Monday, October 24, 2016

The Life and Tragic Death of a beloved Gypsy

The following information was gathered from online articles and by traveling to several of the locations involved.  For anyone familiar with the story, the majority of the dates and spellings are taken from the cemetery location and will differ from previous articles found online. All photographs were taken by me.  I have no connection to this family whatsoever and I mean no disrespect to the Stevens family involved.  With that being said . . .

"Sister Myra", who was part of a large gypsy family, lived in East Baltimore, Maryland for approximately 40 years.  For 30 of those years she lived and worked in a red brick house, on Pulaski Highway, as a palm reader and fortune teller.  She was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1930 and moved to Baltimore in the 1950s.  "Sister Myra", whose real name was Mary Debrah Stevens, was the daughter-in-law of King Dick Stevens.

Hundreds of Stevens’ family members emigrated from Romania at the turn of the Century. One of the family members, King Dick Stevens, moved to Baltimore, Maryland at the turn of the Century.  He became a citizen in 1904.  He operated a Cherry Hill coppersmith shop from the 1920s up until his death in 1959.  King Dick Stevens was also a National Gypsy leader until his death in 1959.  He led approximately 10,000 Gypsies from all over the nation.  His clan was considered the most powerful in the Unites States.

Debrah Stevens, the matriarch of the gypsy family, lived in the Pulaski Highway house by herself since her husband's death (Walter) in 1973.  Despite being a bit of a loner, she had been well-known, well-respected and well-loved in the Baltimore area.  She was known to offer refuge to caravans of gypsies that were traveling the East Coast.  She lived in the Pulaski Highway house up until her tragic murder in 1994.

Tuesday evening, November 15, 1994, Debrah Stevens had spoken on the phone with one of her three sons.  During their conversation she had mentioned to her son that she was concerned with a particular client.

On the morning of November 16, 1994, a witness stated that he had seen a man arguing with Debrah Stevens, on the front steps of her house, at approximately 9:30 a.m.  Shortly thereafter (previous articles state 9:30a.m.), one of Debrah Stevens' sons found her body in the living room area near the front door, her head found ten feet away.  Debrah Stevens was 64 years old at the time of her murder.

Douglas Thomas Clark was arrested approximately two hours after the body was found.  He tried committing suicide by throwing himself under an Amtrak train.  He obtained injuries due to jumping in front of an Amtrak police car several times.  After being caught, and treated for his injuries, Clark confessed to the crime.

Clark had stated that he had been consulting with Debrah Stevens because he believed Jamaicans had put a hex on him, believing such things like 'he could not die'.  Clark also believed Debrah Stevens was the devil.

The murder weapon Clark used was a blood-stained culinary saw which was found the day after the killing.  It was found in a trash receptacle across the street from the scene of the murder.  Clark's left ring finger fingerprint was found on the storm door.  Two panes of glass from a living room window were broken.

Judge Mabel H. Hubbard had ordered Clark be held without bail.  She sent him to Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center for the criminally insane.  Prior to the court proceedings, Clark had received a psychiatric evaluation from Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center for the criminally insane. This is where Clark was held once taken into custody.  While under care it was found he suffered from schizophrenia.  The Doctors, however, concluded that Clark was competent to understand any and all charges against him.

On April 24, 1995, Douglas Thomas Clark (28) pleaded guilty, but not criminally responsible, to first degree murder and carrying a deadly weapon with intent of harming her. The Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Clifton J. Gordy, Jr., accepted those pleas and committed Clark to the State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which would determine if and when he could be released.

In 2001, just six years after Clark's guilty plea, he was released to the care of his mother.  There have been no further details of his release.  To this day Clark's whereabouts are unknown other than the fact that he is walking free from a horrendous crime he committed decades ago.

Debrah Stevens’ funeral consisted of 100s of gypsies gathering in the city of Baltimore to celebrate her life over a three-day period.  Debrah Stevens was laid to rest beside her husband, Walter, and other Stevens’ family members in Western Cemetery.  Debrah Stevens was buried in a white sequined gown. Funeral attendees tossed coins on her white and silver coffin.  This is a tradition that is said to help ease her into the grave and into Heaven.  Family members and friends drank whiskey and poured it onto burial sites to allow the deceased to partake in the service.  There were two gypsies wearing traditional dress that danced beside the grave while an accordion and trombone player played a variety of music.

"Sister Myra" was buried with her favorite items, Bibles and tarot cards.  She was also buried with new dresses and makeup, "things a woman would need in the afterlife".  As her coffin was lowered in the ground, funeral attendees threw coins once again.  These coins are said to be used as payment into Heaven.

According to gypsy belief when a person goes to Heaven it is a new beginning. The funeral service should be a celebration filled with food and drink because it's a reflection of what happens in Heaven.  Most times funerals are huge celebrations with a lot of drinking, but due to the manner in which Debrah Stevens' died, it was a more subtle celebration.

Now, 2016, the house on Pulaski Highway still stands to this day, a bit rough around the edges, with a for sale sign on the side.  It was sold back in 1998 to the owner of a furniture store.  The owner of the furniture store had been using the house as a storage unit, extra parking for his employees and advertisement, with large advertising signs for the furniture store on both sides of the house.

I am a paranormal investigator and love to see abandoned buildings just waiting to be explored.  Yet, it saddens me that this red brick house still stands by itself, a mere memory of a horrific murder from decades ago. I would rather see the house torn down and maybe the empty lot made into a small grassy park with a memorial plaque for the beautiful life lost there.

"Sister Myra" I hope you continue to rest in peace with other family and friends who have passed prior to your death and who have since passed.

The following are photographs of the actual house as it stands today and photographs from Western Cemetery.










Sunday, September 4, 2016

Brown Mountain Lights Mystery

Brown Mountain is located in Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina.  Brown Mountain is known for a series of ghost lights that have been witnessed for many years commonly referred to as the Brown Mountain Lights.

Thousands of individuals have witnessed these ghost lights over the years.  Although there isn't a confirmed date on when the first sighting was, several writings have stated that Native Americans were the first individuals to witness the lights hundreds of years ago.

One early confirmed report comes out of Linville Falls.  Members of the Morganton Fishing Club reported to Charlotte Daily Observer on or around September 23, 1913 that they had witnessed the lights two years prior.  The mysterious lights appeared just above the horizon, they were a circular shape and red in color.

There have been many people through the years offering up information to debunk these mysterious lights.  Some of these suggest the lights were refractions of vehicle headlights, off-road vehicles, brush fires, campfires, airplane lights, locomotive lights and/or lights from distant towns.

The Brown Mountain Lights have been an inspiration for television, a movie and a song.

The X-Files, Season Six, Episode 21 entitled Field Trip aired originally on May 9th, 1999.  The episode is about a young married couple who had been reported missing after three days. Their skeletons are later discovered in a field in the mountains.  Fox Mulder believes that the bodies are a result of the famous Brown Mountain Lights.

The Brown Mountain Lights also inspired the 2014 movie Alien Abduction. This movie is a horror/sci-fi/thriller about a family, while on vacation, has an alien encounter.  The movie is based on the Brown Mountain Lights phenomenon.  The movie is a found-footage type movie with a lot of intense moments that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  Alien Abduction is currently available on Netflix to stream and by mail service.

Scott Greene Wiseman was a bluegrass songwriter who performed alongside his wife, Myrtle Eleanor Cooper.  They were known professionally as Lulu Belle and Scotty.  Scotty wrote a song about the lights entitled The Brown Mountain Light.

The lyrics are as follows:

If you ever find yourself in North Carolina, near the Pisgah National Forest area, be sure to keep your eyes open for the Brown Mountain Lights.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Signed Epstein's Mother!

One of my favorite shows to watch when I was little was Welcome Back, Kotter.  I still watch the show when I found it on TV.  Eventually I would love to buy the complete series on DVD.

Welcome Back, Kotter was on television from 1975 to 1979, a total of four seasons and 95 episodes.  It was recorded in front of a live studio audience.

Gabe Kaplan was one of the three creators of Welcome Back, Kotter.  Alan Sacks and Peter Meyerson were the other two creators.

The sitcom followed Gabe Kotter's return to his 
alma mater, James Buchanan High School, New York, to teach history and social studies.  He was also in charge of homeroom first thing in the morning.  The sitcom centered around his classroom of remedial students known as "Sweathogs".  When the sitcom started in season one, the Sweathogs were in ninth grade.

Gabe loved telling jokes and was a bit of a wisecracker.  Each episode often started and ended with Gabe telling his wife, Julie, a joke.  Throughout each episode there was usually a visit from the cranky Vice-Principal, Mr. Woodman. Gabe Kotter was a former remedial student and a founding member of the original class of Sweathogs. As he is teaching this generation of Sweathogs, he befriends them.  The Sweathogs often visit his apartment, usually entering through the fire-escape window.

James Buchanan High School is based on New Utrecht High School, the actual school Gabe Kaplan attended.  Many of the characters were based on students that Gabe grew up with during his time there as a remedial student.
Here is a rundown of the main characters:

Gabe Kaplan played Gabe Kotter who returns to his former high school as a teacher.  He taught history and social studies, along with being in charge of homeroom.  He also loved to tell jokes.

Aside from being an actor, Gabe Kaplan is an American comedian, poker commentator and a professional poker player.

✿   Marcia Strassman played Julie Kotter, Gabe's wife.  Julie tries to go with the flow when it comes to her husband and his dedication to the Sweathogs.  She often gets upset at the amount of time her husband spends with the Sweathogs.  She also gets upset that he allows them to visit their apartment often.

Julie and Gabe had twin babies named Rachel and Robin, played by real-life sisters, Beth and Kay Kearney.

Marcia Strassman passed away on October 24, 2014 at age 66, after a long battle with breast cancer.

✿   Robert Hegyes played Sweathog Juan Epstein.  His full name was Juan Sanchez Jose Martinez Guadalupe Sandoval Ortega Valdez Jesus Angel Cordero de Huevos Epstein III.  His character was known for his tough-guy strut and a red handkerchief hanging from his right back pocket. More often than not, Epstein had a note "signed" by his mother for either not showing up for school or being late to class ... the signature was as follows; "signed Epstein's Mother"!  Mr. Kotter would read the note out-loud in front of the class while Epstein stood beside him and mouthed the words.

Robert Hegyes passed away on January 26, 2012 at age 60. After suffering from chest pains, it is said that Robert passed away as a result of a heart attack.

✿   Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs played Sweathog Freddie 'Boom Boom' Washington.  He was the cool cat, athletic Sweathog whose nickname was a result of a habit where he would pretend to play the bass while singing "boom, boom, boom, boom.  He was also a star of Buchanan's basketball team.

Washington pronounced Mr. Kotter's name: Mr. Kot-tair!  He would often say the phrase "Hi there." in a deep voice.

Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs has since done appearances on television shows and movies.  He has a horror movie scheduled to be out in September of this year, 31, which is written and directed by Rob Zombie.

✿   Ron Palillo played Sweathog Arnold Dingfelder Horshack.  Dingfelder was Horshack's mother's maiden name.  Horshack was the class clown of the crew with a distinctive laugh and a naive nature.  He was known for raising his hand and exclaiming, "Ooohh ooohh ooohh, Mr. Kotter" when he wanted to speak in class.  He was the smartest Sweathog and was once moved out the remedial class but shortly returned because he felt most comfortable there.

Ron Palillo passed away on August 14, 2012 at age 63.  He passed away as a result of a heart attack.

✿   John Travolta played Sweathog Vinnie Barbarino.  Barbarino was the unofficial leader of the Sweathogs.  He was the heartthrob of the group, not very smart and he was very cocky.  Vinnie has a special way of talking and he gets confused easily.  Some of his favorite things to say:  "Who?" "What?" "When" Where" "Why'  "I'm so confused" and several insults such as:  "up your nose with a rubber hose" "off my case, toilet face".

John Travolta is one of the more well known actors.  Aside from acting, he is a dancer, singer, producer, writer and a pilot.  He had a few television roles before starring in Welcome Back, Kotter. He has since go on to star in movies and television.  He has been nominated for two Oscars, 46 other nominations and 39 wins.

✿   John Sylvester White played Mr. Woodman, the 'grumpy' vice-principal of Buchanan High, who later becomes the principal.  He doesn't think of the Sweathogs as real students and makes it well known his dislike for them.  The Sweathogs enjoy making fun of him because of his age and height.

John White passed away from pancreatic cancer on September 11, 1988 at age 68.

✿   Helaine Lembeck played Judy Borden.  Judy plays a straight A student and the editor of the Buchanan Bugle. After Welcome Back, Kotter, Helaine continued acting in television shows and movies.

MeTV is currently running episodes of Welcome Back, Kotter Saturday and Sunday mornings. The show is also available to own on DVD.

Hope you enjoyed this trip down Sweathog memory lane! Thanks for stopping by!  Have a great day!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Walking Dead Season Six Finale - Lucille's Here

Another season of The Walking Dead finished up with yet another crazy cliffhanger.  This one actually reminded me of the Season Four Finale; similar situation, different location, different group of bad guys.

Season Four Finale:  Main group trapped in a train car.

Rick, Carl, Michonne, Daryl, Sasha, Abraham, Eugene, Rosita, Maggie and Glenn  (Bob and Tara) 

*  Bob dies in Season Five.
*  Carol, Tyreese and Judith are separated from the group 

Season Six Finale:  Main group lined up on their knees.

Rick, Carl, Michonne, Daryl, Sasha, Abraham, Eugene, Rosita, Maggie, Glenn and Aaron

*  Aaron is a new character as of Season Five
*  Tara is somewhere on a "supply run" in Season Six
*  Carol and Morgan are separated from the group
*  Judith is with Father Gabriel back at Alexandria

Both season finales had the group running from gunfire that was directed at their feet where it appeared the bad guys were herding them. 

I watched the last 15 minutes of Season Six three times (don't judge me) because there was something that grabbed my attention with the group lineup.  I even channeled my inner Yvette Nicole Brown and had a piece of paper where I took notes on the episode.

Not sure if this has anything to do with who "meets Lucille" or not but it was a nice subtlety that I noticed.  

So here it is: 

Negan is creatively picking who is going to be beaten by Lucille by saying eenie, meenie, miney, mo. While he is doing this, he points Lucille in each person's face.  Below is how the group is lined up in front of Negan. The numbers after each name are what order they were picked during the "game".

From left to right:

Glenn ~ Rosita (10) ~ Daryl (5, 13) ~ Michonne (4) Abraham (3, 14)  ~ Maggie (2, 12) ~ Rick (1) ~ Sasha (6) ~ Aaron (7, 11) ~ Carl (8, 15) ~ Eugene (9)

When you look at the numbers, it starts with Rick (the leader) and follows an order for a few numbers, switches and then follows an order for a bit before it becomes chaotic and then someone gets 'whacked."  The End ....

The numbers are each time the camera actually shows a character with Lucille being pointed in his/her face. Glenn is shown but he doesn't have Lucille pointed at him in the shot.  The only time he may have Lucille pointed at him is when the camera is pointing at Negan and Lucille.  That's when you can see Negan pointing in the direction of Glenn/Rosita.  

Like I said, it was something interesting I noticed about the ending.  I don't think that it means Glenn is meeting his demise (in the comics Negan kills Glenn).  I just found it interesting that he was the only one that wasn't shown with Lucille in his face.

After noticing this, the first two things I thought were, 1) Did Yvette Nicole Brown notice that (The Number One fan)? 2) Did anyone else notice it?

I'm sure when Season Seven premieres in October we are all going to be shocked as to who gets "whacked".

Thank you for reading this fan-girl's ramblings!  Enjoy your day!

** Here are my notes (along with random doodles), blurred out because it's embarrassing, but you get the idea.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Ladies, today is the day!

2016 is a leap year.  Leap year happens every four years.  This means that February has 29 days instead of the normal 28 days.  Check out my previous leap year blog for some other fun facts (has it been four years already).

According to old Irish tradition, on February 29th, a woman can propose marriage to a man.  All you ladies out there swooning over men like Norman Reedus, now have the chance to ask him to marry you ... it's legit today!


This tradition is said to have started in 5th century Ireland.  Saint Patrick declared that women could propose marriage on this one day in February each leap year.

The tradition even made it's way to Scotland.  Around 1288 there was a law passed that would allow a woman to propose marriage to a man on February 29th.  If the man however turned down said proposal he would have to pay a fine.

It's fun to read about legends and folklore from the past.  We've come a long way since then.  In 2016 marriage is not just a man and woman coming together ... now a man can marry another man and a woman can marry another woman.

Ladies, if you feel the need to partake in an age-old tradition, get yourselves out there and pop that question!  


I hope this blog finds each of you happy and healthy!  Happy Leap Day!

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