The words that accompany reproductions of this photograph are pretty much always the same. They tell us that the picture was taken by a man called Charlie Noonan who was a folklorist and collector of supernatural tales and who travelled the south-western portion of the US early last century. On his travels, Noonan was told a curious story by an Oklahoman farmer; a story about a strange woman that had a bit of reputation for being unusual. The farmer knew that the woman lived alone in a particularly lonely spot and he told Noonan that he was quite sure that she wasn’t, in fact, human. What brought him to that conclusion has been lost but a few meagre points remain: she was never seen without wearing a headscarf, she was always accompanied by a large dog and an unsettling feeling would afflict those who saw her. Now, none of those three things are particularly unusual (save fo the latter, I suppose) but, according to his wife Ellie, Noonan was thouroughly intrigued and one day he set off to find the woman. He was never seen again.
Months later, a newspaper report describing Noonan’s disappearance was read by a pawnbroker in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He had in his possession a camera with a name engraved on it: Charlie Noonan. It had been sold to him by a drifter that the broker remembered as eerily odd. He posted the camera to Ellie and she had the film developed as soon as she could, hoping that a clue to her husband’s whereabouts might be on it.
The photo above was, apparently, the only picture on the roll of film and hints that the image might have been one of the last things that Charlie Noonan saw. The rest remains a mystery.
Now, I’ve tried to dig into this story a little but there’s not a lot out there besides what I’ve written above. I’ve found that Kerry Noonan was a real folklorist, but I can’t find a Charlie Noonan within the same field—although it is stated that he was an amatuer, so such research might be a wild goose chase.
The furthest back I can find reference to the story is a Creepypasta.wiki page which, sadly, I cannot link to here as there is a naughty word in the comment section. Searchers should find it easily with relevant keywords. The page is quite interesting and has a tale of its own, so it is well worth finding. The page’s author writes that the photograph’s original (and anonymous) poster, was working for a publishing company, when:
“They were contacted by an elderly photographer who claim[ed] to be in possession of a collection of black and white, paranormal pictures never before seen by the general public. He wished the company to publish a book with these photos and a small description. The old man was very paranoid of his collection and would only send one photograph at a time for scanning, and wait for its return to send the next.
“Apparently the old man was offered a substantial sum by a private owner and pulled the plug on the project.”
By that time, the poster had scanned fourteen of the photographs with the Noonan photograph amongst them. Thinking that these pictures were too interesting to let disappear from record he or she uploaded them (rightly or wrongly) to one of the internet’s most well-known picture boards.
Upon first read-through, this story seems rather redolent of the kind of made-up tale that is often uploaded to the picture board in question before being spread about like so much spooky Nutella. Real or not though, it’s a bit of fun and an interesting tale. I wonder if anyone can ferret out more details than I could…
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****Thanks to research by a reader, this case has been SOLVED.****