A Few of My Favourite YouTube Channels

Downtime is difficult, and even binge-watching can get stale. Here are some intriguing YouTube channels to explore while you’re self-isolating.

  • KrainagrzybowTV.
    Home of the Polish webseries Smile Guide, a deliciously retro and surreal mockup of ’80s Eastern Bloc educational programming that blends bizarre lessons with animation and music videos. There are countless theories on what the series is “about”, but you can just sit back and enjoy the trip. If you like Smile Guide, check out another Polish webseries that seems to be by the same creator, Magiczny Świat Ani (The Magic World of Ania). It’s darker in tone than Smile Guide, with some gorgeous montage animation.

  • For fans of Twin Peaks, Take the Ring takes some deep dives into the mysteries and lore, and the Twin Peaks: All Questions Answered series on Cornpone Flicks attempts to do exactly what the title suggests. The rest of the channel is captivating, too.
  • If you’re a hardcore aficionado of British television from the ’80s, The Foot of Our Stairs offers heaps of nostalgia and trivia about the good, the bad and the obscure. Is American classic TV more your thing? Then you’ll probably enjoy the laid-back LandumC Goes There, a channel that specializes in examining supporting characters and little-known facts from famous shows. These fellows know their TV.
  • Plainly Difficult got me through the frustrating period when Chernobyl was not yet available on iTunes. This channel covers nuclear disasters great and small, and also boasts some fun videos about history and strange places.
  • Found footage horror is plentiful online, and much of it can be tedious. If you prefer visuals that you can interpret yourself over seemingly endless mumblecore, I recommend Soursalt, Jack Torrance, and 2h32.
  • Rogues Gallery Online dips into the seamier side of history, with playlists devoted to Complete Bastards, Lotharios and Libertines.
  • Kenny Lauderdale digs up some of the worst and most obscure anime of the ’80s: Baffling plots, bad animation, barely any animation at all. Good stuff.
  • When it comes to visually documenting the retail apocalypse, dead mall video creators are at the vanguard. Bonus if you like vaporwave. Dan Bell and Sal have the smoothest camerawork, and Sal will give you more background details about each mall than you could ever possibly need (sometimes going back to the early 1900s). Retail Archaeology is a little less slick and much snarkier, but still worth a watch. Also check out UniComm Productions and Bright Sun Films, which covers abandoned sites and bankruptcies in addition to dead malls.

Who Is Eugene? The Strange Story of the Mummy of Sabina, Ohio

Sabina, Ohio, is a little town roughly 50 miles southwest of the state’s largest city, Columbus. With a population of under 3,000 people, it probably wouldn’t draw much attention if it hadn’t been for a discovery made in the summer of 1929 and the town’s peculiar manner of dealing with that discovery.

On June 6, 1929, two locals found the body of an African-American man in a roadside ditch along Highway 3C. The county coroner determined that he had probably died from natural causes and was over the age of 50, but not much else could be learned about the stranger. No personal belongings were found on or near the body. The man had carried no identification. A pocket yielded up just one clue: A scrap of paper on which someone had written an address. The address was 1118 Yale Avenue, Cincinnati.

This address turned out to be a vacant lot. When Cincinnati police questioned the neighbourhood resident who lived nearest to the lot, he gave his name as Eugene Johnson, so the police in Sabina latched onto the name and began calling the unidentified man “Eugene.” The name stuck.

Rather than photograph Eugene and bury him in a pauper’s grave, as most communities might have done, the people of Sabina made the odd decision to embalm Eugene and place his body on a platform in a small building adjacent to the local funeral home. The hope was that a visitor to Sabina would recognize him.

“Eugene” as he appeared on display (WKRC-TV)

Eugene became a minor roadside attraction for people passing through the area, and the corpse was stolen by pranksters on numerous occasions. For reasons known only to the people of Sabina, no one thought to inter the body until the mid-’60s, 35 years after its discovery. In all that time, no one had recognized Eugene. There were no theories as to his identity or his reason for being in Sabina, other than the speculation that he had been in search of work. His life, death and identity remain a complete mystery.

The story of the “mummy of Sabina” is retold in a number of books about weird Ohio history, but Eugene never attained the fame of other unidentified bodies, such as “Little Lord Fauntleroy” in Wisconsin or “Septic Tank Sam” in Alberta, probably because his death was natural and he appeared to be a drifter.

In 1964, Eugene was finally afforded some dignity. The funeral home purchased a proper cemetery plot for him, and he was interred beneath a gravestone that is still visited by the curious today.

In 2016, Cincinnati writer Paul Strickland premiered 13 Dead Dreams of “Eugene”, a play in which eerie songs, shadows and storytelling relate the (fictional) nightmares experienced by residents of Sabina after Eugene’s body was found. Strickland’s Theater Mobile will be presenting the show at the Victoria Fringe Festival (August 21 – September 1, 2019), so check it out if you’re on the Island. I caught the Edmonton performance and was mesmerized.

Re-Reading Mindhunter: John Douglas’s Peculiar Manson Family Theory

In the fifth episode of Netflix’s Mindhunter (season two), agents from the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit get a long-anticipated chance to interview Charles Manson in San Quentin. They don’t learn a lot from him, because he lays down his usual scattershot faux-hippie nonsense about loving the children that America forgot, doing everything out of love, yadda yadda.

But they hit paydirt when they interview Tex Watson, the actual lead killer in the Tate-Labianca homicides. Watson tells Holden Ford (the character very loosely based on John Douglas) that Manson turned his family into killers using murder drills, “creepy crawling”, groupthink and fevered talk of a bloody apocalypse. Watson tells Ford that the directions to kill the seven Tate-Labianca victims came directly from Manson, which is the generally accepted view of what went down on those two nights in August of 1969.

Douglas developed a different theory. In real life, he didn’t interview Watson nor any of the other accused killers and accomplices (he did interview Lynette Fromme, one of Manson’s most devoted Family members). After reviewing case materials, however, Douglas decided that Manson didn’t order the murders. Rather, Watson made a daring bid to wrest control of the Family away from Manson by planning and directing the Tate murders and carrying them out without Manson’s knowledge.

Once Manson became aware of what had happened on Cielo Drive, he couldn’t bring himself to admit to anyone that Watson had been the real mastermind, so he let the world live with the illusion that he had ordered the murders. Then he orchestrated the Labianca murders to regain control of the situation.

In the book Mindhunter, Douglas posits that Watson’s choice of victims was “arbitrary”, with the Polanski-Tate residence being targeted only because one of the Manson women had once been to the house. I find this hard to swallow. Polanski was subleasing the house from Terry Melcher, and Manson had a bone to pick with Melcher – Melcher had the potential to produce his music and turn him into a star, but instead had distanced himself from the Family and failed to do anything for Manson’s career. What better way to terrify Melcher than to slaughter the occupants of his house?

There really isn’t any solid evidence to support Douglas’s interpretation of events. Watson was a strong character, but he was as fully under Manson’s spell as the women. All of the women, after they stopped cooperating with Manson, insisted that Manson commanded them to kill – as did Watson. No one involved with the Family has ever implied that Watson planned out the murders on his own.

However, the ostensible motive of launching a race war known as Helter Skelter has been called into question by at least one Family member. In her first memoir, Child of Satan, Child of God, the late Susan Atkins maintained that Manson ordered the murders not to scapegoat African-American activists like the Black Panthers, but to create murder scenes so similar to the Gary Hinman murder that authorities would realize that Hinman’s killers were still on the loose and overturn the conviction of Family associate Bobby Beausoleil. It is Atkins’s contention that Helter Skelter, while part of the Family’s belief system, was never a motive for the murders.

If Atkins was being straightforward, the plot failed on every possible level. The separate teams of detectives who worked the Tate and Labianca homicides didn’t acknowledge a connection between the two until months after the murders, and when the Mansonsites were rounded up by police on unrelated criminal charges that autumn, Beausoleil’s underage girlfriend (Kitty Lutesinger) immediately spilled Family secrets to detectives, telling them that both Bobby and Sadie (Atkins) had been at the scene of Hinman’s murder.

Mistakenly believing that Beausoleil had give her up to police, Atkins admitted she had been in Hinman’s home when he died, but pinned the  murder entirely on Bobby. So, in essence, the Family killed seven other people for absolutely no reason at all. In the end, Atkins clearly decided that Beausoleil wasn’t worth saving. He remains in prison for killing Gary Hinman.

The Manson Family’s first known victim, music teacher Gary Hinman

What was it about Manson that led Douglas to believe he wasn’t fully in command of the Family, and that Watson had tried to stage a sort of coup against him? Douglas doesn’t go into any detail about how he reached his conclusions. Based on how he has responded to other killers, including Wayne Williams, I would guess that Douglas simply didn’t believe that Manson – a short, physically unimposing man with a long prison record and little else – was capable of controlling a young, powerful former athlete like Tex Watson. Douglas believes that most (if not all) of the serial killers he has interviewed over the years were “losers”; ineffectual underachievers with low self-esteem. Manson, charismatic as he was, was just another loser. Watson, a high school track star and businessman with more traditionally attractive qualities than Manson, clearly had to be the real superstar of Spahn Ranch.

It’s a strange theory for a strange case. I see no reason to believe it. Manson may have been small and seedy, but he was persuasive. He somehow convinced Beausoleil, a free-spirited musician/actor who wasn’t even a full-fledged member of the Family, to kill Hinman for him. He persuaded Watson – a “mod” wig salesman – to drop out of society and live in a filthy commune. He talked his way into the lives and homes of Dennis Wilson and several of Wilson’s closest friends, including Melcher. All he had to do was “rap” about love, the unity of all things and total freedom from the sickness of society.

Never underestimate the power of bullshit.


Re-Reading Mindhunter: John Douglas’s Secret Theory of the Atlanta Child Murders

“The truth isn’t pleasant.”

The most mysterious passage in John Douglas’s 1995 memoir Mindhunter appears near the end of his chapter on the Atlanta child murders.

Firstly, he admits that Wayne Williams can be conclusively linked to only eleven of the roughly thirty murders of children and young men that were committed between 1979 and 1981. That’s troubling, because 24 of those cases were closed after Williams’ trial. “He did all of them,” was the general consensus of investigators and prosecutors.

Secondly, he drops this bombshell:

We have an idea who did some of the others. It isn’t a single offender and the truth isn’t pleasant.”

I have been attempting for roughly 18 years to figure out what Douglas is talking about in this passage. There are only a few credible theories about the Atlanta child murders, and Douglas rejected one of them (the white supremacist theory) earlier in the chapter. What does that leave? The organized-pedophilia theory, the theory that the boys were killed by members of their own families and the theory that Williams had an accomplice who remained hidden.

There are screwy theories, as well, such as comedian/activist Dick Gregory’s assertion that the government could be kidnapping African-American children to use as subjects in interferon experiments, or the conspiracy theory that the murders were part of a CIA operation. I doubt Douglas subscribes to any of those theories.

So what was he talking about? He does mention, early in his Atlanta chapter, that evidence in a couple of cases pointed to relatives of the missing and murdered boys. But a “couple of cases” certainly wouldn’t account for more than 20 unsolved murders. Also, if Douglas was willing to address the family issue directly, he wouldn’t be shy about embracing it as an explanation later in the same chapter.

That leaves the organized-pedophilia theory. I believe this is the theory to which Douglas is alluding.

For one thing, it would explain his cryptic comment that he believed most of the strangulation murders were linked. This is a bizarre thing to say, because  in some instances boys whose bodies were found together had been killed in dramatically different ways. For instance,  the remains of Edward Smith and Alfred Evans were both discovered in the woods off Niskey Lake Road. Evans had been strangled. Smith had been shot. Smith’s murder is still classified as unsolved.

Patrick Baltazar, an 11-year-old, was bludgeoned and strangled. 9-year-old Anthony Carter and 28-year-old John Porter were stabbed. Eric Middlebrooks, found near a motel dumpster, had been bludgeoned and stabbed – and on his shoe, police found one of the telltale green shag carpet fibers that would link him to Wayne Williams. Could Douglas be hinting that Middlebrooks wasn’t killed by Williams?

All of this suggests there could have been at least two killers: One who preferred “soft kill” strangulation, and one who preferred more brutal methods. Douglas acknowledges that “aspects of the evidence led us to believe we weren’t dealing with a single killer.”

I am hoping that some of these enigmatic passages in Mindhunter will be addressed in the Netflix series.

Update: After season two of Mindhunter premiered, Douglas was interviewed by Payne Lindsay, the producer of the Atlanta Monster podcast. They directly addressed the question of other killers, and Douglas made it clear that he believes family members were involved in some of the murders (not as a group, but on a case-by-case basis). He rejects the notion of a group motive of any kind, so that eliminates white supremacists and a well-organized pedophile group that wanted to eliminate its victims.

After all these years, mystery solved.

This still leaves the enigma of Edward Smith. Why was he and he alone, of all the victims (unofficially) linked to Williams, shot? Williams was not known to be a gun enthusiast, and nothing deadlier than a leather “slapjack” was found in the home he shared with his parents.

Re-reading Mindhunter: The Berkowitz Interview


If you’re watching season two of the Netflix series Mindhunter, you’ve seen (or are about to see) a recreation of the encounter between serial killer David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz and two agents from the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit. And if you’re like me, you’ve read John Douglas’s memoir on which the series is based several times.

The Berkowitz interview covers only a few pages in Mindhunter. When I first read it in the early 2000s, I didn’t know much about the Son of Sam murders. Now that I do, Douglas’s account is somewhat problematic.

The interview took place in Attica sometime in 1979 or 1980, a year or two after Berkowitz was sentenced for the murders of six people (he also injured seven). Douglas and Robert Ressler were eager to plumb the mind of Berkowitz because they were examining the horrific, then-unsolved murders of the UNSUB known only as “the BTK Killer.” Both BTK and Berkowitz had written long, weird, semi-literary letters to the police and the press to boast about their crimes. BTK admired many infamous serial killers, and Berkowitz was one of them. He even mentioned Son of Sam in one of his missives. Maybe Berkowitz could shed some light on this guy in Witchita.

The first thing Douglas wanted to get out of the way was the dog story. After his arrest, Berkowitz told the police that his neighbours’ black Labrador dog, Harvey, was actually an ancient demon in the form of a dog. It was the dog-demon, he said, who commanded him to buy a gun and shoot into parked cars throughout New York City from the summer of 1976 until the summer of 1977.

The police didn’t buy that story. The psychiatrist who examined Berkowitz prior to sentencing didn’t buy that story.

And John Douglas certainly didn’t buy that story. He writes in Mindhunter: “I knew that that story hadn’t actually emerged until after his arrest…So when he started spouting about the dog, I said simply, ‘Hey, David, knock off the bullshit. The dog had nothing to do with it.’ He laughed and nodded and admitted I was right.”

The story was bullshit, of course. Berkowitz is far from crazy. But there’s a very serious flaw in Douglas’s assessment of the story: It did come out before Berkowitz was arrested. In fact, his obsession with that dog – and other dogs – contributed to his arrest in a very peculiar way.

Berkowitz’s obsession with (and hatred for) dogs seemed to begin in February of 1976, about five months before he began killing. He had moved from a tiny apartment in the Bronx to quarters in the spacious Westchester County home of Jack and Nann Cassara. From the very beginning of his two-month tenancy, Berkowitz complained to the Cassaras about the barking of their German Shepherd. Then he abruptly moved out, without collecting his security deposit.

He moved to an apartment building at 35 Pine Street in Yonkers. Below him, at 316 Warburton Avenue, lived the Carr family and their dog, Harvey. The household consisted of:

  • Sam Carr, who was in his 60s and ran a telephone answering service out of the family’s large, three-story house
  • Sam’s wife, Frances
  • Their daughter Wheat, who was in her 20s. She worked as a phone operator for the Yonkers police
  • Their son Michael Carr, also in his early 20s.
  • Occasionally, their son John Carr stayed with the family. He was nearing 30.

The Carrs were not close neighbours of Berkowitz. As you can see in the image below, the building at 35 Pine (now designated 42 Pine) is separated from Warburton Street by a wooded area intersected by the Groton Aqueduct footpath and another street called Grove. Berkowitz lived on the top (seventh) floor of his building, so he was well-insulated from any noises issuing from houses on Warburton.

Google Maps

Between May of 1976 and Berkowitz’s arrest in August of 1977, someone terrorized certain families in the neighbourhood – the families who owned large dogs. Molotov cocktails were thrown into two homes, occupied by the Carr and Neto families. Menacing letters were sent to those families. Shots were fired into the Neto home on Christmas Eve 1976, narrowly missing 13-year-old Sylvia Neto as she played piano for gathered relatives. The gunman killed the Netos’ German Shepherd, Rocket, before speeding away in a car.

In April of 1977, someone began sending anonymous letters to Sam Carr, demanding that he prevent Harvey from barking.

On April 17th, Berkowitz (then known as the .44 Caliber Killer) claimed his fourth and fifth victims when he fired into the parked car of Alexander Esau, killing both Esau and his girlfriend, Valentina Suriani. He left a letter near the car, addressed to NYPD police captain Joseph Borrelli.

The Borrelli letter is written from a dual viewpoint: That of a man who stalks and kills beautiful women, and that of a dog who is under the command of his bloodthirsty “father”, a man named Sam. Passages that are clearly written from the dog’s POV include “Sometimes he ties me up to the back of the house.” It is an extremely strange and oddly literate letter. You can read it here.

Douglas was familiar with the Borrelli letter, because he would have read it in in preparation for the interview. It is even reproduced in its entirety in Mindhunter.

All throughout his year of murder, Berkowitz knew that he would probably be apprehended at some point. So he went about accomplishing two things: Lining up an insanity defense for himself, and framing his neighbours. This two-pronged strategy led to some of the most bizarre letters ever penned by a serial killer.

He sent several mystifying letters to his old landlords, the Cassaras. One featured a drawing of a dog and read, “Sorry to hear about the fall you took from the roof of your house.” No one had fallen off the Cassaras’ roof. The letter was signed by Sam and Frances Carr, who did  not know the Cassaras or Berkowitz.

On April 27th, ten days after the Esau-Suriani murders, Berkowitz shot and wounded Harvey the dog from the direction of the aqueduct path.

The baffled Cassaras reached out to the Carrs, and it didn’t take them long to figure out that their old dog-hating tenant, David Berkowitz, was living in the Carrs’ neighbourhood. There was now a suspect in the shooting of Harvey.

Craig Glassman, Berkowitz’s downstairs neighbour, also received a slew of creepy letters. One read, in part, “True, I am the killer, but Craig, the killings are at your command.” Some of these letters mentioned the Cassaras and Sam Carr.

On July 31, 1977, Berkowitz committed his final murder when he shot Stacy Moskowitz and her date, Robert Violente. Moskowitz died.

Berkowitz continued his harassment of the neighbours. On August 6th, someone set a fire in front of Glassman’s apartment, and the responding officer had a hunch that this could be connected to what was going on with the Carrs and the Cassaras.

Three days later, Detective James Justus was assisting the .44 Caliber Killer task force. He was given the assignment of checking up on the owners of cars that had been ticketed in the area of the Moskowitz-Violente shooting. One of those cars belonged to Berkowitz, so Justus phoned the Yonkers police department.

The operator who answered his call was Wheat Carr.

Stunned to hear the name of her family’s tormentor from someone working on the .44 Caliber case, Wheat spilled out all the details: The wounded dog, the disturbing letters. She put Justus in contact with Yonkers police officers who were familiar with Berkowitz.

One day later, he was arrested for the murders.

In his confession, Berkowitz admitted that he had shot Harvey the dog. He did not admit to killing Rocket, but I think it can be safely assumed that he did. Dogs had been central to the case all along, and the demon-dog of Sam Carr was not just a last-minute creation of Berkowitz’s squirrely mind.

The FBI interview was not incredibly informative. In the end, Berkowitz didn’t reveal any new insights into BTK. But Douglas and Ressler did take interest in his admission that when he couldn’t find parked lovers on his nightly “hunts”, he would return to previous crime scenes to relive the shootings.

There is one additional error in the Berkowitz section of Mindhunter. Douglas states that Berkowitz’s biological mother, when he found her, wanted nothing to do with him. This is not true. Betty Falco contacted Berkowitz as soon as she learned he was trying to get in touch with her, and he established a relationship with her, his sister, and his sister’s children. The bond never developed into a close one, but Falco certainly did not reject the son she had given up for adoption. His sad stories of being abandoned by an unloving mother are just one more way he tries to garner sympathy and attention.

A few years after he was interviewed by Douglas and Ressler, Berkowitz changed his story again. He said that John, the elder of the two Carr brothers, had initiated him into a Satanic cult that carried out the murders at the behest of an elderly man in Westchester County.

He claimed this cult was a branch of The Process Church of the Final Judgment.

I believe he selected this particular church for several reasons, and here is one of them: The founder of The Process, Robert de Grimston, was known for his love of Alsatian dogs, and in the early ’70s members of the church established the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, which operates to this day as the Best Friends Animal Society.

Berkowitz has demonstrated over and over again that he knows nothing of substance about The Process, and it is obvious to any careful observer that he was not in cahoots with anyone when he carried out his murders.

But that’s a different bullshit story.


Cindy James: A Timeline


July 1, 1982: Vancouver nurse Cindy Makepeace, having ended her 16-year marriage to Dr. Roy Makepeace, begins living alone for the first time in her life. She and her ex-husband continue to date.

October 12, 1982: Cindy calls Vancouver police to report several obscene and threatening phone calls.

October 13, 1982: Cindy reports more phone calls and a prowler (someone attempted to open the back door of her rented house).

October 15, 1982: Cindy reports that a rock has been thrown through her kitchen window.

October 19, 1982: Cindy reports that someone has entered her home and slashed her pillow. She discovered this only when she turned down her bedsheets.

Responding officer Pat McBride suggests that Roy Makepeace could be responsible. Cindy emphatically denies the possibility, as Makepeace was the one who urged her to phone the police about her pillow.

October 21, 1982: As a personal favour, McBride installs deadbolts on Cindy’s doors. He begins visiting her daily.

October 30, 1982: A note assembled from cut-out letters is found on Cindy’s porch.

October 31, 1982: McBride moves in with Cindy, ostensibly to protect her. They are dating.

Early November, 1982: McBride discovers Makepeace patrolling the alley behind Cindy’s house, armed with a handgun and a rifle.

Mid-November, 1982: The phone calls resume. Cindy finds a picture of a corpse (clipped from a book titled Malpractice) under the windshield of her car. Her phone lines are cut in five places. Police can find no clues.

December 1, 1982: McBride moves out at Cindy’s request. They continue to date, and he keeps his key.

January, 1983: The phone company installs a tap on Cindy’s phone. Some calls are traced to outlying Vancouver exchanges, but no specific information is obtained from the brief calls.

January 4, 1983: More disturbing pictures arrive in the mail, and McBride finds a note from cut-out letters on Cindy’s lawn. The pictures are of corpses, knives, women with their faces scratched out. The letters contain menacing words and phrases like “mangled pulp” and “dead.”

January 27, 1983: The first major incident.

Cindy is found unconscious in her garage. She tells police she had answered a knock at her back door, and a man grabbed her. He dragged her to the garage, where a second man was waiting. One of them slashed her hand with a knife and knotted a black stocking tightly around her neck, causing Cindy to pass out. Cindy has over a dozen cuts, made by a scalpel or some other sharp instrument, on her arms and legs. There are no serious injuries, though Cindy has vague memories of being raped with a knife.

After the attack, Cindy receives $4,250 from the Criminal Injury Section of the Workers’ Compensation Board. She moves back into the home she had shared with Roy Makepeace during their marriage (Roy moves out).

February, 1983: David Bowyer-Smith, the veteran officer in charge of the investigation, believes that Roy Makepeace is terrorizing his ex-wife. He also believes that Cindy is withholding information, so he arranges for her to take a polygraph exam. She fails it. She also fails a second exam. She confesses that she recognized one of the men who attacked her in January, but refuses to name him for fear he will go after her family.

Spring, 1983: Cindy moves for the third time in less than a year.

April 14, 1983: The phone calls resume.

Late April, 1983: Cindy moves a fourth time.

June-July, 1983: Cindy visits her brother in Jakarta. Makepeace pays for the trip.

August 22, 1983: Letters begin arriving at Cindy’s workplace, Blenheim House.

October 15, 1983: A strangled cat is found in Cindy’s garden, with a note: “You’re next.”

Late October, 1983: Someone destroys Cindy’s garden. Cindy insists Makepeace wouldn’t have done this. Five years later, she will write in a journal that she did suspect her ex-husband, because he had once destroyed her garden while they were married.

November, 1983: McBride finds another note on Cindy’s porch, followed four days later by another strangled cat and a cat hit by a car. McBride convinces Cindy to hire his friend, private investigator Ozzie Kaban. Cindy’s phone lines are cut again.

January 30, 1984: The second major incident.

At 6:00 PM, Cindy phones Kaban for help. He kicks in her door 15 minutes later to find Cindy on the floor, a paring knife stabbed through her left hand with a threatening note. A black stocking is knotted tightly around her neck. She had been struck on the head. There is a needle mark in her right arm, but no substance is found in her system. Cindy cannot remember anything about the attack. There are still no clues and no strong suspects other than Makepeace.

Cindy tells police that Makepeace threatened and beat her when they were married, and pledges to end their dating relationship.

Valentine’s Day, 1984: Roy Makepeace is questioned for nearly six hours by police. Roy claims to be as baffled by the incidents as Cindy, but he does offer up a theory that Cindy’s work with troubled children has invoked the anger of a family with organized crime ties.

March 29, 1984: Cindy undergoes a third polygraph exam. She passes.

Summer, 1984: The harassment intensifies: phone calls at Cindy’s home and work, cut phone wires, broken windows. Cindy is losing weight and withdraws from colleagues during work hours.

June 18, 1984: Cindy triggers the personal alarm Kaban had given her after finding her back door partially open. Inside the house, Kaban finds a sexually explicit birthday note and a Rothman cigarette butt (not Cindy’s brand). Cindy’s small dog, Heidi, has been tied to the kitchen table  with the same type of string used to strangle the cats, and beaten to the point of bruising.

Late June-early July 1984: A fourth dead cat is found (also strangled).

July 3, 1984: The third major incident.

At 8:30 PM, Cindy notifies Kaban she will be walking Heidi in Dunbar Park. Three and half hours later, Cindy knocks on a stranger’s door and collapses, a black stocking knotted tightly around her neck. The last thing she remembers is being stopped on the street by a bearded man and a blonde woman in a dark green van. The man asked her for directions.

There are two needle marks on Cindy’s arm, but no drugs in her system aside from prescribed anti-depressants. Under questioning, she is confused and incoherent.

August, 1984: At Kaban’s suggestion, Cindy undergoes hypnosis to help her recall details of the most recent abduction. Hypnotist Hal Booker is unable to recover any useful information during the session.

October 2, 1984: During Cindy’s second hypnosis session, she declares that she had once witnessed a double murder. She cannot, or will not, provide any details.

October 4, 1984: Cindy and Kaban confront the police investigators about the lack of progress on the case, threatening to take political action or go to the press. The detectives, now led by Kris Bjornerud, explain that there simply aren’t any more leads in the case.

By this point, all of Cindy’s co-workers and supporters had been investigated, Interpol had looked into Roy’s background, and police had secretly staked out Cindy’s house for days without seeing anything suspicious.

December, 1984: After a quiet autumn, the phone calls resume.

January, 1985: During her third hypnosis session, Bjornerud and Bowyer-Smith ask Cindy questions. She reveals that during a 1981 yacht trip with Roy, he murdered and dismembered a young couple on Thormanby Island.

The detectives learn that Cindy’s sister, Melanie, was also on that trip and noticed nothing unusual. Police can find no evidence of the supposed crime.

June 21, 1985: Cindy overdoses on pills, an apparent suicide attempt. She is released from hospital less than a week later after promising to stay with her brother. She goes home alone instead.

June 27, 1985: Cindy’s phone lines are cut again. She had ignored the phone company’s recommendation to have the wires encased in protective plastic.

July, 1985: A weeklong police stakeout comprised of 14 Strike Force Officers is conducted on Cindy and Roy. The officers observe no suspicious activity.

Mid-July, 1985: Cindy reports a silent phone call to the police. She is apparently unaware that the phone call was recorded by the phone company, and that this recording indicated she had dialed her own number.

July 27, 1985: Cindy receives a cosmetic case full of rancid meat in the mail.

August 5, 1985: Cindy reports the first of three arsons at her home. A basement window is open, but there are no signs of forced entry.

August 6, 1985: The second arson.

Bjornerud begins to suspect Cindy isn’t being completely honest with him, and asks Detective Carol Halliday to review the case and render her opinion on it. Halliday concludes that Cindy is staging the incidents herself. This had been suspected as far back as the first attack in 1983, when Bowyer-Smith arranged for the first two polygraph exams.

August 21, 1985: The third arson. Again, the open window doesn’t appear to have been forced, and dust and cobwebs are undisturbed.

Cindy receives over $9,500 from her insurance company.

December 1, 1985: Cindy moves to the Vancouver suburb of Richmond.

December 11, 1985: The fourth major incident.

Cindy is found wandering around a pond near the university campus, without shoes or a coat,  after going missing during her lunch break. A black stocking is knotted around her throat. There is a needle mark on her arm. Incoherent and confused, she is unable to remember anything about the incident.

Detective Halliday consults psychiatrist Anthony Marcus, and Marcus renders the opinion that Cindy engineered the harassment herself. Police decline to press criminal mischief charges if Cindy agrees to enter therapy, which she does not do. Instead, she continues informal sessions with an unlicensed therapist named Connelly.

For the first time since the incidents began, Cindy is surrounded by more doubters than believers. Her parents, Kaban and a handful of close friends remain convinced that someone else is harassing Cindy, but the police no longer accept her reports at face value.

April 15, 1986: After yet another fire (re-enacted in a 1991 Unsolved Mysteries segment), arson investigators determine that the fire was started inside the house. Cindy accuses Roy of starting the fire, unaware that he was in South Africa at the time.

Cindy is evicted from the house. Depressed and suicidal, she is given a 6-month leave of absence from work.

April 1986: On therapist Connolly’s advice, Doug Hack commits Cindy to St. Paul’s Hospital, where an RCMP psychologist reviews Cindy’s file and classes the attacks and arsons as psychotic behaviour on the part of Cindy. Dr. Soon Mo and psychologist Ken Dercole reach the same conclusion. Psychiatrist Wesley Frieson believe Connolly’s insistence that the harassment was real hampered Cindy’s treatment, and consider it possible that Cindy could kill herself and stage it to look like murder so that Roy Makepeace will be blamed. Connolly himself concedes that this is a possibility.

July 15, 1986: Cindy is released from the psychiatric ward and enters therapy with Dr. Frieson. She shows marked improvement throughout the summer.

September 1986: Cindy buys a house in Richmond.

October 1986: Though the harassment has seemingly ceased, Cindy changes her last name to James.

November, 1986: Cindy is fired from Blenheim House for poor work performance. She had worked there since 1975.

This is a blow to Cindy. She had loved working with children. However, she gets back on her feet by taking refresher courses in nursing. She is hired at Richmond General in August of 1987.

Late August, 1987: Cindy reports a broken window and a window pried open.

First week of September, 1987: Cindy reports a hole cut in a window.

February 1988: Cindy reports her basement door broken.

October 26, 1988: Fifth major incident.

At midnight, Cindy triggers the alarm given to her by Kaban. He finds her in her garage, partially nude, with a black stocking knotted around her neck, her hands and feet bound with another stocking. She says she had been grabbed from behind while getting out of her car.

April, 1989: A threatening note and a break-in attempt.

May, 1989: Cindy tells Kaban that she wants to install an infrared alarm system in her backyard, so that she can shoot any intruders. She also tells him she is “ready to talk”, implying that she has been withholding information.

May 26, 1989: Cindy begins a five-day vacation from her job at Richmond General. She does various errands, including buying a birthday gift for a friend’s son and getting a makeover. When her friends the Woodcocks arrive to play bridge with her at 10:00 PM, her car is still gone. They find it in the parking lot of a local Safeway.

June 8, 1989: A road maintenance worker finds Cindy’s body near an abandoned house off Blundell Road, roughly one mile from where her car was parked. She is lying on her side on the ground, fully clothed, with hands and feet bound behind her back. There is a needle mark in one arm, and autopsy reveals she died from an overdose of morphine and other drugs.

Her death is ultimately determined to be the result of an “unknown event.”

Petscop: Overview of Video 5

Video 5 was uploaded on April 11, 2017, four days after Video 4 appeared.

It is the only video to feature a description since the first video, and I reproduce it here in its entirety:

Hello folks. I guess this is for all of you, now.

The following are the questions where the response was “I don’t know”:




Who is Care?

Who’s Care?

Who is Mike?

Who’s Mike?

Who is Michael?


Who’s Tiara?

Where are you?

When am I?

What is NLM?


Newmaker Plane?

Who is Newmaker?


What is Petscop?


How to see windmill?

See windmill?


What is this?

bababababab? !? ??

Who is Marvin? (we asked this one after the video ended)

Who’s Marvin? (same as above)

Marvin? (same as above)

The following are the questions with real responses (so far):

Who is Tiara? Answer: Petscop kid very smart

Where am I? Answer: Under the Newmaker Plane

Who am I? Answer: Newmaker

Who are you? Answer: Tool

Remember being born? (the full question “Do you remember being born?” didn’t fit)

Answer: I’m not Tiara

When the color changed, we were able to ask two questions:

Who are you? Answer: TURN OFF PLAYSTATION


The first line of the description seems to reveal that Paul has finally been joined by his audience, whoever that may be, and that he is now uploading the videos for our benefit.

However, the description also mentions that “we” asked a question of Tool. Is this a reference to the audience that is now with Paul? Or is it the first hint that others are going to become involved in the production and editing of the videos? In June 2017, radical changes were made to the YouTube channel, and it is now evident that a group I call The Censors is in complete control of Petscop. We’ll explore that when the time comes.

For now, let’s see what we can discern from this loooong description. A few key points:

  • This is the first time Tool identifies itself as such (I have been using the name Tool throughout these posts only for the sake of clarity; it never gave a name before).
  • Though Tool responds “I don’t know” to every question about Marvin when it’s in red mode, it suddenly has some shocking things to say about him when it switches over to pink mode. It is widely believed that Tool becomes “someone else” when it’s pink.
  • This is the first direct reference to Marvin (I have already mentioned him in the overview of Video 3, because Marvin appears to be the same character(s) as the Shadow Monster Man, and/or the Green-Faced Man and/or Care’s Dad).
  • “MARVIN PICKS UP TOOL HURTS ME WHEN PLAYSTATION ON” is the second instance (the note in Care’s Bedroom being the frst) in which text within the game seems to be referring to events occurring outside the game. Significantly, both instances might revolve around Marvin. If Marvin is Care’s dad, we’re dealing with a seriously creepy character.
  • I could be wrong about Marvin existing outside the game, because Tool might mean that Marvin is hurting someone within the game whenever the game is running.
  • Tool gives Paul/the player the name “Newmaker”, but this is not a proper name. It’s a title. Another character will assume the same title in a later video. That character appears to exist outside of the game, as well.
  • If this game is intended for Marvin (and it is), why does Tool order the player to turn off the Playstation?
  • Tool knows that Tiara is connected to the “Do you remember being born?” poster in the Mirror Room. Interesting. Is Tiara the Quitter?

Video 5 opens with Paul entering the Tool Room and explaining to us that he has been asking Tool the questions seen in the video description. Tool gave its default answer (“I don’t know”) to every single one, except for four of them. Paul says he is going to re-enter those questions so that we can see Tool’s answers for ourselves.

Tool is in red mode.

Paul, via the keyboard: Who is Tiara?

Tool: Petscop kid very smart

Is Tool calling Paul/the player a smart kid, or is it referring to Tiara? If Tiara wrote the note in the Mirror Room, which is printed in a childish manner, then she probably is a child. And her comments about the challenges of rebirthing a “psychologically damaged” child, quoted in the note in Care’s Bedroom, suggest she is wise.

Paul: Who am I?

Tool: Newmaker.

Paul does not comment on this.

Paul: Where am I?

Tool: Under the Newmaker Plane.

This is the first reference to the Newmaker Plane (I have been using the term Newmaker Plane throughout this series to differentiate the windmill level from the subterranean level beneath it). The name of the windmill level would seem to indicate that the player (the Newmaker) has some special dominion over that level, but from what we’ve seen so far, Paul is not the one in charge of it. He is unable to see the windmill that exists there, he did not open the cellar door that leads him under the Newmaker Plane, and he finds the Newmaker Plane to be a frustrating and confounding place.

Also, the Newmaker Plane is a place of desolation. The note in Care’s Bedroom stated that Care and other unloved children “wander the Newmaker Plane”, evoking the image of lost souls roaming through a purgatorial realm.

Tool suddenly turns pink. The keyboard, when it pops up, is also pink. Remember, this is not the same shade of pink associated with Michael Hammond.

Paul: Who are you?

Tool does not respond. “I think it broke,” says Paul. Previously, when he asked the same question of Tool during red mode, it replied, “TOOL.”


Paul: Why?

Again, there is no response. Several seconds pass.


This answer could mean that Marvin picks up Tool and hurts Tool when the game is running, or it could mean that Marvin picks up Tool and hurts someone with Tool when the game is running. Either way, it’s a chilling reply. When Paul is able to enter windmill in a later video, he witnesses an animated scene that implies Tool is a small weapon or object that can inflict pain on children – specifically, the ghostly image of a girl inside the windmill. This scene appears to be a recreation of what might have happened in the windmill.

Tool does have a pointy tip that could turn it into a useful weapon. We still don’t know what the hell it is, though. It could certainly be an awl, particulary a bradawl (used to make holes in wood). It somewhat resembles a bellows, an accordian-like instrument used to fan the flames of fires.

Commentators have suggested it looks like a birth canal, or a child in a sack. But I think a potentially dangerous object like an awl makes the most sense.

Finally, the unflappable Paul is dumbfounded. “This fuckin’ game,” he says. “This game…”

He starts to enter another question, but the keyboard suddenly turns from pink to red.

Paul decides to re-ask one of the questions now that Tool is a different colour.

Paul: Who are you?

Instead of repeating its demand that Paul turn off the Playstation, Tool replies, “TOOL.” Beside the word is a drawing of the Tool shape, and it looks more like a bellows than Tool itself does (the bottom half is narrower than the top half in the drawing).

woman using a bellows

Paul says he is going to wait for “that to happen again” (for Tool to turn pink) and end the video at this point. For a moment, his avatar becomes grotesquely distorted. He doesn’t comment on that.

the avatar melts, Tool’s answer becomes faded in places, and a dark patch appears on the floor

The video continues. Tool remains red.

Paul: Remember being born?

Tool: I’m not Tiara.

Previously, also in red mode, Tool replied both “Petscop kid very smart” and “I don’t know” when asked about Tiara. The fact that it can give different answers to the same questions could be a coincidence, or it could mean that there is real communication going on between Paul and Tool. It would be interesting to give Tool a Turing test.

Petscop: Overview of Video 4

Video 4 was uploaded on April 7, 2017. There is no video description.

This is the shortest of the videos. It deals with the ephemeral nature of the windmill, which is central to the storyline, but it also contains an anomaly that could foreshadow future events.

Video 4 opens with Paul ascending to the Newmaker Plane via the cellar stairs, but this is not a continuation from Video 3. Paul says to his audience, “So if you remember what I was trying to explain yesterday…”

This is interesting. Paul did not post a video on the previous day, April 6. That means he is actually in contact with his audience (and this will be confirmed in a later video).

Paul finishes, “…and failed to explain…I’m just gonna demonstrate that to you now.”

He proceeds to a black object rooted in the grass, and explains that it is located directly above the Tool Room, in which a screen “broadcasts” footage of the windmill for some reason (Tool is deeply connected to the windmill and the character Marvin, as we’ll see in future videos).

Paul thinks the object is a camera aimed at the windmill, but when he advances through the grass he comes upon nothing more than a floating, octagonal structure that appears to be the foundation of the windmill, a “placeholder.”

the spot where the windmill isn’t

Paul walks around the foundation. “I think I’m missing something,” he says. “Okay, that’s it.”

Video 4 ends.

It isn’t visible in the picture above, but if you watch Video 4 on a large screen you should be able to observe some peculiar movement in the upper right portion of the screen. Close examination reveals a ghostly figure, identical to Paul, moving through the darkness. This “ghost Paul” seems to predict Paul’s movements.

A far more substantial Paul doppelgänger appears in the Child Library in a later video.

a brightened screen, with “ghost Paul” clearly visible (upper right corner)

What are we to make of this second Paul? Is this a curiosity, an Easter egg? Or is it a clue that Paul himself, like so many objects and characters in the game, has a double that acts independently of him?

I believe that this spectral figure isn’t actually Paul. It’s Shadow Monster Man, AKA Marvin/the Green-Faced Man. We’re going to meet him very soon.