The Ecstatic Rise and Bitter Fall of Barbara Bates

Hollywood: it chews you up, and then spits you out. This proverb was never more true than in the case of Barbara Bates; a psychologically fragile Old Hollywood actress who managed to withstand several career disappointments, until a final tragedy drove her to grim suicide.

Born in Denver, Colorado in 1925, Barbara always had a gift for glamour. She was a dark-haired, shy and demure enchantress, who modelled as a teen and studied ballet, eventually winning a beauty contest that changed her life. The prize? Round trip tickets to Hollywood, of course.

In 1944, Barbara and her mother went to L.A. in search of fame and glory. Two days before they were due to return home, they met a publicist for United Artists studio named Cecil Coan.

Barbara was only 19-years old, and Cecil was 45 and married with four children. None of this deterred the pair, who began a torrid affair that unexpectedly turned into a successful 22 year marriage. He divorced his wife as soon as possible to marry Barbara, 26 years his junior. Despite the initial creepiness of the pairing, they were deeply in love and would stay together until Cecil’s death.

Immediately, Cecil began working his magic and turned Barbara into a budding starlet. In September of 1944, Barbara signed a contract with Universal Pictures.

Cecil had introduced her to producer Walter Wanger, who was looking to cast “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” for his upcoming picture Salome Where She Danced. Barbara received a role as one of the seven dancing girls, alongside Yvonne De Carlo. She seemed set for stardom, but her career would stall in the next few years.

In 1947, producer William T. Orr convinced Barbara to dye her hair blonde. After she did, however, he told her, “You are not the blonde type. Be yourself.” Asshole, much?

Blonde Barbie

At this time, she also began pin-up modelling on the side to make some extra cash. Shy and reserved Barbara resented doing sleazy cheesecake shoots, but they caused her to catch a thirsty Warner Bros. rep’s eye, and she received her first big role alongside Danny Kaye in the 1949 musical comedy The Inspector General.

Sadly, much of her part was lost on the cutting room floor. To add insult to injury, Warner Bros. tried to force Barbara to go to New York to promote the release of The Inspector General, but she was too proud to submit to the studio’s whims and they fired her. An exasperated Barbara then attempted suicide, but the studio managed to cover it up and hide this from the press. This was the beginning of a repeated series of suicide attempts by Barbara, prompted by either personal or career lows.

Barbara (middle) pretends to play chess with Julie London and Daun Kennedy in a 1945 pin-up

In 1949, she discussed the ins and out of being a star with a newspaper. She described how:

 “Every Hollywood newcomer goes through a sex school. They have regular exercises to bring out your…uh…fire. They told [drama coach] Sophie Rosenstein to ‘put some sex into me.’ She did. Sophie made me throw back my shoulders and stick out my chest.

Then I had to sit in front of a mirror and breathe deeply—for hours and hours… They want you to become conscious of your body and to…well…to throw your curves at the world. And all the while you’re supposed to be thinking sexy thoughts. They don’t tell you what. That’s one thing they leave up to you.” 

If that sounds grotesque to you, you’re not the only one! Barbara was already in a unstable state: she was known to suffer from depression and mood swings from the very start, clearly due to untreated mental illness. Instead of being honest with her about realistic career goals, various Hollywood studios treated Barbara like a cheap floozy, giving her only tiny insignificant bit parts as a meager reward for signing on with them.

Barbara had also developed a reputation of being difficult on set. Jeffrey Hunter, who co-starred with Barbara in 1952’s Belles on Their Toes, claimed that she was “very disturbed. I felt uncomfortable in her presence and felt she was a very troubled young woman.” However, Ray McDonald, who starred alongside her in the 1953 Mickey Rooney musical All-Ashore, claimed that “she was easy to work with but had moods of depression.”

In May of 1949, another sleazy yet typical Hollywood incident occurred: Notorious lech Harry Cohn (head of Columbia Pictures from 1919 to 1958) offered to sign a contract with Barbara on one condition: she divorce her husband. She refused. He called her two nights later, and drunkenly invited her to his yacht. She refused again.

In E.J. Fleming’s book The Fixers, he describes how Harry Cohn “was said to have verbally or physically raped every woman that ever worked for his studio.” Harry was a known pervert who was rumored to have forced the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak to sleep with him in order to be cast in starring roles. His track record makes Harvey Weinstein seem chaste in comparison, and would be definite cause for a #MeToo hashtag in the 21st century.

However, it was the late 1940s, and since Barbara refused to play Hollywood’s licentious game of casting couch bingo, she would never gain the big-name stardom she had always dreamed of.

But alas, there finally came a small light at the end of the tunnel: Barbara managed to land a contract with 20th Century-Fox, who cast her in the biggest picture of 1950, the Bette Davis classic All About Eve.

Barbara in All About Eve

Barbara’s role was minor, but it was the one she would always be remembered for. The Hollywood Reporter described her memorable appearance in the final scene as “sum[ming] up the whole action and point of the story. It’s odd that a bit should count for so much, and in the hands of Miss Bates all the required points are fulfilled.”

With the money from her big role, she bought a 51-foot yacht named The Bayadère, which cost $45,000 (adjusted as $480k for modern inflation). Barbara spent 8 months learning how to sail and navigate the yacht at a Coast Guard School. Hollywood did have a few perks after all! The studio even installed a radio-telephone on the yacht to enslave contact her at all times.

Barbara had a few more notable roles left: the 1950 cheesefest Cheaper by the Dozen, and the brainless 1953 Jerry Lewis-Dean Martin comedy The Caddy. She was frustrated with these moronic films, lamenting to gossip columnist Erskine Johnson on how “I thought great things were going to happen [after All About Eve]. So far—nothing. They keep casting me as a 16-year-old; I can’t seem to get up to 20.”

Enjoying a sandwich and coke on her yacht

Then came her dream role: Barbara was screen tested for the suicidal ballerina character in Charlie Chaplin’s 1952 comedy-drama Limelight. As a former childhood ballerina, she would have been perfect for the part. Chaplin was delighted with her audition, and offered her the role himself.

Unfortunately, dictatorial Fox refused to loan Barbara out to United Artists to film the picture, due to the fact that they resented Chaplin for his supposed communist ties. Barbara was left heartbroken and destroyed after losing the role of a lifetime.

After this, Barbara’s career tanked. She was fired from the 1954 sitcom It’s a Great Life for “erratic behavior.” What set her off? Well, let us examine an interview Barbara gave columnist Lydia Lane on the set of the TV show, just months before she was canned:

 “I have had such trouble keeping thin. I dearly love anything sweet—especially chocolate—and to say no really takes discipline. But it isn’t healthy to be dieting all the time… The thing to do is find the weight at which you are comfortable and level off.

I keep a check by weighing in every morning, and if I’ve gained even a pound, I start cutting down. I have a calorie chart which I carry in my handbag and this helps me limit myself to 500 calories a day until I’m back to normal. I haven’t had to diet for quite a while, and it’s a wonderful feeling.”

On the set of Rhapsody (1954)

500 calories a day? Who wouldn’t feel like shit on this diet? Obviously, Hollywood has an obsession with thinness and actresses are required to stay in shape. But this was eating disorder territory, and it was no wonder poor Barbara was losing her mind from the pressures mounting all around her.

Out of work and desperate, Cecil arranged for Barbara to go to England and sign on with the Rank Organisation in 1956. The studio felt she was too old at the age of 31, and advertised her as being a 24-year old. She was cast in a few films, but suffered a nervous breakdown and health issues which caused her to abandon the sets while filming. Many suspected that Barbara attempted suicide once again. Nevertheless, she was fired by Rank in 1957, and was forced to return to the USA.

She played in several TV commercials to make some quick cash, as the couple had lost money due to bad land investments in Spain. Barbara’s old friend Rory Calhoun landed her a final movie part in his 1958 western Apache Territory. Her last TV appearance was in a 1962 episode of The Saint. An unceremonious end for a troubled career.

In 1960, the couple converted to Catholicism and moved to a modest Beverly Hills apartment. Throughout her chaotic life, Cecil had proven to be an unmoving rock of support for Barbara. He was her manager, agent, husband, lover, best friend and closest confidante for most of her adult life. Tragically, Cecil was diagnosed with cancer, and the last sane threads of Barbara’s life quickly unraveled.

She put aside her career to loyally care for the ailing Cecil, but the stress of being his constant nurse caused Barbara to snap. She attempted suicide by slitting her wrists, but survived yet again. These were very dark times for her, and the final straw was when Cecil died in January of 1967. She was at his bedside, romantic and steadfast until the very end. But when Cecil passed, something in Barbara died with him.

If she was already suicidal even in the presence of Cecil, now she was completely lost. Feeling aimless, Barbara left California for good and returned home to Denver. To her credit, she did attempt to rebuild a life: she attended a secretarial school by night, and worked as a nurse’s aide in the daytime. She was also a dental assistant at one point, and often volunteered at church.

What does this tell us? Barbara was dead broke. Cecil’s hospital bills must have drained her Hollywood fortune. Being relegated to the boring common life of a wageslave after starring alongside Elizabeth Taylor in films and purchasing half a million dollar yachts was disastrous.

At the end of 1968, she remarried: to a sportscaster named William Reed, who also happened to be a childhood friend. The marriage did not seem to be very romantic, and was most likely just an arrangement of convenience to prevent the onset of late-age loneliness.

So here was Barbara: back in her hometown, aging, married to a man from her youth, her Hollywood career totally faded; as she worked obscure random jobs to rake up pitiful sums of cash she would have laughed at in her days as a top actress.

It was all too much.

On March 18, 1969, Barbara’s mother returned to their suburban home, and found the garage was locked and sealed from the bottom. Upon unlocking the door, she found Barbara dead in the front seat of her Volkswagen. She had committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning at the age of 43.

This came after a mere four months of marriage, indicating Barbara’s unhappiness in her newfound relationship. There are also reports that she was pregnant at the time and that this may have set her off. She was quietly buried in Crown Hill Cemetery, Colorado.

Barbara once said “I have no illusions about being a star. Every time I did something really important, they ended up cutting it.” This was an accurate summation of her life and career: she lived a brief, painful and beautiful existence full of heartbreak and malady. Hollywood had drained her and then tossed her aside when they deemed her too old, mentally ill, and washed up. She was the victim of the monstrous machine of cinema, but she managed to free herself with death.

The Haunting Disappearance of Eileen Hynson

Eileen Francis Hynson was a 19-year old girl who disappeared off the face of the earth on June 1, 1976. No body was ever found, and her whereabouts are still unknown.

The information on her case is scarce and very limited. She was from Napa, California, living in a time period where murder and mayhem ran rampant. 1970s Cali was filled to the brim with serial killers, rapists, and kidnappers: the list of missing and murdered people from this period is almost infinite.

Eileen was born on Feb 6, 1957 (an Aquarius) and was 5’2 and 130 lbs, with dazzling hazel eyes and dark brown hair. She lived with her father and brother, since her mother Gwendolyn had died 3 years earlier in 1973. It must have been difficult for 16-year old Eileen to have dealt with such a huge loss at a very young age.

Only 2 family photos of Eileen were ever made public, and what I always found striking about these images is how she looks slightly sad yet effortlessly beautiful. And the fact that her eyeliner was completely on point.

The summer of 1976 should have been a happy time for Eileen: on that bright June day, she took off from home to attend a bridal party dress fitting. Her father claimed she first went to a resort in Lake Berryessa, a fairly remote area that is difficult to get to without a car.

Weirdly enough, Eileen did not take any luggage with her – she had left her suitcase behind at home. This indicates that she did not plan to be gone long, and rules out the possibility that she ran away from home.

In September of 1969, almost 7 years before Eileen disappeared, Lake Berryessa became infamous. The Zodiac Killer (yet to ever be identified) went apeshit on two picnicking college students. They were a square and pleasant couple named Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard, and they were just trying to enjoy some quality relaxation time in nature.

Cecelia Shepard and Bryan Hartnell before their traumatic picnic

They were intruded upon by a creepy man with an executioner’s hood and .45 pistol, like a bad B-movie come to life. The man toyed with the couple, pretending he was a runaway prisoner on the lam to Mexico. At first he claimed he only wanted to rob them. But things soon turned violent. He was the one and only Zodiac Killer, and he forced Cecelia to tie Bryan up with a plastic clothesline, and then tied her up himself.

As he pointed the gun at the couple, Bryan noticed that the Zodiac’s hands were shaking. Bryan asked if he was nervous, to which the Zodiac responded with a relaxed laugh and an “I guess so.” What happened next was without warning.

After putting away his gun, the Zodiac suddenly turned towards the bound and subdued Bryan. Brandishing a knife, he stabbed him 6 times. Later on, Bryan would note how the stabbing made a “chomp-chomp-chomp” staccato noise in his back, sending him into a world of terror and shock. Cecelia was stabbed next: 5 times in her back, and 5 times on the front of her body.

A 1969 sketch of the Zodiac Killer by Robert Graysmith, as described by Bryan Hartnell

After playing dead for a time, Bryan managed to crawl towards a main road for help, but Cecelia was too weak to even move. She was alive when authorities arrived, but went into a coma and died days later. Bryan survived the attack and went on to become a lawyer.

What can one make of this nightmare of a crime? Whether or not the Zodiac Killer was involved in Eileen’s disappearance (probably not, abducting a female quietly does not fit his M.O.), his crime proves that areas of Lake Berryessa are so isolated that somebody can attempt to commit a double murder without being interrupted.

Did Eileen Hynson fall victim to some lunatic who put her through a similarly deranged experience?

What complicates things even further is that Eileen was supposed to have left the lakeside resort to go to Benicia, California (another Zodiac killing ground), where the bridal party was happening. We have no idea why Eileen went to Lake Berryessa first, or who she met there.

Lake Berryessa in 1970

In fact, we have no clue as to where exactly Eileen disappeared – it is not even on the public record! She could have vanished anywhere between Napa, Lake Berryessa and Benicia, most likely en route between the two latter locations, as her father only grew alarmed after she left the resort.

To add to the ridiculousness, the public was never informed as to whether Eileen had a car, or if she was busing and hitchhiking between these points. Since there is no mention of an abandoned car or licence plate info, and due to the fact that she was only 19, it is plausible to assume she had no transportation of her own.

If she had her own vehicle, who managed to coax her out of it? Did a strange man pull a Ted Bundy-style manipulation on Eileen in a lone parking lot? If she was busing, did she meet a suspicious character at a stop who lured her to her doom? If she hitchhiked, which fatal car did she enter? Did she meet her end at the lake, just as Cecelia Shepard had? There are literally zero answers.

Girls walk down the street in Napa, California, 1970s

According to a Facebook post by a woman named Kathleen who claims to be her cousin, it was her wedding which Eileen was due to attend. She alleges that Eileen left her home to prepare for the bridal fitting (she was to be the Maid of Honor), and was never seen again. If Kathleen is for real, she needs to hit me up and give me an all access interview.

A user with a sharp eye on Websleuths forums uncovered a photo of a girl who strongly resembles Eileen. This image was taken by Californian serial killer William Richard Bradford; a former photographer who lured women to their deaths under the pretense of a modelling career.

This alleged photo of Eileen is #40 in a collection of 54 photographs of different women found at Bradford’s residence. Initially, they were all believed to have been Bradford’s victims. As of now, more than half have been identified, most being alive and well, though police have not released the identity of all of these women.

Girl No# 40- is this Eileen Hynson?

Some claim Girl No# 40 has been identified by police, but the info is a secret. In 2012, Napa County’s cold case unit added Eileen to a list of disappearances which “they believe have the highest possibility of being solved using modern evidence techniques.”

Is this because they identified the Bradford girl as Eileen Hynson? It is aggravating how police still continue to withhold key information, yet appear to have had no conclusive breakthrough after nearly 50 years on the case.

Another Websleuths user claims she spoke to Eileen’s family and found that they believe Girl No# 40 is Eileen, but older and possibly years after she disappeared.

There are also some theories about Eileen being a victim of the Santa Rosa Hitchhiker Killer. In the early 1970s, several young women were kidnapped and murdered while hitchhiking in Sonoma County. The killer’s trademark was tying women up (like the Zodiac!), torturing and raping them, then strangling or stabbing them to death. He was never caught.

Please don’t hitchhike to your death like a 1970s girl

All of the Santa Rosa Killer’s victims have been identified, save one: Sonoma County Jane Doe, whose skeletal remains were discovered in a ravine in 1979. She was thought to be between 16- 21 years old, wore contact lenses, had auburn-brown hair, had a broken rib heal while she was alive, and stood at around 5’3.

Her cause of death is unknown. She was hogtied, and her arm was fractured around the time she died. This sicko took pleasure in torturing his victims before killing them: In 1972, Kim Wendy Allen, 19, was raped, tied up and murdered, after being strangled with a cord for over 30 minutes.

Victims of the Santa Rosa Hitchhiker Killer. Kim Allen is #3.

The description of this Jane Doe fits Eileen, but it would be helpful if we know if she wore contact lenses or had a broken rib in her lifetime. To reiterate, the lack of info is a massive roadblock in Eileen’s case. Hopefully, the police still have her DNA on file and will eventually test her against this Doe (and others).

Eileen Hynson is still out there somewhere. Her remains could be lying untouched at the bottom of some Californian lake or a distant ravine off the edge of rocky forest cliffs. Or perhaps she is still lying nameless in a coroner’s morgue, her body forever awaiting identification. Her disappearance continues to be a frustrating unsolved mystery.

A Murder on Mulholland Drive: Marina Habe and the Twisted Odyssey of 1960s L.A. Crime

Marina Elizabeth Habe was a 17-year old college student who was violently murdered in L.A. in 1968. Her murder remains unsolved and has prompted endless speculation and theories, many of which include the rather fantastical allegations of involvement by the Manson Family.

Hollywood breeds many children of privilege, and most grow up to become bratty party queens. Enter Marina Habe. She was a dark-haired, blue-eyed beauty- by all accounts a shy, quiet, and moral Catholic girl attending college at the blissfully located University of Hawaii.

Her mother was B-movie bit part actress Eloise Hardt, and her father was author Hans Habe, a Hungarian-Jewish refugee of WWII who fled Europe after publishing the unflattering original name of Adolf Hitler’s father Alois (it’s Schicklgruber, if you’re curious). Her parents made an odd couple, and went on to divorce promptly. Hans moved to a beautiful Swiss village and married a 6th wife, leaving Marina in the care of her mother. He wrote dozens of bestselling books until his death in 1977.

Aftermath (1948) by Hans Habe, a critique of the “empancipated” postwar American woman

Eloise was always busy filming roles for the silver screen and TV. In fact, her IMDB credits show only a 2 year hiatus period after her daughter’s death. She was never a big star, but she was committed and reliable in performing small roles.

Marina was sent off to Hawaii after graduating high school, and she seemed to have no complaints about relocating to the sunny paradise. Her future seemed bright. She was attaining an arts degree, and planned to become an actress. With her mother being an industry veteran, this would have been a piece of cake.

At the close of 1968, Eloise had Marina return home to L.A. for the holidays. The pair spent Christmas together, and New Year’s Eve soon approached. Little did they know that Marina would not live to see 1969.

Eloise Hardt, actress and mother

It was the night of December 29, and Marina was out on the town partying with friends. She was accompanied by her date, 22-year old John Hornburg, who was 5 years her senior. The pair were with two other couples at the Troubadour nightclub, watching Larry Hankin’s stand up comedy act. Personally, this is not the comedian I would have selected for my last night on earth.

The couple left the club at 11:30 PM, and hung out in Marina’s expensive sports car for a couple of hours, parking near John’s Brentwood home. They most likely engaged in a heavy makeout sesh and other R-rated activities.

At 3:15 AM, Marina changed out of her swanky date ‘fit and into a white turtleneck sweater, a lux fur trim coat, and brown capris. She began her drive home. This is where the mystery of her fate begins.

The Troubadour Nightclub

At her West Hollywood home on 8962 Cynthia Street, Eloise was awoken by noisy muffler exhaust sounds from a car engine – an unknown black vehicle was parked in her driveway. Marina’s car was parked right next, but she was nowhere to be seen. Eloise then saw a young man in his 20s running towards the black car yelling, “Let’s go!” The driver gunned the engine, and the occupants of the vehicle took off.

Marina disappeared without a trace, kidnapped by ominous men right out front on her driveway. When her car was examined, police claimed that the handbrake was set with such force that it was impossible for petite Marina to have done so herself.

Marina’s yearbook photo

Eloise was hysterical with worry, and called the police. According to her stepson’s dramatic account, she paced her bungalow screaming “Why don’t you take me [instead]?” Hans Habe left Switzerland to return to L.A. immediately. They waited in vain for a ransom note from the kidnappers, but there was only silence.

Two and a half days later on Jan. 1, 1969, a couple walking on Mulholland Drive noticed a discarded purse. Inside, there were Marina’s credit cards, makeup and a small amount of cash. This did not bode well, as it showed that whoever kidnapped her had clearly had no interest in money or extortion.

A passing civilian’s dog then discovered Marina’s mutilated corpse 30 feet off the side of the road down a ravine. Puzzlingly, the dog’s owner requested that police ensure that his name would appear in the newspaper. His wish does not appear to have been granted.

Lover’s Lane on Mulholland Dr, 1950s

There was so much overgrown foliage in the ditch that detectives had failed to spot her body from the search helicopter which circled above Bowmont Drive for days. She was found only 4 miles from her home, and very close to the house of Robert Goulet, AKA the weird turtleneck singer guy Will Ferrell does impressions of.

There are many conflicting reports online as to the condition of Marina’s body and the time of her death. Some allege she was killed the same night she was kidnapped, mere hours later. Others claim she was held captive for over a day and fed by her captors.

While many sensational news outlets claim she was raped, the official coroner’s report pointed to the conclusion that Marina had recently had consensual sex, most likely with her date John Hornburg during the parked car rendezvous. There were no signs of sexual assault or forcible entry on her body. Either way, it would prove impossible to tell with complete certainty exactly what had happened to Marina after she was abducted.

Marina bled to death after being stabbed by several attackers

The autopsy report from Jan. 2, 1969 says that she was found lying supine near dense brush. She was fully clothed, with the exception of her shoe, which was tossed nearby. Marina was 5’5 and 128 lbs, and had alcohol in her system at the time of death. Her last meal was vegetarian-based.

There are rumours that she was burned and found nude, but these allegations are categorically false.

Marina’s wounds were extensive and sordid. She had two black eyes caused by a man’s fist, as well as blunt force trauma inflicted with a small hard object. Her throat was cut so violently that her left carotid artery was severed, and her liver was lacerated.

She was also stabbed numerous times in the chest and neck, with one deep slash penetrating her breastbone through her sternum. None of these wounds were fatal, however, and her cause of death is listed as exsanguination, or death by excessive blood loss.

Notably, there were no defense wounds on her body. This indicates that Marina was either physically incapacitated (by her injuries, or due to being restrained by her captors), or she was just too afraid to fight back.

Marina’s grave at Holy Cross Cemetery in L.A.

The report also said that an old motorcycle frame was found near Marina’s feet, which is strange because newspapers never dished this rather juicy clue and cops never discovered its origin. Was this the case of a biker gang gone mad?

The coroner determined that at least two different knives were used in the frenzied attack. By now, it was certain that there was more than one person involved in Marina’s murder.

Marina’s Catholic funeral was attended by 350 mourners at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills. A priest by the name of Father Acton gave a rousing speech:

“We wonder about a society, the products of which can be… capable of such heinous crimes. There you have the perfect formula for bitterness, resentment, hatred, perhaps despair. This we must guard against.”

It is said that Eloise was never be able to recover from the murder of her only child, and spent years obsessing over it, full of guilt and despair. She was 99 years old when she died in 2017.

Hans and Eloise at their daughter’s funeral

Marina Habe’s homicide was never solved, despite the fact that there were 6 detectives and 20 deputies on the case. At the time, Sherriff Harold White claimed that the LAPD was “trying very hard. But we have turned up nothing that is even remotely interesting.” There appears to have been no official police suspects as released to the media.

Enter the Manson Family: There is zero concrete evidence to link Charles Manson & Co. to Marina’s murder, but that hasn’t stopped true crime enthusiasts from coming to far-fetched conclusions. It seems that every late 1960s unsolved California murder is blamed on the Mansons, without actual proof.

When interviewed about his whereabouts on the night of Marina’s murder, Manson stated he was at a New Year’s eve party thrown by John and Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and Papas. Lucky him!

The low IQ Manson Girls sing songs in court while on trial for the Tate & LaBianca murders

There are harebrained claims that Marina was friendly with certain Manson Family members, such as Bruce Davis, Bobby Beausoleil or Tex Watson. These three men were known as the Family lotharios: they would befriend women (sexually) and then attempt to recruit them into the Family, all at the behest of Charlie M. LSD-fueled orgies were said to have followed.

Friends claim Marina was too “square,” and too rich and high-class to associate with hippie hoodlums like the Family. The time frame in which she would’ve befriended them is skewed as well: Marina was attending college in Hawaii for most of 1968.

It is worth noting, however, that Angela Lansbury’s daughter Deidre joined the Manson Family in the 1960s, much to her mother’s chagrin, despite also being a wealthy and famous celebrity child. Though unlike Marina, there is actual evidence of her doing so.

Charles Manson and other Family members are arrested in a 1969 raid on Spahn Ranch

In 1968, the Manson Family ran an illegal car and motorcycle chop shop in the desert, next to Spahn Movie Ranch. They bought and recycled stolen auto parts, and were involved in the death of a 16-year old supplier named Mark Glen Walts. He was shot to death and dumped in Topanga Canyon near Mulholland Drive.

Coincidence, or not? Does the motorcycle frame found on Marina’s corpse point to the Mansons? Or was it some other biker gang gone haywire, such as the Hell’s Angels? It is glaringly evident that the police failed to investigate her case properly.

Marina’s death is also tied to several other unsolved murders, such as the Nov. 1969 homicide of Reet Jurvetson, a 19-year old girl dumped on Mulholland Drive, very close to where Marina was discovered. She was stabbed over 150 times, and like Marina, her carotid artery was severed and she was discovered in a ravine.

Reet Jurvetson: does she resemble Marina, or am I crazy?

In the same month of the same year, Scientologists Doreen Gaul and James Sharp were found gruesomely butchered to death in L.A. Their eyes were cut out, they were run over with motorcycles, and they had been whipped with chains. They were stabbed nearly 60 times each, and Doreen had been raped.

Like Reet and Marina, their cases are still unsolved, and the only suspects anyone can come up with are, you guessed it, The Manson Family.

It is very likely that all of this could have been the work of an unknown serial killer who was active in the late 1960s, or a rogue biker gang. L.A. was in the midst of a hippie flower-power revolution, and any number of creepy psychopaths could have taken advantage of this cultural chaos to kill young, beautiful and vulnerable women. Charles Manson was just one among many.

19-year old Doreen Gaul

To muddle the waters even further, let us return to Marina’s actress mother, Eloise Hardt. In 1966, she starred in a hauntingly atmospheric horror film named Incubus. This was one of Eloise’s larger roles, and she received top billing.

Incubus is a must see for vintage B-movie fans, as it was filmed entirely in Esperanto and starred William Shatner in all his pre- Star Trek glory. It was directed by Leslie Stevens, creator of the spooky TV series The Outer Limits. What does this nerdy trivia have to do with the murder of Marina Habe, you ask?

Simple: the film is said to be cursed. It sounds ridiculous, but the horrific occurrences that plagued the stars of Incubus makes for interesting reading.

Eloise Hardt in Incubus (1966)

Shatner claimed that while on set in Big Sur, a weird hippie approached the cast and crew, asking too many questions and irritating the actors, who responded curtly. The hippie was indignated, and loudly recited a curse that was supposed to have damned all those involved in production. Did he really? Or was he just high as shit?

In another odd link to the Manson Family, Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski attended the San Francisco Film Festival premiere. Sharon would be slaughtered by the Family three years later in 1969.

Mere weeks after filming wrapped, actress Ann Atmar committed suicide. She was a part time girlie mag pinup who killed herself at only 27 years old, before the film even premiered.

Ann Atmar, victim of the incubus

There is no further information available on her death, or why she killed herself. Could it have been due to the disturbing part she played in Incubus? Her character was that of a naive blind girl who is brutally raped by a demon, played by Serbian actor Milos Milos.

Born Miloš Milošević, the hot-tempered Serb was a streetfighter and former bodyguard of Alain Delon. Shortly after Incubus’ release, he murdered Barbara Ann Thomason, wife of Mickey Rooney, whom he was having an affair with. He then shot himself. Some suspect ol’ Mickey was in on the crime, enacting revenge for his cuckoldry.

Eloise and Milos attempt to kill Shatner in a tragicomic scene from the film

This bad publicity basically tanked the film in all regards. And then, years later, the curse was completed with the unsolved murder of Eloise Hardt’s daughter Marina. The film itself would be lost until 1993, when it was discovered archived in a French cinematheque.

With the case of Marina Habe, everything must be taken with a grain of salt. The Manson Family and Incubus curses aside, her story is a dark one that seems to have uncorked all sorts of evils in its wake.

Whoever killed Marina Habe on that dark New Year’s Eve of 1968 is possibly still out there, or has died unpunished. But her story lives on, and that of so many other women whose lives were claimed in the crazed frenzy of late 1960s L.A.

The Wild Life and Sad End of Arnella Flynn

Arnella Roma Flynn was the free-spirited youngest daughter of Errol Flynn, consummate Hollywood star and libertine of the 1930s. She inherited her father’s glamorous good looks, and his penchant for alcohol, drugs and partying. This led to an early demise for the both of them.

When Arnella was born on Christmas in 1953, her father was already 44 years old and had a grand total of 4 children by 3 different women. His crazy lifestyle had started to take a toll on his health, but he refused to yield to old age. He was nicknamed the Tasmanian Devil for good reason: after he was barred from drinking on set, he injected vodka into oranges and consumed them during filming. He was incorrigible, and also known as a sexual pervert and opium addict to top it all off.

Arnella’s mother was the reserved and picture-perfect Patrice Wymore, an American actress almost 20 years Errol’s junior. She cut her career short in 1953 when Arnella was born, to care for her new baby- and her alcoholically destroyed husband.

Errol, Patrice, Sean and Arnella

Errol was content with his new wife at first. He described Patrice as:

“attractive, warm and wholesome… She could cook Indian curry, she could dance, she could sing, she was reserved, she had beauty, dignity… homebody qualities that go toward making a sensible and lasting marriage. She typified everything that I was not. Nobody ever tried harder than Pat to make me happy.”

Apparently, he had to break off an engagement to a Romanian princess in order to marry Patrice. Errol had his housekeeper inform the princess via phone call.

The marital bliss would not last, due to Errol’s roving lecherous eye. When Arnella was just a few years old, her father left the family for his 15-year old girlfriend Beverly Aadland. Patrice and Errol separated, but never officially divorced. He died of heart failure in 1959, when Arnella was 6. Errol’s chaotic, drug-and-alcohol-infused, womanizing life was cut short prematurely.

Mother and daughter

With such an absent and infamous father, Arnella never stood a chance. Her attorney claimed that:

“One of the problems Arnella had growing up was that everyone around her knew her father, but she didn’t. She had a lot of problems to cope with growing up. And having this famous father you don’t even know hanging over you is not easy.”

The extended Flynn family was no stranger to tragedy either. Her older stepbrother Sean mysteriously disappeared in Cambodia in 1970, while covering the Vietnam War as a journalist. He was never heard from again. Arnella was said to have always spoken of him fondly and missed him very much.

In 1942, Errol went sailing on his beloved luxury yacht, the Zaca. During a storm, he washed ashore on Port Antonio, Jamaica. He fell in love with the island nation immediately, calling the landscape “more beautiful than any woman I have ever known. When God created Eden, this is what He was aiming at.” He bought Navy Island, a hotel resort, and a 2,000 acre plantation where he grew coconuts and raised cattle.

Errol on the Zaca

When Errol died, the savvy Patrice struggled to take control of his paradisaical Jamaican estates. She wanted to remove her daughter from the chaotic world of L.A. paparazzi and media hounds and give her a “more enduringly satisfactory way of life.”

Patrice was also worried about Arnella’s love of partying and hard living, which must have set off alarm bells that recalled her late husband. She said of her daughter: “I had to get her away from Sunset Strip and all its temptations. She was in danger of becoming a flower child.” Her hippie days in L.A. came to an end.

At the age of 13, Arnella went to live on the placid, tropical, crystal-blue shores of Jamaica. Her mother was an intelligent businesswoman who opened up her own boutiques and gift shops, and managed the hotel and farmed the plantation at considerable profit margins. Their life in Jamaica was, quite surprisingly, simple and free of modern degeneracy: Patrice refused to own a telephone or TV until the 1980s.

Gorgeous Port Antonio

None of this placidity could subdue the energetic teenage Arnella, who had a penchant for chugging Jamaican white rum down raw, and smoking the marijuana that grew plentifully along the islands. She also enjoyed athletic activities like water skiing, boating, collecting seashells and swimming.

When she was 18, Arnella went to London and New York to become a model. She was blonde, thin, beautiful and looked the part, and it was easy to nab contracts through Flynn family connections. She grew close to her stepsister Rory, who was also a model. She married a photographer named Carl Stoecker, and in 1976, they had a son named Luke who, you guessed it, went on to become a model.

The marriage dissipated, and Arnella grew disillusioned with the hustle-bustle of the big city. It was time to return to Jamaica, and to live in tropical peace. Or was it?

Arnella in Vogue Paris, 1974

Upon her return, Arnella partied like her life depended on it. Along with rum and weed, she took on cocaine, which she soon became uncontrollably addicted to. Her friend circle consisted of laid back Rastafarians, who were content to party with her, but advised her to lay off the white powder.

Her friend Anthon recalled her fondly:

“She was one of us, man. She preferred to spend her time here than with the others. She was cool like that. She was one of the best people. She was flexible. When she was with us, she talked like a Jamaican, but when she was with the others she talked like an American. She wasn’t stuck up; she wasn’t all high and mighty. She loved the Rasta. She loved the long hair. She had several Rasta boyfriends. That was her thing. 

But she was our friend too. We tried to stop her from doing the coke, but you can’t stop doing that stuff until you die. I shared smoke with her, but none of the coke. That stuff messes with your head.”

Arnella became an aimless beach bum, with no concern for commerce or career. Her mother was ashamed, and wanted her to get a grip on her life and raise her son Luke, which she had been relegated to doing since Arnella was unfit herself.

But the demons that were plaguing her would not let go. She would destroy herself just as her father had. Islanders watched sadly as Arnella stumbled around drunk and high, night and day, with no apparent concern for her own well being. Ironically, even Errol diluted liquor, whereas Arnella would just drink it down straight.

Patrice stopped giving Arnella financial allowances, as she squandered all the money away on cocaine. She was banished from the main property to a smaller plot on the island. Arnella began growing carrots and tomatoes, which she sold to tourists for drug money. When that floundered, she stole coconuts from her mother’s plantation to fund her addiction. The girl who was raised as Hollywood royalty was now relegated to petty thievery.

By 1998, only 3 years after she officially moved back to Jamaica, Arnella was washed up and near death. An islander named Doris Brady mourned how “she used to be such a pretty girl, but at the end she was just a bag of bones. She looked like an old woman, older than her mum.” Errol suffered from the same issue: by the end of his life, his addictions had left him looking horribly aged and like a mere shadow of his former self.

Arnella on the cover of Oui magazine, 1982

Patrice tried using “tough love” tactics on her daughter, but it was to no avail. Arnella’s Rastafarian boyfriend Willard Hearne was concerned about her, but nobody could help. He called Arnella:

“a very sweet girl, but she had a lot of problems. It is a shame she and her mother couldn’t get along. Just days before she died, Arnella got a letter from her mother’s attorney telling her she had to leave the estate, she was being kicked out. She told me she was sad because she had nowhere to go. Then three days later she was dead. I’ll miss her.”

Arnella was discovered dead in her bed by horrified plantation workers on Sept. 21, 1998. She was only 44. Her body was completely emaciated. The remains were flown back to L.A., to be buried next to her father at Hollywood Hills cemetery. Arnella and Errol now rest in peace together under the sun.

After his death, Errol’s teenage girlfriend Beverly claimed that he hated California, and had always wanted to be buried in the lush Jamaican tropics. Arnella seemed to have had the same love affair with Jamaica as well.

Said Errol in his autobiography: “My dream of happiness — a quiet spot by the Jamaican seashore, looking out over the ocean, hearing the wind sob with the beauty and tragedy of everything…”

Though they had not spent much time together in life, Arnella and her father were connected by obscure threads of fate. Many say that addiction is passed along genetically. This was never more true and tragic than in this case. Despite having it all, this father and daughter gave up and sedated themselves to death.

Karen Lancaume: A Tale of Suicide, Sex and Violence

Karen Lancaume was a French porn star who despised her profession and committed suicide at the age of 32. To be fair, not many female porn actresses enjoy their job: 69% of women in the sex industry report suffering from PTSD. For a sensitive and intelligent woman like Karen, her psychological wounds proved to be fatal.

She was born in Lyon to a wealthy family who would later disapprove of her career choices. Her real name was Karine. Her mother was Moroccan, and her father was French.

Karen was raised in the placid and serene countryside, spending much of her time with her brother and several pets. Her existence was sheltered, but as a child, the shy girl enjoyed playing in the forests and exploring nature.

She graduated college with a Communications degree, and considered a career in advertising. Karen lost her virginity at the age of 17.

The path she went down was antithetical to the promise of her youth. Attractive, educated, and rich; she was not your stereotypical “bimbo” pin-up queen. What forced her hand into the adult film industry?

It all began when she started working weekends at a nightclub to pay off her college debts. It is odd to note that her wealthy parents didn’t help her out financially.

When she met a disc jockey named Franck Ceronne at the club, Karen fell head over heels and the couple quickly married. He promised her a life of domestic bliss with several children. Unfortunately, the pair somehow managed to amass crushing debts and were struggling to pay them off when Franck came up with a bright idea: they should start filming pornos for quick cash.

At first Franck promised Karen that they would only make adult films together, and she would not have to engage with other men on screen. The couple quickly discovered that Franck could not perform in front of a camera, and he wasn’t sizable enough phallic-wise to impress producers.

Karen was then pressured into having sex with other partners on screen. She would later go on to say that “a man who truly loves you would never make you do that.”

The couple divorced in 1997, and Karen continued filming porn to pay the bills. Porn producers and directors adored her. She rose to stardom; working with the biggest names in the European adult film industry, and was even nominated for a Hot d’Or award.

Karen wrote of her work: “Double penetrated at a freezing 5 ° C, followed by an ejaculation. Covered with sperm, soaked, dead cold, no one handed me a towel. Once you have shot your scene, you’re worth nothing.” The lack of empathy she faced on set only fueled her distaste and disillusionment.

In 1995, Karen was gang raped: “I went to buy cigarettes at two in the morning after work, and three guys trapped me.” This was no doubt a brutal experience which scarred her psyche. Sex had become a tool of suffering in her life, which others used to brutalize and punish her for being attractive.

In 1999, almost four years into her porn career, Karen received an offer that would change her life. Writer and former sex worker Virginie Despentes was looking for someone to star in her new and explosive film project Baise Moi (Fuck Me), and required actresses who would consent to perform unsimulated sex scenes.

Virginie approached Karen and a fellow porn actress named Raffaela Anderson at Cannes Film Festival after seeing them in a documentary. She immediately knew they were perfect for the role, with co-director Coralie Trinh Thi noting how: “These two were really different from the other girls. The little one, Raffaela, was very funny. The big one, Karen, looked like she could beat someone up.”

Raffaela’s character is raped during a scene in the film, and it was emotionally difficult for her to perform since she had already suffered assault in real life, just as Karen had. She was raped by two men who recognized her from her adult film career. Outrageously, the public prosecutor told Raffaela not to complain about being raped, since she was a porn star and therefore deserved it.

Raffaela and Karen on set

The plot of the film centers around two angry women who go on a gory killing spree. There is even a a rather interesting scene where an abusive male bar patron is sodomized with a gun. Baise Moi was cathartic for its two stars, functioning as a satisfying rape-revenge movie in which the perpetrators receive scathing doses of violence in return.

For anyone who’s seen it, Baise Moi is unforgettable. It isn’t the type of film to win any awards, but it is a classic of the New French Extremity movement. It caused a massive controversy upon its release, and was initially banned in Australia, Canada, Singapore and the U.K. for its excessive depictions of sex and violence.

Critics were flabbergasted, calling the film “Thelma and Louise on crack.” To be quite frank: Baise Moi makes Natural Born Killers look like a children’s cartoon. French right-wing parties associated with Jean-Marie Le Pen attempted to have the movie banned, but it was finally released with an X-rated certificate for 18+ audiences.

The iconic bar scene

Karen’s performance was powerful and charismatic: she was tall, dark, gorgeous, intimidating, and great with a gun; the personification of badassery. Audiences, however, were not prepared to see two former porn stars headlining a film. Director Virginie Despentes claimed that:

“The real problem is that Baise-Moi is a film about violent ‘lower class’ women, made by supposedly marginal women. The mainstream doesn’t want to hear about people with nothing, the disenfranchised, the marginals, taking up arms and killing people for fun and money. It happens, of course, but we’re not allowed to acknowledge it.

Then there’s the question of the actresses. Of course it’s fine to have porn films and porn actresses, but when you put them in a naturalistic drama that causes all kinds of problems. Why? Because you’ve destroyed the idea that they are sexual toys and brought them to life.

We really took the brunt of a lot of prejudice and paranoia. We didn’t realise just how much fear and hatred it would arouse, but it definitely stoked up a lot of nasty stuff. Not least because it’s about poor, non-white women. In France, there’s real conflict between the white majority and the Arabic population.

Our two lead actresses both have African roots – one is half-Moroccan, the other half-Algerian – and in France, don’t harbour any illusions, it’s visceral, this problem. A lot of people really don’t want to see two North African women who have been raped taking up arms and shooting European men. That’s a little too close to historical reality.”

Despite starring in an attention-grabbing incendiary film in which her performance was praised, Karen’s acting career never really took off. She was tired of porn and done with the industry, but she could not shake off the restrictive shackles of her past. The six years she spent doing adult films had taken its toll on her.

In an interview, she railed against gender inequality: “Why are women grabbed by the ass and not men? All we ask for is understanding, equality. In porn, guys enjoy the mouth of girls, the woman takes it on the face. Baise Moi, it’s the opposite.” Karen eventually wanted to write an autobiography about her life in the adult film industry, but sadly she never got the chance to.

On January 28, 2005 at midnight, Karen committed suicide in her ex-boyfriend’s apartment in Paris, with the aid of sleeping pills and alcohol. She left a note addressed to her mother, writing only the words “too painful.”

The final scene of Baise Moi

It was a week after her 32nd birthday. She died alone on a Friday night, with her friends returning later that weekend only to find her deceased. They claimed she had been in a good mood, and shown no signs of wanting to harm herself.

Associates described Karen as somber and introverted, often dressed in black. Virginie said of her; “She’s the only girl I knew whose big dream was to be a housewife. The first time she told me that, I preferred to put it aside, but knowing her better, I understood that it existed as a dream. It was her thing. We do not always do what we want.”

Karen had dreams that lay way beyond her porn career: to star in mainstream films, to fall in love, to have children, to write a book about her life, and to live with financial security and happiness. She did not manage to make these dreams materialize, and gave in to the psychological torment which had plagued her for years.

When you search “Karen Lancaume” on the internet, you are flooded with hordes of obscene photos and videos. Where are the stories of her life and humanity, outside of the pornographic industry?

In death, Karen deserves to be respected, regardless of what she did for a living. This written piece is a tribute to her life, and a lamentation for the things that could have been.

Let us end with the words of her friend Virginie, who said that Karen had “a sweetness, an incredible femininity. And at the same time one felt she was ready to take an ax and destroy a wall.”

The Fetal Abduction of Cindy Ray’s Baby by the Coward Darci Pierce

July 23, 1987: It was a sweltering New Mexico summer when a bizarre and gruesome act of fetal abduction occurred.

Darci Pierce was a deranged 19 year old who had kidnapped 8 and a half months pregnant Cindy Ray from an obstetrics clinic under the threat of a toy gun, and took her to an isolated forest location.

She proceeded to cut Cindy’s premature baby out of her belly with car keys, killing the poor 23 year old mother to be in the process. Darci bit the umbilical cord with her teeth to sever it.

The unusual murder weapon

Cindy was a devout Mormon and known to be very moral and kind, and was already the mother of 1 child previously.

Darci was abandoned at age 11 and raised by foster parents. She despised her stepmother who she claimed was “fat, poor and ugly.”

Darci was also a charlatan who had lied to her husband, friends and family about her pregnancy. She had gained 60 lbs and stuffed her clothing to make her belly seem larger.

Sweet mom-to-be, Cindy Ray

Darci was desperate for a baby, as she had miscarried twice before, and despite being barely 20 she could not wait any longer. Her husband was expecting her to give birth at any moment, and her family had already thrown her a baby shower.

During the murder, a man in a pickup truck drove by the wooded area and had stopped his truck on the highway to question Darci on why she was pulled by the side of the road. Darci insisted repeatedly “My friend and I need to be alone,” and seeing another woman (Cindy) sprawled on the ground, the man assumed they were having a liaison and left.

Darci in her drab prison ‘fit

Miraculously, the baby had survived despite being savagely ripped from her mother’s womb under a tree in the desert.

Darci went to a hospital covered in mud and blood, and claimed the baby was hers. However, doctors quickly realized that Darci had never given birth and she confessed to murdering Cindy.

Darci led officers to the scene of the crime, and when she saw the mutilated body of her victim, she became hysterical and screamed, “Get me out of here. Please kill me.”

Cindy and her previous baby

Despite pleading insanity, Darci is now spending life in jail. Cindy’s husband remarried and raised a happy and healthy daughter who managed to survive the trauma of her birth.

The Untimely Suicide of Ruslana Korshunova

Ruslana Sergeyevna Korshunova was known as the “Russian Rapunzel” for her long cascading locks and ethereal good looks. Admirers from every corner of the earth marveled over her glinting crystal blue eyes, compared to the ice of the Siberian taiga, and her youthful beauty and elegant 5’8 frame. She was on the front covers of Elle and Vogue, and modeled for IMG, whose client list includes the likes of Kate Moss and Lauren Hutton. She lived in a world of glamour and money.

All this could not keep her alive: She died in June of 2008, days before her 21st birthday, falling to death from her ninth floor apartment building. Police deemed it a suicide.

Almost immediately, controversy, conspiracy theories, psychological analyses, and curiosity followed. How could such a gorgeous, young, successful girl kill herself? And did she really, or was she murdered?

Ruslana had lived a short but charmed life. Her father, a former Red Army officer, died when she was only 5 years old.

She was very close to her mother Valentina, a cosmetic company executive, who would be her most intimate confidante and best friend until her death. In fact, Valentina had washed Ruslana’s long hair her whole life, until she went to Paris to model and was forced to do it alone for the first time.

A pal of Ruslana’s would admit after her death that “the most important thing about her and her internal world was that she was lonely. There was no one who was really dear to her, except for her mother.”

The family lived in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and were not financially deprived in any way. Ruslana went to one of the best schools in the city, and wanted to eventually go to university in Germany.

But at the age of 15, Ruslana’s life changed in a flash. After her photos were printed in a magazine in 2003, she was noticed by agent Debbie Jones from Models 1, who was immediately struck by her alluring appearance.

She was deemed “A Face to Be Excited About” by Vogue magazine, and Debbie went on to say that “everyone… adores Ruslana. I saw her by chance and she looked like something out of a fairytale! We had to find her and we searched high and low until we did! She’s really incredible with feline features and timeless beauty.”

The fairy tale would not last long, but it was exhilarating. Valentina was hesitant about letting her daughter enter the lurid modelling business, and preferred that Ruslana went to college instead, claiming there was no future in the industry. Ruslana refused, and wouldn’t stop pestering her mom until she agreed to accompany her to a casting call in London.

Ruslana still had braces, and was a naive wide-eyed girl in a big Western European city. She had no idea what she was in for. The world of coked up, anorexic, cynical and desperate fashion models was still alien to her, and she tried to retain a constant mantra in the wake of this new chaos: “Instead of moaning at the thorns/I’m happy that a rose among them grows.”

Money was scarce at this time and modelling gigs were few and far in between. A friend of Ruslana’s from this period describes how “in Paris and Milan there’d be these dinners, rich men would pay to come, we could join in for free. Ruslana and I would go. It would be our only chance to eat. The men could tell we were not like THAT. We were dunces, the ones who went to bed early.” In other words: they didn’t put out; look but don’t touch, etc.

Ruslana was packed into crammed flats full of aspiring models, waiting for her big break. She received this when she was 18 years old, in the form of a Nina Ricci fragrance commercial.

In the ad, she wears a pale pink backless ball gown, and climbs up a pile of apples to pluck the fruit-shaped perfume bottle down from a tree. It was this corny yet indelibly dreamy piece of advertising that turned her into a star.

Soon she was flying high, being invited to New York and Moscow’s classiest parties, and being barraged with the attentions of dozens of wealthy suitors. Alarmingly, she was even summoned to covert parties thrown by Jeffrey Epstein on his creepy private island.

Unfortunately for Ruslana, she soon fell in love with a wealthy unnamed Russian oligarch who brutally broke her heart. Friends say that the man was attractive and super rich, and she fell head over heels for him. She wanted marriage and children, and even introduced him to her mother, but to the oligarch, this was only a temporary fling.

He began ignoring Ruslana’s desperate phone calls, and the oligarch’s personal assistant requested she leave him alone. Being dumped caused Ruslana to lose her mind. She lost weight and became fraught by depression. She would never recover from this disappointment.

Years later, in March of 2008, Ruslana would write on her blog:

“Why, sooner or later, love will die. What is even worst is if it will end earlier for my partner than for me. It really hurts when someone stops loving you but you continue to love.

Reason says that it is better to be loved, but in life, we love more often than we are loved. To love, especially without return, is very hard, painful and takes away from the soul’s strength.”

And so she went through a string of disappointing relationships. She grew anxious about finding the “right one,” and often dated several men at a time, hoping one would take. A friend noted how “she was always searching for love. I used to say to her never search for love. The love will find you.” But she kept pining for true romance, and making bleak choices in the process.

To add on to personal injuries, Ruslana’s career began experiencing a decline at this time. It wasn’t completely over, but employment did start to dry up. A friend said she balked at the world’s newfound indifference to her: “She couldn’t understand. Suddenly she was one of a thousand girls. One of a million. A no one.” The world of fashion is a cold one; here today, gone tomorrow. The phone had stopped ringing.

Ruslana’s life became more stressful than the 20 year old could handle. She was still making $5k per fashion show and photoshoot, but sent much of that money back home to her mom and brother. She rented out a Manhattan apartment for a whole year at the price of $40k, and lived mostly alone, or with whichever man she was currently dating.

With her family on the other side of the world and constant unstable relationships being her only close sense of support, she started crumbling under the pressure. It was around this time that Ruslana joined a self-help cult named Rose of the World. Similar to Scientology in its operation, the Rose stems from a 1980s American cult named Lifespring, which was banned at its outset.

In training sessions, participants are encouraged to share their most traumatic life experiences and mistakes. They are then told to accept responsibility for these, and it is supposed to purge members of their demons. The sessions can run up to $1,000 for only three days. Desperate and isolated, this became Ruslana’s only emotional outlet. She was said to be extremely vocal at these sessions.

Friends reported a change in Ruslana, noticing she began moody, agitated and aggressive after her sessions at the Rose. She attended the program for three months. Former participants claim the organization gave them PTSD and emotional scars, but fellow model Anna Barsukova said “it’s a popular thing to do. One of my friends went there too… They do training about developing your personality.” However, there was a dark side- Ukrainian model Anastasia Drozdova also committed suicide by jumping after attending the Rose for a year.

According to a friend from the Rose, Ruslana told them her darkest secrets, talking tearfully about her failed romantic relationships and her father’s death. One claims “she tried suicide five times in different ways. She’s tried it since she was 15, 16 years old. It was a loneliness that no one understood.” One must note that those were the ages upon which she began her modelling career.

When questioned about Ruslana’s death, a Rose life coach had harsh words: to him, she was a “typical victim. Sometimes it’s better to commit suicide than not to change.”

Ruslana had also been embroiled in a lawsuit with her former agent, who she sued for $500k due to embezzlement of funds. She complained to acquaintances about money troubles, and told her mother she was getting fed up with the modelling business and wanted to eventually leave it.

The most salient insights into Ruslana’s psyche lie in her personal blog. She explains herself in her own words, growing more and more frustrated in the months before her death:

Jan 2008

It hurts as if someone took a part of me, mercilessly tore it out, stomped all over it…threw it out.

If I am for others, then who is for me? And if I am for myself, then what am I for?

Feb 2008

there’s disorder! i don’t have a home. I need an boss for there to be order

Mar 2008

my dream is to fly..oh my rainbow is too high..

I’m a bitch. I’m a witch. I don’t care what you say … I know why my other relationships didn’t work out, ’cause I’m unpredictable.

life is very fragile, and its flow can easily be ruined.

i’m so lost..will i ever find myself?..

Her final entry came on May 30, a month before her death:

“Do not confuse love and desire. Love is the sun, desire – only flash. Desire dazzles, and the sun gives life.

Love does not take away from one in order to give to another. Love – this is the essence of life. But you will not give your life to another.”

On June 28, 2008, at 2:30 p.m., Ruslana fell to her death from the ninth floor balcony of her apartment at 130 Water Street, Manhattan. She left no suicide note.

She had returned from a modelling gig in Paris, and showed no outward signs of distress or abnormality. The doorman noted she was all smiles on the day of her arrival. Friends claim she was “on top of the world,” and had no reason to have done what she did.

Ruslana died four days before her 21st birthday. There were no alcohol or drugs in her system, and in life she was known to hate drinking because it made her sick. Ironically, even though she was afraid of heights, she chose to die by jumping.

She fell from an intimidating height

Before her death, Ruslana’s famously long Rapunzel hair had been hacked off. This spurred on rumours of murder, but it may have been a final act of defiance, or the symptom of a manic and self-destructive episode. As a model, she had to keep herself in pristine condition, always rail-thin, always presentable. It seemed she had had enough.

Although she already had a new boyfriend, luxury car dealer Mark Kaminsky, Ruslana chose to spend her last hours with her ex Artem Perchenok. He was her only real long term relationship: the couple had dated for 2 years.

Artem describes her as impressionable and sensitive: “She would cry for any, even trivial reason. She took everything so personally.” He said that the two were each other’s first loves, which explains why Ruslana spent her last night with him. They also continued to share a cat together.

Artem’s father states that “the kids watched movies, read love poems. My son had this tiny book Ruslana had given him once. They read the poems from there. Later he put the book in her coffin — and his cross.” The film in question was Ghost (1990).

Manhattan crime scene

Hours after Artem dropped Ruslana off at home, she was dead. He felt that she was trying to say goodbye to him. To honor her memory, Artem had a tattoo of Ruslana’s name in Russian done on the inside of his wrist.

At the building, police found that the construction netting on the balcony of Ruslana’s apartment had been sliced open, in order to facilitate her jump. Bizarrely, her body was found 28 feet away from the building. This meant she would have had to have taken a running leap from the balcony.

The sound of her fall to earth startled witnesses, who say the impact sounded like a bomb, a bass drum and a gunshot. Just as she lived, Ruslana died in a very public manner.

Distraught concierge Muhammad Naqib described the grisly scene: “I was shocked when I saw her on the pavement. She was on the road, small and pitiful, in a puddle of blood, surrounded by a crowd. Her arms and neck were broken.” She had no shoes on, and wore only a purple tank top with blue jeans.

Funeral in Moscow

Murder was ruled out, as anyone who went upstairs to Ruslana’s apartment would have had to have crossed paths with the concierge. She had no known enemies who wanted her dead, but some assert she had connections to the Russian underworld. This has never been substantiated

Ruslana’s mother had her buried in Moscow, the city she loved best. At the funeral service, dressed in a black veil, she gave a final touching and heart-wrenching speech about her lost daughter:

“She was very strong, even though she looked so fragile. She was the closest person in the world to me, the most trusted; she would never let me down. I was always proud of her. And I’m proud of her today.”

Until the end, Ruslana supported her family and kept them close to her heart, visiting her mother and brother in Kazakhstan mere months before she died. She kept a small and close circle of friends, which she preferred over the hustle of big parties and Hollywood.

Yet she still felt alone in all the foreign countries she lived in and traveled to, and deprived of the romantic love she always dreamed of. Her online posts show a deep obsession with loss, love and feelings of emptiness. Artem accused her of giving up on herself, and Mark wondered how she could do this when she was loved by so many.

None of us will ever fully understand what motivated Ruslana Korshunova to kill herself, but her pain will continue to resonate deeply with all who read her tragic story.

The Strange Afterlife of Maria Elena Milagro de Hoyos

It was 1930 in sunny Key West, Florida, and Maria de Hoyos was dying of tuberculosis. Victorians described consumption as an illness that heightened the elegance and refinement of its victim, and that it was tragically beautiful to waste away with pallor and fragility. Maria would soon become the object of somebody’s very morbid obsession.

Maria was 21 years old, and the daughter of a Cuban cigar maker, whose life was already marred by tragedy. By all appearances, she was an attractive dark haired beauty queen who often wore red roses in her hair, drawing the attention of strangers who desired to photograph and court her. But death was creeping up close and fast.

Maria’s two sisters would later go on to die of tuberculosis, and her brother-in-law died while trying to save a construction worker from electrocution. Maria was married at the age of 16 to a man named Luis Mesa, who abandoned her after she miscarried their child. She would remain legally married to Luis until her death.

Maria’s life was not going well. And when she fell ill and her mother brought her into Marine Hospital in April of 1930, the disease would prove to be fatal. In the early 1900s, approximately 110,000 Americans would die each year from tuberculosis. The prognosis did not look positive for poor Maria.

Enter Carl Tanzler von Cosel, a German-born radiology technician who worked at the hospital. He was a cultured and intelligent man who had traveled across the world, to countries like Italy, India, Australia, Cuba and the Netherlands.

In fact, he had escaped from an Australian internment camp during WWI by building a makeshift sailboat after secretly studying engineering books. He claimed to have 9 academic degrees (most likely false), and was also purported to have aristocratic blood, going by the title of Count whenever he could get away with it.

Countess Anna

Although he was already married with 2 daughters, Carl was immediately struck by Maria’s appearance. He recognized her from a vision he had many years ago, when his dead ancestor Countess Anna Constantia von Brockdorff came to him in a dream and showed him the face of his true love and soulmate: a gorgeous dark-haired woman who looked exactly like Maria.

The Countess had an interesting story herself; being the mistress of 18th century King Augustus II of Poland. When the King grew tired of the feisty and headstrong Countess, he had her exiled, and she stayed that way for 49 years until her death. Historically, the Cosel family seemed to be haunted by bad luck.

Back to Carl: despite being in his 50s and resembling Sigmund Freud, he did not inhibit himself from making strong advances towards young Maria. He dedicated all his time to curing her, or at least attempting to do so.

The mad scientist at work

Like some medieval wizard, Carl conjured up odd concoctions, potions, tonics, elixirs, and herbs in order to treat her TB. He made house calls to Maria’s home, stealing the hospital’s x-ray machine to monitor her progress. He lavished her with gifts, and professed his undying love, telling her he would love and care for her even if she died.

Unfortunately for Carl, Maria did not reciprocate his romantic feelings, and turned down his proposals of marriage. Carl simply did not care, and continued indulging himself in unrequited love.

On October 25, 1931, Maria finally succumbed to TB, after struggling against the illness for a year and a half, which was how long Carl had spent orbiting her. She was only 22. He was devastated.

Before she died, Carl wrote in his journal how he “had hopes that, despite the extensive damage, the lesions would heal again. I had hopes that, when Elena was out of danger, we would get married. As long as she lived I never abandoned hope.”

The mausoleum, more like a tiny home than a crypt

Sadly, the story does not end here, and it takes a Weekend at Bernie’s sort of twist, but with some added necrophilia. Carl could not get over Maria’s death, so he decided to pursue her from beyond the grave.

With the consent of her family, Carl paid for Maria’s funeral and erected an elaborate mausoleum for her corpse. He had her coffin lined with formaldehyde and other preserving agents, and had a special key made for himself so he could come and go as he pleased. Carl spent hours at Maria’s gravesite everyday, talking to her corpse, singing songs to her, reading stories, and other crazy activities that are best left unspoken. This went on for two years.

Eventually, this was not enough. Carl claimed Maria began talking to him from the other side, telling him she was afraid of decaying and rotting. One night in 1933, he snuck her body out from the mausoleum in a toy wheelbarrow, and took her home with him. Maria’s family soon became puzzled when Carl stopped visiting her grave, but they just assumed that he had finally moved on. Little did they know…

Carl wrote in his memoirs:

“Elena, my darling, we are alone on this shore. He who has given you to me, will not reject our souls, united as they are in His undying love.”

Strong words from a man who was already technically rejected by Maria several times. Now that she was dead, she could not protest. Her body belonged to him. At home with her corpse, Carl set to work repairing the damage done by decomposition.

He replaced Maria’s brittle broken bones with coat hanger wire, and stuffed her torso with rags to keep her body in its original shape. He inserted glass eyes into her orbitals, and replaced her rotting skin with silk cloth coated by plaster of paris and wax.

For some reason, Maria’s mother possessed a wig made out of her daughter’s hair, and she gifted this to Carl. He would use this wig on Maria’s corpse, as the decomposition process had caused her hair to fall out.

Carl had to continuously preserve Maria’s decaying body, and mummification isn’t easy. He constantly applied disinfectants, deodorizer and formaldehyde to counteract the smells of putrefaction.

Maria’s corpse after the creepy makeover

Now the big necrophilia question arises: did he or didn’t he? Surprisingly, there are no contemporary sources that mention anything about necrophilia. All of the sources that make claims about this are modern. In 1972, two doctors who were present at Maria’s 1940 autopsy recalled how Carl had inserted a paper tube into the corpse’s vaginal canal to facilitate intercourse. There are no photographs or other sources to prove this.

In Carl’s autobiography, he does confess to kissing and cuddling Maria’s cadaver. He slept with the body in his bed, but he kept a curtain between them because he was an extreme gentleman. It isn’t very far off to believe that necrophilia played a part in this twisted romance, but it’s important to remember these claims are not fully proven.

At this point, Carl had lost his job at the hospital and was living in a remote shack which also housed his laboratory. His behaviour became too erratic to hold a job, and the hospital had found out he was stealing medical equipment from them.

Carl had basically abandoned his wife and children, and was more content living with a dead body than a live woman. For some reason, his wife Doris took pity on him and regularly mailed him money to help him survive his destitute situation.

The peculiar lab shack

He was seen shopping for women’s clothing, jewelry and perfumes, and everybody assumed Carl was seeing someone new and had finally moved on. Nosy neighbours who peered through Carl’s window saw him dancing with the figure of a woman, and some thought it was a large doll. However, he managed to keep Maria’s body in his home for seven years without being discovered.

In 1940, it was finally over. Maria’s sister heard weird rumours about Carl. She went over to his home to confront him, and found out his terrible secret. She reported him to the police, and Carl was arrested. He was charged with “wantonly and maliciously destroying a grave and removing a body without authorization,” but the statute of limitations saved him from prosecution.

Surprisingly, a psychiatric evaluation by the court found Carl to be mentally competent. That seems extremely dubious.

As if this case wasn’t already bizarre enough, it takes an added sci-fi turn. Authorities found a homemade spaceship outside of Carl’s lab. Being a radiology technician, he of course had to go full mad scientist and attempt to go “high into the stratosphere, so that radiation from outer space could penetrate Elena’s tissues and restore life to her somnolent form.” Is necrophilia legal in outer space?

The homemade spacecraft

The jig was up, and authorities confiscated the corpse. Carl had the nerve to ask them to return it back to him, but his request was rejected.

Instead, Maria’s mummified remains were put on display at Dean-Lopez Funeral Home. The case was now the center of a media circus, and 6,800 spectators came to gawk at the macabre spectacle, paying $1 each for the privilege. After this, Maria was finally laid to rest at Key West Cemetery in an unmarked grave, to deter Carl from disturbing her eternal rest.

Oddly enough, the public found Carl to be a sympathetic figure; a tragic romantic who had lost his beloved to cruel fate. They either ignored or were unaware of the necrophilic aspects of the “relationship.”

An egregious display

A defeated Carl shuffled off to Pasco County, Florida to patch together some semblance of a life. Before leaving, he dynamite bombed the mausoleum he had created for Maria, to spite authorities.

Not surprisingly, he was still obsessed. He created a life-like effigy and mask of her face, to replace the confiscated cadaver. He wrote his autobiography in 1947, and received American citizenship in 1950, because what’s more American than defiling a dead body? Doris continued to support her deranged and estranged husband financially.

Carl died alone in 1952, at the age of 75. His body was not discovered until three weeks after his death. Ironically, the man who prevented Maria from decomposing was himself rotting alone on the floor of his home for several weeks.

Carl holds a death mask of Maria

For his final diary entry, Carl had written:

“Human jealousy has robbed me of the body of my Elena, yet divine happiness is flowing through me for she has survived death. Forever and ever, she is with me.”

Standing above him as he died was a wax figure of Maria. From 1930 to 1952, he had endlessly obsessed over this woman. For nearly 22 years, she had been the focus of his life, alive or dead. To some, it is the ultimate romance, and to others, it is a grotesque tale of violation.

Maria Elena lies in some unmarked Floridian grave, in an 18 inch casket. The former corpse bride is now at rest.

The Cold-Blooded Murder of Sharmini Anandavel

It was the summer of 1999, and 15-year old Sharmini Anandavel needed to earn some quick cash to buy a middle school graduation outfit. Her family had immigrated from Sri Lanka to Toronto, Canada a few years back, and had a hard time supporting themselves as her parents barely spoke any English. Sharmini took it upon herself to raise money to buy a fancy dress and shoes.

She told her parents she had found a job answering phones in an office. But to her friends, she claimed she was to be employed as an undercover drug operative. Her parents had offered to give her a ride to work that day, but Sharmini had refused. She was hiding something.

Sharmini never returned from work that day. 4 months later, her skeletonized remains were found by a hiking father and son in a ravine by a river, carelessly tossed into a shallow grave. Her body had decomposed from the summer heat, and had been ravaged by coyotes who lived in a den nearby.

Sharmini was identified from her dental records, since there was nothing but a skull and bone fragments left as evidence. Investigators also found hair and fingernails that were painted blue, just as Sharmini had done before disappearing.

Her classmates and teachers were shocked. She was described by everyone as a vivacious, outgoing and often mouthy girl, who would never hesitate to stand up for herself. The boy sitting next to Sharmini was crushing on her, and teachers were often bemused by her witty sense of humour. How could she vanish without a trace, on the way to some obtuse job offer?

In Sharmini’s apartment complex, there lived a man named Stanley Tippett, a troubled individual with severe facial deformities caused by Treacher-Collins syndrome, and a criminal rap sheet longer than a novel.

Stanley was 23 at the time, and married with children. He did however have a creepy roving eye, and pretended to be a police officer so he could lure children in the complex to go swimming and on drives with him. In reality, he was a bum who struggled to gain employment and took his rage out on the rest of the world.

He stalked several women throughout his life, once offering a fake job to a woman at a Wal-Mart fair, then proceeding to visit her house repeatedly to leave her gifts. Stanley once kidnapped a 12 year old girl, who was luckily saved when bystanders heard her scream. He had even kidnapped a woman from a bus stop with a fake gun, pressing it to her head and only relenting when she lied to him that she had HIV and was on her period.

Witnesses claim to have seen Stanley around Sharmini at the apartment before her disappearance, and police believe he had made a false job offer to her, pretending to be an officer who would pay her to go undercover. Police found a job application in her bedroom which looked scam-like, but Sharmini was naive and accepted it in good faith. Stanley had probably advised her to keep the fake police job a secret, but Sharmini had told her friends, though she didn’t mention his name.

That Saturday June 12 morning sealed Sharmini’s fate. Stanley had most likely lured her to a remote location, and assaulted and killed the innocent teenager who was merely looking for a job to buy herself a beautiful dress.

Stanley currently rots in jail for other sexual assault related offenses, but refuses to confess to Sharmini’s murder, and detectives do not have any concrete evidence to tie him to her death either. All that exists is circumstantial evidence, which is inadmissible in court.

How and why Sharmini died remains a mystery. All we know is that she was taken advantage of by a disturbed human being, and that her tragic story serves as a warning to never trust anyone.

Dead in a Desert: The Murder of Valentine Sally

In the early morning hours of Feb 3, 1982, a young girl with a toothache showed up at an old truck stop in the midst of a dusty Arizona desert. She was blonde, youthful, and beautiful; catching the eye of everyone around her. And she would soon be dead.

She was nicknamed Valentine Sally, after the day her body was discovered. But there was nothing romantic about her death.

On Feb 2, a university student claimed to have picked up a hitchhiking girl who matched her description. The girl was troubled and was escaping from a discordant family situation. She lived with friends and had the unfortunate profession of dishwasher, and was looking to hitchhike all the way to New Jersey. Sad to say, she wouldn’t make it.

That fateful morning at the truck stop was when she was last seen alive, and was most likely where she met her killer. Waitress Patty Wilkins said of her:

″She was a blonde, a pretty girl. I assumed she was about 16 or 17 years old. We’ve been in this little truck stop for 17 years and as a rule when a girl comes in off a truck and looks too young, we pull her off, the sheriff’s office comes along and they send her home.″

The old man wore a cowboy hat with a peacock feather on it

But this time, Patty would not report the teenage runaway to the sheriff. That’s because the girl was accompanied by a concerned old man in his 60s, dressed head to toe in cowboy gear. Some sources even claim she was accompanied by two men, and witnesses in the truck stop say they appeared almost familial.

The girl was in pain because her lower molar had been drilled for a root canal, and her mouth hurt too much to eat any food. She asked for aspirin instead. Whoever she was, this girl was definitely a homeless hitchhiker suffering something awful.

However, she was wearing a nice pair of designer jeans, as well as a candy-cane striped red and white sweater. She was around 5’5 and 120 lbs, a healthy weight for her size. The girl wore a 36C bra, had her ears pierced, and had a white handkerchief with her. To outsiders, she appeared well taken care of. She didn’t appear disheveled or poor, and could somehow afford dental care.

There were several scars on her feet and thighs, indicating either clumsiness or abuse.

The cozy pinstripe sweater

On Valentine’s Day, 11 days after she was seen at the truck stop, the girl was found dead near Interstate 40. There had been an accident by the highway, and authorities were looking for blown out car parts. Instead they saw a strawberry-blonde head face down in the sand.

Upon turning the body over, police discovered that most of her face had been eaten away by animals, as she had lain decomposing for almost 2 weeks in the arid and humid desert. Some animal had torn off and made away with her right ear.

She was lying under a cedar tree, about 25 ft from the main road. Her belt loops were nearly torn and her sweater pulled over her head, as her killer had dragged her corpse off of a truck by her clothes and flung her onto the ground.

The girl’s cause of death is unknown, but authorities suspect suffocation. Thankfully, she had not been sexually assaulted.

A rather creepy 1982 sketch of Valentine Sally

Police were unable to solve this perplexing case. They never found the creepy old truck driver(s) who accompanied Valentine Sally to the diner, and most assume that he was the killer and had gotten away with it. The 1970s and 1980s were an era of impunity for long-distance truck drivers who killed naive hitchhikers.

In 1984, Valentine Sally was misidentified as Melody Cutlip, a Floridian runaway, thanks to a moronic odontologist literally named Homer. Melody’s mother rejected the identification. Call it a mother’s intuition.

Homer mismatched the teeth of the two girls, and Melody returned to her parents’ home in 1986 alive and well, proving him wrong. Tragically, Melody would die in 1998 in a car accident, cutting her action-packed life short.

Valentine Sally lies in a grave wrongly marked “Melody Cutlip,” over 30 years after the world realized that was not even her. The only person that comes out of this ordeal with some humanity is the waitress Patty Wilkins, who last saw the blonde girl with the toothache alive.

Patty paid $168 in 1984 to have Valentine Sally buried in a decent grave. Adjusted for inflation, that is over $400. And that was on a truck stop waitress’ salary. Perhaps she felt haunted by the girl who left her diner, only to lose her life as well.