There is a house on Elm Street with a cold, brick-floor basement, warmed only by the presence of Connecticut’s spookiest couple. Sean and Carrie McCabe immerse themselves in all things haunted—Bloody Maries, Mansons, murders, human sacrifice, and the Bridgeport poltergeist, to name a few. Together, the couple braves these age-old haunts, investigating the myths and fears behind them in their podcast, Ain’t it Scary? with Sean and Carrie.
Sean and Carrie met on Tinder after discovering a shared interest in true crime podcasts, both especially fond of the Last Podcast on the Left. On their first date, Carrie asked Sean what his favorite movie was. He answered with Shaun of the Dead, which left Carrie dumbfounded—the cult classic happened to be one of her favorites as well.
From the beginning, it was evident that Carrie believed in the paranormal, ghostly world while Sean remained skeptical of the evidence behind it. Sean said, “We kind of came from different backgrounds of belief but we always were able to connect on a passion for history.”
Sean, a communications officer at the Yale School of Medicine, was formerly a reporter for News 12 Connecticut, where he gained knowledge of audio production. Carrie had experience in filmmaking from her own explorations in the creative arts world. Together, they’ve made a professional podcast that supersedes expectations.
Their 150th episode analyzes the origins of the Bloody Mary urban legend. I found myself fascinated and amused by their well-researched historical context, complex criticism, and witty remarks. “I started out [the 150th] episode just going, ‘Well, this will be fun for Halloween,’” Carrie said. “It’s like everyone grew up sort of instinctively knowing the legend, but why did we know it?” The episode explores a variety of potential origin stories, including Mary Tudor, Mary Worth, and links to cautionary tales about menstruation. Mary Tudor, Carrie explained, was the daughter of King Henry and Catherine, and was accused of torturing and murdering hundreds of people to bathe in their blood. Mary Worth was a contributor to the reverse underground railroad who burned slaves instead of returning them. This disturbed the townspeople so much so that they lynched Mary Worth, and through Bloody Mary, she is able to haunt those around her. Additionally, cautionary urban legends arose frequently to warn girls about their safety and virtue, including the idea of dangerous hitchhikers killing kids who were hooking up in the woods. The couple’s strong historical work establishes a factual foundation for their engaging and witty banter while also implying bigger ideas such as the importance of critical research skills and skepticism.
Sean notes that “jumping to conclusions is how people make the wrong move,” stressing the importance of careful research. Yet even the careful Sean was befuddled by a case that occurred right next door to Yale in Bridgeport, CT. The New York Times reported the story of the house on Lindley Street in 1991 and detailed the mysterious happenings, deeming it “Connecticut’s haunted house.” The home was owned by the Gooden Family, and was said to be haunted by a poltergeist. According to prominent supernatural investigator Lorraine Warren, these particular ghouls are “inhuman spirits that tend to exert influence over a house for relatively short periods” and “are drawn to the presence of a child who is emotionally troubled.” And that’s exactly what this spirit is said to have done to the Goodens, especially their nine-year-old daughter, Marcie. Witnesses claimed to have seen animals talking and furniture—including a 450 lb refrigerator—moving on its own, and to have heard the voice of a ghost when Marcie was present. The case attracted over 15,000 onlookers to the site but was brushed off as a hoax, never to be solved. Sean’s curiosity is understandable: how can we explain the paranormal observations of others, and is there a reality behind these twisted stories?
Carrie’s father, Paul Ferrante, is an author and retired teacher. His young adult series, T.J. Jackson Mysteries, follows a group of young teenagers through bewildering historical events. Paul uses the entertainment of a thriller along with the facts of history to teach readers about new time periods. In developing his series, Paul asked himself, “Why don’t I take these historical stories… and wrap that history as a paranormal story that’s entertaining for you young adults.”
Paul was an English teacher for 42 years as well as a football coach. His passion for English, history, and sports has been with him since the beginning of his career, when he wrote for Sports Collectors Digest. After becoming a teacher, he decided to try his hand at writing a young adult novel, which became the first book of his mystery series. Carrie emulated her dad’s passion, but with her own, unique niche in podcasting with Sean. While Paul focuses more on the educational benefits that thrillers can offer, Sean and Carrie teach the importance of storytelling and apprehension thereof.
The tradition of scary story-telling, for all its entertaining lore, is simply a reflection of our history and an extension of our beliefs. Every story possesses an origin that is deeply rooted in our past, and will eventually spark inspiration for the next generation of scary stories. As Paul says, “even if you don’t believe in them, ghost stories are interesting.” Regardless of whether or not you believe in them, the excitement of wondering about ghosts and ghouls beyond our world has long kept our stories alive—and will continue to do so for years to come.