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Miscellany of Things

Food. Thoughts. Makeup. Adventures.

Ellicott City’s “Hell House”

Just a few minutes up the street from Ellicott City’s charming main street is the remnants of what locals call the Hell House.  While there isn’t much house left, many still believe that the grounds are haunted and full of darkness.

The scenic location started out as a hotel and tavern, and being so close to the B&O railroad it was a perfect location for travelers to rest and enjoy the scenery. Then, in 1866 the Ellicott brothers sold the property to the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer for a measly $15,000 (what would now be something around $200,000). In 1867 the congregation started adding additional levels to what is known as the Upper House, 672,000 bricks were laid in the span of 18 months. Bricklayers earned $5.00 a day (today that would be $87.10 a day). Additionally a large chapel was built, along with a greenhouse, and a few other houses used for smaller schools and storage.

From 1866 until 1907 the location was used as a Roman Catholic seminary because of it’s short distance from their headquarters in Baltimore and 1882 the school was renamed St. Mary’s College. Then, in 1907 the men in seminary were moved from the Ellicott City location to New York, and the building started to be used as a place for men contemplating entering religious life, also known as the novitiate. These men would go through 14 months of learning about the religious life. They would spend most of their time in prayer and religious reading. In 1968 there was a devastating house fire which burned down much of the lower house, and in 1972 the college was shut down with only 10 in its graduating class.

In 1982 the property was bought by a developer with the intentions of converting the property into apartments, however because of it historical and religious significance many were against this plan. This plan was disapproved, and the building was abandoned.

This is where we start getting into the “Hell House” era of the property. A man by the name of Alan Rufus Hudson lived on the property as a caretaker of the property while it was owned by the Roman Catholic church, and after it was sold he stayed to look after it and keep trespassers away. Although his intentions good, things went wrong for him when on May 11, 1996 he was charged for shooting, and critically injuring an intruder on the property.

For years the site of the old school was thought to be haunted, and many believed something suspicious happened causing the school to be closed but there is a lack of evidence to support these claims. Additionally, the property has been a party spot for teenagers, and according to locals it has been used for satanic rituals. As you’ll see in my pictures below, the property has been covered in upside down crosses and pentagrams.  I imagine that a lot of that is from teenagers wanting to perpetuate the rumors. Unfortunately on Halloween night in 1997 the entire building was destroyed by a fire and an investigation into the cause of the fire was indeterminate.

Being the adventurous person I am, I decided to investigate the property myself.  I took my sister with me, and we climbed up the massive hill to find the remnants of the supposedly haunted house.  As we walked up past the railroad tracks I was shocked as I saw numerous groups of people, young and old, adventuring into the overgrown area. The area was once was the place of an architecturally beautiful structure, and to say the least, it was sad to see what had become of the space, but in another way it was fascinating. Almost every open surface was either scorched by the fire or decorated with graffiti. Here are the pictures that my sister took while we were there:


I had a lot of fun researching for this post and visiting the “Hell House”, but I found that it was lacking in both House and Hell. Because I’m a decent human being, here are my sources:

http://msa.maryland.gov/megafile/msa/stagsere/se1/se5/015000/015900/015963/pdf/msa_se5_15963.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Mary’s_College_(Ilchester)

http://hellhouse.ellicottcity.net/press_cuttings/

http://hellhouse.ellicottcity.net/press_cuttings/pages/fdhsi_tif.htm

Wrongful Convictions – More Common Than You Think (True Crime Thursdays)

Hello and welcome! This is my first ever True Crime Thursday post, and I hope to have many more after this. If you don’t already know, there is a large community of people interested in the subject of True Crime. The subject spans over a large variety of topics such as serial killers, missing persons, the judicial system, and so much more. I happen to be deeply enthralled in this subject and I have learned a lot over the past few years of listening to podcasts, watching documentaries, and reading lots of literature.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

Over the past decade there has been a major focus on wrongful convictions, and many attribute that to groups like the Innocence Project and podcasts like Serial. Within the true crime community the name Adnan Syed is widely known. Syed was convicted as a teenager for killing his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. Multiple podcasts, Reddit boards, and discussion groups are dedicated to his story, believing that he was wrongfully convicted. Once again, many attribute podcasts and other activists to causing his case to be reexamined and he is currently waiting his new trial after his conviction was vacated in June of 2016.

This isn’t as uncommon as you might think.

Wrongful convictions happen for many reasons, but here are some of the leading causes:

Eyewitness Misidentification

Eyewitness identification can be valid evidence, but in many cases it’s not. An example of this happening is in the case of Julius Ruffin. Ruffin was convicted of rape in 1982 because of the testimony of the victim, Ann Meng. She was a nurse and weeks after the attack she saw Ruffin in the elevator at the medical school where he was a maintenance worker.  She immediately called the police and  informed them that he was her attacker.  Despite him having an alibi for the night of the attack, he was convicted to 5 life sentences. However, in 2003 they did DNA testing on evidence taken from the crime scene and found that it did not match Ruffin’s DNA, but instead it matched another man who was in prison for a similar offense. There are more cases where this has happened, a large portion of them being instances of cross racial identification.

Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science

Shows like CSI or Criminal Minds influence what jurors find to be valid forensic evidence. Despite what many believe, hair microscopy, bite mark comparison, firearm tool mark analysis, and shoe print comparison have never been subject to rigorous scientific evaluation.  In many circumstances this kind of evidence has been crucial in securing a guilty charge, when in fact, the guilty person was not actually guilty. In a murder case from 1989 a single hair was collected from the crime scene. There were no eyewitnesses, but the police arrested 3 people suspected in the murder.  Despite the man convicted for the killing maintained his innocence, he was executed in 2000. In 2010 DNA testing proved that the single hair found near the victim did not belong to him.

False Confessions

In many instances confessions have proven to be false through DNA testing. So often people question why someone would confess to something they never did. First, we have to look at the demographics and circumstances of these defendants. In 35% of all proven false confession cases, they concerned individuals who were 18 years old or younger, and/or mentally handicapped. Additionally, a lack of knowledge of how the justice system works, and police failure to inform the defendant of their rights can be the root of false confessions. Another cause that is based mostly on speculation is police threats. While it can be difficult to prove the police misconduct (this is due to the fact that in most states the police are not required to record interrogations), there have been cases where police have testified years later to witnessing verbal and physical abuse in order to obtain a confession. Sometimes police will use tactics like 24+ hour long interrogations. In the notorious case of the Central Park five we see five young boys who fall under each of these categories.

What is being done to make things right in these cases? In 1992 the Innocence Project was founded with the purpose of aiding the wrongfully convicted in obtaining exonerations. In 2016 there was an all-time high, hitting an incredible 165 exonerations. Since 1989 the number has steadily climbed, and many believe it will keep climbing with new discoveries in DNA testing and the hard work being done by those within the criminal and social justice community.

To learn more about the Innocence Project and information on cases like the ones listed above, check out their website: https://www.innocenceproject.org

The Best Makeup Products Ever (In My Humble Opinion)

Everyone has that specific product they love and wont ever change. For some it’s dish soap, for others it’s cheese, but for me it’s makeup. At the bottom of this post I will have links to (almost) all of the products listed.

Here it goes:

My favorite brushes have to be these elf eye and lip brushes that I use everyday to apply eye shadows and liners.

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Next on my favorites for eyes is this eye palette from Santee. I found it on the MissA website, which is my Achilles heel.

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These elf smudge pots are super pigmented and very smooth and creamy.

Now these creamy and pigmented Loreal Colour Riche eye shadows are amazing…

This palette I received from Ulta for spending $25 in one trip, and it’s by far been one of my absolute favorite things in my collection. Not only are these eye shadows and face powders some of the best shades, the packaging is also adorable. (It comes with some lip products but I don’t really ever use them, but they are great quality!)

Now on to my favorite face products…as you may have already been able to tell I love elf products. It might be partially because their prices are so good, but their products are actually really good. This bronzer is great for contouring, but I like to use it for eye shadow too.

Best. Foundation. Ever. Hands down, the best coverage, long-lasting, matte foundation. Thanks Maybeline, you have made getting ready for work so much faster.

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Last summer I used this elf BB cream for my foundation, and it was so nice and light on my skin. I will say if you have oily skin like me, this product wont be the best for you. It’s a very hydrating product and is perfect for dry skin.

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For brows I always reach for this great brow tint from Ulta. Affordable, long-lasting, and it has a remarkably easy applicator.

Another great gift for spending just the right amount of money at a beauty supply store – this amazing mascara from the brand Fresh courtesy of Sephora. Granted, it’s a trial size so it’s not going to last very long. Did I mention it’s amazing?

I love lipstick. It adds so much to a look and really boosts my confidence. Here are just a few of my favorites.

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From left to right: LA Colors in Matte Chocolate, Yes To Coconut Lip Balm, Sephora Rouge Matte Lipstick in No Games, Elf Matte Lipstick in Praline, Elf Matte Lipstick in Mulberry Maven, NYX Round Case Lipstick in Snow White, Le Marc Lip Creme in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

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Finally to set all of this makeup I always use the Elf Makeup Mist & Set. It’s full of different vitamins and healthy ingredients that refresh the skin and keep my makeup lasting all day.

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If you’ve made it to the bottom of this, good on you! Here are links to all of the products listed above, please comment with any suggestions or questions, I’d love to hear from you!

Elf Brushes: http://www.elfcosmetics.com/p/blending-eye-brush
http://www.elfcosmetics.com/p/defining-eye-brush
http://www.elfcosmetics.com/p/small-angled-brush?dept=lip-lipbrush

Santee Eye Shadow: https://www.shopmissa.com/products/santee-5-color-neutral-eyeshadow?variant=34681461710

Elf Smudge Pot: http://www.elfcosmetics.com/p/smudge-pot

Loreal Eye Shadow: http://www.lorealparisusa.com/products/makeup/eye/eye-shadow/colour-riche-eyeshadow.aspx?shade=Argentic

Ulta Hello Beautiful Palette: https://www.amazon.com/ULTA-Hello-Beautiful-Deluxe-Palette/dp/B01FWSY01Y

Elf Warm Bronzer: http://www.elfcosmetics.com/p/bronzers

Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation: http://www.ulta.com/fit-me-matte-poreless-foundation?productId=xlsImpprod11861007

Elf BB Cream: http://www.elfcosmetics.com/p/bb-cream-spf-20

Ulta Brow Tint: http://www.ulta.com/brow-tint?productId=xlsImpprod11921023

Fresh Supernova Mascara: It’s sadly discontinued…..I’ve heard that Lancome’s Hypnose is a close second to it.

Lipsticks: https://www.shopmissa.com/products/l-a-colors-purely-matte-lipstick-matte-chocolate
https://www.amazon.com/Yes-Coconut-Naturally-Smooth-Ounce/dp/B00MTCT7XS?th=1
http://www.sephora.com/rouge-matte-lipstick-P408604?skuId=1764430&icid2=products%20grid%3Ap408604
http://www.elfcosmetics.com/p/matte-lip-color
http://www.ulta.com/round-case-lipstick?productId=xlsImpprod2150072#
http://www.sephora.com/le-marc-lip-creme-P392352

So What’s This About?

This is probably the 3rd or 4th blog that I have started in my life. However, I was sitting around recently thinking, “I feel like I could be way more productive with my time and also do something I enjoy”, so I decided that a blog would do it. Here is a place where I can feel like I can write about anything on my mind, share things that inspire me, and spread my knowledge on a myriad of things. A few things I want to write about specifically are my Christian beliefs, beauty tips and tricks, delicious healthy recipes, mental health issues, true crime stuff, and travel. My goal is to post bi-weekly, but who knows how well that will go. Thanks for reading this short post, there will be more to follow in the weeks to come!

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