STANBERRY, Mo. – Some urban legends are simply extraordinary. A caller from Missouri to the nationally syndicated paranormal late-night radio program Coast to Coast AM claimed in 1995 to have invented a time machine. Then he disappeared.

Mike “Madman” Marcum talked about his experience with industrial power transformers and his attempt to build a time machine with the host on the Coast-to-Coast radio show. He explained that he took six transformers to power a time machine. They belonged to the St. Joseph Light and Power generating station in King City, Missouri.

A 1995 report from the Stanberry Police Department confirms that he did steal six transformers. The police report states that there were power transformers placed in different parts of his home. The bedroom at the back had four of varying sizes; the back porch had one connected to the electric fuse box; and there were lines leading to something resembling a TV antenna.

Photo by the Sheriff’s Office of Albany, Mo

In the dining room, there was a small plastic trash can and a coffee can, both filled with oil from one of the transformers. The report mentions that the dining room transformer had been repurposed as a piggy bank and filled with coins.

Marcum was placed under arrest and spent some time in jail. He later called the talk show and said that he believed that he may be able to avoid prison by claiming he was attempting to build a time machine, thinking it would make him seem crazy.

During his second appearance on Coast-to-Coast in 1996, he stated that he was 30 days away from finishing his “legal” time machine. This time, he said he wasn’t going to steal any material. However, he suddenly “disappeared” in 1997 and was never heard from again.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol has not listed Marcum as an active missing person, but that hasn’t stopped conspiracy theorists from coming up with their own theories about what happened to him.

The urban legend

There are videos on TikTok and YouTube explaining various theories about who he was and where he is now.

One of the outlandish tales involves someone calling Coast-to-Coast radio, claiming that in the 1930s, police found a dead man on a California beach, crushed inside a metal tube, with a device next to him resembling a cell phone.

After searching, there was no evidence of such an incident in the 1930s, nor was there any record of a call like this to the radio show.

It does not appear that there is proof of what happened to the device or to Marcum. He has now become the subject of true-crime podcasts, a mystery that remains unsolved unless he chooses to reveal his whereabouts.

It has been 26 years, and the mystery will likely remain unsolved.