A Texas couple made global headlines back in 2011 after their property was searched for a “mass grave” that was later debunked as nothing more than a bad tip from an alleged psychic.
Joe Bankson and Gena Charlton have now filed a lawsuit against the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office and several media organizations.
“Not a single body was found buried in the backyard,” attorney Andrew B. Sommerman told The Dayton News. “This all started with a psychic who gave them (the sheriff’s office) a tip — a bad psychic who had given the sheriff’s office tips in the past that were wrong.”
Along with the sheriff’s office, Sommerman says the couple is filing suits alleging false statements against several media organizations, including KPRC, Belo Corp. The New York Times, CNN America, Thompson Reuters and ABC News.
In their lawsuit, the couple alleges that the search resulted in “mental anguish,” financial loss and “substantial damages” to their reputations.
When asked what the couple hopes to achieve, Sommerman said, “A little dignity. Vindication … At least now everyone will know the truth.”
In June 2011, local officials, the FBI and several national media organizations descended on the property as reports began to circulate that 25-30 bodies were buried on the grounds. After a search that Sommerman says left extensive damage to the property, police were forced to admit that their only “evidence” had come in the form of a tip from a 48-year-old grandmother, and self-described psychic, going by the name of “Angel.”
In their lawsuit, which was filed last week in the 193rd Judicial District in Dallas, Bankson and Charlton claim they have been unable to return to their rented home because, “everyone looks at them askance because of the accusations made against them.”
The couple also alleges that the sheriff’s office failed to secure their property after what they call an “unreasonable search.”
“This situation was handled okay on our end. It checked out for us,” Liberty County Sheriff Henry Patterson told the Dayton News. “I am not worried about our part of it. Everyone (the media) at that location was told that nothing was going on and we couldn’t stop what happened.”
The couple is also reportedly trying to sue “Angel,” who is listed as a Jane Doe in the lawsuit, but they have as yet been unable to obtain her legal name.
A long-abandoned Saudi Arabian hospital has drawn hundreds of amateur ghost hunters who believe it to be haunted by jinn.
Jinn are a form of spirits of the Koran and Arabian mythology. The Qur’an mentions that Jinn are made of smokeless flame or “scorching fire”. Like human beings, the Jinn can also be good, evil, or neutrally benevolent.
The macabre fascination with Riyadh’s Irqa Hospital, which treated Gulf War combatants in 1991, began with tweeted rumors and escalated to the point where hundreds of youths broke into the grounds, smashing windows and starting fires.
“Teenagers sent text messages calling for an operation against some of the jinn who live in the hospital, and they broke into the hospital and smashed its facilities and burned 60 percent of it,” Okaz newspaper reported last week.
The rampage prompted angry press complaints the authorities were allowing the building to fall into disrepair.
Several films have since been posted on YouTube showing grinning young men exploring the building’s deserted rooms in search of evidence of spectral activity.
One showed blazing palm trees that had been torched by the ghost hunters.
Jinn fever reached the point where the Health Ministry issued a terse statement on Monday disclaiming responsibility for the decaying building, which it said was privately owned and too decrepit to be revived as a working hospital.
A columnist in the English-language Saudi Gazette daily on Tuesday recommended that authorities form “a committee for the jinn” to help the owners of possessed houses.
“It would be no understatement to say we are sick and tired of evil sorcerers,” said the article.
Belief in jinn is enshrined in Muslim cosmology, with numerous mentions of them in the Koran.
Unlike in the Western tradition of ghosts, jinn are not the lost souls of the dead but beings who lead parallel lives to humans, whom they sometimes tempt into sinful ways.
A new university-backed project aims to investigate cryptic species, including Bigfoot and yeti, whose existence is unproven, through genetic testing.
Oxford University researchers and the Lausanne Museum of Zoology are asking anyone with a collection of cryptozoological material to submit descriptions of it. The researchers will then ask for hair and other samples for genetic identification.
“I’m challenging and inviting the cryptozoologists to come up with the evidence instead of complaining that science is rejecting what they have to say,” said geneticist Bryan Sykes of the University of Oxford.
While Sykes doesn’t expect to find solid evidence of a yeti or Bigfoot monster, he says he is keeping an open mind and hopes to identify perhaps 20 of the suspect samples. Along the way, he’d be happy if he found some unknown species.
“It would be wonderful if one or more turned out to be species we don’t know about, maybe primates, maybe even collateral hominids,” Sykes told LiveScience. Such hominids would include Neanderthals or Denosivans, a mysterious hominin species that lived in Siberia 40,000 years ago.
“That would be the optimal outcome,” Sykes said.
The project is called the Oxford-Lausanne Collateral Hominid Project. It is being led by Sykes and Michel Sartori of the zoology museum.
There has been a huge increase in the number of UFO sightings reported in the North Island of New Zealand over the past two months according to UFO watchers.
One man reported seeing a UFO land in the Northland region, Suzanne Hansen, director from Ufocus NZ research network said.
She said: “He’s a very credible source. He saw an object that had landed and said it was definitely not an aircraft or like anything else he had seen.
“I’ve got 30 (UFO/UAP) reports on my desk at the moment from the upper North Island and Northland from the past couple of weeks that we’re yet to process [on top of the many others] … It’s unprecedented.”
Maungakaramea resident Charles Gillard reported seeing strange lights hovering above the Tangihua ranges just after 4am yesterday.
Mr Gillard said the white and blueish lights were definitely not a helicopter or plane and darted about at speed for several minutes before simply vanishing.
“I’ve never seen anything like it before, but it definitely wasn’t somebody with a torch or vehicles as it was above the skyline, not on the hills,” he said.
Inquiries could not find any helicopters or planes operating in the area at that time yesterday morning.
Ms Hansen said Mr Gillard’s sighting was similar to others reported recently in Northland and Ufocus would be looking into all such reports made to its website www.ufocusnz.org.nz.
“Researchers we work with in Australia have reported the same things happening there with what we call a “UFO Flap” [an outbreak of UFO sightings] there as well,” Ms Hansen said.
However, the NZ Skeptics (New Zealand Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal) says UFO sightings can be easily explained, usually by natural phenomena.
NZ Skeptics spokeswoman Vicki Hyde said despite the “unprecedented” number of UFO sightings recently this was the first the public had heard of the situation.
“The problem with UFO sightings is that there are a such a huge number of possible explanations for them.
“Something like 80-90 per cent are people mistaking things like Venus for UFOs.”