Where in the world is Mike Marcum?
Well, considering the nature of Marcum’s hobby, the question should probably be when in the world is Mike Marcum?
Marcum attempted to construct a time machine in 1995 on the porch of his house in Stanberry, Mo., because he wanted to get winning lottery numbers from the future.
“That’s right,” Gentry County Sheriff Eugene Lupfer said. “That’s just exactly right.”
Lupfer had worked the Marcum case and remembered it well. He laughed when I made the call about the time machine.
“Yeah,” Lupfer said. “I think he thought he could do it.”
In 1995, Marcum, a 21-year-old with two years college-level electrical training, had constructed a table-top Jacobs Ladder in his rental house in Stanberry.
A Jacobs Ladder consists of two metal rods with a spark going between them. In the old movies, one of these babies helped bring Frankenstein to life. And, like Dr. Frankenstein, when Marcum turned on his Jacobs Ladder, something big happened.
“Right above it, it was like a regular heat signature but it was kinda like circular shaped in the center,” Marcum said in a 1995 interview with paranormal talk show host Art Bell. “At first I didn’t know what it was. I’m not 100 percent certain now.”
He tossed a sheet metal screw into the circular shape.
“I didn’t know what this thing was so I got the notion to throw a screw in it and see what it did,” he told Bell. “I threw (the screw) in there and I didn’t see it after that.”
The screw disappeared, Marcum said, then reappeared a few feet away a second later.
Curious, Marcum did the only thing he considered logical – he built a man-sized Jacobs Ladder on his porch. But to make it work, he needed power.
“He stole some transformers,” Lupfer said. “And had them hooked up in his house and he was going to make a time machine.”
Marcum had taken six 300-plus pound transformers from a St. Joseph Light and Power generating station in King City, Mo.
“They were sitting in an electrical sub-station,” the former electric superintendent of Stanberry said. “They were in an enclosed fenced in area – padlocked.”
The former electric superintendent was willing to tell me about Marcum, but he wasn’t willing to give his name. Stanberry’s a small town, time machines are weird, and people might talk.
“Some of the transformers he had in that house, we had to go down because they (could have been) contaminated,” the former superintendent said. “He had that Jacobs ladder hooked up.”
Lupfer said, even though Marcum served “some jail time” because of his experiment, he was fortunate.
“It’s a wonder he hadn’t blown the whole block up,” Lupfer said. “When he turned it on, the houses for blocks would go dim.”
After serving his sentence, Marcum moved to an apartment in St. Joseph and was evicted while working on another time machine, according to the New York Times. Marcum announced on Bell’s radio show the rumor he’d thrown a cat through his machine, “it just ain’t true.”
During Marcum’s second, and last, appearance on Bell’s show in 1996, he said he was 30 days away from completing his “legal” time machine. By January 1997, Marcum had disappeared.
Was Marcum sane or …
“Crazy?” Lupfer said. “No, he was smart. He wasn’t a dumb guy. He just had this in his head and thought he could do it.”
And maybe he did. No one knows where he is.
Mike, if you’re out there, my number’s in the book.
Copyright 2007 by Jason Offutt
Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt c/o The Examiner, 410 S. Liberty, Independence, Mo. 64050, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, address and telephone number. Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”
Jason Offutt is a syndicated columnist, author and fan of all things Fortean. His book of ghost stories, “Haunted Missouri,” will soon be available at www.jasonoffutt.com and all major bookstores.