As the director of a paranormal and occult museum, I can tell you that history is invaluable. Knowing where an item came from, who created it, or what it was used for can help an investigator like myself get to the bottom of an cursed item’s strange phenomena. Even if I can’t make the anomalous activity stop, by knowing an artifact’s background, I can at least begin to understand why it has a haunting attached to it.
Unfortunately, in many, if not most cases of supernaturally-influenced objects, the trail only leads so far, stopping at estate sales, pawn shops, or post office boxes. In these situations, an investigator is left to sort out the details, hoping that someone with the right information will come along and help the puzzle pieces fall into place.
Several months ago, I received an email from a frightened New York man who believed he had come into possession of a cursed object causing terrifying poltergeist manifestations in his friend’s home. The artifact was a crude, hand-carved effigy of a woman, with a stained noose hung around its neck and rusty nails hammered into its eyes. He and a friend had discovered the figure hidden in a cave while hiking in the Catskill Mountains, and despite his objections, his hiking partner decided to bring it home.
As strange phenomena began to slowly manifest in the house, the two men became aware that removing the figure was not a good idea – it had come with an attachment. After the frightening manifestation of an old woman, soaking wet, appeared crouched in the dark shadows of the living room, they knew they needed to seek help.
The Crone as it was discovered in a Catskills cave | Via imgur
On January 9th, 2016, a man using the screen name ‘wiggedhikerthrway’ posted a thread on reddit titled “Me and a friend found this creepy statue while hiking and now strange things are going on. Anyone know what this is?” In it, he asks for help with a potential haunting. For the /r/paranormal subreddit, it was run of the mill. At least, it was at first.
The following posts have been edited for grammar and readability, but the information contained is exactly the same.
Last weekend my friend and I went hiking in the Catskills (near Sundown Forest FWIW) and found this really creepy statue while fucking around in some caves. It has nails in its eyes and a noose around its neck. Looks like it might be old. I don’t think its been there very long, but its weird, because this cave was way off the trail. Someone had a fire in there not too long ago.
The statue really wigged me out but my buddy decided to take it home with him even though I told him not to. Everyone says that theres devil worshippers that come out here to sacrifice animals and do their spells and shit so I didn’t want anything to do with this thing.
A couple days later my friend calls me and tells me that he thinks the statue is haunted because it keeps moving from its spot and he keeps smelling weird stuff. Says he can’t sleep at night because a banging noise keeps waking him up. Now, last night someone knocked on his door but no one was there when he opened it, and he’s super weirded out. He thinks he has a ghost because of the statue.
It must just be a coincidence but I think he’s actually scared. Before we go set thing on fire, I wanted to see if anyone knows what it is. Anyone ever seen something like this or heard of a statue causing ghosts?
Over the next several hours, the post received dozens of responses, each of them offering a different piece of advice. Some believed that the carving had its roots in voodoo, others thought it was the work of a Satanic cult, and a few even believed that the creepy statue was placed in the woods specifically to scare errant hikers – and was apparently doing its job really well. Some posters even offered to purchase the idol, while others offered insults.
That night, the man returned with a frantic, frightening update to his issue with the haunted statue.
Close-up photograph of The Crone in the New York cave | Via imgur
My friend showed up here at like 11:30 PM. He’s out-of-his-mind scared. Never seen him like this before. I’m going to do my best to remember everything he just told me because it was a lot, but long story short, he’s sleeping over because something is in his house.
We found the statue on Sunday, and like I said, I told him not to take it because it gave me bad vibes, but he took it anyway. He’s been an atheist as long as I’ve known him, so when he told me that something was going on, I thought he was just fucking with me because I knows I like to watch paranormal shows (he always made fun of me for it).
It started out just as knocks and banging, but he said that by Wednesday he started waking up in the middle of the night feeling like someone was watching him. This kept happening throughout the week, and every time he’d wake up, he would smell a really strong scent like pond water. He doesn’t believe any of this paranormal stuff, so he just ignored it until a few days ago when the statue moved from his desk into his living room. He says that every night since Thursday, its moved into a different room than where he left it. He thought it was his dog moving it around because it smelled funny, but his dog won’t go anywhere near it. He says that she’s actually peed in the house three nights in a row and she’s never, ever done that.
Last night someone knocked on his door at three in the morning, but when he went to open it there was no one there. His motion lights weren’t on and there weren’t any cars in his driveway. He said that he opened up the door to look outside, and thats when he knew that he made a big mistake. Like he just felt like he shouldn’t have opened his door. Thats why I made this post in the first place. At that point, I didn’t have any reason not to believe him, because it had gone way beyond a joke, and he actually sounded really, really fucking scared on the phone. He kept telling me that he was going to burn the statue because he knows that something followed him home.
Anyway, he stayed up all night and then decided to go to the movies to take his mind off of it. When he got home, he said it felt like everything was fine, and he decided to finally go to bed. This is where it gets super fucked up. He says that when he woke up, which wasn’t until like 10:00PM, it was because his dog was barking like crazy. He said the pond water smell was stronger than ever, and when he went out into his hallway he saw all of these muddy footprints everywhere. Not like shoe prints, but barefoot. All of his doors and windows were locked (after someone knocked on his door he freaked out and made sure everything was locked up) so there’s no fucking way anyone could have gotten inside.
Sitting in the living room was the fucking statue, which had moved again, and he says that when he started to go near it he heard someone breathing “like his grandpa with the tracheotomy”. He peaced-the-fuck-out and now he and his dog are sleeping in my guest room tonight.
I’ve never seen him this scared, and he even started crying. I have no fucking idea what do to. I believe him because he has no reason to lie about this, because it’s gone way too far to be a joke now. I know that everyone says not to burn it or whatever, so what the fuck do we do? He wants me to go to his house to get the statue tomorrow, but I’m too fucking freaked out to take it back to where we found it, because I don’t want to see whoever put there.
The Crone: a haunted artifact in The Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult
Just a few months prior to the frightening reddit post, Dana and I had the good fortune to assist the Finding Bigfoot team as paranormal experts in their search for supernatural Sasquatch sightings, but I never anticipated that the two-week adventure in the California mountains would result in the acquisition of a new haunted object.
At the tail end of the season’s Finding Bigfoot filming schedule, one of the production assistants, Chris Carter, was taking a break in the production van, scrolling through reddit when he stumbled onto the hiker’s thread. Having spent a lot of time on the road with Dana and I, hearing tales of our haunted objects during the “supernatural” episode shoot, he logged in and commented that the hikers should get in touch with us, passing along our contact information. Later that night, an email arrived in my inbox.
It was the hiker, whose name was Danny, and he was requesting my help. He pointed me towards his reddit post for a quick backstory, and it didn’t take me long to suggest that he not only return the statue to the place he’d found it, but to apologize to whoever – or whatever – they’d stolen from. I asked him a few questions about the location they’d discovered the figure and warned him against burning, throwing away, or otherwise destroying the object, which could have potentially made things even worse for the two.
I ended my correspondence by telling Danny that, if he was truly frightened, we could handle, store, and study the object safely. Two days later, I received another email.
Thanks for the advice. Today we went back to my friend’s house to get the statue and return it. When we got there, I saw the muddy footprints he was talking about and the whole place smelled like a dog that had just rolled around in the dirt. His dog wouldn’t even come in the house. He went to show me where the statue was when he left last night but it was gone. When we found it it was in his hallway and there was a big crack in the wall like it had been thrown there. He swears that he never touched the thing and left it in his living room.
We did what you said and explained that we were sorry about taking it and that we wanted to give it back to the cave and asked it what we should do. I don’t know if it was the feeling you were talking about but we both just felt like we should never go back to that cave again. He said he felt like we needed to send it to you.
When we were standing in the hallway talking to this thing his dog started barking like crazy outside and when we went to see what was going on, we both thought we saw a woman standing in the dark corner of his living room. She was totally naked, really old, and dripping water, and her eyes sort of glowed in the dark. She was hunched over near his shelves. We both freaked the fuck out and ran outside, and this was in the middle of day. Whoever it was, wasn’t there when we went back in. We grabbed the statue and apologized again, wrapped it in a pillowcase and put it in a box. He’s just going to send it to you.
To answer your questions, I didn’t see any jewelry or pictures or anything by the statue but there were a lot of leaves covering everything. There was some broken class and a cup near the fire. My friend says he thinks there might have been some hair on it but he brushed it off without thinking about it. We don’t remember any weird symbols or anything in the cave. There were a lot of twigs piled around the foot of the statue but thats it.
Everyone has always talked about how people go into those parts of there woods to worship the devil and do ceremonies and stuff, even when my parents were kids. The woods not far from where we were are even called [omitted] because of it. I fucking told him to leave this statue there because it was probably from some weird ceremony out there but he never believed in ghosts or the devil or anything.
Right now it’s sitting in the trunk of his car at his house. Give me your address and we’ll mail it to you tomorrow. If I knew it was going to be this bad I would never have let him take it out of that cave. Thanks for not calling us fucking idiots and telling us how stupid we are like the rest of the thread. This is the whole reason I used a throwaway to begin with.
Less than a week later, a small box arrived at Weird HQ, addressed to The Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult.
The Crone arrives at Weird HQ | Via The Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult
Dana Matthews, my wife and fellow museum curator, carried the box into the Weird HQ office and placed it on my desk. We carefully cut the package open to reveal a hard lump wrapped in a stained pillowcase. As we slowly peeled back the cloth, rusty nails hammered into wooden eyes became visible, followed by a noose tightened around the statue’s neck. Whatever purpose this piece was created for, it wasn’t nice.
The figure looked menacing, but there were a few things that were a bit confusing about the piece. The most obvious detail was that while the carving itself looked weathered and aged, as did the nails, the rope wrapped around its neck couldn’t have been more than a year old. The carving had obviously been placed in the cave recently with the new addition of the noose, if the entire thing wasn’t a just a hoax to begin with.
As we do with all new items that arrive at the museum, we snapped a series of preliminary photos capturing the artifact just as it was when it arrived, jotted down some notes, and took a few measurements. Then, we locked the office and left to run errands. When you’ve been sent countless “haunted” objects through the years, it’s hard to shake the preconceived notion that the creepy porcelain clowns, weird paintings, and African idols will never live up to their alleged reputations – they rarely do. So for us, the arrival of The Crone was just another day at the office.
Later that evening, while sitting in the living room watching a movie, Dana and I were startled by a commotion in the office. Thinking it was our two cats, I volunteered to break up the fight, only to realize upon walking into the office that the door had been closed the entire time. Nothing seemed out of place, and the cats were nowhere to be found. In fact, our feline familiars were in another room entirely, cowering beneath the bed, afraid to leave.
I walked back into the office in an attempt to look for the source of the noises, but everything seemed in order.. until I almost stepped on Jesus.
Lying on the floor was a plastic figurine of Christ, normally found nailed to a crucifix. As I turned him over in my hands, I realized that he was missing an arm. On the complete opposite side of the room, swinging silently on a cross hung in the corner, was Jesus’ missing appendage. Something had not only managed to pull Christ from the crucifix without removing it from the wall, it had thrown the figure across the room. I’ve still never been able to find the nails from Jesus’ hands and feet.
Sitting directly below the now-desecrated cross was The Crone.
Whether or not the new artifact was to blame, Dana and I wasted no time setting up 24-hour surveillance on the object. We placed a motion-activated trail camera in the corner of the office facing directly in the direction that the desecrated crucifix hung, covering a selection of the most active artifacts in our collection. If something was causing anomalous movement, we were going to capture it.
For nearly two months the motion activated camera sat in the room, but when we checked the SD card each morning, there was no evidence of paranormal activity. Sure, there were occasional bumps in the night, but when you store hundreds of haunted, cursed, and supernaturally-influenced objects in your home, you come to expect it. Still, there was nothing to point toward The Crone being to blame for any of it.
Then, on March 2, between the hours of 3:00am and 4:00am, the camera triggered three times.
Initial analysis showed a few strange anomalies floating in and out of frame, one of which even appeared to have its own light source, but it wasn’t until we stitched the frames together that we discovered something really eerie: The Crone had moved, ever so slightly, on its own.
Things only got stranger from there. Several weeks later, with no further anomalous activity captured, Dana called me into the living room to ask me why I’d stood on the furniture after a shower, pointing to the wet footprints that appeared to stand on the back of our couch. Only I’d not taken a shower for hours.
Dana points out a wet footprint. Hopefully she’ll forgive me for posting this photo of her looking worried.
For days, the earthy scent of pond water lingered in the house, with an intense feeling of dread and paranoia following it. There was an undeniable sense that something was with us, just waiting for the right moment to reveal itself.
One evening, after enduring the overbearing weight of a hidden presence and stink of algae for two weeks, we’d had enough. We were in the middle of a new episode of Paranormal Lockdown when the smell of pond water became so great, we couldn’t stand it.
Haunted objects, like misbehaving children, tend to respond and retaliate to the attention given to them during “tantrums”, but our usual routine of ignoring the bad behavior wasn’t working. We were past due for a sit-down discussion with The Crone. No one interrupts our paranormal television – not even terrifying entities.
I stormed into the office, grabbed the carving, and marched back into the living room, slamming it down on the coffee table. I sat back down on the couch and began addressing the entity directly, something that should never be done lightly. I explained that we were happy to give The Crone a home, but as this was our house, we had rules. It’s a speech I’ve given to most of the objects in the museum at one time or another, and one that tends to work.
“If we’d left you with the hikers,” I said, “you would have found your way into a fire pit or a garbage can. If you found your way to a priest, you’d be bound and buried, or worse, locked on a dusty shelf for years. We’re happy for you to live here, but only if you respect the situation. If you’ve got unfinished business, we’ll help you put it to bed, but if you don’t treat us respectfully, you’re going in the box.”
“In the box” is a phrase we’ve reserved for artifacts that don’t play nice, have nasty side effects, or are just plain malevolent. These objects, unlike the rest in the collection, have their own dedicated lock boxes – solitary confinement, if you will. Usually, the threat of a lock up is enough to pacify a situation. Not this time.
As soon as I uttered the magic words, Dana sprang up from the couch, drawing my attention to the sound of rushing water from the other side of the house. We’d dealt with a broken pipe in the recent past, and the sound of water spilling onto our laundry room floor was a panic-inducing noise. We rushed toward the sound, only for it to cease as we entered the hall. There was no water, but behind us, back in the living room, we could hear the dull “thud” of something hitting the floor. The Crone had managed to roll off the coffee table and under our television stand.
As I knelt down and reached under the stand to grab the carving, Dana yelled out and rushed to my side. When I turned to look at her, she was propping the television up with both hands. The screen had nearly fallen directly onto my head. As we shared a brief look of fear and agreement, three loud knocks reverberated from the living room wall, rattling the picture frames and flickering the bulb from the single lamp providing our room with light.
“In the box, it is,” I muttered.
That evening, the Crone became one of the few objects not stored in an open air display when not on tour. We prepared a special box for the statue, wrapped it back in the pillowcase it had arrived in, and clicked a padlock shut. The strange scents and terrible feelings all but disappeared, but the shadowy presence never quite left.
The Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult at Ohio State Reformatory | Via Mari Chastain
The purpose of The Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult has always been to provide the public with a rare, hands-on experience with haunted items that they can’t get anywhere else in the world, but it was clear that The Crone was different. Still, we believe that the reality of these artifacts is important to share with the world, even if they’re potentially dangerous, so despite our reservations, we began to take The Crone on tour with the museum, under the caveat that it was strictly a “look, don’t touch” artifact.
Immediately, people began to experience strange symptoms around the object, the most common of which were burning sensations in the eyes, as if the statue was trying to avert the gaze of curious onlookers. Overwhelming fear and anxiety accompanied the opening of The Crone’s padlocked home, and the hands-off policy barely mattered, as visitors seemed to instinctively recoil from the artifact.
Psychics and sensitives in particular had the most visceral reaction to The Crone. Some believe it was created as a vessel for inhuman spirits. Some believe it was a curse intended to blind and kill an unlucky victim. Acclaimed psychic Chip Coffey wanted to straight up exorcise the figure with holy water blessed by the Pope himself.
April Slaughter, a gifted sensitive and medium, was kind enough to spend some time reading The Crone for us at the 20th Annual Haunted America Conference in Alton, Illinois, and presented us with a few interesting ideas. She believes that whatever is attached to The Crone is an “it”, not a “she”, and that this particular vessel and cave was used several times over the course of many years. The purpose wasn’t always the same, but the carving, and the entity attached to it, was. This would explain the mismatched age of the carving, nails, and rope. April also mentioned that whatever was contained within The Crone knew she could see it, and explain its purpose, and the entity wasn’t happy about it.
As the museum traveled to events around the country, from Ohio State Reformatory to Colorado’s Stanley Hotel, thousands of people weighed in on The Crone. Many of them experienced the musty smell of stagnant water, felt the creeping onset of the entity’s presence, and a few even captured photographs of the artifact appearing move on its own.
While the opinions of The Crone’s who and why weren’t always the same, there was one thing everyone agreed upon: whatever was attached to this crude, hand-carved statue was not very nice.
Nearly six months after The Crone arrived at Weird HQ, it remains on the very short no-touching list when on tour and sealed in a padlocked case when not on display. If not just because of the apparently-malevolent phenomena surrounding the object, but because we still can’t seem to understand its intended purpose.
With the paranormal, intention is everything. I can’t stress this enough. If you go into a haunted location intending to have a scary, aggressive experience, you’ll probably have one. If you intend to commune with the peaceful spirits residing in the location, you’ll more than likely have a peaceful experience. The same goes for magick. With just a cursory glance, it’s easy to see that someone focused a lot of time, energy, and intent into the creation of The Crone. It was carved by hand, probably with a very specific purpose in mind. Every rusty nail received a mental command as it was hammered into the figure’s wooden eye-sockets. The noose around its neck was tied with a hidden desire in mind.
My own personal belief is that The Crone was created as an attempt to summon the spirit of a local witch for purposes unknown. The location of its discovery, coupled with the specifics of the carving’s creation leads me to believe that someone was aiming to commune with – and contain – a particular spirit. Dana, on the other hand, believes that the figure was created as a sort of protection object used to ward a sacred ritual area. Some good that did.
Our good friend, psychic Chip Coffey, isn’t sure why it was carved, only that the Babylonian spirit “Marduk”, a powerful demon with fifty names, is attached to it. Interesting to note is that Marduk is often associated with water.
Thermal camera image of a crowd investigating The Crone at Missouri State Penitentiary
I’ve reached out to Danny several times in the last five months, to no avail. It doesn’t help that he used a throw-away social media account to seek help, and it seems that he’s completely abandoned it, and by proxy, abandoned any solid connection to the place the carving was discovered.
We’ve been able to narrow the potential discovery point to a 500+ acre piece of land in the Catskill mountains, and have already formulated a plan to seek out the cave ourselves later this year. The specific plot of land already has connections to early witchcraft trials in the Northeast, which may provide some missing pieces to the puzzle.
Last month, while under a monitored, 24/7 live video feed, The Crone was observed by as many as a hundred viewers at a time. Electromagnetic fluctuations, light anomalies, and feelings of general unease were reported by observers, but the most frightening reports came from viewers who experienced strange activity manifesting in their own homes as they logged into the video feed. Power outages, electronic equipment failures, and burning eyes all seemed to announce the arrival of the familiar earthy, pond-like scent, and in one case, a visit from The Crone herself.
In the final days of the carving’s surveillance, we asked the viewers for experiment ideas and landed on using a voodoo coffin nail, holy water, and a crucifix as trigger objects. On her last night under 24/7 watch, The Crone appeared to flick the nail away.
A clip of The Crone under live, 24/7 video surveillance in the museum’s research lab
We still bring The Crone to every date on the Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult’s ongoing cross-country tour, gathering people’s opinions, expertise, and gut feelings about the haunted object. It remains on the no-touching list with one other item (a ritual sword), and while we’ve occasionally received intriguing pieces of evidence from museum visitors or viewers of the 24/7 video feed, we’ve still not officially come face-to-face with the entity attached to the artifact. Some might say that’s a good thing.
For now, we’re still in the dark about what – or who – The Crone really is, but every so often, the scent of pond water fills the air, so we flip on the cameras and wait.
This morning I woke to a chilling message sent to the Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult Facebook page. The message was from Jackae J., a regular in the museum’s live video feed chat, and she was informing me that not only could she not view the paranormal research lab’s live feed when The Crone or the Idol of Nightmares were on display, but that an entity had come to her in her sleep to deliver a message.
Ok, I won’t be viewing Billy [The Idol of Nightmares], or The Crone anytime soon on the live feed. I have stayed up and watched your live events, and your items being streamed for the past month. I am a former massage therapist with training in Reiki. Once I started my training was when I really started seeing, and feeling the paranormal.
Well, after last night’s live feed, I stayed up to wish Billy hello. About 4:40ish this morning, I woke up to the weight of someone sitting on my back. I figured it was our 2 year old daughter. That’s how heavy this was. When I moved I actually felt each leg-like limb extend and slide off of me. My whole body was flushed with heat, and broke out into immediate goosebumps, and sweat. A few moments later their was a loud bang, followed by my two dogs running to the living room, from their beds in our laundry room.
But the worst part of this is, prior to waking up, I was dreaming that a woman was whispering in my ear that Greg has swallowed the missing crucifix nails. That she dropped them in his mouth while he was sleeping. That’s why I wrote you guys. Im taking everything with a grain of salt, as I know you will. Just wanted to share why I’m not going back to sleep tonight. For my daughters sake, I have to be a bit cautious. I have brought home strays before unknowingly.
As soon as I read the message, a cold chill ran down my spine. Just days after The Crone arrived at Weird HQ and started dropping televisions and desecrating crucifixes, I came down with some severe, stabbing stomach pains which lasted about a week. The piercing pain was enough to make me consider a hospital visit, but I never once considered connecting them to The Crone’s arrival. Not until now.
“I have learned to ignore at and listen to spirits as needed,” Jackae wrote. “But that one was so specific I wanted to tell you.. she’s very proud of that.”
Did the entity attached to The Crone really drop the missing crucifix nails into my mouth as I slept, causing my severe stomach pain? I’ll leave that for you to decide.