Monday, November 16, 2009

Paranormal Journalism -- Week 2


By Joel Epley

Still groggy from a five-hour drive, she didn’t bother to ask why her brother was playing his guitar at four in the morning.

Carly McAdams, 25, had just gotten off work and drove the five hours from Chicago to her brother’s apartment in St. Louis. She arrived around one a.m. and wanted to rest for a family reunion the next day.

“I walked in the door, gave him a hug, and went straight to bed,” she said. “I was so tired I didn’t even bring my bags in.”

Carly was sleeping in the bedroom while her brother slept on the couch in the living room. Around four o’clock in the morning, she was woken up by the faint strumming of a guitar in the living room.

The guitar was a Fender Stratocaster with a 3-color sunburst rosewood finish, and it hadn’t been touched in over two months.

“When I walked in and gave my brother a hug, I didn’t even notice he had a cast on his hand,” she said. “I think he was drunk and punched a wall or something.”

The strumming had no particular rhythm and wasn’t from any song she had ever heard.

“It sounded like a cat or something was brushing against the neck of the guitar,” she said. “It wasn’t like it was power cords or a G or something.”

Carly walked into the living to get her brother to stop playing only to find him sound asleep on the couch. The guitar was in its stand in the corner of the living room.

“I was too tired to be freaked out. I just turned around and went back to bed,” she said. “I thought I was just hearing things.”

Moments before closing her eyes to sleep again, she heard the guitar noises again. Convinced it was her brother messing with her she shut the door to silence the noises and slept throughout the night.

The next morning Carly teased her brother about his failed attempt to scare her throughout the night. When she told him about the noises, his face turned white and the smile ran away from his face.

“I’m selling that thing,” said her brother Patrick McAdams, 27. “I heard the same thing the other night when I got up to go to the bathroom,” he said. “I haven’t played it in over a year and I think it’s mad at me.”

Three days later Patrick sold the Guitar on eBay for 800 dollars.

“It was a sweet guitar but I had kind of been losing interest in it anyways,” said Patrick. “I racked up a nice little bar tab that night as well.”

Since selling the guitar there have been no more mysterious strumming sounds throughout the night. Carly still refuses to sleep at her brothers apartment when she is in town.



By Rob O’Doherty

Her parents had just left for the night, the pizza money was on the counter and the movie selection sat on the television in the basement. Lisa and her friend Abby we’re going to spend the night alone while her parents were out for a Halloween party. After the pizza was gone and the credits started rolling from The Exorcist, boredom set in between the two friends.

Lisa started thinking about what they could do to pay respect to the holiday and also about what they could get away with since her parents were going to be out for the night. The clock struck 11 p.m. and Lisa had an idea. She told Abby that there use to be a Ouija board in the game closet. Lisa hadn’t seen it in years and didn’t know if it was still there, but she told Abby she remembered seeing it when they first moved in. It was left behind from the people who use to live in the house. The door to the game closet swung open and the two friends began to dig.

“Once we finally found it, we opened it up and the amount of dust from this thing literally covered both our faces,” Lisa said. “It wasn’t your typical Mattel game either. It looked like it had been handed down for a while. It was really old and looked like an antique.”

The two friends cleared the table and placed their fingers on the center object. Both ended up swearing that they wouldn’t freak each other out by moving anything. After a few questions being asked and getting nothing in response, the friends got bored and leaped back onto the couch. After talking for a few minutes, Abby’s eyes began to get big and her jaw started dropping slowly. The board began trembling a bit and the center object flew off the board and slammed against the wall.

“We both ran out of the house crying,” Abby said. “I’ve never been so scared in my life. We didn’t know what we were messing with and we had no possible explanation for what had happened. People to this day don’t believe us, but Lisa and I know what we saw, we just aren’t sure what we experienced.”

The two friends have never played with another Ouija board again. To this day they still remember that specific Halloween night and keep trying to piece together a logical explanation of what could have happened. They have no explanation of the events that took place. As for the Ouija board, Lisa says her parents wouldn’t throw it out. It still lies in the bottom of the dusty closet where it possibly could be waiting for someone to play with it again.



By Melissa Morkus

Many ghost stories are meant to scare people, but then some of these experiences have a different purpose. What if the purpose of these spirits isn’t to just scare people, but to simply say goodbye?

Born and raised in the Philippines, Russell Canobas, 23, has had one of these experiences. One night, Russell was awakened by someone standing besides his bed. Relieved when he saw that it was just his grandfather, he laid back down. He could feel his grandfather softly pat his head as he fell back to sleep. Later that night he awoke again and could see out his window of what seemed to be his grandfather standing in front of the house. As he looked at the figure, he could see a hand waving.

“I felt like he was trying to say goodbye, but I was confused why he was doing that,” Russell said.

The next morning, Russell was told by his family that his grandfather had passed away in his home the evening before. His grandfather was never actually at Russell’s home, but Russell believes his spirit was. Maybe this was a way for his grandfather to finally say goodbye to his grandson.

“The experience I had almost made it easier for me to deal with my grandfather’s death,” Russell said.

Sometimes a spirit just needs to say goodbye to the ones they love.



By Jesse Shipp

On Halloween, going to a cemetery is relatively common and one of the top things to do to get scared, sometimes people go voluntarily or they are dared to go. seven years ago on Halloween night, as a tradition, Tara Smith and her friends gathered to play games and watch movies. After the fun was over she was asked by Trey Rexroat and Hollie Lyons for a ride back to their homes in Keytesville and Glasgow. All three jumped into the 1996 turquoise Plymouth Voyager mini-van and was headed to Hollies’ home in Glasgow.

Right before Hollie’s home is a cemetery next to a Lutheran Church. Even though Hollie lives close to this cemetery, she has never been in it and so Hollie asks to stop so they can around the cemetery. After a few reluctant looks from Trey and Tara they both comply with Hollie’s begging. They pull up in the cemetery; Hollie jumps out while Tara and Trey sit in the van. As Hollie moved ahead she noticed that they stayed in the van and begs for them to come out. Tara turns off the van and leaves the headlights on to make the experience less creepy. Since it was a breezy night, Trey and Tara crossed their arms to keep warm as they climbed out of the van.

“The van headlights turned off and on three times, they didn’t dim; they were turned off and on every four or so seconds it seemed like, the van has never done anything like that before, that’s fucking creepy,” Smith said.

Hollie kept going deeper into the cemetery, Tara and Trey stayed next to the van and the van did it again.

After about 15 minutes or so, Hollie came back and they all hurried into the van and took off to Hollie’s house and then to Trey’s. On the way back home Tara was listening to country music on the radio.

“A mile after I dropped Trey off, it got awkwardly silent,” Smith said.

It just went silent, the radio stopped, Tara went to turn it up and something behind her yelled out “NO,” real loud. Tara stopped the van, turned on all the lights to see if anybody was there, which there wasn’t.

The following day Tara asked her parents about problems with the van. They said that they have never experienced anything wrong with the van. Bill, her dad, said that if it was a shortage in the wires then the lights would be doing that all the time, which they haven’t. According to Tara the van has never done anything like that again.



By Karra Small

Most people with vision problems, myself included, actually had bad eyesight a lot longer than they realized. They think they’re vision, blurry road signs and all is natural. Heather Talpers, a current Truman State University nursing student was no different. But Heather’s sight issues are much more intriguing than your average person with less than 20/20 vision.

Heather has synesthesia, a condition where a person’s brain interprets or even sometimes mixes the five senses. There are a few different types of this phenomenon, but Heather has lexical synesthesia, mostly dealing with letters and numbers.

“I never really realized that what I was experiencing was not normal, I just thought that everyone saw colors like I did” Heather said. “When I was in kindergarten I was at KFC with my dad and I just kept trying to describe how the box was different colors, but he just thought I was making it up or something.”

The stories of her synesthesic youth don’t end there.

“I remember this one time in first grade when the teachers showed this video about the numbers and I got really upset because I didn’t feel like they were being portrayed right,” she continued. Heather’s numbers, unlike ours, have not only color, but also gender and personality.

It wasn’t until the beginning of high school that Heather actually realized that something unconventional was going on.

“One day we were in math class and I kept telling my friends that the problem on the board was ugly and none of them understood what I was talking about” she said.

Frustrated, Heather blogged on her Zenga, telling about what had happened in class that afternoon. A friend later commented on the blog saying that she had read a book about synesthesia and implied that that sounded a lot like what Heather was going through.

Upon learning this news, Heather started researching the topic and realized that this indeed was what she was experiencing.

And Heather can do a lot more than just see normal colors with letters. A dog’s bark, for example, is a grainy red descending into the air. Sweat is a sharp neon green shaped like chicken wire. The water in the shower also has color. Julie, a mutual friend of ours has a laugh that “ was yellow, with butterflies.”

People also have colors associated with them.

“I remember being in elementary school and wanting to be friends with all the blue kids and I would shy away from the red ones” Heather stated.

Although she sees colors around people, she has to know them personally first, and admits that if she saw a stranger on the street she would have no clue what their color was.

Some paranormal researchers might say that these encounters sound like auras, but Heather insists that a person’s color has nothing to do with their personality.

“My best friend is red. I hate red, but that’s her color” she said.

But with every gift, there is a downside. “I have a really hard time concentrating, especially with math,” she commented.

Unfortunately, Heather’s abilities are fading with age, which is common for people with synesthesia, but don’t think Heather isn’t grateful.

“I consider it a blessing” she says.



By Bethany Rowell

Roberta Hall on the Northwest Missouri State University campus has been a hot spot for paranormal activity for decades. The dormitory was named after Roberta Steel, a student who attended the school in the 1950s. In 1951, an explosion of a gasoline tank located behind the hall caused a piece of steel to fly into the building, setting it on fire. Roberta was one of the critically injured students and passed away a year later due to complications from her injuries. Roberta is said to haunt the dormitory which is now specifically for sorority members.

Brooke Mansfield has lived in Roberta Hall for over a year and has had her share of ghostly experiences. Mansfield, an active member of Alpha Sigma Alpha, lives on the north end of the hall on the second floor. Both her and her roommate, Danielle, have encountered numerous unexplained happenings around the hall and attribute them to Roberta.

“On just about an every other week basis she flickers my desk light and knocks over Danielle’s books on her desk. Neither of us will be sitting there or anywhere near the desks when it happens,” Mansfield said.

While the occasional flickering light does not bother either girl, Roberta has done a few things that have made both feel uncomfortable.

“One night my roommate and I were sitting in our room just working on homework, doing whatever, and we hear this crashing noise in the bathroom. We go in there and the bowls on our rack had been thrown to the other side of the room and they were all face up in a line.”

Mansfield says Roberta has turned on their shower in the middle of the night while they were sleeping and has heard many stories about girls getting pushed out of their own beds. Another story entails a girl witnessing her window blinds open and close rapidly on their own. Roberta is also known to move things around rooms.

“We have also had incidents of Roberta messing with things in our room while we are gone. My roommate and I always lock our door and we were both gone at the time. We came back and my roommate’s container of puppy chow had been tipped over sitting directly in the middle of the floor. It was left sitting upright on the coffee table about four feet away.”

The activity does not stop Mansfield from living in Roberta Hall since it never appears threatening. The presence has been reported on each floor, but has never been seen. Roberta Steel may have left this world physically, but her spirit seems to live on within her old residence hall.



By Danny Thompson

It was the night of the Halloween dance at Clark Middle School, located in Bonner Springs, Kan. A group of students, Brett Johnson, Willie Wilson, Cassity Mitchell, Jarred Harrington, Sara Stephens, Christina Delladio, and Justin Moulin, had been preparing for this evening for weeks. All of them went to the dance as the gang from Gilligan’s Island.

“I had a lot of fun being the millionaire’s wife,” Mitchell said, recalling the evening eight years later.

After every dance, it was custom for someone in the group to have a post-dance party. This time around, it was Mitchell’s turn. It had been a typical evening for them, but the event that was to follow was anything but typical.

“We all decided to go outside and play tag in the field. It was a crystal clear night with no wind, and a full glowing moon. As we sprinted to through the field, all of us saw what looked like human-shaped shadows walking. There were two of them. We all stopped in our tracks to get a better look. Then, one looked at me, or, what I assumed was it looking at me. It had red beady eyes. We all screamed and ran back to house,” Mitchell said.

To this day, Mitchell still isn’t sure about what exactly was with them in the field that night.



By Logan Campbell

Every little child’s nightmare is to look up and see a figure in their room that wasn’t there before.

When Kasi Stoner was 14 years old she went to bed like any other night. She laid down in her bed in her parent’s Maryville house. She felt like something wasn’t right in her room so she opened her eyes. She quickly pulled the blankets over her head from the sight of a dark figure in her doorway. She peeked out to see if the figure was still there or if it had moved away. The figure looked like an older man who leaned against the doorway like the cowboy cut-out in people’s yards. She pulled the covers back over her head because she was scared that it might be a burglar. She fell asleep and woke up the next morning and the figure was gone.

The next night, Kasi layed down in bed and right before she was asleep she looked over to her doorway and saw this manly figure again. She was petrified.

“I pulled the blankets over my head because I didn’t know what else to do,” Stoner said.

She looked up to see the figure still in the doorway.

The next few nights Kasi saw the same figure each night in the doorway to her room. She finally mustered up the courage to run down and tell her parents what she was seeing. When she told her mom about the dark figure she said that she had already seen the figure in her daughter’s room. The only thing her mom could think it would be is a demon spirit sitting in her room.

“The figure would just sit in the doorway and not move at all,” Kasi said.

She said the figure would not move toward her or prevent her from leaving because she was able to go tell her mom in the night.

Stoner’s parents didn’t do any research on the house to find out if there was one of the previous owners that was haunting the house. Instead they didn’t feel comfortable living in the house anymore and moved out within a couple of years to a different house in Maryville. They didn’t know what the shadow figure could have been but they didn’t want to stay around to find out.

Kasi said once she talked with her mom about the shadow figure, she stayed in her parent’s room from then on. They didn’t want anything to happen one night with what they thought was a demon spirit.



By Stratton King

Holland, Mich. is no stranger to paranormal activity, from half-lizard/half-woman creatures on Lake Macatawa to urban legends of a suicide apparition hotspot on the Chicago and West Michigan Railway.

Tom and Meghan “Sis” Shultz have been visiting Holland every summer for their entire lives. Every night is a new adventure walking along the beach between Macatawa Lake and Lake Michigan. This past summer they were attending their annual family vacation but this time had some strange experiences one night on the beach.

“It was a clear night, full moon and perfect visibility. My sister and I were hanging out at the beach around two in the morning when we heard a person, almost like a small child running through the water on the beach. We were the only people on the beach and at one point there was the sound of a big splash as if someone through a big rock or jumped into the water,” Tom said.

Tom and Sis tried to find the source of the noises but were unsuccessful.

“We walked towards the where the noises were coming from but whenever we got closer, it would change positions and all the sudden be behind us, we would turn around and it would flip sides again,” Sis said.

The experiences scared the hell out of both of them.

“It was really creepy, this strange feeling of not being alone when in fact we were all alone,” said Sis.

While telling the story of what happened, Tom was still confused by the experience and at first even had trouble explaining what had happened.



By Kiley Swopes

Before last week I had never had a paranormal experience. I had never seen a UFO, Bigfoot, been abducted by aliens or had ghosts come into my house. The most I could possibly say had ever happen was a street light has gone out a time a time or two as I drove by, but I just assumed the light had burnt out.

Going into the Axe Murder House in Villisca, Iowa, I was close-minded. I thought all day that nothing was going to happen. I admit I am afraid of the dark, so I was more afraid of not having electricity than seeing a ghost or hearing the dead speak.

When we got there we received a tour of the house, and heard the story of how and where the killings took place. The tour guide showed us the exact locations of original axe marks from 1912, where the most activity from the ghost is, and the rooms where set up the same as they were when the people were killed.

We walked around for an hour or so and then finally I settled down in the kid’s room with a group of students to see if we could get the spirit of the children who were killed to come out and “play.”

Hours went by and nothing had happened to me. But of course others in the class were experiencing things like getting EVPs, feeling people touching them, seeing shadow people. But me, nothing. But I just felt like I was talking to myself.

There was about an hour and a half left in our stay and Aaron brought an Ouija Board along with us. He had tried it in the living room and attic while I was sitting in the children’s room.

When he came into the children’s room he had asked if anyone wanted to do it. Since I never had before and nothing else was happening to me I thought why not. So I did.

I was so unsure how they worked so Aaron described to me on how light to touch to device. I practice the placement of my fingers on his hands to make sure I did not push too hard or too soft. Then Melissa and I used the board.

We first introduced ourselves and I asked all the questions. Our first few questions were, Is there anyone in here? How old are you? Are you a boy or girl? Are you here? Are you with us? Then we said what is your name?

The device started moving. Very slowly and hesitant, but it was moving.

As it moved I thought to myself, “I am not the one moving this thing.”

I very lightly lifted my fingers off the device just a little to prove to myself mainly that it wasn’t me. As I placed them back on it I stared at Melissa’s finger’s to see if she was pushing it.

Her fingers were shaking so bad because she was so cold. They kept lifting off the device.

She wasn’t pushing it.

The device traveled very slow to the letter “R” and then stopped.

The room fell instantly started asking what letter it went to and everyone started asking questions, did you move it Melissa? Did you move it Kiley? Who is here? Is it the Reverend? Some is here aren’t they? Are you mad we are here? Do you want us to leave?

At that point we had no more activity on the Ouija Board. We tried a few more questions but then we signed out.

Today, I still wonder how the Ouija Board moved and it still creeps me out. Was it really the Reverend in the room with us?