5 Famous Deaths We're Covering in Our New Show, Assassinations

 SOURCE: CREATIVE COMMONS

SOURCE: CREATIVE COMMONS

PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY
One of the most prolific assassinations in history was that of former President John F. Kennedy. While riding through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, Kennedy was fatally shot by former U.S. Marine and American Marxist, Lee Harvey Oswald.

 SOURCE: CREATIVE COMMONS

SOURCE: CREATIVE COMMONS

SISTER DOROTHY MAE STANG
Dorothy Stang was an outspoken environmentalist who received death threats on a normal basis. In February of 2005, she was gunned down after being followed by three men on her way to a community meeting.

 SOURCE: CREATIVE COMMONS

SOURCE: CREATIVE COMMONS

SELENA QUINTANILLA-PEREZ
She was known as the Queen of Tejano music and had a bright future ahead of her when her best friend, assistant and president of her fan club murdered her. Yolanda Saldivar was ultimately arrested after a police stand off lasting almost ten hours.

 SOURCE: CREATIVE COMMONS

SOURCE: CREATIVE COMMONS

MALCOLM X
Malcolm X was one of the most well known human rights activists of his time. On February 21, 1965, a man rushed forward and shot him once in the chest. Then, two other men charged the stage firing semi-automatic handguns. Shortly after arriving at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, Malcolm X was pronounced dead at 3:30 pm with a total of 21 gunshot wounds.

 SOURCE: CREATIVE COMMONS

SOURCE: CREATIVE COMMONS

GRIGORI RASPUTIN
Rasputin was a Russian aristocrat with a charisma that was responsible for his rise to prominence in the 1900s. He became a trusted healer of Tsar Nicholas’ only son and heir, Alexei, and a confidant to the Tsarina, Alexandra. He was assassinated in December of 1916.

5 Scary Stories to Get You in the Halloween Spirit

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1. HAUNTED PLACES, Glamis Castle

Earl Beardie loved playing cards. He would play until doomsday, with the devil himself. Legend says that a bet with a mysterious stranger cost him his soul. The Earl supposedly returned to his room drunk one night and demanded someone play him in cards. If not, he would play the devil himself. A hooded man showed up and played with him. After that, the Earl was never seen again.

 The Grey Lady is known to haunt the castle halls.

The Grey Lady is known to haunt the castle halls.

2. KINGPINS, Richard Kuklinksi AKA the Iceman Killer

He killed over a hundred people before the police had even heard his name. So when the Mafia needed a body to drop without getting their hands dirty, there was only one man to call. Richard Kuklinski was quick, vicious, and utterly invisible. 

 Richard Kuklinski was the family man next door. Unbeknownst to his family, he was living a double life as the Iceman Killer.

Richard Kuklinski was the family man next door. Unbeknownst to his family, he was living a double life as the Iceman Killer.

3. FEMALE CRIMINALS, Ma Barker 

Kate Barker, better known as Ma Barker was a ruthless crime matriarch until her death in 1935. During the “public enemy era,” she mothered several criminals who ran what was called the Barker Gang.

 Portrait of Kate Barker aka Ma Barker.

Portrait of Kate Barker aka Ma Barker.

4. HOSTAGE, The Dos Palmas Kidnappings 

The Burnhams were United States Protestant missionaries in the Philippines with New Tribes Mission for 17 years from 1986. The couple was among a larger group kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf Group, an Islamist separatist terrorist group operating in the southern Philippines, on May 27, 2001.

 Martin and Gracia Burnham

Martin and Gracia Burnham


5. SERIAL KILLERS, Ottis Toole 

He was either one of the most prolific killers of all time, or a compliant interviewee taken advantage of by the police to clear their cold case files. Which story will you believe?

 Ottis Toole

Ottis Toole

Famous Kingpins and Queenpins!

FRANK LUCAS

 Source: Creative Commons

Source: Creative Commons

Big Cadillacs. Diamond pinky rings. A $50,000 full-length chinchilla fur coat. This was the life that Frank Lucas was living in the 1970s Harlem. He had his dealers in the streets to sell the heroin he smuggled in from Southeast Asia at exactly 4pm, because that’s when the NYPD had a shift change. By 9pm, his dealers would be sold out, and the money would pour in. At his peak, Lucas claimed to have amassed over $50 million which he kept in Cayman Islands bank accounts. To avoid detection, he bought many cash businesses like dry cleaners and gas stations to launder some of the “dirty” money he was making. Eventually, the law would catch up with Frank Lucas, and he was sentenced to 70 years in prison. Less than a year later, he would become an informant and “rat” on a number of mafia members, crooked police officers, and even his own heroin supplier overseas. His 70-year sentence was reduced to 15 years to which he would only serve six years. He would then return to Harlem where he saw the damage that the heroin he sold did to his community. Lucas then spent much of his remaining years trying to rebuild the community that he had a large piece in decimating.


GRISELDA BLANCO

 Source: Creative Commons

Source: Creative Commons

The original Cocaine Godmother, Griselda Blanco was born in Colombia and committed her first murder at 11-years-old - when the parents of a 10-year-old boy she allegedly kidnapped wouldn’t pay her ransom. She survived on the streets of Medellin as a pick-pocket and prostitute, until her first husband (whom she eventually killed) introduced her to organized crime in the form of human trafficking. Blanco’s second husband introduced her to the cocaine trade and, in the early 1970s, they moved their business to Queens, NY where it flourished. In 1975, an NYPD/DEA sting operation foiled their operation, which sent the pair fleeing back to Colombia. There, they continued their business together, until a dispute over missing millions led Blanco to kill her second husband, leaving her as the sole queenpin of her drug empire. She continued to send cocaine to the US from Colombia for a few years before she married for a third time and moved to south Florida in the late 1970s. Her unrelenting quest to control all of Miami's cocaine business led to constant violence between Blanco’s gang and rival gangs throughout the early 1980's ultimately leading to multiple assassination attempts on her life. Blanco fled to California and kept a low profile until the DEA finally caught up with her. Even after her sentencing, she continued to run her cocaine business while incarcerated. In 2004, Blanco was deported back to Colombia where she was assassinated in 2012.

“FREEWAY” RICK ROSS

 Source: Creative Commons

Source: Creative Commons

“Freeway” Rick Ross started out as a modest drug dealer selling cocaine to friends and neighbors. Wanting to go into business for themselves, Ross and a friend used 3 grams of cocaine to start an empire. They found their own supplier and built their own client base. With crack cocaine becoming the most prominent drug in inner cities, Ross engineered a ready-to-smoke freebase cocaine called “Ready Rock.” Production grew to include multiple locations, and at the height of his success, he reportedly was able to sell around $2 million of crack a day! Ross found a Nicaraguan drug supplier who made sure that there was more than enough cocaine to keep clients satisfied. Within a few years, Ross was the head of Los Angeles's first cocaine ring. When the L.A. market became saturated, he expanded to other cities in the Midwest and eventually to the east coast. In an attempt to launder money from his criminal enterprises, he bought an auto parts store and a hotel near the Harbor Freeway. This hotel would become a safe spot for Ross and others in the trade to have "safe" meetings. This lead to his nickname, “Freeway Rick.” Feeling that the Feds were closing in on him, Ross and his girlfriend headed to Cincinnati in an attempt to hide out. But Ross would eventually give in to temptation and begin selling crack there as well. As word got out to local police, Ross scaled back his empire and began to relinquish control to smaller dealers in hopes he could disappear quietly into retirement. But he wouldn’t be so lucky. Federal agents had intercepted a drug shipment, and the dealer apprehended betrayed Ross by providing details to the authorities. Ross would head back to Los Angeles where he was eventually arrested. He was sentenced to ten years but was granted early release after testifying in a federal case. He was also allowed to keep around $2 million of illegally obtained money and property. Then out on parole, Ross decided to stay clean. He did serve more time for previous drug offenses but has since stayed clean.

THELMA WRIGHT

 Source: Twitter

Source: Twitter

Thelma Wright was married to Jackie Wright, a significant player in the Philadelphia drug scene. In 1986, Jackie's body was found rolled up in a rug with a bullet wound to his head. Thelma Wright needed a way to provide for their son so she chose to continue making money by running the family business and transporting cocaine and heroin between Los Angeles and Philadelphia. At one time, it was estimated that Wright was making about $400,000 a month! By the early 1990s, after a few close-calls with bullets and law enforcement, Wright left the drug game entirely. In 2011, she came clean and published a memoir, “With Eyes From Both Sides - Living My Life In and Out of the Game.” Wright is also a motivational speaker, urging others to not follow in her footsteps and to avoid the life of a queenpin.

PABLO ACOSTA VILLAREAL

 Source: borderlandbeat.com

Source: borderlandbeat.com

Pablo Acosta Villarreal was a drug smuggler who controlled a large portion of the Texas/Mexican border. Acosta mainly smuggled marijuana and heroin into the United States but later smuggled cocaine, as Colombian suppliers wanted to use his drug routes to get their product to the United States. At it’s high-point, it is thought Acosta Villarreal smuggled about 60 tons of cocaine a year for the Colombians. By paying off state and federal Mexican police, he was able to procure a landing area for planes once a month that brought in 5 tons of cocaine from Colombia. Acosta Villarreal died in April 1987 during a cross-border raid by Mexican Federal Police and assisted by the FBI.  

Parcast Merch Store!

New shows on Parcast are not the only thing to be excited about!

Parcast is pleased to announce that we will be launching our official Parcast Merch Store in early November! Now our superfans can share their addiction to Parcast shows with the world, by wearing our new, first release T-shirts and sweatshirts for Cults, Haunted Places, Serial Killer, and Unsolved Murders. If you can’t decide which one to buy, you can buy one of each! Or, if you’re a fan of all of our shows, we will have a Parcast logo T-shirt and sweatshirt as well!

If we don’t have merch for your favorite Parcast show yet, please be patient with us (we’re also busy making podcasts). They are coming soon! In the meantime, do you have ideas for other merch? Want to share your fan art? We'd love to hear from you! Send them to Feedback@parcast.com.  


 

The Death House Landlady

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Sometimes, a subject for a podcast comes up that can be categorized for more than one show. For example, as the Parcast staff researched Malaysian Airlines flight 370 for Unexplained Mysteries, it was evident that its disappearance also spawned numerous conspiracy theories.

This recently happened while researching female criminal and serial killer Dorothea Puente. And since we're all friends here at Parcast, we asked Greg from Serial Killers, and Sami from Female Criminals to each join their co-host Vanessa to discuss the crimes of "Death House Landlady" Dorothea Puente.

Dorothea Puente didn’t set out to become Sacramento, California’s most notorious female serial killer. But she did have a criminal streak that grew more dangerous, culminating in the deaths of almost a dozen residents at the boarding house she operated. 

Nine bodies were discovered buried in her backyard. It is believed the victims were killed so that she could fraudulently cash their social security checks for herself.

Find out how she evaded detection for years by deceiving family members, social workers, and even federal investigators. Plus, learn how she got away with her first murder when you download and subscribe to both Female Criminals and Serial Killers
 

Special Crossover Episode!

 Credit: Creative Commons

Credit: Creative Commons

Sometimes, a topic comes up at Parcast for a podcast that doesn’t fit in a single box. For example, Aileen Wuornos could have been featured in either Serial Killers or Female Criminals. A similar thing happened with Malaysian Airlines flight 370.  As the Parcast staff researched it, it became more evident that the disappearance spawned both mysteries and conspiracy theories.

In this two-part, crossover episode, Carter from Conspiracy Theories and Richard from Unexplained Mysteries will each join their co-host Molly to discuss the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight 370.

On March 8, 2014, Malaysian Airlines flight 370 was traveling from Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia to Beijing Capital International Airport in China. It was a direct flight scheduled to last 5 hours and 34 minutes. But the Boeing 777 would never reach its destination.

Less than an hour into the journey, the flight disappeared from radar. Two-hundred, twenty-seven passengers, twelve crew members, and the entire plane vanished without a trace. 

Twenty-six countries and hundreds of ships were used in the investigation which cost the Malaysian government over 155 million dollars, but few answers were found. 

There are mysteries regarding some passengers on the flight, as well as some theories about the debris that has been found.

To find out what really happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, download and subscribe to both Unexplained Mysteries and Conspiracy Theories.

What to expect in Great Women of Business!

We're excited to announce the first 12 women who will be covered in our new podcast, Great Women of Business!

Coco Chanel

Born Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel in 1883, Coco Chanel revolutionized fashion with her keen creativity. She may have been one of the first to understand the idea of "branding" as we know it today.

 Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

 

Julia Child

Julia Child is an American chef, author, and TV personality. During World War 2 she was working for the Office of Strategic Services when the Navy realized that area sharks would swim too close to their deployed explosives in the water. Julia Child set out to work on her first recipe: Shark repellant. It would be used in the field for over 25 years.

 Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

 

Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart only sleeps around 4 hours a night. She uses the rest of her time to run Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, a sprawling landscape of magazines, radio shows, books, home goods, and television programs she built by herself. In 1999, she became the first self-made female billionaire in the United States.

 Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

 

C.J. Walker

After developing a scalp disorder that caused her to lose much of her hair, CJ Walker developed a homemade hair care products and marketed it to black women. Between developing strong products and strategic self-promotion, Walker became America's first black female millionaire.

 Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Ruth Handler

Ruth Handler co-founded Mattel with her husband Elliot. Originally a plastics company, Mattel changed their focus to toys when Ruth Handler suggested that the post-war baby-boom would mean many new children would need toys. Years later, she would note the toy market for little girls had baby dolls, but no dolls of adult women. Barbie was soon launched.

 Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

 

Susan Wojcicki

Susan Wojcicki, currently the CEO of YouTube, discovered that great opportunities aren't always easy to recognize. But Wojcicki had a knack for not only recognizing great opportunities but seizing them and executing upon them with immediacy. Her first big opportunity came when she left her job at Intel to become Google's 16th employee.

 Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

 

Debbi Fields

Debbie Fields found her passion for baking cookies when she was a young teenager. She baked them often and tinkered with recipes until she found one that all of her friends thought was amazing. But while everybody seemed to love her cookies, nobody seemed to love them enough to think that opening her own cookie store was a good idea. But at the age of 20, she was able to procure a $25,000 loan and opened up the first of what would be over 500 Mrs. Fields Cookies stores.

 Source: Debbifields.com

Source: Debbifields.com

 

Brownie Wise

Brownie Wise exuded personality and charm. She was a top seller of Stanley Home Products during at home party demonstrations. When she saw low sales for Tupperware at department stores, she realized that at home parties would likely increase sales. And she was right. She was so successful, she was eventually hired to be the Vice President of Earl Tupper's Tupperware company.

 Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

 

Lillian Vernon

At twenty-four years old, Lillian Vernon invested $2,000 in her own mail order service called Vernon Specialties Company which she ran from her kitchen table. She placed her first ad in Seventeen magazine and people took notice. Revlon liked one of her designs and offered her a distribution deal. Then came Elizabeth Arden, Maybelline, and others. Lillian Vernon was on her way to becoming the first woman to found a company publicly traded on the American Stock Exchange.

 Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

 

Lydia Pinkham

Lydia Pinkham shared her Vegetable Compound with neighbors but never thought of marketing it. But when money became tight in her family, she marketed the homemade compound to women. With women reluctant to talk to male doctors about female problems, the product took off. A business that started in her cellar would grow to be produced in a laboratory that would brew, bottle and ship her product.

 Source: Miami University Libraries

Source: Miami University Libraries

 

Indra Nooyi

Indra Nooyi is an Indian American businesswoman who was educated both in India and in the United States. With three bachelors degrees, an MBA, and  Masters in Public and Private Management, Nooyi was more than qualified when she was hired by Pepsi in 1994. She has since climbed the ranks and is currently the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo.  

 Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons


Estée Lauder

Estée Lauder not only made the world a more beautiful place, she also left behind a billion-dollar legacy. As a teenager, she gained valuable business experience working in her father's hardware store. But things would change for Lauder when she agreed to help her uncle, a chemist who sold beauty products and fragrances. After watching him create his products, Lauder realized her true calling was in beauty products.

 Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Highlights from our new podcast, GONE

Check out what we've covered in our first five episodes of our new podcast, GONE. Join in on the search for fascinating people, places, and items that have disappeared over time by subscribing today!

E1: D.B. Cooper

 Image Credit: In Public Safety

Image Credit: In Public Safety

D.B. Cooper orchestrated one of the most daring hijackings of all time when he successfully held his fellow passengers ransom for $200,000 in 1971, before parachuting to an unknown fate. Though some clues have surfaced over time, no definitive answers exist explaining what happened to Cooper, leaving the FBI and all else to wonder: what happened to Cooper, and how did he seemingly vanish into thin air?

If D.B. Cooper had survived the jump and made it back to civilization, he likely would have spent the ransom money, and those bills would have been spotted in circulation. If he died on impact, his body and the parachute would likely have been found. At the time of his jump, it was cold and rainy with high winds. He was dressed in a business suit and had no survival equipment or supplies with him. Most likely, D.B. Cooper survived his jump from the plane, but died of exposure in the forest where he landed.

E2: "The Eighth Wonder of the World" - The Amber Room

 Image Credit: Smithsonian Magazine

Image Credit: Smithsonian Magazine

The Amber Room wasn't actually a room, but a set of towering amber gold and jewel-encrusted wall panels that could be moved to various rooms. Construction on the panels began in 1701 to impress Frederick I of Prussia, but the construction was never completed. In 1716, Frederick I of Prussia's son, Frederick William I, gave the panels to the Czar of Russia, Peter the Great. In 1770, Catherine the Great refurbished and finished The Amber Room at Catherine Palace, where it dazzled visitors from around the world for more than 170 years until the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941.

The most valuable treasures were supposed to be evacuated before the Nazi soldiers closed in on St. Petersburg, Russia, but when a curator tried to remove one of the Amber Room panels, it crumbled. Not wanting to destroy more panels, the curator put up fake cloth walls over the panels to hide them. When Nazi soldiers seized Catherine Palace in September 1941, they quickly discovered the jewel-encrusted panels anyway. It took six Nazi soldiers only 36 hours to completely disassemble the panels and ship them to Königsberg, Prussia. The Nazis put the Amber Room on display at Königsberg Castle in the Knights Hall until April 1945 when Soviet forces fought the Nazis for control of Königsberg. On April 9th, the Nazis surrendered, but the Amber Room's panels were gone.

Some believe the Nazis were able to smuggle the Amber Room out of Königsberg on to the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that sunk in January 1945. But nothing was found in the wreckage.

Others believe the Nazis hid the Amber Room in a secret bunker code-named BSCH. After many years of trying to locate the mine, it was finally excavated, with no evidence of the Amber Room inside.

Still others believe it’s all a Soviet government conspiracy. During World War 2, the Soviets created Trophy Brigades to seize as much valuable European art as possible. They viewed it as a small compensation for the Nazi invasion that cost over 20 million Russian lives. As the war ended, Americans and Europeans realized the Soviets were hoarding priceless artwork from all over Europe. To keep attention away from their Trophy Brigades, the Soviets focused their story on the loss of the Amber Room to the Nazis. Nobody bothered to investigate the Soviet soldiers or the Trophy Brigade, who easily had enough time to smuggle the Amber Room out of Königsberg Castle and back to Russia, where it could still be hidden to this day.

E3: Oliver Cromwell’s Missing Head

 Image Credit: The Sunday Times

Image Credit: The Sunday Times

Oliver Cromwell was the leader of Britain’s first republic following a bloody civil war. After his death in 1658, King Charles the II had Cromwell’s corpse dug up, decapitated, and his head placed on a pike atop Westminster Abbey. During a storm in the late 1700s, Oliver Cromwell’s rotting head fell off the roof of Westminster Abbey. And it was gone for over 300 years.

The Likely Route of Oliver Cromwell's head:

  • Late 17th century: Embalmed head of Oliver Cromwell falls off a pike on the roof of Westminster Abbey. It's picked up by a security guard who takes it to his home and puts it in his chimney.

  • On his deathbed, the security guard confessed to his daughter that he had Oliver Cromwell's head hidden in his chimney and that she was now in charge of it. Not wanting to keep it, she sold it to Claudius Du Puy, a Swiss-French collector of rare curiosities.

  • Du Puy kept the head until his death in 1738. In the 1740s, Du Puy's estate sold the head to Samuel Russell. Russell would take the head to parties and pass it around. But when Russell fell into deep debt, he sold the head to James Cox

  • Cox was a renowned goldsmith, toyman, and clock worker. He simply bought the head so he could resell it at a higher price. And he did that, selling it to a trio of brothers by the name of Hughes.

  • The Hughes brothers purchased the head in 1799 to put it on exhibition, but the public didn't come to see it. Nobody believed it was actually Oliver Cromwell's head. The head fell back into obscurity and one of the Hughes daughters kept it safe.

  • After tiring of holding on to the head and with no museums wanting it, the Hughes daughter sold it to Josiah Henry Wilkinson in 1815. It was with the Wilkinson family for more than 140 years, so the head would eventually take on the name, "The Wilkinson Head."

  • In 1875, another party came forward and claimed to have Oliver Cromwell's head. After analysis by a famed zoologist and physician, it was determined that Wilkinson's head was not only authentic but much closer to the description of Cromwell’s head than the other skull.

  • The skull went back into obscurity until the Eugenicist Karl Pearson and Anthropologist Geoffrey Morant examined the skull in 1935. They observed that the skull had gone through an embalming process very similar to what Cromwell’s corpse would have gone through. They also noted that the head was of a man around the age of 60, who had been decapitated with an ax, which was both the age Cromwell was when he died, and how his head was severed after death.

  • During the 1950s, the head underwent an X-ray examination. While they couldn’t give a concrete yes, the exam supported much of Morant and Pearson's observations. For all intents and purposes, this was Oliver Cromwell’s head.

  • On March 25, 1960, working with the Sidney Sussex College, Horace Wilkinson had "The Wilkinson Head" buried in secret near the antechapel. The burial was witnessed by a few key college representatives and descendants of Oliver Cromwell. Two years later, in 1962, they announced the burial publically, and even erected a plaque near the burial site to commemorate the final resting place of Oliver Cromwell. Thus ended the saga of The Wilkinson Head, formerly known as Oliver Cromwell's head.

E4: “Portrait of a Young Man” - Raphael’s Lost Artwork

 Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Many of the world’s most priceless paintings were stolen by the Nazis. Most were either recovered or eventually resurfaced. But Raphael's "Portrait of a Young Man" has never been found. Was it left behind in a cave or cellar for safe keeping? Is it floating on the black market? Or was it destroyed entirely?

The painting is 28 inches by 22 inches and is oil on wood. This means that during Nazi looting, it couldn’t have been rolled up and transported like canvas artworks. It was was fairly large and bulky and would be difficult to transport undetected, which makes it hard to fathom how such a bulky and noteworthy painting could simply disappear.

When Nazi Leader Hans Frank moved to a residence in Bavaria on January 25, 1945, he selected numerous pieces of stolen art to accompany him. Among them were “Lady with an Ermine” by Leonardo da Vinci and “Landscape with the Good Samaritan” by Rembrandt. But due to its size, “Portrait of a Young Man” would be sent for later. Dr. Wilhelm Ernst von Palézieux, Frank’s personal art adviser and an interior designer for the Governor’s residences, was in charge of overseeing the artwork and its relocation with Frank.

Frank received another shipment a month later, but “Portrait of a Young Man” was not among it. Four months later, Hans Frank was captured by American forces in southern Bavaria, but the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives division of the Allied Forces were unable to locate Raphael’s work.

Palézieux was the last to see “Portrait of a Young Man” but was never taken seriously as a suspect. He easily could have hidden the painting or sold it. And as long as whoever has it realizes that international programs are still trying to recover lost and looted art, they will likely stay in hiding. Will anybody ever see “Portrait of a Young Man” again? Only time will tell.

E5: “Lost Civilization of Túcume”

 Image Credit: World Monuments Fund

Image Credit: World Monuments Fund

Túcume was founded around 1100 AD and thrived for over four centuries. Located in the Lambayeque Valley in Northern Peru, it contains ruins of dozens of mud-brick pyramids. Around 1530, thousands of people of Túcume simply vanished. All that was left were the burnt remains of their pyramids. Where did these people go?

Instead of excavating deeper, 1-meter squares, archaeologists decided to dig shallower 100-meter squares. Since they didn’t find anything, that was a clue that Túcume had been willingly abandoned. Otherwise, there would be bones, cups, or utensils of some sort. So archaeologists could rule out a natural disaster or outside invaders.

Later on in the dig, archaeologists found burial niches filled in with sand and ash storing broken ceramics, rags, shells, bone and carbon. This meant the inhabitants of Túcume were actively hiding the artifacts. But from who? They couldn’t be certain.

They were able to determine that Túcume was likely a political and religious center that was conquered by the Chimu around 1375, and then by the Inca around 1470.

It is likely that in Túcume’s final days, a series of human sacrifices took place in an attempt to convince the gods to prevent the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores. And when that didn’t work, it was willingly burned and abandoned.

With the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, came the arrival of smallpox. After Túcume’s population was decimated by the disease, it’s thought that its remaining citizens dispersed across the Lambayeque Valley in an effort to escape Spanish conquest.

9 Women Leading Crime Organizations

All powerful, dangerous, and capable of leading organized crime syndicates or gangs, these nine women mean serious business.  

1. Sandra Ávila Beltrán

  Source: BBC Mundo

Source: BBC Mundo

Called “The Queen of the Pacific” by the media, Sandra Ávila Beltrán is a leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico. She was born into a family of cartel members – possibly third generation – but was careful to never leave behind any evidence of her criminal activities. For years, Ávila Beltrán operated without drawing police attention, but in 2001, authorities seized a tuna boat carrying nine tons of cocaine that was traced back to Sandra and her lover. A few months later, police suspicions surmounted when she reported that her teenage son was kidnapped for a $5 million ransom. He was eventually returned safely, but authorities continued to investigate Ávila Beltrán. She was convicted of money laundering in 2007, and spent about seven years in prison.

According to Tucsan.com, “she charmed investigators into letting her apply makeup before police videotaped her transfer to a women's jail.”

2. Enedina Arellano Felix

  Source: Houston Chronicle

Source: Houston Chronicle

A distant relative of Sandra Ávila Beltrán, Enedina Arellano Felix is considered by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to be the world’s first female drug lord. As a girl, Enedina wanted to become the queen of a carnival in Mazatlán, but because of her family’s drug trafficking activities, those dreams were never realized.

She began leading the Tijuana Cartel after her brother Eduardo Arellano Félix was arrested in 2008. Previously, she worked for the cartel behind the scenes as a money launderer, which she had done, to some degree, since she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from a private university in Guadalajara.

Now known as the "The Boss," "The Godmother" and "The Narco-mother," Enedina Arellano Felix has managed to survived the fall of her brothers and the widespread takedowns of cartel bosses in Mexico.

3. Griselda Blanco

  Source: Metro Dade Police Department

Source: Metro Dade Police Department

Colombian drug lord of the Medellín Cartel, Griselda Blanco goes by many names: “La Madrina,” “Black Widow,” “Cocaine Godmother” and “Queen of Narco-Trafficking.” From the 1970s to the early 2000s, Griselda was a pioneer in the Miami-based cocaine drug trade and criminal underworld, but she also transported narcotics to New York and Southern California. Over the course of her criminal career, it is estimated that she was responsible for about two hundred murders; and she started early.

At just eleven years old, Blanco allegedly kidnapped and attempted to ransom a child from an upscale neighborhood in Colombia. When the child’s parents did not take her seriously and refused to pay the ransom, Griselda shot the child.

Thus, it’s no surprise that Blanco’s gangsters and their rivals had a violent way of conducting business. And that violence created an atmosphere of lawlessness, particularly in Miami, that broke out into a full on drug war known as the Cocaine Cowboy Wars.

Blanco’s U.S. distribution network brought in about $80,000,000 per month. In 1985, she was arrested by DEA agents and sent to prison, though her incarceration did not stop Griselda from running her cocaine business. Still, almost 20 years later, she was released from prison and deported to Colombia, where she died in a drive by shooting in 2012.

But that’s not all there is to Griselda Blanco’s story. Check out our episode on the Cocaine Godmother.

4. Phoolan Devi

  Source: India Times

Source: India Times

The “Bandit Queen” was born to a low-caste family in India in 1963 and was only eleven years old when she was married off to a man three times her age, in exchange for a cow. Over the course of several years, Phoolan Devi’s husband abused her, and she made several unsuccessful escape attempts. Eventually, when she was sixteen years old, her husband sent her back to her family, marking her as a social outcast.

With no other prospects, she joined a group of dacoits of mixed castes in 1979 and took revenge against her abusive husband. The gang dragged him from his home, and Phoolan repeatedly stabbed him. Although her husband survived the ordeal, fellow villagers avoided him out of fear of retribution.

Phoolan and the gang robbed upper-caste folks, occasionally targeting fancy cars on highways and kidnapping for ransom. Unfortunately, tensions between the different castes of bandits led to a gunfight. Phoolan was taken captive by those of the higher Rajput caste to Behmai village, where she was repeatedly beaten and sexually abused by several men. Three weeks later, she escaped with the help of two low-caste gang members and a villager.

Again, Phoolan sought revenge. She formed her own gang of bandits – comprised only of members from her own caste – and returned to the village; however, none of her rapists were there. Frustrated, Phoolan had her gang round up all the Rajput men present – about twenty-two – and shot them. She was not immediately caught by authorities, but when hard times befell her gang in 1983, Phoolan negotiated a surrender.

Phoolan Devi spent eleven years in jail waiting for a trial that never came. In 1994, she was released on parole and, not long after, all charges were dropped against her. Phoolan turned to Buddhism and ran for Parliament. The Bandit Queen served as a member of Parliament from 1996-1998 and then again from 1999 until she was assassinated in 2001 for the Behmai massacre.

5. Rosetta Cutolo

  Source: Napolitan

Source: Napolitan

For a number of years, Rosetta “Ice Eyes” Cutolo was the de facto Camorra mob boss, as her brother Raffaele Cutolo, the head of the Nuova Camorra Organizzata (NCO), lived inside maximum-security jails or psychiatric prisons since 1963. Although Raffaele sent her instructions, Rosetta effectively ran the day-to-day operations of the mafia herself. She had a head for numbers, and negotiated business deals with South American cocaine barons by herself.

In the early 1980s, Rosetta ordered a hit on police headquarters, but ultimately failed to blow it up as intended. Not long after, a police raid on her stronghold sent Rosetta on the lam. She escaped with the help of a local priest who hid her under a rug in a car and drove her past police checkpoints. For the next ten years, she was not seen in public. Instead, Rosetta directed mob affairs from a series of safe houses in different cities.

After years of searching, the police finally find her hideout in 1993. Tired of living a fugitive’s life, Rosetta gave herself up without a fight. However, she claimed innocence at her trial, which was corroborated by her brother and other gang members. In the end, Rosetta Cutolo only served five years in prison.

6. Charmaine Roman

  Source: Daily Mail

Source: Daily Mail

After arresting Charmaine Roman in 2013, Central Florida police learned that she was not just involved in a violent Jamaican marijuana trafficking ring; Charmaine was the kingpin. Prosecutors alleged that Roman laundered millions of dollars in drug money at the Wynn casino in Las Vegas, and through an inactive concert promotion company called Sure Thing Investments. Authorities seized 3,200 pounds of marijuana, guns, cars and $200,000 in cash from her operation.

7. Jemeker Thompson

  Source: Listverse

Source: Listverse

During the height of the 1980s crack epidemic, Jemeker Thompson, dubbed the “Queen Pin,” rose to the top of the Los Angeles cocaine trade. In her youth, Jemeker was kicked out of her home, and had to find a way to support herself. She struck a partnership with Anthony M. “Daff” Mosley, an older man who ran a lucrative cocaine-trafficking business; they later married and had a son together.

When Mosley was killed in a drive by shooting, Thompson was devastated, but she persevered. In addition to expanding her cocaine-trafficking business across the United States, she also invested in an L.A.-based hair business that sold products to celebrities. For a time, she dated a man nicknamed “Cheese,” but when they broke up, he ratted her out to authorities. Jemeker spent the next two years of her life on the run, but in 1993, her son’s 6th grade graduation ceremony was set to take place. When she came home to support her son, police were waiting for Jemeker at the ceremony and arrested her.

The “Queen Pin” served time in a maximum-security prison until 2005 but is now an evangelical minister at Second Chance Ministries in South Central, Los Angeles. Her ministerial mission is to show others that they'll always have a second chance in life through God.

8. Grace O’Malley

  Source: Tumblr

Source: Tumblr

Strictly speaking, Grace O'Malley did not run an organized crime organization or gang, but the way she ran her shipping and trading business as the Chieftain of the O'Malley clan in the 16th century was not exactly legal. After inheriting her father’s title and business following his death, Grace’s ships began physically enforcing a tax on ships traveling in the waters off her lands. Those refusing to hand over cash or a portion of their cargo were met with either violence or murder.

9. Ching Shih

 Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Though Ching Shih was also not an organized crime lord, she was a pirate commanding a massive fleet of 1,800 vessels in the early 1800s, manned by as many as 220,000 pirates. She directly commanded 300 of the vessels, with crew numbering between 20,000-40,000. The code she developed for her fleet to follow was strictly and severely enforced. Those who disobeyed orders or raped female captives were put to death.

In 1810, when the Chinese government offered amnesty to all pirates, Ching Shih retired from her life of piracy, and opened a gambling house.

If you liked out this article, check out Female Criminals, the true crime Parcast podcast where women aren’t just the victims. Every week, we examine the psychology, motivations, and atrocities of female felons. New episodes come out every Wednesday.

10 Government Conspiracy Theories Revealed to Be True

Conspiracy theories can be intriguing, outlandish or even downright looney, but are they ever true? As it turns out, they can be. Let’s take a look at a handful of examples of conspiracy theories that are rooted in truth.

1. The CIA developed a heart attack gun.

  Source: Common Sense Evaluation

Source: Common Sense Evaluation

As the theory goes, the CIA built a secret weapon in the ’60s and ’70s that could cause fatal heart attacks. The weapon shot a small poison dart that could penetrate clothing, and left behind nothing but a tiny red dot on the skin. The dart disintegrated on impact, and the target would only feel a small prick, similar to a bug bite. Since the poison denatured quickly, it could not be detected in an autopsy.

2. The CIA spied on, and controlled, the American media.

  Source: CNN

Source: CNN

CIA project Operation Mockingbird spied on members of the Washington press corps in 1963, 1972 and 1973. They also paid journalists to publish CIA propaganda, wiretapped their phones and monitored their offices to keep tabs on their activities and visitors.

3. The government poisoned alcohol during Prohibition.

  Source: History.com

Source: History.com

When the government banned alcohol in 1920, bootleggers would steal industrial alcohol — used in paints, fuels, solvents and medical supplies — and redistill it for sale. Some of this alcohol contained heavy metals, and led to illness or blindness. In an attempt to stop people from drinking alcohol, the government changed the formulas of industrial alcohol to make it completely undrinkable. At least 10% of industrial alcohol formulas had to contain methyl alcohol, a poisonous substance, in addition to other noxious ingredients such as kerosene, gasoline, chloroform, formaldehyde and acetone. The plan backfired. People still drank the poisonous alcohol, and more than 10,000 people died.

4. A U.S. Air Force laboratory researched the possibility of using pheromones as a weapon.

  Source: ABC

Source: ABC

Theoretical research conducted by a U.S. Air Force laboratory in 1994 explored the use of a non-lethal chemical weapon called the “gay bomb.” They speculated on the effects of troops doused in female pheromones. The objective was to make the soldiers sexually irresistible to one another and negatively impact their effectiveness in combat.

5. The U.S. government stole dead bodies for radioactive testing.

  Source: Science ABC

Source: Science ABC

After dropping nuclear bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the U.S. government stole parts of dead bodies to measure the effects of nuclear fallout on the human body. Researchers needed young tissue, but the agents who were recruited to find recently deceased babies and children took samples — including full limbs — without the consent of the grieving families. More than 1,500 families were affected.

6. President Woodrow Wilson’s wife ran the country after he suffered a stroke.

  Source: ThoughtCo.com

Source: ThoughtCo.com

After President Woodrow Wilson suffered a debilitating stroke, Edith Wilson made most of the executive decisions in his stead. She effectively ran the country for well over a year, but the government kept it quiet, for fear that it would cause a stir.

7. The CIA tested LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs on Americans.

  Source: The Conspiracy Blog

Source: The Conspiracy Blog

As part of a top-secret experiment on behavior modification called MK-ULTRA, the CIA tested volunteers for a time. Eventually, they began testing people without their knowledge, let alone consent, and left many of the test subjects with permanent mental disabilities as a result of the testing.

8. The Dalai Lama was a CIA agent.

  Source: Time Magazine

Source: Time Magazine

According to declassified intelligence documents, in the 1960s, the CIA provided the Tibetan Resistance with $1.7 million a year to aid guerilla operations against China, including an annual subsidy of $180,000 for the Dalai Lama.

9. The FBI spied on Beatles band member John Lennon.

  Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

A vocal advocate of the ’60s and ’70s anti-war counterculture, John Lennon was put under surveillance by the FBI in 1971. A year later, the Immigration and Naturalization Service attempted to deport him, but he was ultimately deemed to be too influenced by narcotics to act as an effective revolutionary.

10. Canada developed a "gaydar" machine in the 1960s.

  Source: Canadian War Museum

Source: Canadian War Museum

Paranoid about sexual orientation, the Canadian government hired a university professor to develop a machine that detected orientation in federal employees. The resulting machine measured pupil dilation, perspiration, and pulse in response to same-sex pornography. Those tested were told that the machine’s purpose was to rate their stress levels, but the truth was that the government wanted to remove its gay employees. Subsequently, more than 400 men were excluded or fired from civil service, the military, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. More than 9,000 people were investigated.

Can’t get enough of government conspiracy theories? Check out episodes of Conspiracy Theories, a new Parcast podcast where we cover such topics as Area 51, Chemtrails and Reefer Madness.

Conspiracy Theories is a Parcast podcast where we tell the complicated stories behind the world’s most controversial events and possible cover-ups. Conspiracy? Maybe. Coincidence? Maybe. Complicated? Absolutely. The truth is rarely the best story. And when it’s not the only story, the truth deserves another look. New episodes are released every Wednesday, so be sure to subscribe!

5 Iterations of the Beauty and the Beast Fairytale

Truly “a tale as old as time,” iterations of the Beauty and the Beast story can be found in the folk tales of cultures across the world. While the popularized French version that features a generic-looking beast is often the one that comes to mind, most versions spin the tale with a more identifiable animal bridegroom. Be it a dragon, bear, snake, frog, or the god of love, the unwitting, beautiful bride is always in for a surprise.

Here, we’ll introduce you to five other Beauty and the Beast tales, and share their distinct differences.

Cupid and Psyche, Greek

Though the god of love in Greek mythology was not an ugly beast by any means, Cupid graces this list because his relationship with Psyche is said to have influenced the various Beauty and the Beast stories that came after. While there are many differences between this story and the popular version of Beauty and the Beast, there are still a few notable similarities.

See them for yourself... Brendan Pelsue’s TED-Ed video tells the story of Cupid and Psyche best.

Zelinda and the Monster, Italian

  SOURCE: Pook Press

SOURCE: Pook Press

For the most part, this tale is the same as the popularized French version of Beauty and the Beast, except for a few minor differences:

  • Zelinda’s father is not a down-on-his-luck-merchant; he has always been a poor man

  • The female protagonist has only two siblings, compared to Beauty’s five siblings

  • The monster will only take Zelinda as suitable payment for the rose her father plucked, no other sibling will do

  • Zelinda and her father return to the monster’s castle together where they are treated to a lavish feast and given stately bedchambers

And perhaps some not-so-minor differences:

  • The monster is a fire-breathing dragon that lives in a rosebush (the curse stipulates that he cannot sleep in his own castle)

  • The dragon tricks Zelinda into accepting his marriage proposal

After months of residing with the monster, and turning down his daily marriage proposals, Zelinda is given a cruel ultimatum. The monster tells her that her father is on his deathbed and will die without seeing her one last time, which she cannot do unless she consents to marry him. It’s not much of a choice, but Zelinda agrees, because she loves her father more than her own happiness.

The monster transforms back into his true form, revealing himself to be a handsome prince. He thanks Zelinda for freeing him from a witch’s curse.

The Maiden and the Beast, Portuguese

  SOURCE: Pook Press

SOURCE: Pook Press

This version of Beauty and the Beast is not a happy one, although it initially appears to be.

When the Maiden’s father stays at the beast’s enchanted palace, the beast, without showing himself, genially instructs him to eat his fill, spend the night, and bring back his daughter in three days time. The maiden’s father does this without question and upon their return, the beast’s cordial behavior continues. He asks her father to stay for three days to ensure she is not frightened, and sure enough, his daughter is a happy woman when he departs.

The beast’s proclivity for doing things in threes persists. The Maiden receives news of her sister’s impending marriage. He allows her three days to go to the wedding, even though he does not think she will return. The Beast gives her a magical ring to remember him by and tells her that he will send a white horse to bring her back, but it will leave on the third day with or without her.

The Maiden follows the Beast’s instructions. When news of her second sister’s wedding reaches her, the deal is the same and, as before, the Maiden returns in three days. However, when she goes home for a third time to be with her dying father, the Maiden’s sisters remove the magical ring from her finger while she sleeps, and she does not remember to return to the enchanted palace until too late. Not only has her father died during this time, but she finds the Beast on his deathbed, as well, and is unable to save him. Overcome by grief, Maiden refuses to eat or drink, and she soon follows her father and the Beast to the grave.

The Fairy Serpent, Chinese

 SOURCE: Shannon Freeman, DeviantArt

SOURCE: Shannon Freeman, DeviantArt

Thankfully, this Chinese iteration has a far happier ending.

Every day, a man brings home flowers to his three daughters to use as patterns for their embroidery, but one day there are no flowers to be found along his route home. He wanders into the woods to look for wild blossoms, but accidentally stumbles upon the domain of the Fairy Serpent. Upset by the intruder, the Fairy Serpent coils around the man until he promises to give one of his daughters to him in marriage. The man returns home, but is sick with worry and unable to eat. His two eldest daughters refuse to wed a snake, but the youngest agrees to the engagement, if only her father eats again. When the youngest daughter does not immediately go to the Fairy Serpent, he sends wasps to sting the family until she comes to him.

While she finds the Fairy Serpent repulsive to look upon, his kindness and devotion win over her heart. One day, the young woman finds the well dry and leaves to find water elsewhere. When she returns, she finds the Fairy Serpent dying of thirst. In her eagerness to save him, she plunges him into the water, and he emerges a handsome young man.

 SOURCE: Amanda Clark, Fine Art America

SOURCE: Amanda Clark, Fine Art America

Lastly, the Norwegian version of the Beauty and the Beast tale closely resembles the story of Cupid and Psyche.

A White Bear meets a poor man on the road and offers him riches in exchange for his youngest daughter. Eager for the exchange, despite his daughter’s outright refusal, the man asks the Bear to return in a week to give him time to change her mind. By then, she relents and rides to her new home on the Bear’s back.

At night, under the cover of the dark, the White Bear sheds his pelt, takes on the form of a man and lies down in bed next to the young woman. However, she never sees him in this state, because he always leaves before daybreak.

Days pass, and the young woman longs to see her family. He grants her permission, but warns that bad luck would befall them both if she lets her mother speak to her alone. The woman tries to heed the White Bear’s warning, but her mother eventually wears her down. Worried that her daughter might be sleeping next to a troll, the young woman’s mother gives her a piece of candle to hide in her dress and bids her to light it when her night visitor is asleep.

On the night that she returns, she lights the candle and sees a handsome prince laying next to her. When she kisses him, she accidentally drips wax onto his shirt, and he wakes up. Upset, the man explains that his step-mother bewitched him. A White Bear by day and a man by night, he tells her that he had to be married for an entire year without his wife seeing his true form to break the spell. But since the young woman looked at him too soon, he has to return home and marry a troll princess with a disturbingly long nose.

Thankfully, the young woman manages to find him just East of the Sun and West of the Moon and rescues him from his troll bride.

If you want to hear the classic version of Beauty and the Beast the way it was meant to be heard, including the story’s lesser known prequels, check out the first five episodes of Tales.


Tales is a Parcast podcast that presents fairy tales the way they were originally told: orally and unadulterated.

11 Flying Machines That Came Before the Wright Brothers'

11 Flying Machines That Came Before the Wright Brothers'

Two years after the famous 1903 Kitty Hawk flight, brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright built and flew what is credited as the world’s first successful airplane. In the centuries leading up to that monumental moment in aviation history, a number of experimental flying machines were developed in hopes of finally unlocking the secrets of flight. While these early flying efforts may seem to us like failures and slow progressions, the culmination of knowledge gleaned from these attempts eventually allowed for mankind to soar through the skies.

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7 True Stories that Inspired Horror Films

7 True Stories that Inspired Horror Films

A good horror story draws audiences in with a tantalizing cocktail of foreshadowing, suspense, mystery, surprise and, naturally, a fear that incites hesitation at the light switch. You strive to take comfort in the fact that “it’s not real,” but unfortunately, that’s a thin defense against a sleepless night. Some things are just too terrifying to imagine, and the inspiration for the storylines of these classic horror films comes from true stories that are just as frightening, or more, than the fiction their creators wove.

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17 Female Scientists Who Made Remarkable Discoveries and Advancements

17 Female Scientists Who Made Remarkable Discoveries and Advancements

Historically, science has largely been a male-dominated field. In light of this, we wanted to take some time to celebrate the many exceptional women who did not allow societal barriers stop them from pursuing their scientific passions. While this list falls short of honoring all female scientists who’ve made remarkable discoveries and advancements over the years, it does give us a glimpse into a lesser known history of scientific girl power.

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Reflecting on 2017

With the new year around the corner, Parcast is reflecting on all of the wonderful things that 2017 has brought us. Our listeners have helped us achieve more than we could ever imagine, and your support is propelling us into 2018 with many more exciting things ahead.

We cannot wait to share what we have been working so hard to bring you in the new year. In the meantime, we are reminiscing on all of our achievements to date… achievements that would have never been possible without all of our listeners.

This is how far we have come, thanks to you:

  1. As a network, we’ve produced over 150 episodes.

  2. Our shows have reached more than 37 million downloads.

  3. We have listeners in 212 countries.

  4. Our show, Cults, debuted this year at #1 on Apple Podcast charts. It remains at #1 in Canada today! Our show, Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories ranked #2, and both Haunted Places and Serial Killers ranked #3 on Apple Podcast charts.

  5. Internationally we are ranked #1 in Australia, #9 in Canada, and #10 in the United Kingdom.

  6. Serial Killers landed on Apple Podcasts’ Off The Charts 2017 list for Most Downloaded New Shows.

  7. We now produce five shows...with more to come!

We will definitely say “Cheers!” to that. Thank you for believing in us and showing your support for Parcast. We wish you the happiest holiday season, and we can’t wait to celebrate our listeners and the exciting things to come in 2018.