File: 0084: Two Exceptional Years


In this special episode our hosts review all the topics from the last year, discussing these stories and providing updates.

Please review the list below for all episodes and stories with links and any updates we found!

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File 0053: Mike Browne, Master of Madness and Mayhem

File 0054-0055: Deep Sea Diwali Roos and Other Holiday Miracles

  • The Hatbox Baby: Cayla covered the strange story of the Hatbox Baby, Sharon Elliot who was allegedly found in a hatbox in the Arizona desert on christmas eve 1931. Don't really have any updates, with Sharon having passed in 2018, it's unlikely we'll ever get the 100% truth about the exact circumstances that led to her adoption
  • Asian Holiday Traditions: We all know about Christmas, but there are countless holidays celebrated by thousands of other cultures. Nathan takes us to India and China to explore a few!
  • Merry Chris-Fish: Courtney takes us on a tour of all the holiday inspired named marine creatures, from Christmas tree worms, to sea angels and even a crab that likes to take things from its environment decorate itself!

File 0056: Marine Invaders of the Unwanted Kind

File 0057: Marley, the Surly Mentor

  • Cayla had the opportunity to tell Marley's story, someone that knew the infamous Jen from the FF7 house early on. No updates on Marley's story, but wanted to say that Cayla is still looking into this. Cayla was contacted by someone this year that knows someone that might be a current victim of Jen's, so we're working together to track her current whereabouts. Cayla has also made contact with several people Jen had contact with from 2013-2015 during the Hannibal fandom, which we haven't covered yet. There's also a story attached to the FF7 house known as the Sarah Saga, we haven't presented it on the show yet, but for those listening and are familiar with the story, Cayla has been digging deep and can all but absolutely confirm that the events as they were described did not occur and in fact may have been a slander campaign from someone in the Suikoden fandom.
  • Hopefully we can get into more of these stories in this coming year

File 0058: Chronic Illness, the Invisible Monster: RD

  • February 2nd is Rheumatic Disease (previously known as Rheumatoid Arthritis) awareness day, a disorder very close to the hearts of our hosts, particularly Courtney. In this episode, Courtney tells the story of how she got her diagnosis and the struggles and victories she's encountered when trying to get treatment and support for her disorder.  

File 0059: Morgan the Future Trauma Counselor

  • This week we have a very special guest, Morgan! Morgan is currently attending school to become a licensed therapist with a focus on trauma. In this episode we'll talk about the power dynamics of abusive relationships and overcoming trauma. She even helps provide a little bit of insight when it comes to Jen and her serial predatory behavior 

File 0060-0061: In the Shadows of the Kingdom Hall

  • In this two-part episode Nathan tells us what it was like growing up as a Jehovah's Witness, an organization that many outsiders think of as just another religion, but for survivors is more akin to a secretive cult rife with abuse of power and penchant for covering up atrocities and crimes within its own ranks 

File 0062-0064: Planet Montauk: Water Bears and Lost Anime

  • The Montauk Project / Part 2: The Montauk Project: Proof and Disproof :  Cayla covered the Montauk Project, the conspiracy that alleged that in the 80s there was a secret government research facility under Camp Hero on Long Island. At this point most of the major players have passed, leaving only Peter Moon, the ex-scientologist and publisher of all things Montauk, who continues to tie whatever current interests he has back to the story, and Stewart Swerdlow who with his wife continues to run their own teal swan-esque cult
  • So not much to report, last we talked though one of the alleged Montauk Boys known as Andy Pero had been arrested under a murder charge in 2020. This case is still pending at this time 
  • But while checking in on Swerdlow, Cayla came across a story she hadn't seen before. On Jul 16 2016 in Poland, 39 yr Max Spiers was found dead under suspicious circumstances, and strap in because this story is weird. 
  • Now if you remember from the episode we did, I presented several testimonies from people that had once been part of one of Swerdlow's programs and had suffered at his hands, whether it be unwanted sexual advances or death threats after the survivor left Swerdlow's program 
  • According to Max's mother, he had always been a bright kid. In his early childhood he grew up in England, but in the mid 90s when his parents split, he and his mother moved to Los Angeles and this I when Max's mother first noticed a change in him: 'Max's suspicions about the world grew in America, watching the government system,' She says he become greatly influenced by David Icke, the English Conspiracy Theorist who believes his purpose on earth is to receive messages from the spirit world. He would also make a handful of tv appearances in 1991, including the BBC, where he claimed the world would soon be devastated by waves and earthquakes  
  • Through this interest, Max made many friends online and his perceptions began to further twist, the usual conspiracy gambit: reptilians, super soldiers, new world etc 
  • But in 2008 Max had an experience he claimed had "woke him up" coming to the conclusion that he was a Montauk boy
  • Mom: 'He felt he'd travelled to some other dimension and been tortured,' Mrs Bates explains. 'He questioned everything that went on around him all the time.' 
  • In 2011 they returned to England and Max continued to build a name for himself in online conspiracy circles, until eventually meeting Swerdlow in March 2016 
  • Swerdlow invited Max to a Polish conference the following month, where he would end up meeting more believers and Swerdlow would connect him with all his local contacts and friends. 
  • In July Max returned to Poland to meet up with some of the contacts. When he was supposed to return, Monika Duval, a woman he had met persuaded him not to, instead offering him a place to stay. 
  •  While in Poland, Max would call his mother: "Mum, your boy's in trouble. There are people here who are not good." He said to investigate if something happened to him.' 
  • Two days later Max's mother would receive a text from one of Max's contacts which simply stated "Max is dead.". She would receive a call from Monika not long after 
  •  'Monika rang me and said he'd vomited two litres of black fluid that morning, that it was all over her carpet... Why didn't she take him to hospital?' 
  • From here things get kind of strange. It seems the Polish officials were a little sketch. Their conduct somehow leading to Max's body remaining in Monika's house overnight. As any true crime buff knows, the sooner a body can be examined the more that can be learned. 
  • The Polish coroner would report that Max had died of natural causes and eventually the officials would return Max's computer to his mother, with all the personal files removed. 
  •  Naturally, none of this sat well with his mother and his specific warning two days prior telling her he thought he was going to be murdered. This was only made worse as online conspiracies circles went rabid, so many theories about what happened spreading like wildfire. I will bullet point some of the ideas that were being spread
  • Sarah Adams, Max's ex who had recently been in contact with him again and says the two were discussing getting back together, told sources that Max had gone to Poland recover from a drug problem and get healthy, and alleges he got involved with a dark group
  • Sarah and Max's mother believed that he had been sacrificed by a shadowy Satanic cult and may have been 'slowly poisoned'
  • It was alleged that shortly before his death, he had been probing into well-known figures in politics, business and entertainment
  • In a video released two days after Max's death, Swerdlow says "He was not attacked, he was not murdered, he was a very programmed person"
  • An interview with Simon Parkes on Project Camelot alleged that "Max Spiers was murdered and the rumors of drugs and suicide were complete fabrications made up by evil people trying to cover up the murder"
  • On a forum an unnamed user claiming to be friends with Max says: I think faking his own death is possible. If I believed his story it could also be his close that was killed
  • Swerdlow would later make a whole post on his Expansions website about this topic:
  • "I was saddened to learn of the death of Max. He came to Poland to escape unsupportive people who would not let him see his son, ex-girlfriends who stalked him, and other family members who made his life miserable. We had exchanged Skype and text contacts and he wrote to me about his personal issues, as do thousands of people around the globe.
  • ...
  • "Unfortunately, people try to embellish their own lives by making outlandish claims about others. Many people are "wannabes". There is no cult. I work alone. I have no followers. [...] This story has been totally sensationalized. Max's passing was truly tragic. His passing has absolutely nothing to do with any conspiracy. The people who are saying these things about me and my work, if they are actually saying these things, are leaving themselves wide open for a lawsuit. My attorneys are well aware of what is going on and this statement has been approved by them. "
  • So naturally Max's mom had his body examined by UK officials that concluded that Max hadn't died from natural causes, but actually a combined case of fatal levels of oxycodone, toxic levels of alprazolam and untreated pneumonia. Max had struggled with addiction since an accident several years prior had resulted in him becoming addicted to painkillers. 
  •  He had attempted to get clean in Jul 2015, but had been using again (even his ex Sarah said he'd gone to Poland to get clean, insinuating he was using at the time) and Monika, the woman whose house he was staying at helped him purchase several packs of xanax and confirms that he had taken a handful of tabs that day. 
  •  In Jun 2017, Vanessa acquired pro bono lawyer, Adam Taylor who has been helping the mother fight for justice and answers. Mishandling of the case in Poland left a lot of questions. Why a natural cause of death when a UK coroner concluded otherwise? Why was Max's computer cleared of personal files before being returned to his mother? Why leave a body overnight in someone's house? 
  • At the end of the day this is another tragic case of someone that wholeheartedly bought into the Montauk and Stewart Swerdlow's brainwashing conspiracy and unfortunately found themselves going down a dark path. And it begs the question: in these situations what came first? The mental instability or the conspiracy? This isn't the first time we have encountered tragic stories about conspiracy minded individuals using heavy drugs. 
  •  A mind addled by addiction would be more susceptible to outlandish beliefs and paranoid thinking. 
  •  I think the worst part about stories like this is, is how the conspiracy theorist communists latch on to them and integrate them into their narratives, as just one more piece of evidence. It's unclear if Max's mother still thinks a cult or some conspiracy is responsible for her son's death. She hadn't been a conspiracy theorist herself, but had naturally looked into some of the stuff her son had become interested in. A grieving mother presented with a series of fuck ups in the handling of her son's death and an army online followers swearing up and down that he was murdered or is actually still alive?  

File 0065-0067: Crime & Biology: Special Task Force

  • Simona Kossak animal advocate of the Polish wilderness. Unfortunately Cayla has no updates on her or her legacy, but she's still a total badass
  • The Forty Elephants: 
  • An independent publisher, Head of Zeus, has acquired a historical fiction book based on the story of The Forty Elephants. Elephants and Diamonds is set to publish in September 2024 and is by Clare Whitfield. The novel follows "19-year-old Eleanor Mackridge, who leaves behind her working-class family to reinvent herself as Nell the Mack"
  • Whitfield said: "I'm elated to be working with Madeleine and Head of Zeus again and thrilled to bring to life this story of a working-class girl in the 1920s as she moves through the ranks of what has to be the most successful female crime gang of all time."
  • Clinton Body Count: Nathan had no updates, but Halli has a book suggestion if you want to know more!  "A Death on W Street" by Andy Kroll
  • Parthenogenesis: A form of asexual reproduction that can be found throughout the insect and reptile kingdom

File 0068-0070: A Guide to Rock and Ruin

  • The Sailing Stones of Death Valley: The stones continue to sail as long as global warming lets them
  • The Georgia Guidestones: It's known as America's Stonehenge. A 19-foot high stone monument in Elbert County, Georgia. Erected in 1980, it has never been fully explained. Or...explained at all, really
  • We mentioned this in an earlier episode, since the timing of my Georgia Guidestones ep and the destruction of it were about two months apart. But yes, the Georgia Guidestones are no more and America no longer has its own Stonehenge
  • "Around 4 a.m. on July 6, someone placed an explosive device at the base of the granite monument just outside of town and demolished one of the 19-foot-tall slabs. For safety reasons, the rest soon followed."
  • Mart Clamp, who owns Clamp Sandblasting (his father did all of the lettering on the Guidestones) "points the finger for the bombing at the recent trend of monument removals - sanctioned and unsanctioned - plus a fringe candidate for governor calling for the demolition of the Guidestones as her top priority. 'It sets the mood for the crazies to come out and do their thing,' Clamp said."
  • "That failed candidate, as well as others who believe conspiracies about the Guidestones, have falsely claimed that God struck the monument down with righteous lightning - despite surveillance video showing a person planting a device and running away
  • Elberton (the town where the Guidestones were located) Mayor Daniel Graves says his county is a solidly conservative and religiously observant, so outside voices claiming Satan's hold on the stones don't add up. 'Our view of righteousness is not an Almighty God that needs zealots to do his dirty work and destruction,' Graves said. 'That's hatred ... all the dynamite in the world can't change a man's heart.'"

  • This NPR article is a good surface look at conspiracy theories and cites Jared Holt, whose work I've followed for a long time.

  • Conspiracy theories aren't a new phenomenon, and neither is people acting out on them in real life. But Jared Holt, an extremism researcher with the Institute for Strategic Dialog, said the Guidestones are a perfect example of how pervasive conspiracy thinking has become.

  • "Whether it's elected officials appealing to online conspiracists or online conspiracists trying to become elected officials, we're really starting to see the effects of that in clear and obvious ways," he said.

  • The line between posting things on the internet and doing them in real life is blurring more and more, and the current political climate often rewards extreme rhetoric. And when these events do happen, "they have really disproportionate effects and the damage can last well beyond and certainly extend much past any property destroyed," Holt said.

  • No one has been charged with the Guidestones' destruction.


  • The Large Hadron Collider: The experiments at the Large Hadron Collider sparked fears that the particle collisions might produce doomsday phenomena, involving the production of stable microscopic black holes or the creation of hypothetical particles called strangelets.  

  • Triumf's work and 20 year plan is all on the website.






  • Live Rock: "Live rock" itself is not actually alive, but rather is simply made from the aragonite skeletons of long dead corals, or other calcareous organisms. A common fixture in saltwater aquariums that contributes to a healthy ecosystem and helps with tank upkeep. But sometimes when you bring live rock home, sometimes that's not all you're bringing home

File 0071-0072: Haunted People, Places and Things

  • Poveglia Island: Who would have thought that a tiny island in a lagoon near Venice would be considered the most haunted place on earth? Not us! Nathan tells us about a tiny piece of land that has a long and terrifying history
  • Bloody Mary: If you grew up in North American you have likely heard at least one iteration of the story, but turns out there's dozens if not hundreds and that come from around the globe
  • Ghost Towns of the Upper Peninsula: The story isn't an unfamiliar one; many of these towns were built around a booming industry - mining, specifically for copper; lumber; intercontinental shipping on railroad grades that are now used as snowmobile trails. Welcome to the Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan's beautiful, rugged copper country.
  • Courtney's Ghosts: Courtney tells us about some spectral and unexplained encounters from her childhood

File 0075/0076/0078: Rabid Pirate Dolphins of Tuared

  • The Man from Tuared: As far as we're aware the mysterious man from Tuared, the nonexistant country, John Zegrus's true identity has still not been found
  • Rabies
  • Rabies is still terrifying! And the number of cases seems to be increasing. Here's a few updates from around the US...
  • As of Nov 23, 2022, Atlantic County in Maryland has confirmed 11 cases of rabies. The most recent was from a raccoon, making 3 of the 11 cases from raccoons.
  • Guilford County in North Carolina has confirmed 21 cases of rabies as of November 1, 2022. The latest was from a skunk.
  • For some good news, it looks like scientists may have had success developing a novel mRNA-based vaccine against rabies. "The vaccine induces a strong antibody response and exhibits high protective efficacy against lethal rabies infection in mice and dogs...The anti-rabies mRNA vaccine candidate developed in the study demonstrates robust and durable antibody response in mice and dogs. The vaccine also exhibits high protective efficacy against the rabies virus in pre- and post-exposure conditions.
  • The scientists emphasized that human clinical trials are necessary to determine the vaccine's effectiveness and safety."
  •  Pirates are Gay (No, Really): Nathan tells us about pirates and they're progressive ideals
  • Peter the Dolphin: In the 1960s, Margaret Lovatt was part of a Nasa-funded project to communicate with dolphins. Soon she was living with 'Peter' 24 hours a day in a converted house and things would only get stranger<br>

File 0079-0081: The Satanic Lead Pyramids of the Eastern Seas

  • The Satanic Temple: 
  • At the end of September, the satanic temple had filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court of the District of Idaho (and a similar one in Indiana)
  • The complaint argued against Idaho's trigger law that bans nearly all abortions and the state's civil enforcement law that allows family members to sue medical providers who perform abortions.
  • The Temple has filed many lawsuits in various states across the country alleging freedom of speech violations, including eight lawsuits listed on its website relating to abortion policy, religious monuments, public meeting prayers and other related topics.
  • The Satanic Temple asked the court to block the laws, claiming the laws are unconstitutional violations of property rights, the equal protection clause, religious freedom and involuntary servitude.
  • As of yesterday, filed a motion to dismission the case: Idaho Deputy Attorney General Brian Church said the court should decline to hear the case because the state officials targeted in the lawsuit - Gov. Brad Little and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden - are shielded from lawsuits brought by residents of other states or foreign countries under the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
  • The Satanic Temple's lawsuit also does not name specific individuals who have been harmed by Idaho's abortion laws, Church said, and did not describe any injuries that have taken place.
  • It's not clear what the end result will be here, but there out there fighting the good fight

  • Clair Patterson: Just like rabies, lead exposure and poisoning seems to be on the rise. There were a ton of news stories about lead levels and most of them are not good.

    • A story published on November 23, 2022 cites the over 90k children's clothing sets that have been recalled over lead levels. Something to definitely note going into holiday gifting season!

      • "According to CPSC (US Consumer Product Safety Commission), clothing maker Bentex is "recalling about 87,000 children's clothing sets in nine different Disney-themed styles because the textile ink has lead levels that exceed either the federal lead paint or lead content ban, posing a lead poisoning hazard."

      • From November 2021 through August 2022, CPSC said, the recalled clothing was sold for between $5 and $25 at T.J. Maxx, dd's/Ross, Burlington, Army and Air Force Exchange Service, and other stores nationwide, as well as online at

    • "Tests by Irish Water have found lead concentrations 15 times the limit deemed safe to consume in drinking water in one area in Co Roscommon, and nearly 10 times the limit in an area of Co Waterford. Audits in recent years by Irish Water found 33 cases where drinking water had lead concentrations above the safe limit of 10 micrograms (µg) per litre , with each case reported to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)."

      • "Tests found high levels of lead in drinking water in 12 different counties, including Cork, Wicklow, Wexford, Limerick, Donegal, Cavan and Mayo. The results of the internal audits of drinking water were released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act."

    • In Vermont schools and daycares, testing has been done in nearly every location over the last five years, due to Act 66, a 2019 law that requires those facilities to test taps used for drinking and cooking water.

      • "But what Department of Health leaders have avoided addressing in their press tour is the extent of the problem that testing revealed: Nearly half of the more than 15,300 taps tested contained unsafe levels of the dangerous metal."

      • "One in every five taps tested was at or above a level required to take the fixture out of service because it has a higher chance of harming children. Twenty-five schools had at least 10 water taps with lead levels high enough to trigger the requirement to take them out of service. Five schools had at least 20 taps at or above that level."

      • "During the years most of the testing occurred, from 2017 to 2021, about 2,115 kids under age 6 were poisoned by lead in Vermont, according to state data. There is no publicly available data connecting the contaminated taps with the child lead poisoning cases. There also is no way of knowing how long some of these contaminated water systems ran the risk of harming kids - or how many kids used them. When asked by Vermont Public in October about the risk kids may have faced before taps were replaced or taken out of service, Health Commissioner Mark Levine chose to highlight the low costs of remediation and how children are more commonly exposed to lead via paint chips and antiques than through water. The data also highlights broader concerns about aging infrastructure in Vermont and about how health officials equip the public - especially parents - to evaluate test results."

    • "According to research shared by the American Journal of Diseases of Children, 83% of kids statewide have detectable levels. That's the highest rate in the country, according to all of the data."

    • And in my adopted home state of Michigan

      • "Under the previous definition of high blood lead levels, there were 1,907 Michigan children who hit that mark in 2021. However, a recent adjustment to that threshold means more than 3,400 young Michiganders met that threshold last year. By lowering the bar for what's deemed a high blood level, health officials have increased access for available public health services and lead reduction programs."

      • "MDHHS (Michigan Department of Health and Human Services) is committed to preventing Michigan children from being exposed to lead," said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, chief medical executive, in a prepared statement. "Public health officials, health care providers and the general public can access data to learn about prevalence of childhood blood lead levels in their communities and make informed decisions about prevention efforts for exposure to lead in children."

  • Multi Level Marketing Schemes: Once known as "Pyramid Schemes", MLMs are still going strong, sucking in more people than ever with promises of wealth and independence, but often only delivering debt and disappointment

File 0082: ADHD, Not Just for Boys

  • Cayla still has ADHD
  • But in a study published on Nov 23
  • ADHD medications - both stimulants and non-stimulants - do not place patients of any age at greater risk for cardiovascular events such as heart failure and hypertension. This groundbreaking finding comes from a new meta-analysis of 19 observational studies, including 3.9 million participants, that found no statistically significant association between ADHD medications and cardiovascular disease (CVD), even among middle-aged and older adults.
  • So that's nice