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Astonishing Legends

Paranormal Podcasts

The world is more mysterious than most people are comfortable imagining. We cross paths with the mystical from time to time and may not even notice it. If we do, we quickly return to our usually mundane daily existence. But what if we not only acknowledged the unknown, we investigated it and spoke with those in the know? That’s what co-hosts Scott & Forrest, and their producer Tess Pfeifle do at Astonishing Legends. Over 85 million downloads and hundreds of thousands of listeners have shown that exploring and embracing the wonders of our world can be not only enlightening but exciting. Welcome to Astonishing Legends!


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The world is more mysterious than most people are comfortable imagining. We cross paths with the mystical from time to time and may not even notice it. If we do, we quickly return to our usually mundane daily existence. But what if we not only acknowledged the unknown, we investigated it and spoke with those in the know? That’s what co-hosts Scott & Forrest, and their producer Tess Pfeifle do at Astonishing Legends. Over 85 million downloads and hundreds of thousands of listeners have shown that exploring and embracing the wonders of our world can be not only enlightening but exciting. Welcome to Astonishing Legends!




Amelia Earhart - Decoy for a Spy Plane?

On July 3, 1975, the Ministry of Justice in Japan responded to an inquiry by Amelia Earhart researcher and investigator Major Joe Gervais. Gervais had sent a letter to the Department of Immigration and Naturalization in Tokyo, operating on the hunch that Earhart had been taken prisoner and held on Saipan during WWII but under an assumed identity. The Ministry of Justice responded, saying the woman in their custody was known to them as Irene Craigmile. This was not a name mentioned by Gervais to the Japanese authorities. So, who is Irene Craigmile? Craigmile and Earhart were acquaintances and pilots who looked similar, but photos show they are two separate people. This begs the question for the “Japanese Capture” theory of Earhart’s disappearance: who then went down with the plane that was apparently ditched near Buka Island in Papua New Guinea? Were these two women connected via some secret mission, and is the plane at Buka a version of Earhart’s Electra 10-E? These questions and evidence are just a few of the puzzle pieces of the enduring mystery of Earhart’s fateful last flight, meticulously stitched together by William “Bill” Pennington Snavely, Jr. in his latest book, Lost in Flight: Amelia Earhart, Giving Cover as a Decoy for a Spy Plane. In 2018, Bill was a guest on our show, where he outlined his research leading to a startling theory of Earhart’s plane possibly having crashed near the coast of Matsungan Island near Buka, eventually sinking to a depth of 109 feet. Two main aspects of Bill’s investigation that remain novel are that, unlike the other researchers, he calculated his flight tracking starting from the last known location and then traced backward and that his team is the only one with an aircraft to investigate whose characteristics match the Electra. Bill’s multiple expeditions to Buka have yielded intriguing evidence supporting his claim, evidence which has previously been kept under wraps due to nondisclosure agreements. However, as his research in the intervening years continued, a new hybrid theory emerged from his discoveries that may solve the disconnect between “Japanese Capture” and the wreckage at Buka. Could it be that a failed reconnaissance mission led to one of the greatest coverups in US history? Bill Snavely is now free to disclose the shocking findings he revealed in his book. Also joining us is longtime friend and fellow podcaster Chris Williamson, whose podcast Chasing Earhart and its companion book, Rabbit Hole: The Vanishing of Amelia Earhart & Fred Noonan, is the definitive interview collection. Prepare to suit up as we dive for the truth behind one of the world’s most famous and significant aviation enigmas. Visit our website for a lot more information on this episode.


The Legend of the Wizard Clip

Adam Livingston moved his family from Pennsylvania to a parcel of farmland near a village then known as Smithfield, West Virginia, sometime in the 1770s. The village’s name would evolve over the years to the more pragmatic name of Middleway. However, colloquially, it would also acquire the moniker of “Clip” or “Cliptown” for the bizarre events that would transpire there. A few years before 1790, the once-thriving Livingston family would begin to endure supernatural harassment so extreme that they were beleaguered and exhausted, leaving their neighbors and visitors bewildered. According to one popular account, a mysterious Irish stranger appeared at Livingston’s door seeking shelter one dark and stormy night. Livingston provided hospitality to the weary traveler until the stranger summoned his host when fearing his death was near, begging that he send for a priest to deliver last rites. While Livingston was generous in his accommodation, being a Lutheran and having a disdain for Catholic priests, he refused to send for one. The stranger died during the night and was buried in unconsecrated ground the next day. Soon after, it seems a curse had befallen the Livingstons. Progressing as many stories of prolonged poltergeist bedevilment do, the haunting started with strange and unexplained noises about the home. Then, unseen forces would smash their crockery, light their bedding on fire, and roll great balls of fire from the hearth across the floors, causing panic. Livingston’s cattle all died, and his barn burned down. The entity’s most noteworthy destruction was making a persistent sound of clipping as if by invisible shears and leaving any family or visitor’s cloth or leather sliced, often with crescent shapes cut into them. This peculiar practice would lend the phenomenon its name, the “Wizard Clip.” While we may never know the accurate details of the happenings, something otherworldly apparently did materialize at the Livingston homestead. We can more easily explore why such mystical occurrences transmogrify into enduring folklore. To help us with that challenge, we’re joined by author and intelligence analyst Michael Kishbucher, whose recent book, The Appalachian Legend of the Wizard Clip, thoroughly investigates this early American story. Aiding in the elucidation is Appalachian folklore expert, lead researcher, and producer for Small Town Monsters Heather Moser. Cautiously pull up a chair close to the fire as we examine the obscure yet harrowing tale of “America’s first poltergeist.” Visit our website for a lot more information on this episode.


The Hitchhiker of Mogollon Rim

The Mogollon Rim in northcentral Arizona is a geological landform that spans around 200 miles east to west, demarking the southern boundary of the Colorado Plateau in the state. This topographical feature is classified as an escarpment where wide and steeply sloping cliffs and rock masses delineate the high pine-covered plateau on the northern side, which receives cold winter temperatures and light snow from the desert-like conditions below to the south. This transitional nature provides a habitat for significantly varying types of plants and animals. Perhaps because of Mogollon Rim’s liminal nature, this variance is claimed by many to also extend to creatures and phenomena that dwell beyond our understanding. Accounts and legends of UFOs, supernatural occurrences, and even its own brand of a hominin-like beast known as the “Mogollon Monster” are familiar to the territory. The supernatural element became all too real for our guest, Jay, who endured a terrifying encounter while working as a wildlife biologist for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. While studying black bears in the rugged canyons and terrain of the Rim, Jay encountered an impossible stranger in a pretty unlikely place, one that insisted on getting a ride. But who or what was this thing, and what was their intention? An ancient spirit known to the Native American cultures of the region or a physical being with mystical powers masquerading as a weird human? While it is never advisable to pick up strangers, it seems that one may be compelled to give a ride to a hitchhiker on Mogollon Rim, maybe as just a playful reminder that humans are not the apex of the paranormal food chain. Visit our website for a lot more information on this episode.


Booby-Trapped Halloween Candy

Join hosts Ed Voccola (Rick and Morty, Bless The Harts) and Chris Cullari (Blumhouse, The Aviary) for a wild trip through the world of what scares them. In this episode, the boys discuss razor blade apples, the Man Who Killed Halloween, and the history of "Halloween Sadism."


Astonishing Junk Drawer 020 - Special Main Feed Edition

Enjoy episode number 5 of the Patreon-exclusive Astonishing Junk Drawer!


Your True Halloween Stories II Part 2

We hope your sleep has recovered after last week's round of creepy and unsettling accounts. Now, we aim to disquiet your peace with another three! Our first story comes from Megan, whose family has a history of experiencing items showing up in unexpected places. But when a letter is delivered to a vulnerable location, we wonder if it came from someone still Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Note. Our next guest, Chad, has stories showing that growing up in Ohio can be Weird on Both Ends, with High Strangeness in the Middle. In the final narrative, Rachal, a Hospice social worker, had a patient whose reconnection with a Life Leech proved to be an exhausting experience. Join us if you dare for Part 2 of Your True Halloween Stories II, and rest easy if your life is pleasantly unremarkable. Visit our website for a lot more information on this episode.


The Hat Man

Join hosts Ed Voccola (Rick and Morty, Bless The Harts) and Chris Cullari (Blumhouse, The Aviary) for a wild trip through the world of what scares them. In this first episode, the boys discuss shadow people, TikTok challenges, and the nightmarish being who ties them together: The Hat Man. Visit our show notes for a lot more information on this episode.


Introducing Scared All The Time

Introducing Scared All The Time, the newest show on the Astonishing Legends Network.


Your True Halloween Stories II Part 1

Well well, dear friends, Spooky Season is upon us once again, so it's time to regale and chill you with true Halloween tales from within our ranks! Our first story, which we're calling "She is Ours," comes from Andy, whose recurring nightmare leads to a standoff with higher powers. Later, a study of palmistry plunges her into a shared vision with a stranger. The following frightening account comes from Maryann, who gets an unwelcome response when you "Speak of the Devil." And finally, Persephone endures a harrowing encounter that may be a puzzle piece to a lifelong mystery that seemed to come from "No Place at All." Light the candles, prepare the beverages, and settle in for an evening of eerie testimony from some Legenders. May all your dreams be pleasant tonight! Visit our website for a lot more information on this episode.


Astonishing Junk Drawer 005 - Special Main Feed Edition

Enjoy episode number 5 of the Patreon-exclusive Astonishing Junk Drawer!


Astonishing Halloween sweatpants are LIVE in the store for pre-order NOW!

We took a survey a while back, and sweatpants were far and away the number one most requested new merch item, so here’s our first batch with a glow-in-the-dark Astonishing Al on the hip! They are available for pre-order as of right now! We will start printing them over the next few weeks for them to get to you by Halloween with any luck!


Send in Your Scary Stories Now!

We need your scariest stories! Send them in! Like…now!


Bethurum Part 2 – UFOs and the Occult

For whatever reason, 1952, the year of Truman Bethurum's encounters with saucer Captain Aura Rhanes and her crew, was a watershed year for UFO interactions and the Contactee movement. The period is mainly known for marking an era of peaceable and friendly exchanges with aliens, deAL266: Bethurum Part 2 – UFOs and the Occult spite the predictable fears of the "other" depicted in 1950s Science Fiction and fueled by Cold War tensions. Sometimes colloquially referred to as "Space Brothers" (which could include Bethurum's "Space Sister" Rhanes) or occasionally an alien race of "Nordics," these benevolent otherworldly visitors often urged humans to live in harmony, to care for our planet, and warned us of the dangers of the atomic age. The overall message is they were here to protect us from ourselves. But as welcoming and comforting as that sounds, there is a much-overlooked aspect of some of the personalities involved in this generation of heralds – a fair number of them had ties to occult beliefs and practices. From Aleister Crowley's magick and Jack Parsons to the wackier exploits of George Hunt Williamson, MIB threats to Albert K. Bender, William Dudley Pelley's fondness for Nazism, to the more modern cult of Marshall Applewhite and the current belief by some officials that aliens are demonic, the themes grow darker and more sinister. There is no doubt that a throughline has existed with the "Saucer Seers" from hopeful communions to the Dark Arts because it requires a belief in access to the mystical. We're joined once again by Rob Kristoffersen and Rich Hatem for part two of our discussion as we explore the connection between UFOs and the occult. Visit our website for a lot more information on this episode.


Aboard a Flying Saucer Part 1

On Sunday night, July 27, 1952, Cement Batch Plant Operator Truman Bethurum took a little snooze during his break while working the swing shift on an Asphalt Mixing Plant project near Mormon Mesa, Nevada. He awoke to hear unintelligible murmuring from eight to ten small-sized men who had surrounded his truck. Initially startled by the diminutive beings who all seemed to be wearing uniforms, what would really make Truman's heart pound with excitement was that they appeared to be the crew of an enormous flying saucer that had landed just a few yards away. He described the ship as about 300 feet in diameter and six yards deep at its center, with something akin to a burnished stainless steel finish. Bethurum went aboard to meet the female captain of the ship and was able to ask her questions, to which he often received cryptic yet intriguing answers. One visitation like this would be enough to question one's reality and sanity, but Bethurum was able to meet and converse with these interplanetary visitors on ten more occasions. Unable to keep this earth-shattering secret to himself, Bethurum would end up talking about his close encounters with his coworkers and his bewildered and soon-to-be long-suffering wife, correctly suspecting there would be derision and concern for his mental well-being. But even imagining how his life would turn upside down from his claims, he felt these exchanges were too important and wonderful to keep to himself. So if this was all just a made-up story in the style of 1950s era SciFi to gain some notoriety and maybe sell some books, why would a seemingly clear-headed, hardworking man with a good job and family risk losing everything to become viewed by most as a "Saucer Seer" kook? Was there something about Bethurum's personality that was unsound or foolish and unknown to his closest associates? Perhaps he became an unwitting target of a government operation or a contactee of a broader metaphysical phenomenon that tailored his experience to his comprehension. Join us for part one of a roundtable discussion with a couple of our closest associates, Rob Kristoffersen and Rich Hatem, as we follow Truman Bethurum aboard a flying saucer. Visit our website for a lot more information on this episode.


The Van Meter Monster Part 2

In the second part of our series on the mysterious visitor to Van Meter, Iowa, it’s time to wonder how so many credible people could see a creature so incredible and what that creature could be. An extant pterosaur, your run-of-the-mill cryptid, a Keel-like “uttraterrestrial,” something like a tulpa or an egregore, or simply a transdimensional interloper from the sacred and mystical bowels of the earth? Does a hoax that a whole town would have to be in on even make sense? Could the gestalt be a little from all of these things? We may never know precisely what the Van Meter Monster was, but we can learn how something clinically described as an unusual sensory experience affects the people who see it. Something else we can bet on is that, like it or not, we must share our reality with the surreal, and as rare as it is, people will continue to see the impossible. Visit our website for a lot more information on this episode.


The Van Meter Monster Part 1

When most folks hear about a fantastical cryptid sighting, they just assume it was a dubious, one-off, misinterpreted encounter by the town drunk, or overimaginative prankster kids, if they believe any of it at all. But none of this applies to the incident where a mystical creature terrorized the small farming town of Van Meter, Iowa, in 1903. For five nights starting September 29, an impossible visitor made its presence known to the townsfolk. Upon returning at 1:00 am from a job out of town, implement dealer U.G. Griffith spotted a dark figure on a downtown rooftop, which seemed to be shining a bright spotlight around. Thinking it may be a burglar, Griffith approached to inspect when suddenly, the large shadow leaped to another rooftop across the street and disappeared. The following night, around the same time, the town’s doctor, Dr. Alcott, was also alerted to a bright light shining through his window and ran outside to investigate. Dr. Alcott, though, got a better view of the intruder. The figure was described by him and others as standing eight to nine feet tall, half-human, half-animal, with enormous, smooth, leathery wings, a beak, and most curiously, a blunt horn in its forehead from where this bright light was said to have shown. Most disturbingly, the creature appeared immune to the bullets fired at it on multiple occasions. Far from the town’s undesirables, these encounters happened to merchants, a doctor, and a bank manager – some of the community’s most prominent and well-respected members who didn’t care for the notoriety this story brought. Having had their fill of fearsome appearances, a heavily armed posse confronted the antediluvian monster at its lair in a mine on the edge of town, intending to rid the earth of its existence. Grab a pitchfork and a torch, and join us as we hunt down the Van Meter monster. Visit our website for a lot more information on this episode.


Shades of Death Road

There is a road in Warren County, New Jersey, that, according to many generations of locals, seems to be a vortex or at least a hotspot of all manner of paranormal and unsettling activity. Tales of Native American spirits seen along the roadside, ghostly victims of vigilante justice dangling from “The Hanging Tree,” spectral deer running alongside cars, murder and highway robbery, UAPs and glowing orbs, the ghost from a 1950s Prom Date car accident still in her burned dress limping home, and even disturbing Polaroids of distressed people scattered in the woods are all part of the lore of this nearly 7-mile stretch of road officially and aptly named, Shades of Death Road. But with such an ominous and foreboding name, does this country road live up to the hype, and how did it get its name? Perhaps one could dismiss Shades of Death Road as just another random community locus that births Urban Legends, except that it’s not the only haunting and notorious landmark in the area. Adjacent to the road are two other mysteriously named topographical features, Ghost Lake and Jenny Jump Mountain, each with their own disturbing stories. So is the collection of incidents from these places merely a coincidence that fuels imagination and legends, or does this particular swath of earth generate the creepy activity that happens upon it? Let’s find out as we deep drive down Shades of Death Road. Visit our website for a lot more information on this episode.


The Debrief on Disclosure

In December 2017, the New York Times published a ground-breaking article titled “Glowing Auras and Black Money: The Pentagon’s Mysterious UFO Program.” The report was noteworthy not only for what it brought to light about the earnest government/military study of the UAP phenomenon but also that such a storied and seemingly no-nonsense newspaper like the New York Times finally took the subject seriously as well. We followed up in January 2018 with a two-part episode called “Imminent Disclosure?” The question mark on the title indicated we weren’t sure when FULL disclosure would arrive, but drips and drops of astounding revelations were indeed on the horizon. Five and a half years later, since that watershed coverage made a splash, two of its original journalists, Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean, have done it again. On June 5th, 2023, they published an article about a former intelligence official and whistleblower named David Grusch. That article is called “Intelligence Officials Say US Has Retrieved Craft of Non-human Origin.” The title alone should speak to the world-changing implications. Because this story needed daylight quickly, it was published on an independent news website called As it turns out, our good friend and colleague, Micah Hanks, also co-founded that news organization. Thanks to Micah, we were fortunate to be granted an interview with Ralph Blumenthal to get the story behind the story. Following our discussion, we’ll hear from Micah, the Editor in Chief at The Debrief, and Chrissy Newton, their head of Media Relations and a long-time podcaster herself, to consider where we all go from here. Visit our website for a lot more information on this episode.


Tales from Monster Fest 2023

We were honored to be invited to the inaugural celebration of Monster Fest 2023, produced by our good friends Seth Breedlove and his crew at Small Town Monsters. Taking place at the DoubleTree hotel in downtown Canton, OH, the evening of Friday, June 2, saw the premiere of STM’s latest documentary, On the Trail of Bigfoot: Land of the Missing, at the historic (and haunted) Canton Palace Theater. Saturday, June 3, was the main event which featured a packed and exciting ballroom full of vendors with the most creative and coolest wares on display, expert researchers, authors, artists, podcasters, filmmakers, speakers, special guests... and then there was us, along with legendary screenwriter Rich Hatem. No question, we loved catching up with friends in our fields and meeting new contemporaries. Still, meeting so many of our wonderful listeners was an even bigger highlight. And we’re all fortunate that several generously and bravely shared their stories of paranormal encounters for our live taping in front of an audience, which is what you’ll hear on tonight’s episode. We hope you’ll enjoy this first-of-a-kind show for us and take comfort or trepidation in knowing that when it comes to our weird world, we’re all in it together. Visit our website for a lot more information on this episode.


Interstellar with Dr. Avi Loeb

We’re pleased and honored to present a special guest for this episode, Dr. Abraham “Avi” Loeb. Dr. Loeb is the Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University and received his Ph.D. in Physics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel at the age of 24. He has written nine books and nearly 1000 papers, led the first international project supported by the Strategic Defense Initiative, and served as a long-standing member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, among many other achievements. Although his work with the Breakthrough Starshot project to send “light sails” speeding toward nearby stars may have initially gained him the most notoriety in science news, his study and theory of a recent anomalous visitor put him on the radar of the general public. In October 2017, a Hawaiian observatory detected the first interstellar object to pass through our solar system, which was subsequently named Oumuamua, meaning “scout” in the Hawaiian language. That fact alone may have registered a blip of mild interest to most. Yet the first artists’ conceptions of the object as a cigar-shaped asteroid put further curiosity of the masses to rest as it being, albeit odd, just another space rock. However, analysis of sensor data of Oumuamua, with no visual inspection obtained during its visit, led Dr. Loeb and his team to conclude that it was nothing like it was portrayed to the public. Instead, their research showed it was roughly the size of a football field, reflective, spinning, thin as a sheet of paper, and moving unusually. Dr. Loeb hypothesized that Oumuamua could likely be a probe, perhaps manufactured by an ancient alien civilization to gather information as star systems pass by. Not surprisingly, many of his peers met this open-minded thinking with dismissive resistance, hesitant or unwilling to entertain such bold and adventurous speculation. Join us for a fascinating discussion with one of the world’s leading astrophysicists on the challenges of searching for extraterrestrial life on the eve of his appearance at the upcoming annual Contact in the Desert conference taking place June 2 through 4, 2023, in Indian Wells, California. Visit our website for a lot more information on this episode.