A ‘Virgin Hair’ Killing Spree?

Possessed wigs whisper dark tidings in Memphis journalists’ ears.

03.11.16 5:00 AM ET

Memphis, Tennessee is experiencing a spike in the theft of human hair—and it’s been linked to the murder of at least four people.

Stolen hair can be sold on the street for hundreds of dollars to be used in wigs and weaves, and in the last 10 months, 18 local businesses have been burglarized. The crime wave has led to security precautions at retail outlets mirroring those you’d find in outlets dealing in far more notorious goods, such as diamonds or medical marijuana, including surveillance cameras and door buzzers leading into heavily guarded rooms.

But there’s one problem even the best, burliest security can’t protect you from: evil spirits.

“Whose-ever hair I was wearing on my head, that heifer had a bad omen and that bad omen followed her from India and came on top of my head, and I took on her spirit…”

“Do you know the history of the hair’s original owner? What type of spirit did that person have? You may be buying a person’s hair and their demonic spirit.”

These are the sort of comments left on a story about the crime spree, according to local NBC affiliate WMC Action News, which in turn responded with another piece, “Demonic Weaves Believed to be Root of Hair Crimes.” In the story, they urge readers to “search the words ‘cursed hair’ on the Internet,” cautioning that “the prophecies are plenty.”

Drawing the conclusion that “it may sound bizarre, but some people believe virgin hair from India may be possessed during a ritual called tonsuring, the cutting of hair for religious reasons, or sacrifices to idol Gods,” the news outlet then interviewed a local pastor, who, not surprisingly, poo-pooed the whole idea.

"The Bible has no reference to demonic possession of things or objects," Dr. Bill Adkins, pastor at a local cathedral, told them.

Still, Action News delved into some possible solutions, you know, just in case. These included citing a Facebook user who cautioned, “I personally pray over everything I purchase.”

Needless to say, it’s the sort of headline that has grabbed the Internet’s attention, and the story is still gaining ground on sites from Jezebel and PopSugar to countless local networks.

It is true that a large portion of the high end human hair supplied for premium dollars in the West comes from the temples of the East. For years, Hindu temples have been shearing the heads of their faithful to line their own pockets, part of an industry that some claim is worth up to $70 million a year.

Tens of thousands of Indian women go under the barber’s clippers annually at holy places in sacrifice to their gods, only to have their locks lead the high life in Hollywood or some other ritzy locale. Their hair, which often hasn’t been cut in years and tends to be pure of the damaging beauty products western women adore, can fetch as much as $295 a head.

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Ironically, this is the same sum as a person in India’s average annual income.

But does this mean that spirits of angered Hindu women are infiltrating the psyche of those who don their former hair, egging them on to commit felonious acts?

Of course not, although one children’s book author has used the concept to explain GOP hopeful Donald Trump’s constant barrage of hateful rhetoric, and it’s as good a theory as any.

The tale of evil spirits possessing an object and then transferring to its owner is as old as time. Sadly, the story of a so-called news outlet mining the comments on social media to dredge up click-worthy non-stories is a modern device.

It is, in fact, so feeble a journalistic blow that local Memphis alt-weekly, the Memphis Flyer, took Action News to task with a piece entitled, “WMC's 'Demonic Weave' Story Believed to be Root of Ignorance in Memphis.”

Sadly, this is becoming all too common an occurrence—outlets seemingly bearing the accreditation of a national outlet or other respectable trait barfing up nonsense stories in an attempt to chase the attention of an audience that’s increasingly more likely to be going online. But if the headlines of any given day are an indicator, there’s enough crazy real shit happening in the world that we don’t need to add to the cacophony with trumped up crap.

To borrow the kicker from the Memphis Flyer story:

“At least Phillips reached a conclusion upon which we can all agree: ‘Whatever the root cause of a beauty trend turned crime trend, we can all agree the war spawned by weave must stop.’