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Jan. 28, 2021

Ep. 20: Lake City Quiet Pills

We've hit 20 episodes! This week, Carrie is taking us through a mid-2000s internet mystery - that of LakeCityQuietPills.com.
When the moderator of a sketchy sub-Reddit passes away in July 2009, a mystery is ignited. This moderator owned an image...


We've hit 20 episodes! This week, Carrie is taking us through a mid-2000s internet mystery - that of LakeCityQuietPills.com.

When the moderator of a sketchy sub-Reddit passes away in July 2009, a mystery is ignited. This moderator owned an image hosting site, "That Old Guy's Image Host", that supposedly served as a source for tawdry and pretty illegal photos of underage girls...but when internet sleuths start poking around in the image host's source code, a whole hidden world is discovered that just may involve espionage, secret military operations, possible assassinations--all the stuff you see in James Bond movies, but never hear about in "real life".

Was "That Old Guy's Image Host" really a covert meeting place for spies and mercenaries? Did Redditors really discover a hidden plot to assassinate a Middle Eastern weapons dealer? And what exactly does the phrase "Lake City Quiet Pills" mean?

Follow us down the rabbit hole for the story of one of the original Reddit conspiracies!
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Transcript

Sean, have you ever heard of the phrase “Lake City Quiet Pills”?

I know. It’s strange and seems vaguely threatening, and if you don’t know this mystery, it means absolutely nothing. But after this episode, hopefully, it’ll mean something more. I’ll begin by saying it has to do with covert operations, assassinations, conspiracies, and one very strange image hosting website.

The Lake City Quiet Pills saga is a Reddit-based mystery that began, in a way, in 2009. Reddit, in case anyone doesn’t know - and it’s hard for me to believe they don’t, but still - is basically a link-sharing website that is divided into different forums for different interests. It’s motto is “the front page of the internet”, and that’s pretty much true...it’s a collection of what is popular right at this moment, whether in the general areas of news and memes to more specific ones like reality TV, fantasy football, roleplaying games, and so on. Much like I hope this podcast is, there’s something for everyone.

But because most anyone can receive access to Reddit, some shadier folks can also gather on it. There have been forums, called subreddits, on the site dedicated to drugs, white supremacy, incels - involuntary celibates-, suicide, and even child porn. Many of these forums have been banned, but new ones do pop up, and some are hidden and inaccessible to most. That’s the thing about so-called freedom of speech...there are people that take too much advantage of it, and use it and the ability to connect with like-minded individuals for ill. In the end, though, there are many that feel that Reddit is a net good. 

But let’s go back to one of those banned subreddit forums, because that’s where this strange story begins. This was an infamous subreddit called “r/jailbait”. The name pretty much speaks for itself. People shared provocative photos of underage teenagers. It was gross. But also, somehow, became #1 in the “Best of Reddit” 2008 poll, which is certainly a contributing factor to my disappointment in humanity. I mean, people like porn, ok, but this stuff...ugh. 

One of the moderators of r/jailbate went by the username ReligionOfPeace. A moderator basically has decent control over the content of a subreddit, with administrative powers like banning people, deleting posts, making rules, etc. ReligionOfPeace was a frequent commenter, and an active moderator on this creepy forum. In their comments over the years, ReligionOfPeace discussed topics like supporting legalized marijuana, hatred of liberal news sites, atheism, and even made vague claims of their knowledge and interest in assassination and a variety of miltary-related subjects. But, whatever, plenty of weirdos make a lot of false claims thanks to hiding behind the anonymity of the internet. 

From here on out I’ll just refer to them as “Religion” for ease, and also “he” for reasons I’ll go into now. Religion was a Reddit user from 2007 to 2009, and often referred to themselves as an “old man” and that he’d been born in 1930, meaning that at the time he was nearing 80. He made various military claims over the years like that he’d joined the United States military at age 14 and had even been present at the Battle of Normandy, but hadn’t experienced direct combat until going to Jerusalem in 1947. He claimed to have retired in 1987 but afterward began a career in the field of computer technology. Perhaps this is how he ended up on Reddit - always on the computer, and much more tech and trend savvy than most his age. Among the other little tidbits of his life he dropped like crumbs all over Reddit comment sections, he claimed with some authority that the CIA’s assassination program began at least 4 decades prior to the 90s and early 2000s, and referenced IronKeys, or encrypted hard drives used by intelligence operatives. 

Throughout his 2 years under that username Religion also often shared the link to an image hosting site he said he’d created called “This Old Guy’s Image Host”. Think of it as something similar to Photobucket or Imgur, just an easy way to upload and link to specific pictures for whoever wanted to use it. Since this was shared on r/jailbait, the pictures hosted on this site were, unsurprisingly, pornographic. But a weird touch to what seemed like some creepy old dude’s site was the name itself: lakecityquietpills.com. It was a strange name for what seemed to be a pretty straightforward porn image-sharing site, a name that didn’t make any reference to the contents therein. Or did it?

Religion used the term “Lake City Quiet Pills” a number of times in their previous comments on Reddit, in statements like "I can think of any number of criminal organizations that would benefit from a dose of lake city quiet pills." His last comment under the ReligionOfPeace username came on July 17th, 2009, a typical one of his complaining about spammers. 

Later that same day, our mystery truly begins.

At this time another account is created (you can find this information for accounts on Reddit) under the username 2-6. They immediately made their first and only post, subject title “The end of ReligionOfPeace. He died today.” which I will quote from now:

“I’m the person who provided ReligionOfPeace the space for “That Old Guys Image Host.” Milo died today. He was 79 years old. He died at his desk lookin at your site. Milo was a mean old fucker. Mean and onery. He hooked me up with my first gig when I got out of the Army. I didn’t like findin him like that. Milo don’t have any living relatives and no real friends, and other than his landlady and a few people where he worked, he didn’t talk to anyone about much of anything. Me he just tolerated. As I said, he was mean. I think he used that as a shield to keep people away form him. Milo thought god was some kinda con game thought up by some lazy sons a bitches who didn’t want to work everyday. So he’s going in to the fire on Monday without a service just like he wanted. I’m planning to dump his ashes in the woods in PA near where he was born. Can’t put them right there cause theirs a mall there now. I gave the girl next door his raggedy old cat and most of his books. His computers and tronic shit he tagged for the disabled vets and VVa. All the rest of the stuff is for the Salvation Army. All those years and everything he owned fits in the trunk of my car. I don’t know what else to say. I’ll miss him. Miserable bastard.”

2-6 responded to few of the comments that were made on the post by, I guess, grieving users, but they did say “I didn’t know so many people could like him like that [that] didn’t sling a gun with him.” and, a couple days later, made a comment saying “If you’re interested, this is where Milo is now” with a link to Google Maps. The Map link directed users to an area southeast of Gettysburg Pennsylvania, which was - as 2-6 had earlier indicated they’d spread the ashes- near a shopping mall. And that was it. 2-6 never posted or commented on Reddit again.

Because Redditors be Redditing, users started to comb through the posting histories of ReligionOfPeace and 2-6. I guess out of boredom and maybe to learn more about the man that had just passed away. As I mentioned there wasn’t much else to find in 2-6’s Reddit history, but that wasn’t enough to deter these internet sleuths! No, they eventually found accounts made under the username Angel2-6 on a variety of websites like Fark, Digg, Yahoo Answers and others made as far back as 2001. So what, right? No reason to think it was the same person as Reddit 2-6. Similar usernames exist across the internet everywhere. Well, the thing is, aside from the fact that people tend to use the same or similar usernames in a variety of places online, Angel2-6 had listed their email address on Fark as “angel.two.six@lakecityquietpills.com”. Not only that, they commented often on weapons related topics and discussed how to break people in interrogations, suggesting a history of military service much like ReligionOfPeace. Angel ALSO had a signature on their posts, similar to what one may set on their outgoing emails. This signature read “Dispensing Lake City Quiet Pills to lousy bastards in need of permanent rest since 1968.” There it is AGAIN. That weird, seemingly nonsensical term. What did it all mean? And really, why did anyone care?

For the latter, I’m not really sure. Maybe someone started putting these pieces together and found them weird. Maybe they thought the usage of Lake City Quiet Pills was strange from the jump and kept falling further down the rabbit hole. I don’t know.

But someone out there put together that maybe this phrase was in reference to the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, a real place in Missouri that produces over a billion rounds of ammunition per year. As of about 2018 it’s been called Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems. Were the “quiet pills” being referenced by Religion and Angel really...bullets? From the way Religion and Angel used the term, it seems possible, with “Getting a dose of quiet pills” being an odd way to say “being shot”. 

Along with figuring this out, many Redditors began to think the whole thing was a hoax. What exactly? Again, I dunno. I assume Religion’s death, mostly. Some Redditors thought it was all to drum up visitors for the lakecityquietpills.com image hosting site, as his death had attracted many to looking over his posting history, and thus finding and clicking on the link that he often shared. I guess that’s one way to get clicks! 

As more and more Redditors clicked over to the site, more began to investigate the site’s underlying code. Now, this is pretty complicated stuff to most, but I’ll give the general overview - web code is basically what makes a site work. It’s all the digital 1s and 0s and such that make a website look and operate the way it does - it just doesn’t HAPPEN, it requires these coded building blocks, much like bricks in a house. 

It’s here, hidden in this website code, that the mystery really takes on its true form. People began to find messages unrelated to web code within the HTML. Some messages referred to a “Shade” maintaining a calendar and an “Angel” having job postings for Europe and Asia.

Speaking of Angel, who could possibly Angel2-6, someone under this name posted in this web code that they’d found Milo dead, dealt with his things, and given his cat to the next door neighbor. Sound familiar? Yeah it’s basically what 2-6 had posted on Reddit. But Angel also went on to say they’d bricked Milo’s IronKey, and “all is well”. Ok, what does this mean? Well, if you recall that an IronKey is an encrypted hard drive favored by the intelligence community. To brick one, you’re destroying it. So, for all to be well, perhaps there was incriminating evidence on this drive, evidence that other users of this strange forum were concerned about. 

Along with these references, there were other posts that read...well...kind of like job listings. Here are some of them:

"Immediate need! 8-10 chinese/korean. Fluent korean/dialect/accent details after contact. 12 week halfpay sequester on refusal."

"two ground types. Fluent farsi arabic french. no papers, no problems"

"Need formed group (8-10). single op. deliv bonus. "gentleman's agreement" insurance. Immediate need."

And there were dozens. People started to think that these listings could possibly be for mercenary or assassin work. Yes, yes, it sounds crazy, but it’s about to get crazier...after the break.


--BREAK--


Ok, so we left off on Reddit users deciphering strange job-listing-esque posts within the web code of a website that, on its face, looked like a trashy porn image host. These posts began to appear like they could be for some sort of covert mercenary program. If this was a hoax, it was certainly an elaborate one that spanned several years. If not...these users may have just uncovered a secret and likely illegal assassin operation buried under another website used as a flashy “cover”. 

These posts continued within the code of lakecityquietpills.com for quite awhile after Milo or ReligionOfPeace’s supposed death in July 2009. In November Angel posted once more in the code, saying: "Milos will cleared probait. sirprize! milo was loaded. email shade if we sent you out in 2005-2009. shade will have checks cut for you. amount is by how many times, not by pay total. small share is 3-4k”. Seems like this is directing anyone who worked for Milo between 2005 and 2009 to contact Shade for their piece of Milo’s savings. Then, in 2010, Angel posted once again: "were having a birthday party for the old man on the 19th. party starts at 1500 at the usual. send your rsvp to shade. fyi, were booking a room for 3 days for anyone coming from out of area, and overnight for locals. come hoist one for dutch milo!"

Ok, that’s nice, kind of a memorial party for this guy who was maybe their grumpy but beloved boss or mentor? Sure. 

Or...hold on. Here’s where it gets pretty wild. Because, according to believers, this is where this fun Reddit conspiracy was shown to correspond to real-life crimes.

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was the chief of logistics and weapons procurement for Hamas’ military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. If you don’t know, Hamas is a Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist militant organization. al-Mabhouh was a big cheese in Hamas who played an important role in procuring weapons for the Brigades and had even planned the abduction and killing of two Israeli soldiers in Gaza in 1989. Some thought al-Mabhouh had a role as a middleman forging secret relationships between Hamas and the Quds Force, or military intelligence, in Iran. 

You see that I’m speaking of al-Mabhouh in the past tense. That’s because he was assassinated in the Al Bustan Rotana Hotel in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on January 19th 2010.

The same day that this apparent group of mercenaries were meeting.

To have a “party”. 

Big coincidence? Sure. But let’s dissect this a little bit.

Al-Mabhouh’s assassin had apparently injected his leg with a paralytic muscle relaxant, then possibly electrocuted him and definitely suffocated him so his death would appear natural. There were many suspects in the assassination as, well, he wasn’t exactly a popular guy on the world stage. But his killing has never been solved. It is said that eleven Mossad agents were following Al-Mabhouh, and had used fake or fraudulently obtained passports from different Western countries. Two agents, according to CCTV footage, followed him to his room upon check in and checked into the room opposite of his. Once Al-Mabhouh left his room, another agent distracted a nearby tourist, and 4 other agents entered his hotel room using an electronic device to wait for his return. They had also reprogrammed the hotel room door lock at this time. After the killing it was suspected the hit squad had committed the assassination, though Israeli officials denied involvement. Though there were some suspects over the years, there was never an official charge for the death brought against anyone. They’d stayed in small groups in different hotels across Dubai, hotels Al-Mahbouh had frequented previously...seemingly so they had every place he may check into covered. Everyone had operated under false identities, and their flights leaving the United Arab Emirates mere hours after the murder took them all over the world--France, the UK, South Africa, Italy, Germany, etc. etc.

Now, this occurring on the same day as Milo’s party would just be a farfetched coincidence...except for the fact that it seemed like messages showed up in the lakecityquietpills.com code around the hit that, well, could very well have corresponded. 

First there’s the original. The date is correct--this is the day that all of the false passport-holders arrived in Dubai and Al-Mabhouh was killed, and the specified time of 1500 was also around the correct time of his death. The day before the “party”, another post showed up in the code: "we got 38 rooms in the marriot on 46. shade has the key cards for locals (pick up at the party). give your travel name to the desk and that's it. no id needed since were covering the bill. keep the room service under 500, okay? the phones there are not secure. bus from the hotel leafs at 1330. car service vowchers for return trip when your ready to crash. DONT DUI!!!!"

500 bucks seems pretty rich blood for 38 different rooms’ room service, and what’s that about travel names and secure phone lines? Not very typical of your standard birthday party. Also, a block of 38 rooms in one hotel is a LOT. I don’t think we were even going to carve out that many for our originally planned wedding. And this for a birthday party for a dead guy? Perhaps, if these rooms were all over the city as with the hit squad, this might make a little more sense.

A couple weeks after the “party”, another post turned up in the code, titled Party Bills. It reads: 

"here is the final for the party
hotel rooms 48341 limo 6080 bus 569 bar bill 18890 food 8030 dancers 8300 misc tips 850 misc exp 2840 med supplies 180 (fat tommy and stu are okay, to.)
total 94080
you all did dutch milo proud. thanks."

Okay, what???  $48,000 on hotel rooms? A bar bill nearing 20k? Medical supplies??? What had happened to Fat Tommy and Stu? And how did this birthday party, again for a dead guy, total almost $95000 in costs? 

There was never more clarification for this bill. Just more posts in the code as before that read like job listings: 

"Immediate need! 4 korean. fluent korean/dialect/accent details after contact. 6 week halfpay sequester on refusal. 6mo gig. Bonus."

Among others. Oh, and I should mention a lot of these listings contain the phrase w/w. There’s been a lot of speculation about what this may mean, but many people think it stands for “wetwork”. What is wetwork? Not scuba diving or something, no. It’s a euphemism for murder or assassination, a reference to spilling blood. Um, but, don’t look up the other definitions for this floating around the internet, ok?

As you can imagine, once this was discovered by Redditors in the site’s code and posted about, especially when they tied the posts to Al-Mabhouh’s assassination, Reddit basically blew up. And it seemed like it was too much heat for this porn image hosting site, because the code was almost immediately edited and encrypted into deeper code that no longer resembled the poorly spelled English messages. It was encrypted a second time when the new code started to be pulled apart as well. Eventually, the website was shut down altogether, and if you try to go there now, nothing will load.

So that’s the end of the mystery, right? Well, that depends if you’re satisfied with an open ending, a lack of an answer. But because we’re a podcast that tries to find an explanation in the unexplainable, I feel like we should go over some theories people have of what this site and really, this whole saga, was all about.

We covered the main one already - the theory that this site was some sort of hidden job posting board for a group of assassins, mercenaries, or high level security personnel working on a contract basis. These job listings, due to their shady and likely illegal nature, were buried under a porn image hosting site to basically hide in plain sight. Milo was their original boss or mentor or whatever, and when he died those in his group wrapped up the remaining contracts and shut the site for good when their secret was exposed. Not to mention the fact that, in the UK, there exists a title called “Military Intelligence Liason Officer”. This officer or...MILO...is the head of a group of trained intelligence operatives that can be quickly deployed for any mission. And, MILO’s group may or may not have been involved in the assassination of Mahmoud Al-Mahbouh. 

Another popular theory is that this was just a really intense, finely crafted ARG, or alternate-reality game. ARGs are interactive networked narratives that use the real world as a platform and employ different forms of media to deliver a story that can be altered in real time by players’ ideas or actions. Think of something like Dungeons and Dragons, but with the whole world and internet as the setting. These kinds of games have existed in the real world and even made people not savvy to the truth believe they were real. Some are used as publicity for different brands or upcoming media like tv shows or movies. This can also be compared to something like the movie The Blair Witch Project, which made people believe it was real by itself acting like, well, it was. 
Some have accused a single guy of starting this all. Barely Sociable, a mystery youtuber and Twitter user, wrote a long thread in 2019 claiming Lake City Quiet Pills was all a hoax created by a hardcore Second Life game roleplayer named Trent Katsu. Trent, at least at this time, was a technical writer living in New York. He also said that the other “players” were basically a bunch of “old perverts” - his words - who probably role played in the game Second Life. I genuinely really don’t know why Barely Sociable thinks this

But, consider it. This is an INCREDIBLE amount of time to devote to a hoax that people might never have found. Angel2-6’s account on Fark with the lakecityquietpills.com email address was made in 2001, almost 10 years before this all unfolded to the Reddit public. If this was a role player, they chose to hide this all in code for a porn image site? What if no one had ever explored the site’s code? Then...nothing? Anything? What? And this role player also just lucked into an assassination happening on the very day the possible secret mercenary squad was going to convene re: the website posting? That’s pretty lucky. 

Also, the site code was pretty quickly encrypted and then the site itself completely shuttered right after the postings were discovered and publicised. Why would anyone perpetuating a decade-long hoax immediately hide it after it was discovered? What was the purpose, then? 

There’s also the halfway theory--that this WAS a hidden posting site of some sort, but not for assassins specifically. Possibly job listings for covert security work, or just a congregating place for ex-military operatives, akin to an internet pub. Or, um...listings for human trafficking, or for child-related crimes. After all, this did come from a forum called r/jailbait. But I’d rather not think in those terms. 

So that’s baaaaasically it for now on this one, Sean. What do you think Lake City Quiet Pills really was?


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Say welcome back to Me & My Boo!

Hot off the presses, WLBT in Mississippi reports that a local family believes a Christmas present unleashed paranormal activity into their home!

Whitney Merritt was gifted a vintage doll carriage from her mother as a Christmas gift last month, and since then the Merritt home has been filled with paranormal activity.

Knocking began on the walls at the beginning of the year, so loud that Whitney went to answer the door even though it was midnight--and that’s when she started hearing booms coming from the attic. Other loud sounds came later, with husband Michael Merritt going into the attic with a shotgun expecting to find an intruder. 

Coffee mugs fresh from TJ Maxx have been shattered! Doors have slammed! Dreamcatchers have fallen! A demonic toy car started playing music with the power switch turned to off! 

The final straw came when Michael heard a door slamming and knocking on the walls while all the children were at school--and found their son’s bedroom light and Xbox on and a bottle of water opened and dripping on the floor.

Apparently after that Michael fixated on the baby carriage and it was placed outside. Everything went back to normal after that...but if you want a little dose of the surreal in your own home, that carriage was placed on Facebook Marketplace for $65. “Full disclosure,” the caption reads. “It’s definitely haunted. Sooo. Yeah.”


ENDING

That’s it for this episode of Ain’t It Scary with Sean and Carrie! Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @aintitscary, and check out our website at aintitscary.com. You can support the show by supporting our sponsors, and becoming a patron at www.patreon.com/aintitscary. And please, subscribe to the show and throw us a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts...we’ll be forever grateful.

Special thanks to our Tier 3 patrons: Nate Curtiss, Sean O’Donnell, Jared Chamberlin, and Maria Ferrante.

See you next Thursday! 


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