They’re Here: Documented Paranormal Activity1
By Adam Troudart
According to Oxford dictionary, a poltergeist is a ghost or other supernatural being supposedly responsible for physical disturbances such as loud noises and objects thrown around.
Poltergeists are not the typical kind of haunting ghosts, as they interact with the material world, sometimes with malevolent force. Organizations like the American Paranormal Research Association (A.P.R.A.) routinely study these phenomenon, as seen in the series Haunted Discoveries, searching to rule out all possibility of foul play and confirm true paranormal activity. A few separate 20th century studies by parapsychologists trace poltergeist activity to humans. The theories say that humans cause inexplicable physical manifestations such as levitation through emotional and mental triggers.
Haunted Discoveries – Old South Pittsburgh Hospital, Part 1
The human-poltergeist connection has caused controversy around many poltergeist cases, as they normally center around one person and are witnessed by very few.
The Enfield Poltergeist
“Just before I died, I went blind, and then I had an ’haemorrhage, and I fell asleep, and I died in the chair in the corner downstairs.”
This eerie voice, caught on tape, belonged to Bill Wilkins, a grumpy old man who had died a long time before the Hodgson family moved into his Enfield, North London home. The voice came through the body of no other than 11-year-old Janet Hodgson, who appeared to be possessed.
The Enfield Poltergeist is one of the most recognized cases of paranormal activity in the world. The events, which took place between August 1977 and Fall 1978, included moving furniture, mysterious knocks on the walls, and flying objects such as Lego pieces and marbles. Investigator Guy Lyon Playfair, a poltergeist expert, wrote a book about it, This House is Haunted, and a film is due at Halloween this year.
The Bell Family Poltergeist
When Tennessee farmer John William Bell Sr. found a strange animal in his cornfield back in 1817, he shot it down. Little did he know that putting down the animal, which seemed part rabbit, part dog, would turn his family’s life around. Soon after the event, noises were heard inside and outside the family home, and John’s youngest daughter claimed that an “invisible force” had attacked her. When Bell passed away in 1820, the four years of poltergeist activity came to an end. The Bell case inspired the movie An American Haunting.
Anne-Marie Schneider was 18 when she joined Sigmund Adam’s law firm in Rosenheim, Germany. Soon after that, in 1967, severe poltergeist activity started taking place at the office. The telephone and electrical systems suffered great interference, much to the concern of other office workers. The speaking clock had been dialed to hundreds of times in a few short days. At times, all the phones would ring at once and pictures would rotate on the wall. The events caught the attention of local media, police, and paranormal investigators. Adam noticed that the poltergeist events aggravated when Anne-Marie Schneider was present and he linked the poltergeist to her. Indeed, the activity stopped after she was dismissed from the office.
The Thornton Heath Poltergeist
A radio that turns itself on, playing foreign language stations. A lampshade suddenly knocked to the floor. These were only a few of the poltergeist phenomena that turned into a four-year nightmare for a family from Thornton Heath, England, back in the 70s. On Christmas 1972, the English family saw a Christmas tree shaking violently. The unrest continued with unexplained footsteps after the New Year. Things got really scary when the couple’s son was threatened by a man wearing an old fashioned dress. Other events included flying objects, loud noises, and knocking on the front door. According to a medium who consulted the family, the house was haunted by the Chattertons – a couple of farmers who had lived in the house back in the mid-18th century.
The Danny Poltergeist
Buying your child a vintage 19th-century bed for Christmas can lead to sleepless nights!
Three nights after 14-year-old Jason was gifted an antique bed from his father – Al Cobb of Savannah, Georgia – strange things started to occur. Jason started feeling sick after feeling someone watching him and breathing down his neck at night. Later that day, Jason returned to his room, only to find two Beanie Babies and a few other crafty animals amidst his bed. Following Al’s request, the poltergeist presented itself as the spirit of Danny, a 7-year-old whose mother had died in that bed back in 1899. Danny made it very clear that he didn’t want anyone else to sleep in that bed.
The Amityville Horror
“You got to help me! I think my mother and father are shot!”
A 23-year-old Ronald DeFeo screamed this after bursting into Henry’s Bar in Amityville, Long Island, New York. The next day, DeFeo confessed to carrying out the killings of his parents and four siblings at the family home in 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville.
In December 1975, about a year later, George and Kathy Lutz and Kathy’s three children moved into the Ocean Avenue house. Their story is the basis of the 1977 book by Jay Anson, The Amityville Horror: A True Story, as well as a series of ten films released between 1979 and 2011. The book and some of the movies led to controversy and lawsuits over their truthfulness.
According to the book, Father Ray was carrying out a house blessing when he heard a masculine voice demanding him to “get out.” In the following month, the Lutz family experienced many strange activities, including:
- Swarms of flies (although it was wintertime)
- Kathy had vivid nightmares about the murder where her children were sleeping on their stomachs, similarly to the DeFeo victims.
- Locks, windows, and doors were damaged by a mysterious force.
The Haunting of Jackie Hernandez
In the late summer of 1989, Dr. Barry Taff and his team came to investigate a bizarre case of poltergeist activity at Jackie Hernandez’s home in San Pedro, California. Upon starting their investigation, Dr. Taff’s team heard loud scuffling coming from the attic. Jackie believed it was the ghost of a disembodied head she’d seen before. Red ooze, which turned out to be human blood, was dripping down the walls. Jackie also reported that her TV would turn itself on and objects were hurled at her. She also mentioned two other apparitions of old men around the house.
When the investigators returned, a week later, Jeff Wheacraft and Larry Brooks, part of the investigative team, climbed up the attic to get some reference shots. Jeff was attacked by an unseen force and was hung up from a nail by a rope tightened around his neck.
Borley Rectory Poltergeist
Borley Rectory, a building in the village of Borley, England, has seen years of ghostly and poltergeist activity. Locals remember hearing unexplained footsteps in the house since 1863. On July 28, 1900, the daughters of Reverend Henry Dawson Ellis Bull reported seeing the ghost of a nun near the house. In subsequent years, various mysterious phenomena were reported by the rectory dwellers. Among them were:
- A phantom coach driven by two headless horsemen.
- A skull of a young woman wrapped in brown paper found inside a cupboard.
- Servant bells ringing for no reason.
The Borley Rectory story attracted media attention and investigations. Researcher Harry Price concluded that the ghostly nun, who’d been seen for generations, belonged to Marie Lairre, a French nun who was murdered in the rectory site in 1667. On March 27, 1939 the rectory was severely damaged by fire. The story has been the subject of a few books, some of which doubted its accuracy.
Haunted Discoveries – Old South Pittsburgh Hospital, Part 2
Haunted Discoveries – Fresno Flats