When you think of witches, the Salem trials are likely among the first things to pop into your mind.
But what if I told you that witch hunts aren't exactly limited to the distant past? That's right -- in the 1980s, a Scottish nanny named Carole Compton was accused of practicing witchcraft after a series of strange occurrences caused her employers to suspect that something wasn't right about her.
Compton's story is so bizarre, in fact, that she was even put on trial for that same accusation.
After meeting and falling in love with an Italian man in 1982, Compton decided to move from Scotland to Italy so she could be closer to him. She quickly found work as a live-in nanny for the Ricci family. That's when things began getting weird.
As Compton walked by one of the home's religious paintings one day, the family's maid noticed it falling off the wall and believed she had something to do with it.
The maid went straight to the family and told them what happened. They were just about to leave on vacation with Compton, though, so they decided to deal with the matter when they came back home.
But shortly after they arrived at their vacation house, the place caught fire three times. The flames were found to be caused by bad wiring -- but fueled by their maid's suspicions of Compton, the family fired the nanny.
The nanny didn't have trouble finding another job in Tuscany, but the Tonti family soon began experiencing similar occurrences. They heard unexplained loud bangs and even noticed their religious possessions falling to the ground in Compton's presence.
When their three-year-old daughter's bedroom also mysteriously became engulfed in flames, responding police officers arrested Compton for attempted murder. They believed she had caused both the Tonti and the Ricci house fires.
Of course, stories of the "Witch Nanny" spread like wildfire and began showing up in countless European newspapers. Many people actually believed she was evil, while others thought these bizarre happenings were caused by poltergeists.
Through all of this, Compton maintained that she was innocent, but her claim fell on deaf ears -- she was held for 16 months before going on trial. She was even locked inside an iron cage in the courtroom when it finally began.
Though she was convicted of attempted arson and sentenced to over two years in prison, things finally began turning in her favor. She was found not guilty of attempted murder and was released for the time she had already served behind bars.
After the literal witch hunt she went through, Compton moved to the U.S. for a fresh start. She never forgot the unexplained things that happened to her, though, so she wrote about about her experiences. In her book, she echoes the belief that poltergeists played a part in her ordeal.
(via Week in Weird)