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  • Writer's pictureMacabre Emporium Pod

Episode 41 - Yeah, It Stops Your Whole Process

SARAH:

Magdalena Solis: The High Priestess of Blood

Magdalena Solis
Supposed image of Magdalena Solis

This case is a lot true crimey, a little vampy, a ton what the fucky!


There is not a lot of backstory in this case. Magdalena Solis was supposedly born in Tamaulipas, Mexico in who knows what year. I’ve read 1947, but most sources claim it was the late 1930s to early 1940s. She lived in a generally poor region, and her family was dysfunctional. She didn’t have the greatest of childhoods. In fact, you could say she didn’t have a childhood at all, honestly. She began working as a prostitute when she was just 12 years old and was pimped out by her older brother, Eleazar, of all people. So yeah, family dysfunction is probably highly accurate.


But we will start a bit further ahead…


La Yerbabuena Swindled

Fast forward to December in 1962. Two brothers, Cayetano and Santos Hernandez were in the midst of traveling around Mexico stealing from people. They were very charismatic, and easily fooled people with their fake sincerity. However, they wanted to play a bigger game, so they came up with their next ruse, and that was to swindle an entire town. They found a small town (by small I mean about 20ish families) that was full of poor and illiterate residents. The town was called La Yerbabuena. And that town was at the foot of the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain - which I will get into a bit later.


The Hernandez brothers were set to go in and convince the townspeople that they were prophets of an Incan God that was exiled. They would go on about how if the townspeople listened to them, and did everything they told them to, that the Gods would shine on them and they would become rich. It was almost put on like a play, the theatrics behind their claims was just that…dramatic. If you were poor and had no education to speak of…people coming in stating they could make you rich would sound ideal, wouldn’t it? These folks had no idea what they were signing up for.


Due to the area the people of La Yerbabuena lived in, they were seemingly cut off from the rest of Mexico. They didn’t travel far from their homes, they weren’t really a part of society. With that, it’s understandable that they wouldn't really have much knowledge of the outside world, and what was happening around them. The townspeople ate this story up and were very quick to believe what was being said to them.


And just like that, the townspeople basically became slaves to the Hernandez brothers. They would do literally anything that was asked of them, and give the brothers anything they asked for. But this didn’t last long. A few of the townspeople became aggravated at the Hernandez brothers, citing that what they were doing didn’t seem to be helping them become richer - but instead, it felt more like the brothers were just being assholes and treating the townspeople horribly. They were doing everything for the brothers, but they were not benefitting from everything they were doing, even though it was promised to them.


The few townspeople turned into the entire town, and the brothers caught wind that they were not happy with what was going on. Cayetano and Santos didn’t abandon ship on their plan to swindle the town even though they had already bled them dry. Instead, they left the town with a promise to return.


Magdalena

They traveled to a nearby city and stumbled upon a young and impressionable Magdalena Solis while she was actively prostituting herself. They explained to her what they were doing in La Yerbabuena and the con they were leading. They explained how the townspeople were growing frustrated with them, and beginning to not believe what they were saying to them. The brothers then asked Magdalena if she would come with them back to the town and pretend to be an actual Incan Goddess. This way, the townspeople would start believing in them again, and start doing for them again.


Magdalena liked the plan, and would go if she were paid. The brothers were fine with that, so they handed her money. Then four people headed back to La Yerbabuena - Cayetano, Santos, Magdalena and her brother/pimp Eleazar.


When they reached the town, the brothers snuck Magdalena through the town so none of the townspeople would see her, and set her up in a cave just below the town. They went all out on her. They set her up deep in the cave, and dressed her up in Incan Goddess type clothing. Once she looked the part, and was filled in on what her queue would be to show herself, it was time to make believers out of the townspeople again.


The brothers went back to the town, gathered everyone up and led them to the cave. They followed, because they were told that there was about to be a ceremony for them. When they got there, one of the brothers used “magic” to create a smoke screen that filled the entrance of the cave. Now Magdalena was behind that smoke screen, so when they motioned that it was time to show herself, she walked forward and jumped through the smoke. She introduced herself to the townspeople and told them that she was a true Incan Goddess that was reincarnated. She also told them that if they did not listen to her, and do exactly as she told them to, that she would kill them. Again, the townspeople were believers. Because there is no way, this woman jumped through smoke and threatened their lives and wasn’t completely real or serious, right? Cayetano and Santos were feeling great now that their plan was back in action. They were essentially now a cult.


But there was a moment when they questioned what happened. The change in Magdalena as soon as she jumped through that smoke. She was forever changed. She had seen the looks on the townspeople’s faces and was in a trance. She had seen the pure adoration they instantly had for her - and following she had always wanted. She was reveling in the fact that these people instantly were hers basically. While in her trance-like state, she began to truly believe that she WAS a reincarnated Incan Goddess.


Abuse and Sacrifice

But she would not be a fair or a merciful Goddess, which was found out very quickly by the townspeople. Within just a few days of her being in La Yerbabuena, Magdalena had already been threatening people. She was threatening them and telling them that she was going to take over their entire village. She was conducting drug fueled mass orgies and using the townspeople as sex her personal slaves. If no one offered themselves to Magdalena, she would choose one herself and have her brother bring the chosen to her, where she would have sex with them, and demand they perform sexual acts on her - even against their will. So she was raping them.


The Hernandez brothers were a bit stunned, as they were the ones that had thought out this plan to swindle the village, and brought Magdalena in to keep the people at bay and slaving for them. So they were shocked to realize that Magdalena was the head in all of this, and they were now below her. But they were ok with that, and realized they could still utilize her to keep the people in order while they slaved away doing what was asked of them. To them it was a win-win.


A few weeks of being in La Yerbabuena, Magdalena had been abusing every single one of the townspeople. She also came to be a bit insane. She embodied every sense of being a reincarnated Goddess, and 100% believed she was. So much so that she made herself believe that she would only continue to survive if she drank blood.


I’m sure you can imagine what the next task for the townspeople was, right? So that’s what they did. They started off with just killing their personal pets and their farm animals. They continued to do and do and do for Magdalena, all the while she was still abusing them daily.


In April of 1963, the scam of Magdalena and the Hernandez brothers was no longer a viable story for two people in the town. They decided they wanted nothing more to do with the fake prophets and Goddess. They were set to just walk away from the town. The only issue with that was, they said it where someone else could hear them. The rest of the townspeople, still being hardcore believers, caught wind of the pair's plan and told everyone.


That evening, another ceremony would happen in the cave, and everyone, including the two that no longer believed and were planning to leave the town, were in attendance. When the ceremony began, Magdalena walked up, pointed at the pair, and then demanded that the rest of the townspeople kill them. Being the good little followers they were, they all jumped up and surrounded the pair before beating them to death right there in the cave. Magdalena then ordered the pair of bodies be drug to the back of the cave and hung up on poles. She grabbed a chalice and held it to wherever the bodies were bleeding from - and then drank it.


At this point, Magdalena was really off her rocker, and stated that animals would no longer do for drinking, it wasn’t potent enough for her. It was only human blood she would drink. This is when she declared herself Magdalena Solis, the High Priestess of Blood. The ceremonies continued regularly for weeks after that. Each time one was held, the townspeople would go in knowing one of them was not going to come out, they just never knew who it was. In dramatic fashion, each time Magdalena appeared, she would randomly choose someone from the small crowd and they would be her sacrifice.


When the sacrifice was chosen, it was done the same way as that of the pair that was murdered. Magdalena would demand the townspeople kill them, knowing that they were all their friends, or their family killing this person. Each sacrifice was also drug to the back of the cave, and hung up on a pole so that Magdalena could collect their blood in her chalice and drink it.


Magdalena believed that the way the people were being beaten to death was somehow stifling the power of their blood, so she chose a new way to handle things. Instead of having the townspeople beat the person to death, they would now only be allowed to beat the person until they submitted to it. They would then be walked out to the pole, hung up, and Magdalena would carve their heart out while they were still alive, before drinking their blood.


Sebastian

In May of 1963, a 14-year-old boy, Sebastian Guerrero, left his home and went to find treasure that he had heard was rumored to be in the caves near his home. The caves were in the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range. It goes through about 700 miles of Mexico. This was not Sebastian’s first time wandering the base of the mountain and going inside the caves.


There were many caves at the mouth of the mountain, but one in particular drew him in. There was light coming from within the cave. There were definitely caves closer to his home, but when he saw the one that had light coming from it, he basically forgot about his plan to search for treasure and headed towards the illuminated one, which was much farther from his home. The closer he got to this cave, he could hear voices. At first it sounded like laughter, but when he got about 300 feet from the mouth of the cave, he realized it wasn’t laughter at all. It was screaming. Not like someone being yelled at, but like someone who was in pain, or terrified for their life.


Sebastian came to another realization the closer he got - there wasn’t just one person in there screaming. There were numerous people in there, which he said sounded like they were singing, or chanting in unison. When he got about 10 feet away from the opening, he hid behind a large rock and then moved right next to the edge of the cave opening and peeked his head around. He was instantaneously frozen in place for a bit before his fight or flight kicked in and took off in a full speed run away from the cave. He didn’t run back home, like most scared kids would do. He ran almost 10 miles beyond his home - straight to the closest police station.


In hysterics, he ran in the door of the police station, dripping sweat, and began to frantically tell the police what he had just witnessed. Except, he wasn’t sure what he had just seen. He was trying to make sense of it as he was telling them, and the best he could do was basically tell them what he had just witnessed was something like a group of vampires. The cops were quick to kind of dismiss what had been said by Sebastian. They did what they could to calm him down, and reassured him that if they heard of anything bad from the caves, they would know and they would take care of it. Sebastian begged and pleaded for the police to take him seriously, stating that he knew something bad was happening there at that exact time. But again, the police dismissed his claims. The next step was to take Sebastian home. They dropped him off, and then went back to the station.


The next morning, Sebastian woke up reliving what he had seen the night before, got dressed, and went right back to the police station. Luis Martinez was on shift at the time, and he actually took the time to listen to what Sebastian had to say in between pleading and begging for someone to go check this cave out because he KNEW something terrible had happened there the previous night. Luis would reason with Sebastian and ask him to direct him to the cave he had run away from in a panic, and he would look around.


Luis and Sebastian then headed out of the police station and back to the cave. This time, in daylight. They had been there quite a while before the other police officers back at the station realized they had not heard from Luis for quite a while. He had not returned, nor had he contacted them on the radio, nothing. Just radio silence. The officers began to radio to Luis, but never got a response. The entire day went by, and that evening, they still had not seen or heard from Luis, so they grew concerned and were worried that something bad could have happened to him. You would think with all that time in between…an entire day shift basically, you had zero contact with a coworker that was in the field with a child that had claimed something horrid had taken place - you would have been concerned far prior to the end of the day, no?


The officers then took action, and they drove to Sebastian's home and questioned his parents on the last time they had seen Sebastian. They told the officers they had not seen him since the morning when he woke up. So that is now two people that took off together, and have seemingly just vanished. The police then contacted the Mexican Army because they were short staffed. The Mexican Army showed up to help, and the couple police officers that were available group together and headed out to the cave.


Once they got there, and walked in, they realized they should have listened to Sebastian the day before…


The Mexican Army and police had gone to La Yerbabuena to talk to the townspeople, except there were none. They had all been ordered to be in the cave, and were barricaded in, with weapons of course. Magdalena had to have known that the police would come looking when they realized one of the police officers had essentially gone missing while investigating the, also now-missing boy’s claims. And she was correct.


When the Mexican Army and police reached the cave, there was a giant shootout, as the townspeople were trying to protect their Goddess and the officials were trying to protect themselves. Almost all of the townspeople were killed in this shootout, as were the Hernandez brothers.


Once the shootout was finished, the officials would head inside the cave and be witness to absolute carnage. All of the poles that had dead bodies hung on them were there…all of the people in various states of decomposition. There were pieces of people all over the ground, like they had been cut off of a body and just tossed over the killer's shoulder. I can’t imagine the smell coming from the inside of that cave. There was not one body that was able to be identified, due to the beatings from the townspeople, and the various states of decomp.


At least until the officials went back to the town to try and find any survivor, and they stumbled upon the body of 14-year-old Sebastian Guerrero, a heartless Luis Martinez propped up outside of a house. They then entered that house, and found a very much alive Magdalena Solis and her brother Eleazar.


They were both arrested on the spot. There was no one willing to speak out against Magdalena, so the prosecutors could only try the Solis siblings for two murders; Sebastian and Luis. Both of them were given a 50 year sentence. The cult members that survived all got 30 years each for the heinous shit they helped with.


This is the last time anyone has seen Magdalena alive. No one knows what happened to her after she was imprisoned. If she lived, and served her entire sentence, she would have been out in 2013. She is believed to be still living and in her 90s.


What Sebastian had witnessed that evening as he stood outside the cave was Magdalena cutting the heart out of a body and drinking the blood from it. What he told the police was that he had seen “vampires drinking blood.”

 

DAVID:

The Bradford Sweets Poisoning

Dead guy cooking candy
Just some bones cooking up candy, no biggie.

Earlier this year I brought you and everyone the case of Ronald Clark O’Bryan in episode 22 The A-hole that killed Halloween. O’Bryan killed his son with a pixy stix that he tampered with by replacing some of the candy with cyanide to try and collect the life insurance policies he had on his children. But for our first episode of October, I am bringing you another tale of poisoned candy on a much larger scale.


William Hardaker known by the locals as Humbug Billy, sold sweets from a market stall in Bradford, England during the 19th century, in the Greenmarket of Bradford which is now the Arndale Centre today. Hardaker would purchase his humbug candies from an experienced candy maker, Joseph Neal on Stone Street just a few hundred yards north of Greenmarket.


So what are humbugs? Humbugs are similar to the red and white peppermint that some restaurants give you after your meal. Humbugs are cylindrical in shape and not circular like how you and I would know them. Humbugs would be made from sugar, gums or glycerin not chewing gum, and peppermint oil.


You would first mix the sugar either your gum or glycerin, and peppermint oil together in a pan while it is being heated until the sugar becomes sticky. Then you would pour this heated mixture out to add in your coloring while folding. This folding motion aerates and changes the structure of the candy making it shiny and pearlescent in its appearance. This is where you would then add your long strips together to make a log of sorts in your different colored mixtures and cut them down to the desired size.


During these times sugar was expensive, and was more affordable to the wealthy for higher-end sweets. Sugar was so expensive it was considered “white gold” and would kept locked away in vaults like you would money.


Confectioners that catered to the lower classes, Like Joseph Neal whom William Hardaker would buy his candy from, would use what is called daft to reduce the amount of sugar needed to make their sweets. Daft could be limestone crushed to powder to gypsum powder better known as plaster of Paris to our crafty listeners. During these times this was well known to be done and completely legal to do.


On October 30, Joseph Neal would send James Archer who was living in his home at the time to pick up 12 pounds of daft from Charles Hodgson at his pharmacy 3 miles away in Shipley. Charles was out ill that day and was assisted by his assistant William Goodard. Goddard would ask Charles where the daft is kept and would be told it's in a cask in the corner of the attic. Instead of being daft like Neal requested, he was given 12 pounds of arsenic trioxide. Which once again was totally legal for anyone to buy even though it is known as the poison of choice for murderers.


Just for those who might not know what arsenic trioxide is or what it looks like. It's a white powder very similar to sugar and gypsum powder like they were using as a filler in the candy they were making, and it is very poisonous, and consuming large amounts can cause death very quickly. But in smaller amounts, it can take up to four days to cause death. During these Victorian times, it was used mostly in dyes for wallpaper and clothing the most famous being Scheele’s green, coloring of glass, and sometimes used to treat syphilis.


Back in Joseph Neal’s candy kitchen, James Appleton is preparing to make a fresh batch of humbugs for William Hardaker. He takes his sugar, the arsenic trioxide which he believes to be daft, and peppermint oils mixing them together as he has done before being an experienced candy maker. Instead of cutting the sugar with what was supposed to be daft, he ended up using all 12 pounds of the undetected arsenic in this batch and started to become ill during the cooking process, Appleton ended up being sick for several days with vomiting, pain in his hands and arms, unaware that he is suffering from arsenic poisoning more than likely dismissed it as something completely different as we know multiple diseases are running the streets of England during this time.


On October 30, 1858, William Hardaker bought these Humbugs to sell in his market stall like he would as usual but on this day their color was off. They were darker than usual and after some negotiations, William Hardaker ended up purchasing five pounds of the 40 pounds made that day of the odd-color candies and selling them in his stall that day at a discounted rate. He would even eat one of his freshly made humbugs to see if they tasted any different and he fell ill soon after however Hardaker blamed his sudden illness and sold his five pounds of the 40 pounds of candy by the end of the day


By morning two children 8 and 11 would be dead. The police determined their cause of death to be natural causes due to the high mortality rate of children during this time period with constant outbreaks of cholera and other diseases that I have brought up before in previous episodes during these times.


By Halloween, the Bradford Observer reported: “Sudden deaths are multiplying on every side.” It wouldn’t be until the police arrived at #30 Jowett Street that two more children ages five and two would be dead inside their home. Their father Mark Burran suggested that maybe the peppermint candies he bought could be the cause of death. His suspicions would be confirmed after an unnamed young man volunteered to eat one himself and became ill shortly after eating one of the mints.


Burran told the police that he purchased the candy from Green Market and the seller was Humbug Billy or William Hardaker by his actual name. By the time the poisoned candy was discovered more than 200 people would have been affected by sudden illness, killing 21 total.


As William Hardaker was the police’s suspect causing all these deaths this would be quickly dismissed as he was found writhing in pain at home as he too had eaten some of the candy days before. Hardaker would go on to tell the police that Joseph Neal is responsible for this as he buys his candy wholesale from Neal to sell. For the remainder of Halloween police and bell ringers would alert as many people as they could about the dangerous candy.


November 1st The Bradford observer reported, “The quiet slumbers of innumerable persons were broken at midnight by the warnings, the walls of the town were thickly covered with an official precaution from the chief constable.”


Charles Hodgson (the pharmacist) and Joseph Neal would stand before the courts on charges of manslaughter. Dr John Bell ended up identifying arsenic as being the cause and Felix Remmington a prominent pharmacist and analytical chemist confirmed his findings.


Rimmington estimated each candy contained 14 or 15 grains of arsenic, of which 4.5 to 9 grains is a lethal dose. Even though I couldn’t find the standard size for this candy would be but the pictures I have seen may be anywhere between half an inch to one inch long. They concluded that each candy had enough arsenic to kill two people, and enough was distributed to kill 2,000 people. Hodgson and Neal were acquitted of all charges on December 21, 1858.


After this incident, there was a large public outcry The Pharmacy Act of 1868 required chemists and pharmacists to keep records of those who purchased these types of drugs or poisons we know them as now, and materials and could only be sold if the containers had the seller’s name and address on the containers


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