A peaceful stretch of river may hide a disturbing secret

Looking for Hell in all the Wrong Places: Part 3-Bridge Over River Die

By David A. Chiodaroli

Staff Writer

Every day, hundreds of motorists cross over the Union Dam Bridge, a stretch of Route 40 on the Baltimore National Pike that runs over the Patapsco River in Catonsville, Maryland. The bridge is a popular stop for hikers and adventurists who don’t mind the steep, jagged path one would have to treck in order to get there. At the very bottom of the bridge, the sound of the rushing water muffles out the traffic from above, and it’s possible to lose oneself in this rare union between man and nature. It’s almost enough to make one forget that the underside of the bridge was once the scene of a grisly rampage, where five people lost their lives at the hands of a monster.

Or so, that’s what Joe Metheny said in a lengthy jailhouse confession that he gave while serving life for the murder of two women in the late 90s. While he later confessed to killing ten people, no evidence was ever found proving his claims, and he was only convicted of the killings of Cathy Ann Magaziner and Kimberly Spicer, a pair of prostitutes who he killed in 1995. After luring the two women to his trailer, Metheny claimed that, after he stabbed and strangled them to death, he butchered their bodies and sold their meat at a pit beef stand he ran on weekends.

“The human body tastes very similar to pork,” Metheny said in his confession. “If you mix it together [with pork] no one can tell the difference.”

Metheny was later caught after trying to do the same to a third woman, Rita Kemper, in December, 1996. Despite enduring a heavy beating, Kemper managed to escape from his trailer and alert the police. Metheny surrendered and was later convicted on the killings.

But after his capture, Metheny said that his blood-soaked rampage began in the summer of 1994, after his drug-addled wife abandoned him and took their six-year-old son. This is where the Union Dam bridge comes into play, because it was under here where Metheny’s wife lived with a pair of homeless men, after losing their son to child protective services. This was also where my girlfriend and I found ourselves on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, possibly retracing the steps that an enraged Metheny took, after learning of his wife’s location.

We didn’t come alone, of course. Along with us were my girlfriend’s two dogs, Yashka, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel/German Shepherd mix, and Minnie, a Shih Tzu. The dogs seemed more eager than us to make it down the steep incline that lead all the way to the river’s banks. As they climbed over the sharp rocks that jutted out along the length of the path, humanity’s limitation of walking on just two legs became abundantly clear. But despite the difficulty it took to reach the site, we eventually found ourselves in shadow of the bridge that towered over the scene of the alleged crime.

As we walked along the rocky beach towards the bridge, Metheny’s words reverberated through my mind, reminding me that this picturesque scene had a gruesome secret. After reaching the bridge, Metheny found that his wife was nowhere to be seen, but the homeless men were still there.

“They were passed out on some old, stinking mattress, and that’s where they were when I left, except they were dead from being chopped up.”

After killing the two men with an axe, Metheny said that he lured a ‘crack whore’ down to the bridge. “I got her high and was trying to get information out of her about my ole’ lady’s whereabouts. She acted like she didn’t know, so I beat the hell out of her and raped her ass [and] then killed her.”

Then, an unlucky fisherman, who was just trying to get some bites on the river bank, stumbled upon the carnage, and Metheny wasn’t about to let him alert the authorities. “I grabbed a steel pipe that was lying by and ran him down and layed his head wide open.”

Metheny claimed that he weighed down the bodies with rocks and put them in the river, but when he took investigators back to the bridge after his capture, no remains were found, and Metheny was never charged with the crimes he said took place there three years prior.

Metheny was sentenced to death in 1998, but the condemnation was appealed two years later, and he was given life in prison. Rather than celebrate this decision, Metheny actually begged the jury to give him the death penalty, rather than let him live the rest of his life behind bars. “The words ‘I’m sorry’ will never come out, for they will be a lie,” Metheny told the jury, “I would rather give up my life for what I have done, to have God judge me and send me to hell for all eternity.”

It would be seventeen years before Metheny got his wish; on August 5th, 2017, Metheny was found dead in his prison cell at the age of 62. At the time of this writing, the cause of his death is still unknown.

As we leave the banks of the Patapsco River, I realize that regardless of whatever may or may not have happened under that bridge two decades ago, the area has moved on. On the way out, we observe a pair of deer run down the side of the hill on the opposite bank, turn and dash back up the other side. A hiker with a small, white poodle greets us on the way up, and a mother and child stop to pet the dogs and ask where the waterfall was. Surely, any wounds that Metheny may have opened have healed well enough, so that people can enjoy this quaint spot without the stain of long forgotten depravity to trouble them. But as I look back on the bridge, growing smaller as we ascend the hill, I can’t help but wonder how many people pass along the bridge, unaware of the horrors that may have taken place there. I have no doubt that everyone has, at one point of their lives, unknowingly ventured through or past locations with dark histories, where people died at the hands of another. It goes to show that nowhere, not even the most unassuming of places, is not safe from mankind’s wrath, and his desire for destruction.

 

Photo Credit: David A. Chiodaroli            

The Clash of Win Streaks

kyrie

The Celtics edge the Warriors for 14 straight wins

By Bria Brown – Web Copyeditor

Kyrie Irving through the lane, up and under to the hoop, foul! Irving hit two free throws to put the Celtics up 90-88. Kevin Durant missed a contested jumper off of a Warriors’ inbound to tie the game. The usual end of game clock run outs and fouls commence, and game over. The Celtics win 92-88, extending their win streak to fourteen games, and taking a three game lead for first place in the Eastern Conference.

The nights game was full of hype, the Golden State Warriors on a seven game win streak, against the Boston Celtics on a thirteen game win streak. Both teams number one in their respective conferences. The Celtics with the number one defense and the Warriors with the number one offense.

As the game began, both teams seemed anxious, putting up quick shots, missing wide open threes, and trading turnovers. The Warriors finished the game 33/82, 40.2% on field goals plus 15 turnovers, and the Celtics just 26/79 for 32.9% with 15 turnovers (NBA.com). Despite the many missed shots, the game lived up to its excitement. In the first quarter Steph Curry missed a free throw, grabbed his own rebound, and just past the three point line, he hoisted and swished a jumper.

Jaylen Brown, mourning the loss of a childhood friend, was the player of the game, holding Steph Curry to just 9 points on 3/14 shooting (NBA.com). Brown finished with 22 points, some key defensive stops, and big shots for the Celtics.

The Warriors had the biggest lead of the night, 17 points, and lead most of the game. They settled down in the second quarter, and went on a 12-0 run. The Celtics struggled, sloppy play, rushing shots, and turnovers, signs of a young team. Despite their mistakes, they do not play scared. They stormed back 11 points with active defense, blocked shots, steals, and timely shots. Basketball is indeed a game of runs.

In the third quarter, where the Warriors lead the league in points at 31.8 per game (teamrankings.com), Kevin Durant started to take control of the game. The Warriors pushed the lead back up to 10 points. The Celtics would not go away. Jaylen Brown forced Durant into a backcourt violation, then hit back to back three pointers. The quarter ended with the game tied at 78.

Both teams continued to exchange leads for the remainder of the game. Plenty of missed shots and fouls made it anybodies game to win. The Warriors had their chances. But in the end, it was Kyrie Irving and the Celtics that put the game away. Irving finished the game with 16 points on 4/16 shooting, but it was his free throws that made the difference. He finished 7/8 of the line, sealing the 14th straight win for the Celtics.

Photo Credit

A new look for NBA, where amazing happens

Bria Brown

Web Copyeditor

This year’s NBA season started off with a bang. There was the Kyrie and LeBron saga, landing Kyrie a spot on the Boston Celtics, the unfortunate Gordon Haywood injury, and the long-awaited Carmelo Anthony trade to Oklahoma City.

(Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

Dwyane Wade reunites with the Celevand Cavaliers alongside his tag-team brother LeBron James, and we can’t forget Russell Westbrook, signing his 205-million dollar contract extension on Kevin Durant’s Birthday.

In the midst of all the drama, my wow moment of the season, so far has been the Golden State Warriors dropping 141 points on the Portland Trail Blazers. Another team that is doing surprisingly well this season is the Minnesota Timberwolves. They already have two close wins over the OKC Thunder, and an overtime win against the Miami Heat—games that maybe they didn’t win last season.

It would be nice for Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins to go to the playoffs and even bring a ring to New Orleans. Philadelphia 76ers are the underdogs and a team, I want to see do well this season. I like what they have going on with a young core. Philly, Orlando, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, and New York, all have young teams with a lot of potential. The NBA is in great hands.

Speaking of great hands, Kyrie is in the right spot with Boston. The players have so much lead way to operate as individual entities. Kyrie walked away from ‘the easy route,’ the type of decision that creates or destroys legacies. Choosing your own destiny takes courage and belief in self, and I respect Kyrie for his decision. Do you know how much faith you have to have in yourself to leave LeBron’s Cavs? At this point LeBron is a first class ticket to the finals each and every year. Beat the Warriors and you get another ring. But that goes to show, everything that glitters isn’t gold. Who knows what goes on in the locker room, what type of pressure that is, the commotion, the situation behind closed doors? A lot of times we look at people and question, ‘how could you turn that down, how could you walk away from this or that, stop complaining,’ but at the end of the day, everyone is just working from their own perspective and playing the cards they were given.

The league is pretty top heavy now, but I think in the long run, it will be good for future success. I think it raises competition for teams, they know they have to be really good to win a championship, because all of the champion teams are stacked. I think now we won’t just see players emerging as great but we will see teams rise up as great teams, dynasties so to speak. And with less teams having one proven superstar to cater to on each team, they have room to give the rookies a chance to develop and become leaders. The teams late in the draft will typically be the teams with the superstars, and the early draft teams will typically be the young teams, adding more top picks.

 

Photo Credit: Slam Online

Think twice before looking for witches in Burkittsville

Looking for hell in all the wrong places: Part 2-Too beautiful to die

By David A. Chiodaroli

Staff Writer

In 1999, directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez released The Blair Witch Project, arguably the scariest movie about college kids fighting over a map since, well, ever. The movie gained notoriety for the fact that it was shot entirely on a handheld VHS camcorder, used a cast of unknown performers, and passed itself off as a real tape found as part of a police investigation. In the end, this method of filmmaking, which was done to overcome the film’s shoestring budget, helped The Blair Witch Project stand out at the box office, and also make a ton of money in the process. The film made close to $300 million off a budget of $60k, and exposed a generation of young people to the legend of the Blair Witch of Burkittsville, Maryland.

Except that none of it was true. Despite what my childhood friend insisted throughout my youth (I know you’re reading this, Sam), not only was the movie a work of fiction, but the legend of the Blair Witch didn’t exist before the film came out. That didn’t stop legends of fans from visiting Burkittsville, which went from a sleepy farming community of less than two-hundred, to a stop on every horror fan’s mid-Atlantic road trip practically overnight. The result was mixed, according to Burkittsville resident Jodie Brumage, who works at the town’s historical society.

“Overall, I’d say that the impact was both good and bad,” Brumage tells me. “The initial impact was probably the bad part.”

Brumage tells me that Burkittsville was unprepared for the onslaught of tourists who flooded the town after the film’s release. With the unexpected spike in visitors came numerous reports of vandalism, leaving the town’s residents more than a little annoyed with Tinsel Town. It’s easy to see why; traveling through the streets of Burkittsville, you get the sense that it is a town suck in a time capsule. Buildings from the 19th century abound up the narrow, two lane roads, while the town cemetery is filled with generations of long dead townsfolk spanning back several decades. Yet despite its antebellum charm, I should suspect that visitors looking for a creep factor would be disappointed.

You see, Burkittsville is very well maintained; the streets are clean, the houses are kept in picturesque condition, and the aforementioned cemetery has been cared for with a sense of dignity and respect not known to other places of eternal rest. As my girlfriend and I walk up and down the streets, window shopping and admiring the stunning views of the Appalachian Mountains, I get the feeling that Burkittsville doesn’t deserve to be associated with a film that launched a genre that many cinephiles have come to loath. In the years since The Blair Witch Project’s release, the found footage genre skyrocketed in popularity, then plummeted down to earth, with a series of lackluster movies that used the found footage gimmick as a substitute for lazy filmmaking.

Ironically, Brumage tells me that the bulk of the problems associated with the movie happened after the much-reviled sequel, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch Project 2, was released. While the original was mostly shot outside of Burkittsville, Book of Shadows saw much of its principle photography take place in the town, exacerbating an already difficult situation. All of this culminated in the town’s residents creating its own advisory board called FACT, or the Film Advisory Committee of the Town, which keeps track of various reports made to the police associated with Blair Witch tourists.

Despite all of this, though, Brumage insists that the film’s lasting impact has been positive for Burkittsville, which has adjusted to its influx of tourists and now welcomes them with open arms.

“We’re almost twenty years out now from the release of the original film,” Brumage says, “and the good is that it brings lots of people to Burkittsville.” He goes on to say that the town is “at a point now where we could look at it for its historical value, and that Burkittsville had a part in that.”

Before we leave, I learn from my colleague Ricky of a nearby hill where, apparently, if you put your car in neutral, the ghosts of long dead Civil War soldiers will push it up. Naturally, my girlfriend and I decide to check it out, but alas, despite doing everything I was supposed to do, my car rolls backwards, not forward. Perhaps the soldiers were on leave for the weekend, or maybe they have a bias against Kia and decided I wasn’t worth their time. But perhaps it, like the Blair Witch Project, is just a legend, a figment of the imagination that is now an integral part of a town too beautiful to die.

Photo by David A. Chiodaroli

Kalilah Wright is making a statement, one t-shirt at a time

By: Lawanda Johnson

Web Content Manager

Meet Baltimore-based entrepreneur Kalilah Wright, owner of Mess In A Bottle, a T-shirt company that serves as a way to visually give a voice to the voiceless through its thought-provoking graphic apparel. Wright has not only depicted black excellence at its finest, successfully working her way up in the entrepreneurial world, but she has also crafted an unorthodox movement, unapologetically utilizing her platform to promote expressive and powerful messages for any race, any age, and any gender. Wright is certainly a woman on the move, making the most noise even while moving in silence. Through Mess In A Bottle, she sets out to provide an outlet that allows individuals to be as transparent and eloquent as they can be, advocating self-comfortability and self-liberation.


Who’s the woman behind the bottle, though? As an individual? When the T-shirts are folded up and put away? Well, she’s a Brooklyn-bred winner, a dreamer, a doer, a creative. Wright is a woman who turned her can’ts into cans and dreams into plans. As an adolescent, she already embodied the characteristics of a leader. Even at the tender age of twelve years old, Wright started her first business in the school yard of her junior high school, Philippa Schuyler, located in Brooklyn, New York. She named it ‘Cool Club’, which she charged members .35 cents a week to be a part of. However, little did she know, that was only the beginning. She didn’t know that would eventually lay the foundation for her becoming the boss of her very own black-owned business.

After attaining a Bachelor of Arts from Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Architecture from Morgan State University, Wright worked as a full-time architecture and designer. However, she figured that it was time to really think outside of the box and wield her talents in more than one area of life. Though she’d started small businesses, here and there, previously, Wright was sure that, this time around, whatever she did, she wanted to do something bold, something empowering, something that made a difference. Her love for the creative arts, architecture, and design was undying, along with educating other millennials and putting her leadership skills to use.

In February of 2016, Mess In A Bottle was born. With just less than $500.00, Wright started something that would soon become the newest holy grail. But, to say that it happened overnight would be far from the truth. She actually started out with just a couple of T-shirt making machines that she’d purchased from Craigslist.

“I bought a couple machines from Craigslist, one is a heat press machine and the other one is a vinyl cutter. I outsource my designs so I design all my T-shirts in-house, and then I have a company that prints the designs and we basically print on demand. So, whenever someone orders a T-shirt, I then print it, package it and send them out.” Wright said in an interview with ThisMamaWines.com.
As you can see, a lot of hard work, dedication, persistence, and perseverance went into making Mess In A Bottle what it is today and what she hopes it to be in the future. Wright admits that her busy days are endless, but, at the end of the day, when she looks at the possibility of even more people being inspired, it is all worth it.

“I look forward to growing my business. By the time the year is over, I hope to have already proved the concepts of Mess In A Bottle. I look forward to more people wearing the brand and Mess In A Bottle really blossoming. I just look forward to growing. I want it to be a thing that everyone is coming to Mess In A Bottle for a message and to be able to be outspoken and say what they want.”

Wright wanted to take T-shirt designing to another level, and, from the looks of it, she has definitely succeeded. The brand gains its uniqueness and name from its witty and candid messages and sayings that are printed on T-shirts and packaged into reusable bottles. However, though the tees are the basis of the brand, their products range from mugs and hats to tote bags and throw pillows.

Mess In A Bottle has not only garnered great notoriety within the Baltimore area, but also throughout social media. The brand has brought in over 12,000 followers on Instagram, garnering loads of digital traffic on a daily basis. More recently, one of the shirts were actually seen on this year’s BET Awards red carpet.

But, of course, with her good deal of success comes criticism. However, Wright chooses to look past the negativity, as she contributes her tough skin to her Brooklyn, New York upbringing. When it’s all said and done, Wright just wants to be remembered for the positive.

“I want my legacy to be this black woman that was a creator, that kicked ass and took names after. I want to be known as a person that really did what she wanted without caring about what anybody had to say. The naysayers or the people who just didn’t believe. I do what I want, whether it is something that turns out great or if it is something that I failed at. I want to be known as a person that just tries, whether it’s a success or failure. I know that I tried.” She says.

Though being the CEO of a thriving T-shirt company is certainly a milestone for Wright, her greatest achievement is holding the title of a mother to her son. As a mompreneur and business owner, Wright doesn’t deny that it does get challenging; however, she has learned that it is possible to balance both and is diligently working to keep finding that medium.

“I may not have days at the park with my son, right now, like I would like, but, we have a lot more opportunities that I would like to do with him that will be more important down the line. I think, for me, with my son, I did not have to choose because I already decided the things I’m chasing with my business will be beneficial in my son’s life.”

Kalilah Wright is standing up and standing out, one MESSage in a bottle at a time.

Website: https://www.messinabottle.com/

Photo Credit: Shae McCoy

What’s playing at Baltimore Center Stage

For over three decades, Baltimore Center Stage has succeeded at delivering quality performances through their classical and contemporary way of bringing innovative and enjoyable theatrical entertainment.

Recently, the theater wrapped up their latest production, a religious-based play, The Christians. The play highlighted different challenges faced within most modern-day mega-churches throughout America, and even featured guest performances from a few local church choirs around Baltimore. The Christians attracted a great crown every night, as it ran from September 7th, all the way to October 8th.


Photo: Lloyd Fox

The Christians specifically examines leadership and faith. Faith is fundamentally what we have all been discussing since 9/11. The church in this play is a metaphor for our communities and our country. What happens when you no longer trust those you have entrusted to lead you?” Kwame Kwei-Armah, Baltimore Center Stage Artistic Director, expressed. “I’m thrilled to bring this production to Baltimore and for Center Stage to serve as a convener of many more conversations about leadership–in Baltimore, in Maryland, and in our country.”

On October 19th, the theater debuted the newest play remake, Shakespeare In Love, which is based on the infamous screenplay, written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard. The original film released in 1998 and was directed by John Madden. It starred award-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who portrayed Viola de Lesseps, Shakespeare’s love interest, and Joseph Fiennes, as the honorable William Shakespeare, himself. It depicts the story of an imaginary love affair between the two, while Shakespeare was writing the legendary Romeo and Juliet story. Chronicling the film’s plot, Baltimore Center Stage’s version of Shakespeare In Love is sure to command the crowd, as it is proclaimed as a great show for the entire family. Though a fifteen-minute intermission is included, this production is expected to run for about two hours and twenty-five minutes. Shakespeare In Love will run until Nov.26th.

Next up on the list happens to be Lookingglass Alice, which will debut at the theater on November 30th and run until December 31st, bringing the year to a close. Lookingglass Alice serves as a playoff of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland novel, the sequel, Through The Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. This production puts a new age twist on the classic tale, making it a pleasuring show for all generations. Attendees will get to witness Alice’s thrilling journey of self-discovery after she falls through the looking glass and is taken on an imaginative voyage to remember. “Joyous and smart, playful and wise.” The Chicago Tribune recounted. Lookingglass Alice, the play, is adapted by David Catlin and directed by Jeremy B. Cohen.

Baltimore Center Stage will open the new year with Skeleton Crew, the third play in Detroit-bred playwright Dominique Morisseau’s celebrated The Detroit Projects trilogy. You may be familiar with Morisseau from her work on Showtime’s acclaimed television series, Shameless, which she serves as a writer. However, Morisseau is back to give us a little more of what’s happening in ‘The D.’ Skeleton Crew follows the story of four factory workers at the last exporting auto plant in Detroit, Michigan, and their struggle to survive after their way of life suddenly starts to fade. Set in 2008, as economic adversities arise, affecting the workplace, the workers continue trying to effectively keep the plant running, while true colors are shown, loyalties are tested, and boundaries are crossed. Skeleton Crew is also a part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival. Contrast to the others, this production is actually recommended for high school-aged audiences and up, as it features explicit language and adult content.

According to New York Times, it is ‘warm-blooded, astute, and a very fine new play.’ One that is, without a doubt, a sure must-see. Skeleton Crew will make its introduction on January 25th, 2018; the ending date is March 4th.

Get your tickets, today, by visiting https://www.centerstage.org

Lawanda Johnson was the web content manager for the then-known, The UB Post, in 2017.