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S2 Ep1

The Witches Curse

Premiere: 6/26/2001

The trouble in Salem began during the cold, dark Massachusetts winter, in January of 1692. Eight young girls began to take ill, beginning with 9-year-old Elizabeth Parris and 11-year-old Abigail Williams. But theirs was a strange sickness.

About This Episode


This episode expired in 2016. To stream available episodes, visit our episode archive.

CASE FILE: The Witches Curse
THE SCENE: Salem, Massachusetts
LEAD DETECTIVE: Behavioral Psychologist Linnda Caporael

SECRETS OF THE DEAD: “The Witches Curse” poses a shocking new idea about the violent convulsions, delirium, and strange skin sensations that struck a group of young girls in 17th-century Massachusetts and inspired the infamous Salem Witch Trials. In 1692, 19 of the town’s residents were put to death because they were believed to have been witches. For hundreds of years, this tragedy was blamed on religious fanaticism, adolescent cruelty, and contagious hysteria. But these explanations failed to satisfy a “detective” who embarked on her own fact-finding mission. Was Salem’s Puritan community unwittingly living on bread infected by the fungus from which LSD is derived? Could toxic amounts of this fungus, known as ergot, be the real reason the accusatory teens endured psychotic episodes and saw blood dripping down their walls at night? And what clues could the 2,300-year-old corpse of a Danish murder victim possibly hold for Salem investigators? Tracking down historic outbreaks of ergot poisoning, Dr. Caporael compares its symptoms to those that plagued the girls in Salem, revealing a whole new side of this unsettling period.

Production Credits

Commissioning Editor for Channel 4 (UK):
Dan Chambers

Mark Lewis

Jenny Barraclough

Post Production Supervisor:
Tara Thomas

Liev Schreiber

Coordinating Producer:
Jared Lipworth

Executive in Charge:
William R. Grant

Executive Producer:
Beth Hoppe

© 2002 Educational Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.



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