Want to buy your very own haunted house? There’s a website for that.
Toptenrealestatedeals.com lists homes that are claimed to be haunted – or just spooky enough to capture the imagination.
This year, on the list are the Buxton Inn in Granville, Ohio, 200-year old establishment where visitors claim to hear disembodied footsteps, doors opening and closing by themselves and a lady in blue on the market for $3.9 million; and the house Lizzie Borden bought after she was acquitted of murdering her parents with an ax, and from which she was buried.
In Indiana, a law was passed in 2002 saying a seller doesn’t have to tell his or her agent or a buyer about a house’s “psychological circumstances” – even if the seller knows. Circumstances that qualify include a death, a felony-level crime, a shooting by police, criminal gang activity or the manufacture of illegal drugs.
Silence on any of those issues exempts home sellers and agents from liability, although the law also states that neither a seller nor an agent can intentionally misrepresent facts about such circumstances if a buyer asks.
This certainly is the season for things that go bump in the night. But what if you had to put up with them nearly every night?
That’s what Mark Jones says he’s been doing at the home he shares with his wife, Kim, and three elderly felines in the Harvester neighborhood on Fort Wayne’s southeast side.
He says he never knows when they’ll start hearing noises in the wee hours of the morning.
“It will sound like something tapping and knocking on the walls, and it will start in the corner and go to the ceiling,” claims the 49-year-old man, disabled from a back injury. “You’ll have your eyes shut, and as soon as you open them, it will go away, like it was watching you.”
Jones also claims many more strange goings-on: at least three “ghost cats”; an airborne blackish “ball” that sped across his dining and living rooms and up the stairs; a heavy chair in the bedroom that collapsed into pieces in the middle of the night; and a shadowy figure in the downstairs computer room.
The first apparition he saw was of a blonde woman at the entrance of the dining room one night when he was sleeping on the living room couch.
“She had like a brown waitress uniform on,” he says. “I thought at first it was my wife, but then she disappeared.”
It’s all enough to have lured visits by investigators from two cable TV shows on paranormal phenomena – crews that have caught some of the spooky activities on camera or an electronic voice recorder or EVR.
A crew from “My Ghost Story” on the Biography Channel came in June, and the segment airs later this season. A video from episode 57 of A&E’s “Paranormal State” is available on that network’s website under the title “Satan’s Soldier.”
And it’s enough to make some skeptics question whether any of it can be true. “The thing about ghosts and spirits is that there’s zero evidence. Zero,” says Troy Moss, community outreach director for Michiana Skeptics, a debunking group in Goshen.
Moss says TV shows on the paranormal rely on technologies that can be easily tampered with or edited to provide a certain effect. “The television shows are for entertainment purposes only,” he says. “If he (Jones) has evidence, it can be tested and if it’s good evidence it can be repeated. You can go to the house and get it again.”
Many times, he says, perfectly sane and rational people misinterpret or misremember things they experience, he says – as many studies of faulty eyewitness memories have shown.
Jones acknowledges that, given the age of the house, which records show was probably built prior to 1920, it wouldn’t be unusual for there to be creaks and cracks now and then – especially because of its location along busy New Haven Avenue.
Many of the stories he’s heard about the modest two-story Craftsman-style home – that previous residents moved out because they were convinced it was haunted, that a woman had been beaten to death with a hammer in the basement – remain just that, with verifiability lost in the shades of time.
But newspaper and public records reveal that, in 1996, about two weeks before Christmas, a 25-year-old man was found stabbed to death on the kitchen floor. The victim’s live-in girlfriend, Lucy Rivera, who also used the name Lucy Thornton, was sentenced to 10 years in the slaying.
The deceased was first identified as Alberto Lopez, but it was discovered that the man used several aliases, and no one came forward to claim the body.
It sat in the morgue for weeks and was scheduled to be cremated until the Rev. John M. D’Arcy personally interceded so the man, then identified as Maximino Alberto Lopez and apparently from Mexico City, could be given what was described in a newspaper account as “a proper Christian burial” in Fort Wayne’s Catholic Cemetery.
Then there’s the hole in the thick plaster ceiling in a second-story loft area. It looks like a bullet hole, and Jones says he’s confirmed with a relative of a family who lived there in the 1940s that a man committed suicide in that room, but the relative doesn’t want his name known.
And, don’t forget the red splatters that could be blood in the basement. And no, Jones says, he hasn’t had them tested. But yes, he says, the house has been checked for vermin in the walls and come up clean.
During filming for “Paranormal State,” Jones says a psychic who was called in, Michelle Belanger, “was getting all sorts of (mental) images,” that suggested satanic activity took place in the dining room and main bedroom.
Jones says he isn’t so sure.
“I’m not a real big believer in psychics,” he says, adding that he contacted that show after watching it because he thought maybe they could figure out what was going on at his house. “I didn’t want to get on TV,” he says.
“My Ghost Story” contacted him because the producer on “Paranormal State” had changed jobs and was still intrigued by the house, he adds.
Jones claims that producers from that show determined from Fort Wayne police that there had been another murder in the house, in 1979.
Jones bought the place in 2005 as a fixer-upper, and while working on the property before he moved in, he noticed weird things happening, including finding lights on when he knew he’d turned them off when he left, and vice versa.
“The first two weeks, the entire time, you felt like someone was watching you,” he says. “It was eerie.
“I’ve heard my name called several times,” Jones says, adding that his adult daughter no longer will stay in the house because, he claims, she believes “someone” sat down beside her and touched her on the side of her face while she was asleep on the living room couch.
But Jones and his wife have stayed – despite having large objects in the basement apparently move, a female voice that Jones swears said “Barbara” just a week or so ago and a spooky photographic encounter with a strange image in a mirror.
Kim, 48, says she’s left the house to stay with her parents on more than one occasion because of the noises. “I’d like to move,” she says.
Jones says the two don’t because “It’s a matter of money.”
Besides, it’s a perfectly fine house that seems perfectly.
If the house is haunted, he says, “I think it’s the people who have died … They (producers from “My Ghost Story”) said that the house has a really violent history.
“I would just like to know what’s going on,” he adds. “Like it’s OK, but I’d like it to mellow out.”