christopher, arrested, charged and convicted for killing one of these women spent his life in jail for a crime he likely didn’t commit, and was surrounded by a cloud of suspicion that he was the Frankford Slasher.

Travel back in time with me 30 years to Frankford Avenue, Goldies Bar, and other spots under the L where darkness prowled the neighborhood and used a blade to leave it’s mark on the community.

Research sources for this episode include:

  • Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News Archives
  • Daily Times Archives
  • Philadelphia City Paper
  • The Associated Press
  • NBC 10
  • Criminal Records Search

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

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/

Thank you to Emmy Cerra for most of 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. 

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/

A Murder for Valentine’s Day

Episode 98

On Monday afternoon, February 14th in 2011, Lexus Ivery walked up the 5400 block of Rutland Street in Northeast Philadelphia, not far from Oxford Circle, headed toward’s the home she shared with her sister Marcedes and her mother Kim. Before Lexus reached the front door, neighbors called out to her and told her not to go in the house.

Not long before Lexus approached her home, residents along Rutland Street saw a man and two female companions approach Mercedes Ivery’s home.  He kicked in the door and immediately after he entered neighbors heard gun shots. Moments later this man ran out of the house with his two friends trailing behind.

When police entered the first floor of the Rutland Street home, they found something they weren’t expecting: helium balloons in the shape of letters that spelled out LOVE and other Valentine’s Day decorations.  This was not a scene where you’d expect to see gun violence, it looked more like someone getting ready for a romantic evening, or a Valentine’s night party.  The police made their way upstairs and as they inspected the second floor bedrooms they found 22 year old Marcedes Ivery and her cousin, 19 year old Tiffany Barnhill dead from multiple gunshot wounds. 

Was this a robbery gone wrong? Was it a home invasion?  Were Tiffany and Marcedes targeted on Valentine’s Day n 2011?  That’s what we’re going to find out.

Research sources for this episode include:

  • The Philadelphia Daily News
  • Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Philadelphia NBC 10
  • Philadelphia ABC 6
  • Philadelphia CBS 3
  • Court Transcripts
  • Criminal Records Search

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

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/

Love, Philadelphia Style

Episode 97

Love is in the air! What better city to celebrate a day dedicated to love than the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection?  Philadelphia is a city that celebrates love, from our famous LOVE sculpture created by Robert Indiana which sits at J. F. Kennedy plaza, also known as Love Park, to the Rodin Museum, an ever popular spot for wedding pictures, we do love right.  We do it with artistic flair. We also do it with fine food and drink, and in some cases we do it slightly twisted.

if you and your loved ones are looking for ways to celebrate love in the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection, I’ve got some fantastic recommendations.   And if you’re not in Philadelphia or the nearby areas, well, like I always say, these episodes will give you even more of a reason to visit our fair city.  You may not have considered Philly as the city for lovers – I think the commercial says that’s Virginia – but I’m here to change your mind, and offer some not so typical ways to celebrate love.

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

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/

Special Re-Release: Punxsutawney Phil

At 7:30 AM on Saturday, February 2, 2019, in a little burrow nestled in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, a ground hog named Phil did NOT see his shadow! The Keystone state rejoiced because this means we will NOT have six more weeks of winter, although as I watched Phil live from Gobblers Knob, its 9 degrees this morning. Phil, after 133 years of predicting Pennsylvania weather, you may have gotten this one wrong.

This is a special re-release of the 2018 episode Punxsutawney Phil, all about the crazy tradition we have out here in Pennsylvania of letting a groundhog predict our weather. How did it start, is Phil accurate and why do we relish the fan fare of an animal who otherwise would be considered a nuisance for digging up your garden?

Unapologetically Herself – The Trial for the Murder of Jenna Burleigh

In September 2017, I shared a story on Patreon about Temple University student Jenna Burleigh.  Jenna was a transfer student from suburban Philadelphia.  She’d just started her junior year at temple in North Philadelphia, majoring in film and media arts studies, commuting from her home in Harleysville, Pennsylvania.  The semester had barely begun when Jenna was reported missing by her father on Thursday, August 31, 2017.

Temple University campus police, Philadelphia police and the Pennsylvania state police worked quickly and within days they’d found Jenna Burleigh in north east Pennsylvania. She’d been murdered.  Police identified a person of interest who was quickly arrested and charged with Jenna’s murder: a man named Joshua Hupperterz, a former Temple University Student with a criminal record that went back to his teenage years, although nothing in that record came close to murder.

In January 2019, Joshua Hupperterz was tried for Jenna’s murder and within less than two hours after the case was handed over to a jury, he was found guilty of murdering 22 year old Jenna Burleigh on the morning of August 31, 2017.

This episode includes background about Jenna’s life and her murder from the 2017 Patreon episode, plus case updates about the trial of Joshua Hupperterz.  

Research sources for this episode include:

  • Temple News
  • The Tab
  • The Philadelphia Daily News
  • Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Philadelphia NBC 10
  • Philadelphia ABC 6
  • Philadelphia CBS 3
  • Court Transcripts
  • Criminal Records Search

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

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/

2018’s Best and Worst in TwistedPhilly Part 2 – The Go Fund Me Scammers

One night in October, 2017,  a young woman from New Jersey drove along route 95, a major highway on the east coast.   Her story went something like this: she was on her way home from visiting a friend in Philadelphia and her car ran out of gas.  She coasted off the highway, down the exit ramp until her car finally died.  It was late at night, she was alone, no idea where the nearest gas station was.  She called her boyfriend told her he would come and get her.  But he was in New Jersey, so she’d be waiting a little while. 

Soon after her car stalled out a stranger approached her window.  His name was John Bobbit.  He had a slender, angular face, a long unruly beard and mustache.  Jon was homeless, but he saw a young woman alone and stranded and knew he could help. The young woman was Katie McClure, and her good fortune was breaking down off the exit ramp where John asked people for money.  

Katie and her boyfriend Marc D’Amico not only repaid John’s kindness, they decided to change his life and launched a Go Fund Me campaign to raise $10,000 in an effort to help John Bobbit get off the street and into a drug rehabilitation program.  They never expected that campaign to raise over $400,000, nor did they expect to be arrested about a year later in November 2018, all three charged with fraud and conspiracy.

What happened?  How did this feel good story turn out to be such a disaster resulting in McClure and D’Amico’s house getting raided and Go Fund Me reimbursing 14,000 donors who contributed to this campaign?  You’ll find out in part two of the 2018’s best and worst in TwistedPhilly. 

Research sources for this episode include:

  • The Philadelphia Inquirer
  • The Philadelphia Daily News
  • Philly Voice
  • Philadelphia Magazine
  • Philadelphia NBC 10
  • Philadelphia ABC 6

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

TwistedPhilly is part of 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/

2018’s Best and Worst in TwistedPhilly – Part 1

As we turn  the page on another year, many of us take time to reflect on events of the past 12 months.  We look at events in our own lives, our families, our friends, and we look at the world around us, considering the good, the bad and the ugly of 2018.

With that in mind, I’ve curated a collection of some of the best, the worst, the craziest and unexpected, in TwistedPhilly, what happened in and around the city that made us laugh, made us cry, or made us say what the actual fuck just happened?

Some of these tales will be heartfelt, others will seem like miracles, and before we’re done there will be a few that leave you shaking your head in shame or embarrassment saying  “only in Philly.”

I’ll have a few friends join me along the way to give you their best or worst of 2018 in the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection.  This episode is rather supersized, so I split it in two.  Part one is a menagerie of the best and worst Philly had to offer in 2018.  Part two features a story story we thought was one of the best tales born on Philly’s mean streets, only to realize it was a giant crock of burned whiz (if you’re not local that’s cheese whiz, something people put on cheese steaks .

Research sources for this episode include:

  • The Philadelphia Inquirer
  • The Philadelphia Daily News
  • Philly Voice
  • Philadelphia Magazine
  • Philadelphia NBC 10
  • Philadelphia ABC 6

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

TwistedPhilly is part of 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/

Almost Free – the Story of Ellen Gregory

This episode includes discussions about domestic violence.  If that subject is a trigger or difficult for you to hear, then I encourage you to skip this episode.  Listener discretion is advised.

Do you know the moment a relationship goes bad?  Is it one moment or thousands of little moments, or big ones, that add up over time?  Do 5 years or 10 years or 20 years eventually culminate into one instant where everything turns and you suddenly know it’s over, you know you’re over it and you have to get out. For Ellen Gregory Robb of Upper Merion, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia, that moment came in fall 2006 when she told her brother she was leaving her husband Rafael Robb.

Ellen was almost free. 16 years of a difficult marriage to a difficult man who emotionally and physically abused her would soon come to an end. She had plans to leave; Ellen hired an attorney, found an apartment where she and her daughter could start over and Ellen had the support of her family and friends. But her escape never came. Just three days before Christmas in December, 2006, Ellen Gregory Robb was found murdered. The prime suspect was the one person who stood to lose the most in a divorce, her husband.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence or abuse please call the national domestic abuse hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233.) If you can’t call, or would prefer to talk online, go to their website and click the CHAT NOW button at https://www.thehotline.org/

In Pennsylvania you can also contact the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence at http://www.pcadv.org/

Research sources for this episode include:

  • The Philadelphia Inquirer
  • The Philadelphia Daily News
  • Philadelphia NBC 10
  • Philadelphia ABC 6
  • Philadelphia Magazine
  • The Court of Montgomery County, PA: Prothonotary Case Search
  • Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence
  • Psychology Today
  • Every Great Reason foundation website
  • Cruel Games by Rose Ciotta

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

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/

TwistedPhilly is a member of the Dark Myths Collective.  For recommendations about other great podcasts, follow Dark Myths online:  Twitter @DarkMythsPods  http://darkmyths.org/