In the summer of 1973, twelve Geology students from the University of Oxford were travelling to the Tierra del Fuego Province, in Argentina to study seismic activity at the Magallanes-Fagnano Fault. During their flight over the Atlantic Ocean, the Hawker Siddeley HS 125 Trident they were travelling in hit a massive squall, which would later become Tropical Storm Christine. The pilot sent out four distress calls that were received in Natal, Brazil. In the last transmission, the panicked pilot stated that the aircraft was losing altitude. He then began to say that he may have spotted…but the signal was lost. Air traffic controllers assumed that he had made some visual contact with land. After the storm passed, search parties were sent to the Fernando de Noronha, an archipelago, consisting of 21 islands some 354 km off the coast of Brazil. No trace of the aircraft or its occupants were found.
A week later, the British Royal Navy, who had joined the search and rescue efforts, found the wreckage of the flight, and a lone survivor, 20 nautical miles north of Fernando de Noronha, on the uninhabited island of El Infierno Está Oscuro. The survivor, Nicole Kass, was found close to the wreckage, nearly dead from dehydration. She was immediately airlifted to a hospital in Natal, Brazil. The story would soon take a strange turn, as British Government agents took Kass into custody, a month later, upon her return to Great Britain. She was charged with murder, based on evidence that four other people had initially survived the plane crash, but were found on various parts of the island, dead but exhibiting signs of struggle. Since she was the only survivor and could give no reasonable explanation as to how the others died, she was suspected of killing them. Among those murdered were Geology Professor Dr. Remy Harper, students Colin Hague, Carla Lehr and Adam Colton, son of Nobel Prize winning Economist Reginald Colton. After a lengthy trial and mountains of circumstantial evidence against her, Kass was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. She would spend the rest of her life maintaining her innocence, claiming the truth of what happened was beyond belief. In 1984, while serving out her sentence in Styal Prison in Cheshire, England, Kass was found dead in her cell, beaten to death by another inmate.
The mysteries surrounding Kass, her death and the death of the four other survivors of the plane crash are deeply rooted in the island El Infierno Está Oscuro. First discovered by the Spanish in 1505, the island was named for the numerous dark lakes found among the dense green jungle. The Dutch briefly occupied the island in 1633, but abandoned soon after with no record or explanation as to why. From there the reputation of the island began to grow, with stories of it being haunted, with horrible things residing in the dense jungle. The name itself translates to “Hell is Dark”, furthering the enigma and making it an avoidable destination in the middle of the Atlantic.
Two hundred years after the Dutch left, naturalist Charles Darwin attempted to survey the island while travelling from Cape Verde to Bahia, Brazil. Well aware of the islands mystique, Darwin was fascinated by stories of the dark volcanic lakes and what evolutionary treasure they held. During his stop, three of his crewmembers disappeared while searching for firewood. A rescue party was sent out, only to find two of the men murdered in the jungle while the third was never found. Spooked, the rest of the crew demanded they leave at once, leaving Darwin no choice but to abandon his examination of the island and its wildlife. Little record of the island exists beyond that, no one after the Dutch ever tried to settle it and even the most hardened of sailors avoid it. Official documents from the Nicole Kass case are sealed, considered sensitive material. Whatever information and evidence they hold regarding the island, it’s obviously considered too much for public consumption. There is, however, one piece of information that has been recently discovered that could expose a lot about the case and the mystery of El Infierno Está Oscuro. In 1975, Daily News reporter James Talbot was granted an interview with Nicole Kass. Talbot, known for chasing sensational stories, could only do the interview if he agreed to write about Kass’ life in prison and avoid any question regarding events that transpired on the island. Over two weeks, Talbot met with Kass, under strict supervision, discussing her life behind the walls of Styal.
During a brief moment alone, Talbot asked her what happened on El Infierno Está Oscuro. The following audio is from that portion of the interview.
Transcription of the audio above:
Nicole Kass: “The first night we stayed with the wreckage, it was storming terribly and we were sure help was on the way. Dr. Harper and Colin ventured into the jungle the next morning and didn’t return. We set out to find them…They were both floating facedown in a pond. A day later Carla was fetching water and we heard her scream…When Adam and I ran up we saw something pulling her in the water. Adam dived in to save her and he was pulled under too.”
James Talbot: “What was it?”
Nicole Kass: “You’re not going to believe me.”
James Talbot: “I will Nicole, what was in the water?”
Nicole Kass: “They looked like men, but they weren’t, they were fish…creatures, like something out of a movie. They were greenish brown, had scaly skin and webbed hands. I know it sounds fantastic but it’s the truth. They came after me, but were slower on land. I hid in a tree, they tried to climb up, but couldn’t. No one believed me, I didn’t kill anyone. We were all just waiting for help.”
The interview was interrupted by a guard and Talbot was expelled from the prison, his notes and tapes confiscated. After his death in 1999, Talbot’s wife claimed he had a hidden recording device on him at the time of the interview, which explains how this audio survived. She also alleged that Talbot took the tape to his editor at the Daily News, but was discouraged from pursuing the story further, thinking it was too unbelievable to be true.