This week I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with Philly author and public relations expert Irene Levy Baker, author of 100 Things To Do In Philly Before You Die.  And this is a very family friendly episode; nothing spooky, creepy or macabre, or too grown up for little one’s ears.  Ok well, we do talk about one ghost story……

This book is an absolute gem, filled with the best of the best restaurants, museums, concert halls, everything that’s wonderful about the city of Brotherly Love.  Leveraging her experience providing tours for travel writers, whom are not easily impressed, Irene presents the gems of our city – some hidden, and some well known but not the way Irene knows them – creating a guide book that’s great for visitors,  and equally as wonderful for Philly natives.

Yours truly found a few spots which not only had I never visited, I never even knew existed.  Yes, I’m hanging my head in shame.  Irene Levy Baker is funny and smart, curious and charming and I know you’ll love her as much as I do.

Irene is offering a special bonus for TwistedPhilly listeners.  When you order her book on her website – – Irene will autograph your copy before mailing.  Thank you for such a great opportunity for our listeners!

You can also follow Irene on Twitter @100Philly


Yeah, that’s a strange, convoluted episode title.  It went through two other iterations before landing on this one; Philly Gives Good Heads, and Baby Got Head.

‘Cause this episode is all about heads.  Missing heads, severed heads, brains that have been stolen from heads and animal heads used to insult and intimidate.  WTF is up with this state and severed heads?

In this episode we go back in time over 100 years for the tale of a severed head in Shamokin, PA, and then travel back to the future for the story of an embalmed severed head that sounds like something out of Phantasm. Did I mention the eye sockets of this particular severed head?  No?  Well, you’ll just have to listen and try not to get totally creeped out AF!

Huge What Ups to Justin Glawe of the Daily Beast for taking time to talk with me about the embalmed severed head of Economy, PA

Shout outs in this episode to the #PodernFamily, listeners, Book vs Movie Podcast, the Epic Film Guys Podcast and cool ass Aussies Wayne and Paul from the Countdown TV and Movie Podcast.  Plus we’ve got more music from Massachusetts singer/songwriter Emmy Cerra (

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Link to the Daily Beast article, “The Head With No Body – and No Answers” by Justin Glawe, our gracious TwistedPhilly guest on this episode.



Here’s the thing about Philly – it’s the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection – and sometimes we don’t demonstrate either of those traits.  There’s a lot to love about Philadelphia, and I do love this city of mine, yet sometimes it leaves me in tears.  And this couldn’t be more true than in this week’s episode about two of Philadelphia’s unknown children.

I know cities all over the world have cold cases, cases of unidentified victims, Jane and John does.  Sometimes those cases remain unsolved, and sometimes after years of unrelenting efforts by the police and the public, the victims are identified.  In the case of children these stories are that much harder, at least for me, because we are supposed to protect children. Not merely our own but everyone’s children.  And for two little souls in Philadelphia, protection was what they needed but never received. 

These are the stories of The Girl in the Trunk and the Boy in the Bag.  Yeah, we have more than the Boy in the Box.  I hate that our city has stories like this, stories of children who are considered to be disposable, tossed out like trash, discarded.  These are the stories of Jerell Willis and Aliyah Davis, two children who spent years without names, without families.  These are the stories of children who were on the radar of human service organizations before their deaths, yet no action was taken to protect them. 

Grab your tissues cause I sure as shit needed some while I recorded.  You can find TwistedPhilly on social media. Follow me on Twitter @Twisted_Philly and on Facebook by liking the TwistedPhilly Podcast.  Like what you hear?  Subscribe, rate and review – it helps other people find the show and helps me keep this dream going.  The other way you can help the show is by contributing to the show on Patreon.  For a $5 contribution, Patreon supporters will receive an original short story by yours truly.  Yeah, I’m a writer too.  


Happy New Year, Twisters!  Yeah, about that break I was going to take this week…… I just couldn’t stay away!  And I have a break coming up in mid to late January because of some cross over episodes with other podcasters and interviews I’m hosting so I couldn’t skip a week now when I’ll have to skip one later this month.

So what are we talking about today?  I want to tell you the story of an infamous serial killer, probably one of the most notorious and prolific serial killers in American history.  No, I’m not talking about Gary Heidnick.  I told you I don’t want to talk about him yet.  I want to tell you the story of H.H. Holmes.  Now you’re probably thinking WTF?  He’s not a Philly serial killer.  Maybe not, but there is a significant Philadelphia connection, in fact it was a crime he committed right here in TwistedPhilly that stopped his reign of terror, scams and bigamy. And it was in Philadelphia where he spent the last year of his life, incarcerated at the old Moyamensing Prison.  It was here in Philadelphia where he stood on the scaffolding and spoke his last words before a noose slipped around his neck.  And it was here in Philadelphia where suspicious deaths surrounded many of the players associated with Holmes and his trial for almost 20 years.

This is a history lesson about the life and eventual death of H.H. Holmes which you may not yet have heard.  And you know me, I love taking a walk down the twisted path of history, especially when we’re walking those streets in Philadelphia.

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So….. what’s this episode about?  Is it true crime?  Is it some haunted history or a weird, twisted legend?  Is it about New Years in Philly?  No. Nope, nada.  This episode is twisted but it has very little to do with Philly other than the fact that your host – moi – is in Philly.  One of my most favorite activities this time of year, besides all the events and spots I mentioned in our holiday happenings episode – is to watch horror movies, Christmas horror movies to be exact.

Yeah, I have loads of favorite Christmas movies but everyone talks about those.  I want to talk about my favorite Christmas horror movies.  So before you give me shit like “this isn’t a movie podcast, what are you doing?”  You’re right, this isn’t a movie podcast, but I can’t think of anything more twisted than films that take what many consider the most wonderful, magical time of year and blend that with blood and guts and monsters and gore!  The juxtaposition of the two – beautiful jolly old man in a red suit and an ax or creepy old Christmas legend that grows legs and becomes more than fairy tales.  Mmmmm delicious!  It’s like a big old plate of Christmas cookies!  Which, if you follow me on Twitter, you’ve seen that I’ve been a baking fool this week.  Yes I bake, and I say fuck a lot.  I’m a complex woman.  In this episode I share stories from my favorite Christmas horror movies and tell you why I love them as much as I do. 

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‘Twas the murder before Christmas and all through Middletown, in the Wholaver house no one made a sound.

That morning mom Jean rose early and packed the car for a trip to her parents who lived a bit far.

Daughter Vicky was 20, and Izzy a teen, still asleep in their beds, in slumber, in dreams.

Their plans had been set for later that night, a Christmas Eve dinner that ended in fright.

Jean and her girls never showed at her parents, no one knew they were victims of behavior abhorrent.

Before sun up that day, while Jean’s girls were still sleeping, estranged husband and father Ernie came creeping

What motive, what reason, a holiday tale so chilling

I’ll tell you that tale right here on TwistedPhilly.

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Twisters I present to you – Arsenic Incorporated, the story of the South Philly Poison Ring.  We are going back in time, something you know I love to do.  I’d say we’re going back to a simpler time but dodging a poison ring doesn’t sound all that simple.  In the 1930s Philadelphia, like the rest of the country, was suffering from the great depression.  While the rest of the country was at a 15% unemployment rate, Philly was doing much worse at 25% unemployment.  There were about 2million residents in the city of Philadelphia then so we’re talking about a half million people out of a job.  That’s a lot of stressed out, desperate people in one city.

In desperate times some people see an opportunity.  The dregs of humanity are attracted people’s desperation.  The scum of the earth looks at people’s misfortune as an open door to take advantage of their fellow man, and woman, and Philly was rife with opportunity to scam, bamboozle, swindle and steal. 

Enter the Petrillo cousins, stage left…. Dun dun dun…  What began as two men trying to make a buck, running insurance scams and counterfeiting money, quickly became the largest poison ring in history.  The Petrillo cousins business was murder, and business was good.  With help from Dr. Morris Bolber – a faith healer, and Carina Favato – sometimes referred to as a marriage consultant, other times referred to as a witch, 16 people were eventually arrested for the murders of over 50 immigrant Philadelphians between 1932 and 1938.  This is by far one of the most sordid stories of TwistedPhilly’s history. 

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Pull yourselves out of your tryptophan coma and listen up, twisters!  Today, November 24, isn’t just Thanksgiving.  It’s the 3-month anniversary of TwistedPhilly!  This is a special anniversary episode for me, an opportunity to say thank you to each and every one of you for joining me on this twisted journey.  And since the winter holidays are upon us, I’d like to share with all of you some of my favorite Philly holiday activities. 

So cut yourself another slice of pie, pour another cup of coffee and curl up next to the fire as we talk about some of the best places to see spectacular light shows, Christmas trees, shopping and shows.  And remember, you don’t have to celebrate Christmas to decorate a tree.

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To recap part one, Sylvia Seegrist was a resident of Springfield, Pennsylvania, a suburb about 10 miles outside the city of Philadelphia.  On Wednesday, October 30, 1985, Sylvia brought an automatic rifle to the Springfield mall and in a span of less than 15 minutes killed 3 people, and seriously wounded 7 others. 

Sylvia had been diagnosed with Schizophrenia in 1975 when she was just 15 years old. And over the next ten years Sylvia was institutionalized a dozen times.  In the years leading up to the massacre at the Springfield Mall, Sylvia’s behavior continued to decline.  She was frequently escorted out of local businesses for intimidating and scaring patrons.  She ranted and raved about the government, the system and often made threats against society.  There were more instances than I can count when Sylvia expressed her desires to hurt other people. 

In part 2 we review Sylvia’s trial and incarceration, and take a deeper look at the mental health system with help from TwistedPhilly listener Jen.  Too often cases like these are sensationalized to focus only on the violent crimes, when we also need to consider the needs for mental health support in preventing stories like Sylvia’s.  Help keep this show going. Subscribe on iTunes, leave a review and let me know what you’d like to hear!

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Since starting the podcast I’ve been sucked into so many memories of childhood, and my teens and 20s.  As I research true crime cases I’m taken back to places where I grew up, places where I hung out on weekends with friends.  In a way that’s making me feel older, because these places have changed so much over the past 20 or 30 years, and at the same time it reconnects me to my past, and makes me think about being a teenager again.

And if there are any spots that remind me of being a teenager it’s the Granite Run Mall and the Springfield mall.  Both malls opened in 1974, when I was about 5 years old.  I don’t remember a time when they weren’t there.  Springfield is about 10 miles outside of Philly, and the mall opened so long ago the original anchor stores were Bamburgers and John Wannamakers. 

Why am I talking about malls?  Because I’m going to tell you the tale of a spree killing that took place at the Springfield Mall in 1985, when I Was 16 and hanging out at these malls damn near every weekend.  This is the story of Sylvia Seegrist, who locals called Ms. Rambo, a disturbed young woman who was often seen marching in them all ranting and yelling, not making any sense, someone that we thought was the local crazy girl and it turned out she was much more disturbed than any of us realized. On Wednesday, October 30, 1985, while parents were putting finishing touches on Halloween costumes, and making last minute grocery store runs for candy, Sylvia Seegrist was preparing to unleash her demons in a local mall.  Before the day was out, three people were dead, and seven more seriously inured. 

In Part 1 we learn who is Sylvia Seegrist, and what pushed her to become a spree killer. 

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