• Monique Nethington

Mystical Plate Connected to the WVU Coed Murders Decoded

Updated: Jan 11

On the heels of recent developments in the infamous Zodiac Killer’s case, another mystery is unsolved in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains.

The team of the popular true-crime podcast Appalachian Mystery has cracked the code written on a mysterious plate that was evidence in the infamous West Virginia University Coed Murders.

Translation of the text led to discovering the name of a local woman, a WVU alumna named Debbie*. The discovery of this woman's identity eventually led this team of investigators to the plate’s author - a mysterious Morgantown, WV figure known to locals as Black Michael.

During the original 1970 Mared and Karen investigation, not much became known about the plate, how it ended up as evidence or if it was connected to the case at all.

Now, the story behind the cryptic plate and its cipher has become clear thanks to co-producer of Appalachian Mysteria Sarah James McLaughlin and Dr. Korshi Dosoo of the Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg.

The original FBI report that McLaughlin obtained stated, “At the top there are what appear to be three words written vertically. The vertical word on the left… appears to be the Greek word for ''Coptic" and the center vertical word appears to be the Greek word for “logic."

A copy of the mystical copper plate found at the crime scene of Mared and Karen.

As McLaughlin began her mission to decipher the text, she focused on the word “Coptic,” which is the name of an Ancient Egyptian language.

During her research into the language, she came across the work of Dr. Dosoo the team leader of the project,"The Coptic Magical Papyri: Vernacular Religion in Late Roman and Early Islamic Egypt.”

Dr. Dosoo continued with the translation from the original investigation, and only then did they find it to translate to not only Debbie’s* name but her birthdate as well.

As the investigation moved forward, it became increasingly unclear about how the plate related to the Mared and Karen investigation, but the story of the plate itself continued to unfold. Starting with the real identity of the man people referred to as Black Michael.

His real name is Michael Oscar McKee, a West Virginia native with a religious background and affinity for magick. In fact, his fascination for the subject is illustrated on the plate with references to the occult, mysticism, and the germanic myth of Faust and Mephistopheles.

According to Debbie, he indeed is the author of the plate. The two only had a few brief encounters, and one day McKee simply asked for her name and birthdate.

Later, he gave her the plate.

At this point, it’s still not certain how the plate ended up as evidence in the Mared and Karen case, and any connection it may have to the girls is purely coincidental.

If anything at all, the discovery of the plate and the realizations that followed further illustrated the ominous, mystical happenings that surround the city of Morgantown, West Virginia.

To learn more about the mystical plate and its in-depth story, listen to the full episode of Appalachian Mysteria titled, “Mared and Karen: The Magical Plate Decoded.”

** “Debbie” was an alias assigned by McLaughlin and Dr. Dosoo to protect the identity of the woman referenced in this story.**

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