Articles by Fiona Dodwell

All articles below are taken from the main blog page, but are added here under the “Article” section for ease of access. All articles are written by Fiona Dodwell.


Death and Darkness: The Unsolved Case of Elisa Lam




On February 19th 2013, the body of 21 year old Canadian student Elisa Lam was discovered floating in an industrial water tank above the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles. She had been reported as missing by her parents, who said the last time they’d heard from their daughter was at the end of January of the same year.

Hotel maintenance workers were completing checks of the water tanks at the top of the hotel after receiving complaints of foul tasting and discoloured water from guests, at which point the missing girl’s body was found. According to the autopsy report, Lam was found naked, and she had no drugs or alcohol in her system. Furthermore, they ruled out suicide and reported her death as accidental drowning. It is from here on that the death of student Elisa Lam becomes both inexplicable and mysterious.

The first unusual aspect of the Lam case is how she managed to reach the huge water tanks which were situated on top of the high-rise hotel. According to a CBS News report:

 Doors and stairs that access the hotel’s roof are locked, with only staff having the pass codes and keys, and any attempt to force them would supposedly have triggered an alarm. However, the hotel’s fire escape could have allowed her to bypass those security measures, if she (or someone who might have accompanied her there) had known.

According to the Daily Maverick, with the water tanks being four by eight foot – and with no easy access to them (maintenance workers themselves had to use a ladder to view inside the tanks) it is equally as mysterious as to how Lam managed to get inside the tank:

They are protected by heavy lids that would be difficult to replace from within. Police dogs that searched through the hotel for Lam, even on the roof, shortly after her disappearance did not find any trace of her.

The unusual location of Lam’s body is one aspect of the case that has intrigued people, but this is not the only circumstance which has left people with more questions than answers: CCTV footage of the moments leading up to Lam’s death was released by the Cecil Hotel, and the four minute recording leaves most viewers feeling unsettled and unnerved. The CCTV shows Lam getting into the hotel elevator, and appears to show the student behaving very oddly. She enters the elevator and presses the buttons, but the door doesn’t close. Seemingly distressed by this, Lam pokes her head out of the door, looking both ways, appearing frightened of someone or something that she seems to think may be following her. She stands inside to the far corner, as if trying to hide. Later in the clip, she steps out, then back in again, and almost appears to be having a conversation with somebody out of shot. She does not appear holding a phone or device. You can view the footage below:


With the age of the internet comes the passing of conspiracy theories. After viewing the Elisa Lam footage and noting the unusual location of her death, many ideas have been put forward to explain the mystery. Some paranormalists argue that Lam was spiritually possessed, whilst others claim that the released footage clearly reveals that somebody was pursuing Lam in her final moments. A later revelation that Lam lived with Bipolar Disorder leads some to argue that she was experiencing a psychotic break, although according to her family and friends, the illness was being treated with success through medication, and Lam had been coping well.

The circumstances surrounding Elisa Lam’s death have grown over time, since her demise in 2013. With many refuting the accidental drowning conclusion of her autopsy (how Lam managed to climb inside the huge alarmed and locked water tank being a big issue), and the unsettling and creepy nature of her final moments captured on CCTV, many of the public are left feeling that this is one tragic case that will never be fully resolved or understood.

It is now rumoured that a feature length Hollywood movie will be made regarding the Elisa Lam story, with suggestions that Sony Pictures are behind the production alongside director Jeremy Lovering.

Ultimately, whatever the outcome, truth or mystery surrounding her death, one important fact remains: A beautiful, intelligent young lady lost her life in February 2013. Amongst the conspiracy theories and internet rumours lies a true story of a life lost too soon, and for this the memory of Elisa Lam and her tragedy should be always remembered.





When young schoolboy Alex Malarkey was involved in a severe car accident, he spent months in a coma as a result. Thankfully he survived. However, upon his return, he recounted an experience that was to amaze his family and friends: he claimed that he had been taken to heaven, where he had met Jesus Christ. Malarkey’s out-of-body experience led him to co-author a book with his father, entitled The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven.

The book was quickly snapped up by a popular Christian publisher, where it quickly ranked high sales and raised high hopes to the readers that accepted the account. However, on January 13th 2015, Malarkey penned an open letter to the publishers, confessing that his account of the after-life was a deception, and that, “I never went to heaven, I did not die. When I made the claims I did, I thought it would get me attention.”

As a result, the book was pulled off the shelves. Disappointed readers of Christian faith expressed their dismay at learning the truth. Sceptics of the near-death-experience openly criticised not only the book, but the many people who had eagerly subscribed to the supernatural account.

Does this disappointing admission from Alex Malarkey damage the reputation of a field of study that is seriously examined by neurologists and biologists the world over? To see how easy it is to lie, enhance or replicate experience?

Hopes of an after-life have saturated humanity from the beginning. Whether it was the Egyptians, who buried their dead with tools to help them cross over to the other side, or Christians, who trust in the gospel proclamation of eternal life, there has always been an element of hope that there may be more to life than the physical ‘here and now’.

Are near-death-experiences a modern day clue to what may – or may not – lay beyond the moment of death? That there have been many, many documented cases of people who were clinically dead, ‘returning’ with fascinating tales, is but one aspect of the NDE experience. Altogether more compelling – in my opinion – are the cases in which revived individuals are able to recount events they witnessed whilst clinically dead. Events that are often corroborated by medical professionals. For example, an individual, whilst brain dead, witnessing conversations and actions between nurses and doctors during attempts at resuscitation. Those descriptions, often described in some detail, often match exactly what was going on in the room – at a time when the patient should have been aware of nothing.

Argument and debate continues, as do serious medical studies. Sceptics argue that the classic NDE experience is nothing more than “fireworks” from a dying brain. Lack of oxygen can cause hallucination, it has been said. Believers conclude that any experience independent of the physical body, whilst clinically dead, lends credence to the concept of life-after-death. The possibility that consciousness exists separately from the mind is being explored seriously, with some very impressive case studies bringing more to the table of debate.
Raymond Moody, a psychologist and proponent of the validity of NDE, studied thousands of cases before his own death, and personally concluded that life existed beyond physical death. Scientists at the university of Southampton studied NDE in October 2014, and concluded that the mind “may continue to exist after the brain has ceased to function,” as a result of research on the experiences of those who suffered cardiac arrest.

It is a fascinating and mysterious field of study, sure to ignite hope in the faithful, and to give substance to those who believe there is life after death. Does the fictitious account of Alex Malarkey cause damage to the reputation of NDE studies and its subscribers? It is unlikely, although it is certainly not good news that experiences of this nature can be exaggerated or fabricated to such great effect – and with such mass acceptance.

Whilst the answers evade us, sceptics can remain unmoved by what has, so far, been offered as proof of eternal life. However, I do not think that the disappointing fictions of a school boy – admittedly seeking attention – can deter those who are still examining the NDE with full fervor and with a clear scientific approach.

I would love to know your thoughts on NDE, and on your ideas regarding survival of consciousness. Is it all a misunderstanding, which can be understood once science has caught up? Or are we really on our way to uncovering the truth behind a mystery that has haunted human beings from the very beginning?


THE HANDS RESIST HIM – The Cursed Painting

As somebody who has been interested in all aspects of the paranormal, I love it when I come across unsettling true-life accounts. Of course, the true-life bit is often up for debate, but when I read about so-called cursed painting, The Hands Resist Him, I couldn’t help but dig a little deeper.


Painted by artist Bill Stoneham in 1972, The Hands Resist Him is a painting which seems to unnerve a lot of people. Taking a good look at it myself – I can see why. The legend of the curse aside, there does seem to be something creepy about the painting itself. I’m not sure if it’s the toy girl (who has come to life) on the left hand side, or the disembodied hands clawing at the darkened window, but there is just something off about this depiction.

According to Stoneham, the boy is based on a photograph of himself at age five, the doorway is a representation of the dividing line between the waking world and the world of fantasy and impossibilities, while the doll is a guide that will escort the boy through it.

One family who purchased this painting said that the children’s figures moved, and that they had even caught this movement on camera. The family sold this painting on eBay, declaring that it was haunted. The eBay listing was viewed thousands of times. Some of these viewers complained to the seller about experiencing paranormal phenomena after merely visiting the listing.

One reported hearing an exorcist-type voice, along with a blast of hot air,” the Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman-Review reported.

“Another reported that he became ill while viewing the painting and had to burn white sage to cleanse his house afterward. Another reported ‘blackout/mind control experiences.’”

By the time the painting was sold to gallery owner Kim Smith for over a thousand dollars, its legend had spread across the Internet.  Rumours of previous owners dying, and people hearing disembodied voices whilst viewing it became legendary.

Today, the painting rests in a storage pocket in Smith’s gallery in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Do I believe that a painting or object can be cursed or haunted? I’m not sure, but this story certainly creeps me out!




I think I must have been around the age of ten, when my dad first recounted a terrifying experience he had whilst playing on the street with friends, as a child. The story had the air of eeriness and mystery to it, and the tale quickly glued itself into my mind, feeding my imagination over the years.

It happened back in London, in the early 1950’s. My dad, Roger, met up with some friends during school holidays, and would often mess about in town, wondering about, buying magazines, exchanging sweets. It was during one particular day that he was in town, far from home, and began to feel the urge to use the toilet. Taking the long walk back home to take a pee didn’t seem so enticing, so he headed over to the nearest public toilet whilst his friends waited outside.

I’m guessing it was much like any other public toilet – smelly, dirty, walls coated in colourful graffiti. My dad stepped in to what he presumed to be an empty toilet: all of the cubicle doors appeared to be open, from what he recalls. He stepped inside one. Without being graphic – my dad used the toilet. Whilst he was in there, he heard someone close one of the toilet doors next to him. Unperturbed – after all, why shouldn’t someone else come in and use the facility? – my dad flushed, let himself out, and began washing his hands at the sink.

It was whilst he was doing this that he felt something grab his ankle from behind. He spun around, startled, and looked down. What he saw frightened him: It was an extremely large hand, the skin looked almost grey, and there was hair across the back of the hand. It was reaching out, from beneath the locked cubicle door, and gabbing firmly the back of my dad’s ankle and leg, trying to pull him.

Unnerved and shocked, he shook his leg free of the large, inhuman looking hand, and ran from the toilets, terrified. He fled past his friends, saying he needed to go home. He never returned to that particular area again. He never forgot the episode.

My dad, all those years later, never did feel able to explain away the experience. Of course, time can distort memory, and certainly in childhood, one’s imagination can flee to places of unreality in the blink of an eye. Yet my dad feels absolutely certain about what he saw – and attests strongly to the realistic appearance of the devilish hand that tried to grab him.

When I was told this tale, I was captivated: I am someone who has been fascinated by weird and dark tales over the years. Anything from hauntings, to urban legends to conspiracy theories interested me. Knowing my dad to be of a more sceptical nature, I trusted he wasn’t enhancing any of the account, and was telling me his experience to the best of his ability and with the finest details that his memory could muster.

It was something I never forgot myself. It was when I was a bit older, that I started hearing more about occurrences like this. Apparently, a being known as “Hairy Hands” has made somewhat a name for itself/himself in the UK.

Most of the account springs from Devon, in a place called Dartmoor. Miles of fields and long stretches of roads make up most of what is known as Dartmoor – it is quiet, except for the lounging wildlife strewn across the greenery. It is desolate, far from busy towns.


There have been reports over the years of people who have been driving their vehicle across this countryside and finding a pair of disembodied hairy hands appear before them, only to take control of the steering wheel. Due to the loss of control, it was reported that cars would veer off the road and drivers were shaken up from the ensuing road accident. Whilst sceptics said it was likely due to people driving on unfamiliar roads, those who say they witnessed the hands stuck by their story. Many of these incidents occurred in the early twentieth century.

Not only in the UK have odd occurrences with creepy hands been recounted. In Akasaka Weekly Mansion, Tokyo, Japan, there have been many accounts of people who, whilst in bed at night, have seen and felt disembodied hands reaching out and touching/grabbing them. The appearance of these seem to differ, from account to account, though all I have read about seem to attest to the fact that the hands are disembodied.

Whilst treading the boards across the internet, I stumbled on quite a number of accounts involving large, hairy hands, or disembodied hands. Many of these are attributed to legend and myth, whilst some, adding their accounts to blogs and discussion forums, attest with great seriousness to the witnessing of this eerie being.

No one, myself or my dad included, can explain away exactly what happened that day when the large, hairy hand grabbed him. Was it an inhuman being, trying to hurt him? Was it a sick adult trying to mess about with an impressionable young boy? Or something entirely different? The answer can be speculated upon, but never known with certainty.

I will always remember this. As I grew older, my unease at using public toilets probably stemmed from my dad’s tale! Being someone utterly drawn to such weird stories, it’s been an interesting one to share with others as I’ve grown older.

I would love to hear from you if you have experienced anything like it, no matter what age, country, background. Have you ever seen or heard of the legendary hand, that stalks people? If so, get in touch:

Thanks for reading.




Anyone who is familiar with me, or my novels, knows I am passionate about the paranormal. Ever since I was a child, I have felt drawn to this fascinating subject. I think it’s because, on some level, I always possessed an instinct that there is more to life than meets the eye. Ask anyone about the subjects of ghosts or hauntings, and you will likely get one of two responses: One will either dismiss the subject with either humour and incredulity, or be met with a sincere acceptance from people with open minds – people who have often experienced the paranormal themselves. People who, once they know they will not be mocked, will likely open up about the odd occurrences they have witnessed in their lifetime.

It’s a popular subject, the paranormal. In years gone by, the subject was seen as sinister, something to be avoided. Religions labelled anything to do with the study of the after-life as occultism, leading to many people avoiding discussion or study of this amazing subject.

It’s a popular subject, the paranormal. In years gone by, the subject was seen as sinister, something to be avoided. Religions labelled anything to do with the study of the after-life as occultism, leading to many people avoiding discussion or study of this amazing subject.

Today we have paranormal shows like Most Haunted (UK TV series) that take the paranormal seriously and aim to educate people on the reality of spirits, hauntings and the after-life.



I think, gradually, over time, people are becoming more considerate of the possibility that the paranormal is a reality. Whereas once it was easy to mock or dismiss, countless studies have been documented, witness accounts collected, science itself has even become involved. Take, for example, Most Haunted and Ghost Adventures. Using state of the art gadgets, the teams are able to record visual anomalies – as well as record spirit voices. The paranormal is no longer an out of date parlour trick of candle-lit séances, but is instead something serious, methodical, detailed and even scientific.

Coupling the serious study along with the basic human instinct that there is just simply something more to us, to life, than we currently know, I think there is an amazing and interesting time ahead for those interested in the paranormal.

An interesting survey, which took place of March last year, published by Fiona Macrae of the Daily Mail, suggested that people today are more likely to believe in ghosts than in God. This is an eye opening indication that more and more people are not only interested in the paranormal – but actively believe it. Perhaps it is today’s religion? A new study of us: our souls, the after-life, our existence.

So, whilst we continue to learn more and more, we have books, documentaries, and TV series which aim to educate those who are interested. I will always have a great deal of time for mainstream shows that keeps working hard, time and time again, to show people that this is real. Spirits are a reality. There is no shock, drama or silliness, but instead a straight forward experience where evidence is collected and presented for the audience to draw their own conclusions.

I believe, from personal experience, that spirits do exist. I’ve had several experiences which lead me to believe in life-after-death. I am just thankful that today we live in a world where we don’t have to feel demeaned or ridiculed because we believe. And ghosts are no longer a matter of faith alone – the evidence is stacking up, hard and fast.

I’m excited to see where the future takes us.

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