Episode 246:

thanks for the lolz

The 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing


The California Witch Killers


Episode 246: thanks for the lolz

On this week’s episode, Karen and Georgia cover the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing and The California Witch Killers.

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The 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing

The 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing Notes:

Header image Source: Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

"The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing was a white supremacist terrorist bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, on Sunday, September 15, 1963. Four members of a local Ku Klux Klan chapter planted 19 sticks of dynamite attached to a timing device beneath the steps located on the east side of the church.

Described by Martin Luther King Jr. as "one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity", the explosion at the church killed four girls and injured between 14 and 22 other people.

Although the FBI had concluded in 1965 that the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing had been committed by four known Klansmen and segregationists: Thomas Edwin Blanton Jr., Herman Frank Cash, Robert Edward Chambliss, and Bobby Frank Cherry, no prosecutions were conducted until 1977, when Robert Chambliss was tried and convicted of the first-degree murder of one of the victims, 11-year-old Carol Denise McNair.

In a revival of effort by states and the federal government to prosecute cold cases from the civil rights era, the state conducted trials in the early 21st century of Thomas Edwin Jr. and Bobby Cherry, who were each convicted of four counts of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2001 and 2002, respectively. Future United States Senator Doug Jones successfully prosecuted Blanton and Cherry. Herman Cash had died in 1994, and was never charged with his alleged involvement in the bombing.

The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing marked a turning point in the United States during the civil rights movement and contributed to support for passage by Congress of the Civil Rights Act of 1964..."

— Source: The 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing Wikipedia

The California Witch Killers

The California Witch Killers Notes:

Header Image Source: Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash


"When Suzan Barnes met James Carson, things got... weird. Fast. Both were unsatisfied divorcees, and Suzan had been immersed in the ‘70s culture of free love and hallucinogens. After taking mescaline on one occasion in 1974, she had a vision that she would meet the man of her dreams. Three years later, when she finally saw James at a party, she said, “This is the man I’ve been searching for.” Indeed, James’ daughter, Jenn Carson, says that when the pair met “It was almost like two magnets just shooting across the room and joining. I think they had great sexual attraction.” It didn’t take long for the new couple to descend into a life of sex and hallucinogenic drug taking. But it wasn’t all fun and games.

The magnetic pair would end up starting their own twisted religion, which would incite them into killing three people they deemed to be witches. This case, known infamously as the “witch killer” case, is the subject of Oxygen’s weekly Martinis & Murder podcast, which is hosted by John Thrasher and Daryn Carp. Subscribe at iTunes or Google Play or listen below on Soundcloud.

Later, Jenn Carson would say of her father: “If he had fallen in love with a televangelist, he would become one. If she had joined ISIS, he would have. He was that much of a follower. He was drawn to extremists, people he found really exciting.” And Suzan certainly wasn’t boring. Shortly after they met Suzan told James she’d had a vision, and that his name was really Michael, after the angel who fought the devil. James was spellbound, and changed his name to Michael. In another vision Suzan said she saw that they should both change their last name to Bear, which they also did. But perhaps the most dangerous vision of all was one in which Suzan saw that they should become “Muslims” and kill witches. Unfortunately, Suzan and Michael missed the part of Islam that prohibits the taking of mind-altering drugs and murder, and created their own sick cult-like religion, dragging the name of Allah into it as justification.

In 1978, after a year of being together, Suzan and Michael travelled to Europe, preaching their religion. They also had a marriage ceremony (although not legally binding) by the moonlight at Stonehenge. Eventually they ran out of money, and were forced to return to the US, where they moved to San Francisco and into the apartment of Keryn Barnes, a 23-year-old wannabe starlet who had moved to California to find fame but instead found the hippie lifestyle of Haight-Ashbury. But Michael and Suzan wanted more from Keryn than just co-habitation. They wanted her to be Michael’s second wife, and enter into a polyamorous relationship with them. When Keryn balked at the idea, Suzan had a vision: that Keryn was a witch.

So Suzan and Michael plotted to kill Keryn..."

— Source: Oxygen article by Kat George