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The cursed island

In our search for a quiet tropical island, we stumbled across one that is more quiet than most.

The Palmyra Atoll has between four and twenty people living on it at any one time, all of whom are U.S. government scientists.

I found this intriguing bit of info on Wikipedia :

The issue of the governing of Palmyra is generally a moot point, since there is no permanent population remaining there, nor any reason to think that there will be in the future.

The reason why is something Wikipedia won’t tell you. Since the time of its discovery, Palmyra has been the site of murders, unexplained disappearances, shark attacks, ship wrecks, and other nastiness.

Even its name comes from an unfortunate ship that was dashed upon the island’s reefs.

Sometimes surviving a shipwreck on the island is a fate worse than death. After an American ship crashed there in 1870, a group of survivors made it to shore, but they weren’t survivors for long. The crew of another ship found their murdered bodies strewn about the island. Since the island was uninhabited, who had killed them? The cause of their deaths was never determined.

When people do manage to make it to the island and stay awhile, they become increasingly paranoid and aggressive. Many have reported feeling a sense of foreboding, or the fear that someone was watching them.

During the second world war, a patrol plane went down over the island. When a rescue team made its way to where the plane was estimated to have gone down, they found nothing. A thorough search of the island turned up no trace of the missing plane or its crew, not even so much as a scrap of metal or a bolt.

In the late seventies, a group came to the island for a short stay and was chased off by a bizarre cult who threatened them with violence. No one could ever find evidence of this cult or anyone else living on the island.

One of the weirdest cases was the murder of Mac Graham and his wife Eleanor in 1974. The couple had planned to sail around the world, and Mac was eager to live on Palmyra for two years. Understandably, his wife thought this was a really stupid idea, and tried to talk him out of it. She was terrified by the atoll’s dark history, and had premonitions that she wouldn’t survive the visit.

Mac and Eleanor Graham

Mac and Eleanor Graham

 

In the tradition of husbands everywhere, Mac didn’t listen to her.

When the Grahams arrived on Palmyra, they were surprised to discover that it wasn’t the lonely island they’d expected. There were already a few people staying there, including felon Buck Walker and his girlfriend Stephanie Stearns.

Whether it was the island’s influence or not is unknown, but Mac and Buck had a hate-on for each other from the start. Their confrontations kept getting uglier and uglier, and Eleanor begged her husband to cut their visit short. She was terrified of Buck. Once again, Mac refused to listen.

The Grahams never got to finish their worldwide sailing trip. They went missing on Palmyra, and no one ever saw them alive again. Buck was eventually found with the Grahams’ boat and was charged with stealing it, but no other trace of the Grahams was found until 1981, when a South African sailor found Eleanor’s mutilated body in a chest that had recently washed ashore. Buck and his girlfriend were charged with Eleanor’s murder, but only Buck was convicted.

The body of Mac Graham has never been found. He is still listed as a missing person.

Are you brave enough to stay a few nights in Palmyra? Based on my experiences in Romania’s haunted forest, I think I’ll give it a miss.

(Coincidentally, the cursed atoll has the same name as the capital of Syria, which is experiencing a very sad fate of its own right now.)

Please see Cursed Paradise of Palmyra Atoll for more creepy stories about this little-known area of the world.

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26 Comments

  1. Like the Bermuda Triangle of islands. I wonder what the scientists experience when they stay there?

    Reply
    • JH

      I couldn’t find any account from a scientist on the island, but I wasn’t surprised. Scientists are famously reluctant to admit to anything that might be paranormal.

      I should know – I’ve worked with a bunch of them! And even when they experienced something bizarre that shocked them, in about ten minutes they were denying it ever happened.

      Reply
  2. Great stories!
    It’s very ‘Cabin in the Woods’. Something different happens to each person who goes there. So creepy.

    Heather

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Heather. Loved that movie!

      Yep, it’s pretty creepy. The problem with these places is that you have no idea how they’ll affect you until it’s too late. I got really sick in the haunted forest, but another woman walks her dog there everyday without a problem.

      Reply
  3. I am a firm believer in not tempting fate.

    Reply
    • JH

      I’m definitely with you in this case, Frank. I admit I’m curious about the island–who wouldn’t be?–but since a great percentage of people don’t even make it there without getting shipwrecked and eaten by sharks, it seems like the odds would not be in my favour!

      Reply
      • There is part of me that would love to check it out but I keep that part locked away where it can’t cause me too much headache. I’m fascinated by things like this but I prefer a safe distance.

        Reply
        • JH

          I can understand that, Frank. I’d go if someone paid me to, but I wouldn’t buy the ticket.

          Reply
  4. I wonder what happened to Mac’s body. I mean, Eleanor’s body was put in a trunk – why not Mac’s? What if Mac killed Eleanor and ran off somewhere? How much proof was there that Buck did it? 😮

    These stories are so wonderfully creepy! Glad you’re back to blogging. 🙂

    Reply
    • JH

      Buck has famously said in regards to Mac, “Go ahead and search. You’ll never find him.”

      I suspect that Mac is in another trunk somewhere. Apparently, the one that held Eleanor’s body was at the bottom of the sea, wrapped with wire. It mysteriously floated to the surface right before the South African sailor found it. She only had twenty minutes before the tide came in and it was swept back out to sea.

      The wire that had been around the chest was beside it in a neat bundle. It’s almost as if the island wanted Eleanor to be found.

      It’s been so difficult to get back into blogging, but I’m committed to sticking with it now. I was going to add a disclaimer/apology to the post, but then I thought, “Nah, no one will notice.” 🙂

      Reply
  5. I wasn’t able to sleep last night and happened to read this post. I then couldn’t sleep for a completely different reason! 😀

    I wouldn’t tempt fate by going to this island, but wouldn’t hesitate to includes elements of its history in a story.

    Reply
    • JH

      Hey there, Crystal!

      Long time no speak. Hope you’re doing well. I probably owe you an email.

      You’re the second person who’s suggested they might use this island in a story. I think that means my work here is done. 😉

      Reply
  6. This sounds like a great read Holli! How do I go about getting a copy?

    Reply
    • JH

      Hi Rhys!

      Welcome to my blog. These are blog posts, but Vincent Bugliosi did write a book about the Graham murders. It’s called “And the Sea Will Tell.” I have a copy on order–I’ll let you know if it’s any good.

      Reply
  7. Sign me up! As long as I can bring a trunk full of books, gun and machete, I’ll be fine.

    Reply
    • JH

      The guns may backfire, Hunter…

      Reply
  8. Like Frank, I am a big believer in life is hard enough without spitting on the electric fence! I hate those movies where teens get into trouble by spending the night in an abandoned asylum built atop an Indian burial ground where unsolved murders and mutilations have happened.

    I believe that there are spots on our world where the membrane between dimensions is very thin.

    Reply
    • JH

      Hey there Roland,

      There are people who believe that’s the problem with this island–that part of it exists in another dimension, which would explain all the disappearances.

      I’m not sure if I believe that, and I am curious. If someone paid to send me there, I’d probably be dumb enough to check it out.

      Reply
  9. My first reaction was someone should make a movie. But unlike most horror movies I’ve come to love, this is true. I don’t think I could enjoy it on the big screen, knowing all those people did suffer a horrible fate. 🙁

    Anna from Elements of Writing

    Reply
    • JH

      True enough, Anna. It would make a great movie, though, you’re right. Nothing to stop someone from coming up with a fictional story that takes place there.

      Reply
  10. That is interesting. I think I will stick with reading about it over visiting and experiencing it myself. 😉

    Reply
    • JH

      Aw, that’s no fun! Imagine how awesome it would be to have a writers’ retreat there.

      Whoever survives gets published! 😉

      Reply
  11. This does so creepy and the island doesn’t look like there is much to it. Why are scientists there in the first place?? It doesn’t look like some wildlife refuge or a bounty in plant life. Why would an ex-con be living there? What was he hiding from?? That poor couple! This just shows that men should always listen to their partners:)

    Reply
    • JH

      The island is actually a pretty amazing wildlife reserve. The scientists are studying the wildlife and the reefs, but sadly not the paranormal experiences.

      Buck was hiding from drug charges. He was about to be arraigned and would probably have gone to prison, so he fled the country with his girlfriend.

      Reply
  12. Such a beautiful stretch of island to be so evil.

    That sure is a mystery about who/what murdered those shipwreck survivors. Did they go crazy and murder each other? Was there a wild beast? A ghost pissed off that they were on its island? Hmm…

    With that kind of history, I wouldn’t ever go there.

    Oh, I forgot to tell you that I mentioned your book in my National Teddy Bear post last week. 🙂 http://writewithfey.blogspot.com/2015/09/national-teddy-bear-day.html

    Reply
    • JH

      I stumbled across it while catching up with your blog, Chrys! Thank you so much.

      That atoll is a spooky place, to be sure. I wonder if that vanishing hippie cult was behind the murders…

      Reply

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