Episode 376:

That’s a Good Bean!

Japan's Monster with 21 Faces and the Vending Machine Murders


Southern Appalachian Moonshiner, Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton


Episode 376: That’s a Good Bean!

On today's episode, Georgia covers Japan's Monster with 21 Faces and the Vending Machine Murders and Karen tells the legendary story of Southern Appalachian moonshiner, Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton.

Listen on Apple Podcasts.

Japan's Monster with 21 Faces and the Vending Machine Murders

Japan's Monster with 21 Faces and the Vending Machine Murders Notes:

Header Image Source: Photo by Andre Benz on Unsplash 

Other Images:

1. Security footage of the “The Videotaped Man”

2. Police sketch of the “The Fox-Eyed Man” (National Police Agency)

3. Vending Machines in Tokyo (Alamy)


"The Glico-Morinaga incident (or The Monster With 21 Faces) is a notorious police case of extortion and manhunt in Japan, beginning in 1984 and ending in 1985.

The identity and motives of the group behind this mystery puzzled police investigators and panicked Japan’s urban population for years. An unexplained mystery police had to abandon in 2000 without solving the case.

Almost forty years later, nobody knows who was behind the team or the person with the moniker “The Monster with the 21 Faces” (かい人21面相, Kaijin Nijūichi Mensō).

The main suspect passed away in March 2022. The police never arrested this person, as he presented a solid alibi and consistently denied involvement.

Close to one million police officials were involved in the search for the group that terrorized modern Japan in the most absurd case in the country’s history.

Right from the beginning, the shocking acts of this strange group will puzzle researchers regarding the group’s true intentions. However, as the story unfolds, the bizarre circumstances may uncover a particular purpose.

As we enter this maze with no exit, we encounter one of the most fascinating and bizarre real-life mysteries ever..."


Source: “Glico Morinaga And The Mystery of the “Monster With 21 Faces” by Ex Cathedra (Medium)

Southern Appalachian Moonshiner, Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton

Southern Appalachian Moonshiner, Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton Notes:

Other Images: 

1. Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton

2. Cow Shoes from the Prohibition Era


"The grave of the last American outlaw sits off a dirt road in the backwoods of Maggie Valley, North Carolina, the hillbilly haven where Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, the most notorious moonshiner ever, lived and died in the wildest of ways. The most notable thing about the grave? It’s empty.

I’m here to follow the path of Sutton’s exhumed bones and unravel the mystery behind this modern-day legend. A third-generation moonshiner, born in 1946, Popcorn spent his life distilling the secret recipe for corn whiskey that his Scotch-Irish forefathers brought over cen­turies ago. His white lightning wasn’t just potent and sweet—it was illegal. And Pop­corn, who refused to pay taxes and con­sidered moonshine part of his “don’t tread on me” heritage, wore his rebel badge with pride. As Hank Williams Jr. says of Popcorn, “This guy was real Appalachian Americana. He was a folk hero.” Even in death his battles wage on: Popcorn’s whiskey recently became available legally for the first time, but a family feud over his legacy shows no signs of resolution.

As I discover over several sweltering days and clandestine jugs of moonshine, Popcorn left a twisted trail: scorned women, abandoned kids, com­pli­cit cops, even homemade sex machines, exploding stills, and the tale of a throat-slit fiddler on the side of the road. At the center of it all was a guy who, right up until his bizarre death, defied his stereotype as much as he seemed to fulfill it. To the fans and celebs who came from around the world to buy his booze, Popcorn was the banjo-picking cracker with the long beard, grimy overalls, and bawdy stories. But to those who knew him, he was something more: a brilliant self-promoter and chemist who ultimately despised the persona he had crafted as expertly as his booze. “He hated the persona,” says his widow, Pam Sutton. Through it all, there was just one thing that guided him: his likker (as he liked to spell it). “I can brag about one thing,” Popcorn once said in his thick Southern drawl. “Making likker. They ain’t no damn body that can beat me making likker.” And, in the end, he chose to die rather than get beat..."


Source: “The Last Hillbilly Hero” by David Kushner (Maxim) 2012

Georgia's Episode Sources

  1. “Case Summary Overview” by The Darq (Themonsterwith21faces.com)
  2. “Glico Morinaga And The Mystery of the “Monster With 21 Faces” by Ex Cathedra (Medium)
  3. “Glico Morinaga case” (Wikipedia)
  4. “Head of cyanide-candy investigation commits suicide” (United Press International)
  5. “How ‘The Monster With 21 Faces’ Terrorized Japan During The Harrowing Glico Morinaga Incident” by Bernadette Giacomazzo (All That’s Interesting)
  6. “Japan's "Economic Miracle": What Happened?” (Every CRS Report)
  7. “Japanese Puzzle: The Vending Machine Murders” by Clyde Haberman (New York Times)
  8. “Japanese warned against poisoned soft drinks” by Marie Okabe (United Press International)
  9. “Killer Vending Machines: The Paraquat Killings | Crime Beyond Belief Ep. #2” (Stupid Beyond Belief)
  10. “Monster With 21 Faces” by Doug MacGowan
  11. “Paraquat murders” (Wikipedia)
  12. “Paraquat Murders and Suicides: Rates of Intentional Poisoning” by Erica Davies (Drug Watcher)
  13. “Paraquat Poisoning: Survival after Oral Ingestion” by Sarah Allen, MD, Mario Gomez, MD, Alice M. Boylan, MD, Kristin B. Highland, MD, Anthony Germinario, MD, Michelle McCauley, MD, and Michael Malone, MD (ClinMed)
  14. “Rising Inequality in Japan: A Challenge Caused by Population Ageing and Drastic Changes in Employment” by Miki Kohara and Fumio Ohtake (Changing Inequalities and Societal Impacts in Rich Countries: Thirty Countries' Experiences, Oxford Academic)
  15. “The 1980s Crime Ring That Poisoned Japan’s Candy And Never Got Caught” by Cara Giaimo (Atlas Obscura)
  16. “The Menacing Case of the Monster with 21 Faces” (BuzzFeed Unsolved Network)
  17. “The Monster with 21 Faces” (Wikipedia)
  18. “THE UNTOLD TRUTH OF THE VENDING MACHINE KILLER” by Nicholas Vrchoticky (Grunge)
  19. “The Vending Machine Murders” by Martina Petkova (Medium)
  20. “This small Japanese town is a vintage vending machine paradise” by Dean Irvine (CNN)
  21. “Wine scandal spreads to Japan” by Mark Kuramitsu (United Press International)

Karen's Episode Sources

  1. “The Last One” (PBS) 2008
  2. “Popcorn Sutton: The Last Moonshiner” by Sky Sutton (Twisted South/Appalachian History) 2014
  3. “"Daddy Moonshine- The Story of Marvin 'Popcorn' Sutton" by Sky Sutton” (Facebook)
  4. “Tales of the Last Moonshiner” by Tim Murphy (Mother Jones) 2010
  5. “United States of America V. Marvin ‘Popcorn’ Sutton”
  6. “Popcorn Sutton and his moonshine: 6 surprising facts (with pictures)” by Morgan Overholt (The Smokies) 2022
  7. “The Last Hillbilly Hero” by David Kushner (Maxim) 2012
  8. “THE MOONSHINER POPCORN SUTTON” (Sucker Punch Pictures)
  9. “Popcorn Sutton: The Most Famous Moonshiner” (Smoky Mtn Opry)
  10. “Golden Moment” by D’Lyn Ford (NC State University) 2009
  11. “Moonshiner Dead in Apparent Suicide” by Becky Johnson (Smoky Mountain News) 2009
  12. “Yesterday’s Moonshiner, Today’s Microdistiller” by Campbell Robertson (New York Times) 2012
  13. “The Whiskey Rebellion” (American Experience/PBS)
  14. “As long as water runs downhill: The story of Popcorn Sutton”  by Cory Vaillancourt (Smoky Mountain News) 2021
  15. “About the Appalachian Region” (Appalachian Regional Commission)
  16. “Widow: Moonshiner took his life to avoid jail” (Associated Press)  2008
  17. “Daughter says independence likely led to moonshiner's suicide” (Knox News) 2009
  18. “Popcorn Died as he lived, daughter says” by Jim Balloch (Knoxville News Sentinel) 2009
  19. “Moonshine: From No Business to Big Business” by Keith Roysdon (The Daily Yonder) 2023
  20. “Popcorn Sutton Interview with actor Johnny Knoxville”
  21. “The Story of Popcorn Sutton: A Famous Appalachian Moonshiner” by Jasmin Diaz (Smoky Mountains) 2023
  22. “Legendary Tennessee Moonshiner Plied His Trade to the End” by Stephen Miller (Wall Street Journal) 2009
  23. “Notorious moonshiner "Popcorn" Sutton gets prison term after fed bust” by J.J. Stambaugh (KnoxNews) 2009
  24. “Whiskey Rebellion” (History) 2022