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  • Writer's pictureMacabre Emporium Pod

Episode 26 - Ship Cats and Moose Antler Attacks


Death by...moose antler?

Levi Axtell, a real hero
Levi Axtell - Turned himself in for murdering a pedophile


So this is a VERY recent case. As in mid-March, recent. But it’s a great story of a father’s love for his daughter, and the lengths he would go to to keep her safe…or avenge her.

On March 8th, 2023, 27-year-old Levi Axtell did what most people who have committed a crime would NEVER do. He walked himself into his local police station, confessed to committing murder, and turned himself in.

Some backstory

In 2014, Lawrence Scully had run for mayor of his town in Minnesota but did not win the spot due to him sexually assaulting a six-year-old little girl in 1979. I mean, being a convicted pedophile and all, I can’t imagine why he didn’t win lol.

Anyways, enter Levi Axtell. He and Scully had numerous run-ins, and none of them good in nature. It came to a head in 2018 when Levi got a protective order on behalf of his little girl against Scully because he felt that he was stalking and trying to groom his 22-month-old daughter. In a letter written to gain the protective order, Levi stated “He has been there many times stalking children in his van. He is a convicted pedophile and his stalking and attempting to groom my daughter is completely inappropriate and needs to stop.” He stated how Scully would just watch the kids while they were out on recess, and that he would follow the daycare staff/children if and when they went for a walk.

Courts granted the protective order, but it was rescinded a few weeks later.

According to court records, Scully had been committed to a mental institution in 2020 but was released and given a prescription for anti-psychotic medication.

Two of Scully’s brothers have since come out and talked about their brother and their childhood. Stating how their parents sexually, mentally and physically abused them. How Scully touched one of their penis’ while they were in the shower, which led to him bedwetting again as an adolescent - in hopes it would keep Scully from trying anything more with him. The brothers stated that Scully had gotten his 13-year-old sister pregnant and how they remember sitting in an abortion clinic waiting for her to come back out of the room.

This dude was seriously fucked up.

Before The Murder

Also in 2020, Levi started making posts on social media stating his distaste for “people like Scully”. He had memes on Facebook of a guy holding a gun that had a caption reading “Only cure for pedophiles. A bullet”. He would also add his thoughts into the comments saying “People always ask me why I hate pedophiles. They assume I’ve been abused. But really, I think being protective is just an Axtell trait.”

The Murder

Levi had hit his limit with Scully on Wednesday, March 8th when he drove to Scully’s home to confront him again. Levi had been drinking to the point that he was legit drunk. He grabbed his keys and got in his van and then headed over to Grand Marais, Minnesota, where Scully lived.

A 9-1-1 call came through from a neighbor that stated they saw someone driving a minivan pull into Scully’s driveway, jump out of the vehicle, and run straight into Scully’s house. Soon after, the caller said they heard screaming coming from the house and saw the driver of the van return to the vehicle and then speed off. The caller stated he was headed towards the Cook County Sheriff’s Office which was 3 blocks straight down the road.

Police confirmed that Levi had arrived at the Sheriff’s Office just minutes after the 9-1-1 call had been made. They said he was intoxicated and covered in blood. Officers on duty at the time said after they saw him, he dropped to his knees and put both of his hands behind his head, and openly admitted to killing Scully. He then demanded he be handcuffed and said he may hurt someone else otherwise.

When he was taken for questioning, he told the police everything that happened, including the murder weapon, or weapons in this case. Levi stated that he had seen Scully parked near areas where children frequented and was afraid he was going to re-offend. So he took matters into his own hands.

Levi told authorities how he went to 77-year-old Scully’s house around 4:45 pm, grabbed a spade-style shovel off of Scully’s front porch,officers and used that to bash Scully in the head 15 to 20 times. And how he “finished him off”, using a moose antler from inside the house, to inflict several more blows.

The Findings

When officers went to Scully’s house to investigate, they said he was “obviously dead from the serious nature of his head wounds”. The autopsy report stated that he had died from blunt force head injuries and that his corpse displayed “arm wounds that are consistent with defensive wounds”.

The Aftermath

The reporting Sheriff told Fox News Digital that this murder was “quite a shocker” in the community of Grand Marais. It was a small community of a little over 1,000 residents - and nothing like this happened in their town.

Levi was charged with second-degree murder, booked into jail, and had bail set at 1 million dollars and a court date of April 10th. A county attorney said that this was a brutal attack without provocation of an elderly man.

I say that’s justice. But who am I?



Ship Cats

Unsinkable Sam
Sam, AKA Unsinkable Sam, a Ship Cat

For centuries humans and animals have served side by side in conflicts. Cats, dogs, horses, elephants even rats have been used for logistics all the way to espionage. If it has four legs or maybe wings, it's been used for the militaries around the world in some capacity. But for this episode I am focusing on what people have joked is God’s perfect killing machine but are always angry that we just want to cuddle them.

Today we don’t really think of cats as a tool for controlling rodents as much as they were used for this in earlier times. This is clearly the case with our shop cats even though Salem is always screaming at something we can’t see. But as far back as the ancient Egyptians would depict cats hunting from boats sailing the Nile River in tombs. Even though cats would be used more as a weapon than a tool to keep away rats in 525 BCE during the battle of Pelusium (pel- lose- eum).

The Battle of Pelusium happened due to Pharaoh Amasis II refused to send one of his daughters to marry the Persian King, Cambyses (cam-by-ah-these) II after he asked for one of his daughters as a wife. Not wanting to comply with Cambyses’ wishes he sent the daughter of his predecessor, Psametik (saum-a -tech) III instead. This woman was insulted by this move and when she arrived in the court of Cambyses II, she revealed her true identity. Taking this as an insult from the Pharaoh he mobilized his troops for war. Even though Amasis II would die before this war would actually take place Pharoah Psametik III rule within the first six months of his taking the throne.

Cambyses II would order his troops to paint Bastet, the Egyptian Goddess of protection, pleasure, and good health on their shields my best guess why he gave this order is to keep the Egyptians from shooting arrows at the Persians. As they could be showing disrespect to Baset if they fired arrows at her. With Baset painted on their shields, the Persians would also release cats and other animals the Egyptians held dear to them onto the battlefield.

As the Egyptians viewed cats as the physical embodiment of Bastet and one way to anger her was to kill one of her cats. It was against the law to kill cats, and this was punishable by death. So, the Egyptians quickly surrender to the Persians. Even though the exact number of troops for each side is unknown the casualty losses were estimated by Greek historian Herodotus to be 50k Egyptians to 7,000 Persians and the bones could be seen in the sands for months.

Through the ages, cats would find their way onto battle and merchant ships still as a cheap and effective way to control rodents. Rats and mice could easily chew through ropes, and wires on more modern ships, contaminate food supplies, the ship’s mascot, but also offer some companionship on the high seas. I couldn’t find any information on if cats were still used in modern times, but the British Navy allowed cats to be on ships until they banned them in 1975 on the grounds of Hygiene. Sailors believed that polydactyl cats were best suited for being a ship cat where they are having an extra digit on their murder mittens gave them better balance at sea.

Even though the Egyptians worshiped cats as deities, sailors even had their own superstitions about ship cats. Black cats tend to have a bad reputation, sometimes the wives of sailors would keep a black cat at home as well hoping to influence the power of the ship cats, as most believed that a ship cat had the power to protect them from dangerous weather. It was a sign of good luck if a cat approached you on deck but unlucky if the cat turned around halfway and retreated. Sailors believed that cats could start storms from the magic stored in their tails. If a cat were ever to fall or be thrown overboard, it would use its magic to summon a storm to sink the ship. If the ship survived the storm, it would be cursed for nine years.

These sailors would also look to their ship cats to predict the weather from the 1700s until the 20th century. If the ship cat were to lick against the grain of its fur it mean that hail was coming. If it sneezed it would mean rain, and if that was feeling frisky or playful it meant wind. Before setting sail if they happened to observe the cat acting unusual, jump ship, pawing at sailor’s faces, or carrying their kittens off the ship. They took this as a warning and planned accordingly or maybe not even sail at all.

Even though these were seen as superstitions, but cats can actually detect changes in low atmospheric pressure in their inner ears. With their heightened sense of hearing and smell over humans, they can hear thunder well before we can. If you observe a cat repeatedly wiping its paws over its face this could be a good indication that a storm is coming due to low atmospheric pressure and changes in electromagnetic waves.

Throughout history, there are many notable ship cats and I know you are curious to know about some of these cats and their stories. So I will be giving you the cat’s name first and a small tidbit on each one.

Camouflage, aboard a Coast Guard tank landing ship in the Pacific theater of WWII, would be known for chasing enemy tracer rounds across the deck of the ship.

Convoy, aboard the HMS Hermione, was listed in the ship's book and provided with a full kit including a hammock where he slept. Unfortunately, Convoy would be killed on June 16, 1942, by a German U-Boat along with 87 of his crewmates. As sad as this is I chose convoy for a very well-known photograph of him in his hammock with his shipmates standing by.

Tiddles would be stationed on two Royal Navy aircraft carriers. First born on HMS Argus and later joined the crew of HMS Victorious. Tiddles would often be seen sitting on the aft (rear) capstan playing with the bell rope. Tiddles would rack up 30,000 during his service as a ship cat.

Thomas Oscar, aboard the HMS Scorpion, like Convoy would have his own kit and hammock and would apply for membership to the Allied Forces Mascot Club with his own paw mark on the application. Thomas Oscar would also be aboard the Scorpion during the beachhead offensive of D-Day.

Rinda was named after the ship they were on would be torpedoed and sunk during WWII. The surviving crew realized Rinda couldn’t be found on any of the lifeboats these men rowed through the night looking for Rinda until they heard a pitiful “meow” in the distance. “We rowed as hard as we could and laughed and cried when we lifted the sopping wet furball aboard.”

And this final cat is more of a legend of ship cats but still worth mentioning. So, I am going to share this as it's been written across most sources.

Oscar or better known as unsinkable Sam would survive not one but three sinkings. Even though his original name isn’t known as the tale says he was brought aboard the HMS Cossack after being found on a floating board from the German battleship the Bismarck that was sunk on May 18, 1941. He was given the name Bismark but the crew of the Cossack later named their new mascot Oscar. After serving for the next few months on the Cossack on convoy duties in the Mediterranean and North Atlantic Ocean. On October 24 of the same year, the HMS Cossiace would be severely damaged by torpedo fire. The crew transferred to the HMS Legion and would attempt to tow the damaged Cossack back to Gibraltar. The weather getting worse, which they would have known was coming if they had paid attention to Oscar, would make this task impossible, three days later the Sossack would sink west of Gibraltar killing 159 of its crew in an explosion and Oscar would survive this.

Now after surviving two ships sinking Oscar would become known as unsinkable Sam as he pads his way onto the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, which was a key role in sinking the Bismarck. Sam wouldn’t find better luck on the Ark Royal. November 14, 1941, the Ark Royal would also be torpedoed by German U-boats on a return trip from Malta. Attempts were made to save the Ark Royal but the rate it was taking on water made this a futile task and would be abandoned as it started to roll. Sam would be found clinging to a plank among the survivors and described as “angry but quite unharmed.” Oscar and his crewmates would transfer to HMS Lightning after they were rescued. After the sinking of the Ark Royal, this would be the end of Oscar’s military career as he was transferred to the offices of the Governor of Gibraltar and then sent back to the Uk to live out his days at home for sailors in Belfast until he passes in 1955.

Even though the tale of unsinkable Sam maybe been debunked I would like to think that maybe just maybe he was real due to the size of these ships and not everyone may or may not have seen this ship cat.

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