News: New “Amityville Horror” Documentary

Amityville-Horror-HouseA new documentary featuring Danny Lutz and featuring the famed Amityville House from the the 1979 hit film is to be released March 15th, 2013.  The  movie is based on the alleged real life experiences of the Lutz family who purchased an existing home on 112 Ocean Avenue, Long Island, a house where a mass murder had been committed the year before. After the family move into the house, they experience a series of frightening paranormal events.  Though the Lutz family has always maintained their experiences were real, there story has been surrounded by controversy as others have speculated the family made the stories up for financial gain.  Click here for the full article.

My Haunted House

haunted-houseI have noticed a great number of paranormal investigators attribute their passion to early their childhood growing up in a haunted house.  Vivid experiences are impressed upon us within the first 10 to 15 years of life and shape us in ways that we carry throughout our lives.  Unfortunately, for me as a paranormal investigator, I did not grow up in a haunted house.  Though I did experience several supernatural events as a child, I am convinced they had nothing to do with the physical home I grew up in.  Maybe then it was fate that I have now moved into a haunted house and know what—it’s not all that bad.

For many, living in a haunted house conjures scenes of closet monsters and lifeless bedside visitors, but I have learned, probably like most, when you share your home with something the manifestations are generally acceptable, even at times humorous.  I don’t claim to live in the most haunted house ever, but I have been surprised at the types and levels of activity.  I also will say up front the activity, for the most part, is benign and seems to flare up every 3 to 4 months—but if anything it has been curious.

The house was built in the early 70s and is a standard split level home, not exactly the prototypical haunted mansion, but it does have a tragic past.  Though not officially verified, we were informed that a male who lived at the residence committed suicide in the back yard and I am satisfied with the sources because they are original neighborhood residents with firsthand knowledge.  But is this the cause of the paranormal activity?  I do not know.  The manifestations are mostly genderless involving movement of some kind.  Whatever it is I have been surprised at its power and boldness.

As a whole, there are too many manifestations to list, so I will only speak of three and I will begin with the most recent involving an egg.

The Egg

On the evening of February 28th, 2013; I was home making dinner and I needed three eggs.  I discovered that the refrigerator only had one egg, so I went to a storage refrigerator we keep in our garage to get another carton of eggs.  I placed the three eggs on a counter top and I proceeded to cook at the stove.  At the time, only myself and our three boys were at home (my wife was away).  While cooking something on TV distracted me and I left to see what it was.  I was gone for about 3 minutes and then returned to the stove.  Shortly after returning, I needed to add the eggs so I turned to the counter where I had placed them, but there were only two.  I checked the egg cartons, sure enough one was empty and the new carton had two missing.  I questioned the boys and I am satisfied they were not pranking me, (they were glued to a computer game at the time).  I even tried to feed my dog a raw egg—he would not touch it.  The egg just disappeared and it still has not reappeared over the past week.  I have no explanation and I know there were three eggs on the counter.

The Stomping

The next incident occurred one evening in the spring of 2012.  I had to take the garbage out to our outside garbage can.  We have some concrete steps with a small landing to our front door.  I completed my chore and had just arrived to the steps, when the sound of someone stomping their feet, like they were ponding off snowy boots, rung out in the darkness for about 5 seconds.  It was not an echo, it was very loud and came from just inches in front of me on the landing.  I just froze not because I was scared but because it was so odd that I was expecting to see a neighbor come around the bushes or the source to be revealed, but I was very alone with only the dim glow of street lights to reinforce the event.  I slowly opened the door to find my wife reading on the couch a few yards away.  I softly asked her if she had been listening.  At first she acted confused by the question but then asked me why I was stamping my feet before I entered.  After I told her my experience, she thought I was joking but as time has passed and other things have happened she has come to believe my account.

The Christmas Ornament

It was New Year’s Day of 2012 and, like many, my wife was taking down the Christmas decorations.  Some of her favorite decorations are part of a miniature Christmas Village made of different buildings and figurines.  Before the pieces were to go in storage she wanted to dust them so she placed the set on the kitchen table and dusted each individual piece.  Before she could finish she witnessed one of the figurines (I believe it was a boy with a dog) fly off the table striking the wall.  My wife was not too happy and blamed me and my “ghost hunting” for the incident.

There have been several other occurrences in and around our home and what I would tell others is no one has been hurt or even scared by the activity.  It is not constant and seems to flare up every few months almost like it’s trying to remind us that it’s still here and if it remains this way I really don’t mind—just please, I would ask, don’t break any more of my wife’s stuff.

Ghostology: UFOs, the paranormal in decline?

This past week a myriad of news articles appeared after British UFO researchers hinted that in 10 years the UFO phenomena may disappear from the popular culture due to an ever decreasing number of UFO sightings and better explanations for proposed UFO phenomena.  So why is a ghost blog writing about this subject?  Because UFOs are part of that larger study known as the paranormal.  Most serious paranormal radio programs like Coast to Coast, the nations #1 overnight radio program, lumps all kinds of subjects from ghosts to UFOs and even Bigfoot into this same category.  I am here to say: not all paranormal subjects are the same and that ghosts and the afterlife have much stronger appeal and longevity than other paranormal subjects.

I am not bashing UFOs or the people who study them, but I also know from first hand experience that many of the claims and expectations from their study are poorly constructed and unreasonable.  In this article I will contrast the merits of studying ghosts over UFOs as a focus for the paranormal.

First, I believe there are several examples of UFO cases that deserve attention like Roswell, New Mexico and Bentwaters, England.  But the majority of UFOs incidents rely on antidotal evidence and personal stories; moreover, there is a strong cultural element that seems to influence the experience like alien movies and popular media.  When Close Encounters of the Third Kind was released in 1977, it changed the way the public visualized aliens from outer space from large monster-like beings dressed in sliver space suits with antennas in the 50s to the smaller humanoid “greys” with large eyes and few facial features.  UFO researchers will point out the “greys” were described before 1977, but after that time the retro monster in a sliver suite all but disappeared which indicates a strong cultural element in the  UFO phenomena. Ghostly experiences are different, not that they are not influenced by culture, but the details don’t seem to change.  The way that people describe and interpret ghost phenomena is influenced by culture but the actual characteristics are unusually the same, a spirit that is restless or with purpose appears among the living.  The more the spirit is “restless” the more random is the incident and the more purpose exhibited the more consciousness and intent has been perceived.  These are very general descriptions and does not hold true for every situation, but throughout time and location ghostly events have demonstrated general characteristics.

As a trained archaeologists focusing on Central America I have also often taken issue with many UFO researchers who claim many ancient ruins were the results of aliens.  Authored in 1968 by Erich von Däniken, Chariots of the Gods presented the hypothesis that the technologies and religions of many ancient civilizations were given to them by ancient astronauts who were welcomed as gods.  Unfortunately for UFO enthusiasts, archaeology has advanced our knowledge of these ancient peoples and there has been no evidence to support Däniken’s ideas.

One example of ancient artifacts used by Däniken to bolster his UFO hypothesis would be Lord Pacal the Great’s sarcophagus lid found at the ancient city of Palenque in modern day Mexico.  Däniken claimed the figure was ancient astronaut and identified many elements as breathing apparatuses and other mechanisms used for space travel.  Since then archaeologist and art historians have interpreted the scene as Pacal the Great falling into the underworld at the time of his death.  The latter description is based on long and studious studies of Maya iconography with the help of the modern Maya as well as the whole of Maya art.  Däniken’s work uses almost no scholarly sources but rather relies on his own creative interpretations not unlike an ink blot test given by a psychiatrist.

The Maya did in fact believe in ghosts.  A large part of Central American and Maya art is dedicated to the veneration of ancestors who at time would visit their descendants to give council and supernatural power to existing leaders.  The Maya were the same as many today who have had ghostly relatives return to give instruction or messages. The Maya also had stories of haunted forests that after dark espoused the lost souls of unfinished or tragic individuals.  There is no great leap of faith to understand their beliefs; one simply can come to an understanding through modern equivalents found in every part of the world.

I am fascinated with UFOs and their accounts and I admit to have had a couple of UFO sightings in my life, but even then I understood there are many different explanations for UFO sightings.  There are too many possibilities and in my opinion too little verifiable history for me to confidently conclude that UFOs are a reality.  There are a handful of UFO incidents that seem to defy explanation but compared to the depth and ubiquitous reports of ghosts I choose to focus on what I believe to be irrefutable–ghost are real and interact with the living every day.

Ghostology: The Ghost of Albion

I am asked frequently what are some of the most haunted locations I have investigated and I have a mental list that I keep.  One in particular is close to my heart because it was there I saw my first full bodied apparition during an investigation at the Idaho Normal School in Albion.  The school was established by the Idaho State Legislator in 1893. The citizens of Albion actively lobbied the schools establishment, and donated the land and labor for the new campus. The school offered a two year teacher training program until 1947, when it was renamed Southern Idaho College of Education (SICE). The school was troubled by low income and lack of funding and finally closed by the state in 1951.  The campus remained vacant until 1957, when the Magic Valley Christian College opened at the site, and later closed in 1969. The beautiful historic campus was locked and boarded up until the City of Albion auctioned it off in 2007.  The family that now owns the school rents the grounds in the summer for all kinds of events and during Halloween they host the Haunted Mansions of Albion which I hear is a great event for all of you haunted house aficionados.  See them on facebook for more info.

In July of 2010 I ventured with my paranormal group to investigate Albion.  The grounds are well kept but some of the larger buildings are still largely unkempt and decrepit.  You always know you’re going to have an amazing investigation when you see a ghost ten minutes after arriving.  And so it was at Albion, I was still organizing plans for the equipment setup in the largest building the women’s dormitory.  The building had three floors and at the time I was in the basement.  It was 7pm on a hot July afternoon and there was still 2 hours before sunset but in the basement it felt and looked like midnight on a cool October evening.  There seemed to be endless halls with empty rooms swathed in graffiti.  The construction had placed stairways up to the outside surface every so often, but I had hardly noticed them as I mulled over the possible locations for recorders and cameras.  I was not expecting anything paranormal, but as I have said before the paranormal is unpredictable and opportunistic.

It was a woman.  Her eyes were black and lifeless.  I remember snorkeling in the Mexican ocean and seeing a barracuda with intensely lifeless black eyes.  Her eyes were black, unfeeling, and void like those of the barracuda.  Her skin was white and smooth and yet it appeared hard and dry like hard plaster, cold and still.  The face a long oblong shape with a pointy chin and nose that ran the length of the eyes extending to the small slit of a mouth.  Her hair color was dirty blonde and was held in a medium curl down to the shoulders.  The most striking feature was an enormous flat white collar that looked like it belonged to a uniform of sort, maybe from the 1930s or 40s.  Later, I jokingly called her the lunch lady because in the same area were the remnants of a large industrial mixer that would have made breads and other dishes, but it could have been a uniform for anything from a nurse to a sanitation worker.  I only knew, and I had no doubt, she was and enigma or a mistake in the natural world.  Why would she want to remain where she was so out of place and odd?  But then, I often remind myself, maybe I was the intruder and she was just curious like a questioning glance at new neighbors.  Still I was over whelmed with an unnatural sensation and sense of alarm.

Our encounter was short, but as in many cases it was evermore burned into my mind.  She quickly peeked at me from behind an old door way beginning one of the stairways up to ground level.  As my mind scrambled to process what was happening, I was instantly snapped back into the present and felt the adrenaline inject in to my spine.  I gasped for a breath only to find my lungs unable to comply and startled, stepped back against a wall.  I tried to say something but had no air to make intelligible sounds.

It was unnecessary to inform the others around me that a paranormal event had occurred, the air had changed and an excitement like static electricity wafted in the air.  Their only question was to what level had the paranormal been manifested.  Though it seemed longer, a second after the shock I was fine and an emotional release like cold water on a hot day allowed me to catch my breath and I related what I had experienced.  Everyone became alert and quiet to pause and listen for the woman in the shadows.  But there was only silence.

Embarrassment was the next emotion.  I was the leader and I had flinched in a big way.  Inside I reproved and chastised myself for showing a reaction unlike the many paranormal investigators on TV who seem unfazed by such experiences.  I could not help it, I was caught completely by surprise and I don’t care, that woman creeped me out!  I walked with another investigator down the hall discussing the event.  I only separated myself slightly unaware I had come to the next stairway.  At this location not only was there a door way but a small window in the wall out to the stairwell and through that window she stood glaring at me.  I jumped flailing my arms, knocking a camera out of the hand of my companion.  I made no sound that time, but the message was clear, it was time to leave.  I do not know why she was stalking me and I did not want to find out.

I did go back in the building that night, many times, but I did not see the woman again.  There were many other experiences and events.  Albion remains on my mental list of very haunted locations and I am happy to have had a brush with the paranormal in that place.  I do wonder who the woman was and why I was able to see her when others did not at that moment.  No member of the team that night saw her with their own eyes, but I will end this account by telling that three members of the team do believe to have witnessed a white figure in the original doorway and stairwell while setting up the DVR system’s flat screen.  Unfortunately the DVR system was not recording yet and so it was not documented, so you will have to decide for yourselves what really happened at Albion.