I’ve experienced distinctly unusual experiences in almost all the places I’ve lived. That doesn’t mean that I only inhabit haunted domiciles. Most of those experiences were/are because of me, not due to the location I was inhabiting.
After eliminating myself from the equation, I can safely say that, to my knowledge, I have only really either lived in, or visited, three truly haunted homes.
I’m not counting the house in Buck Creek Valley, which I’ve written about, because the house itself was fine. I’m also not counting the gym which I’m a member of, because the investigations there are ongoing.
These three houses were/are private dwellings and I’m going to focus not so much on my experiences, (although I’ll mention a few) but on what events of high/odd strangeness were reported independently by other inhabitants of the home and the overall patterns of encounter that the collective accounts provide.
The reported experiences in each dwelling also, perhaps obviously, occurred within a larger context which in all 3 cases encompassed the living situations within and the neighborhood without. So, nothing was ever “stand alone” as it were, but seemed to be an expression of a greater whole of which the house itself was a part.
As for the possible meanings behind these experiences–I will leave that part of the exploration open as I’m not objective enough to determine what those might be.
The first example was the home my family occupied through most of the 1970s in Olathe, Kansas.
We moved to this house in 1971 from Chattanooga, TN and lived as a family in it until 1977/78 or so. It was a basic mid 20th century split-level house that at the time of us moving in, was relatively new (only one family had lived there prior, and not for long), at the north edge of town.
When we moved in, the road was not yet paved and there was just an open field across the street to the north, although all that would change quickly in the coming years. The house was just one lot away from the corner intersection and across that road a large city cemetery runs along the western side of the street.
Lots of terrible non-paranormal things would happen in that house including some of the worst physical abuse I experienced at the hands of my father and the eventual dissolution of my parents’ marriage.
For my part, I had my worst night terrors there, two of my most terrifying poltergeist experiences, and made several stupid and consequential personal decisions (which took me decades to undo) in that house.
It was also during this time that the cattle mutilation, of which I’ve written about in another blog, took place just down the road a piece. There were also two very close tornadic events that barely missed the neighborhood. A great deal happened in that house.
When my family split up and mom and I moved to Overland Park, KS on the heels of her filing for divorce, I felt nothing but relief, even though my own personal travails were not quite over.
Despite that, being away from my father and from that house, particularly my bedroom, enabled me to begin the process of finding myself anew, away from the poisonous brand of religion he wielded.
After the divorce, my brother decided to continue living with my father as he would have had to change schools and didn’t want to do that. I was in high school and soon had access to my own vehicle so was not constrained by being forced to take the bus (there was only one high school in the Olathe district at the time).
It was my brother who later told me about strange things that happened in the house, particularly after my father got remarried (only about 6 months or so after the divorce was finalized).
According to him, everyone living there, father, new wife and himself began to experience strange sounds-footsteps in the hallway, disembodied doors (not actual doors in the house) opening, closing, sometimes slamming shut, as well as lights turning off and on by themselves at night after everyone went to bed.
There were also instances when their dog was shut into certain rooms when there was no way she could have been and she sometimes acted as if other unseen persons were in the house–barking, growling as if strangers were around.
My brother also told me that for the first time in his life he found his rest disturbed from time to time while sleeping in his room. Sometimes, he had to turn a light on in order to sleep; occasionally he actually slept in the living room on the couch rather than in his own bed. And there were times he was uncomfortable being alone in the house at night–he felt as if he was being watched.
This is significant because my brother doesn’t generally creep out about anything as he is very religious and rather skeptical about ghosts/hauntings.
My father believes in ghosts and reports several experiences with them over the course of his life, so he wrapped his religious views around the events.
These were all similar experiences I’d had while living there, but which, for the most part, I hadn’t shared openly. I had seen shadow figures, and had observed very plain poltergeist activities (as indicated above), but had kept most of it to myself.
Furthermore, I’d noticed that there was an increase in the activity after the body of an infant had been found buried in a ditch right outside the cemetery. This had happened a year or two after our family had first moved in.
The body had been discovered when the city decided to begin paving the roads and dug it up as crews were excavating the shoulders to create drainage and curbs.
The child appeared to have been abandoned and buried not long after birth; there was rumor of evidence that the child may have been buried alive. I just remember the smell of death lingering over the neighborhood for several days. It was tragic and creepy.
Eventually, my father and his wife would move out near Paola, KS, so I have no idea whether subsequent owners of the house have experienced anything there.
The second, and more dramatic experience of being in a haunted house occurred at my first spiritual teacher’s townhouse in Wichita, KS. I met Terry Fortuin, or Cat(tie) as we called her, when I started performing at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival in 1981.
At the time Cat was living in a triple townhouse (three units joined together at the foundation) in the SW corner of Wichita and pretty close to the city limit. Cat was a gifted artist and a solitary practitioner of witchcraft with highly developed, although not always entirely focused, psychic abilities.
As Cat put it, she attracted spirits who had passed but were trapped on our plane. It was then her task to help them move on. It is safe to say that lots of strange things were always happening around her–she was also a chain smoker, a functioning alcoholic and had an additional tendency to get into complicated romantic involvements.
While I visited her several times when she lived in the townhouse, and several times afterwards when she had moved to other locations, there is one particular visit I remember during which the phenomena that always seemed to be around her was literally off the scale.
According to her, the phenomena had suddenly ratcheted up and taken a more sinister turn when the bodies of two individuals who had been killed in one the neighboring townhouse units (the middle of the three) were discovered at the edge of town buried in a ditch. (Strangely, like the child mentioned above, road construction had revealed them).
Local reports indicated that these two people had been missing for months and it was believed they had been killed in connection to drug trafficking. They had been tied up and strangled to death.
Cat said that after the bodies were found, the phenomena just exploded in the house, and, in fact, prior to my visit that time (I was going with a friend), had warned us that we might experience some difficult things.
For example, it was no longer possible to sleep in the basement (which I’d done in the past) because the energy down there had turned oppressive and folks that had tried to stay down there would be awakened by unseen presences poking and grabbing at them.
I thought it sounded interesting–so we went and stayed the weekend. And yes, lots of things happened, including one terrifying experience that I may share at another time. For this I want to stick to stuff that everyone reported or witnessed together.
The most pervasive experience that everyone reported involved odd perfumed smells that seemed to focus in strange places in the house. Cat had carefully checked and none of the smells were anything that she could identify–no oils, perfumes, incense or cleaners were even close to what people were experiencing.
Furthermore, these smells occurred in highly localized areas and were often accompanied by a sudden blast of cold or very warm air (we also checked the ventilation system–and there was no correlation).
The way I described it is that–you could be walking through the back hallway and suddenly it was as if that smell (which was kind of floral–with a hint of something musky) was thrust up one’s nostrils, as if from a syringe, and one would notice a chill in the air, or a sudden rush of heat. And then you walked out of it. It was odd.
There were also pronounced poltergeist phenomena that everyone witnessed together. The instance I best remember occurred in broad daylight, in the living room. Cat and her daughter Kim (who had been a focus of some of the phenomena), me and my friend and one other person (whose name I can’t recall) were all present, sitting in a broad circle throughout the room.
We started talking about the various things we’d all experienced and Cat was providing a little background. Cat had lit a candle taper and set it away from all of us in a holder. It was something she often did to “up” the vibration in a place–sort of as a form of psychic protection.
During a brief pause in the conversation, we all heard a snapping sound in the direction of the candle–so naturally we all looked over at it.
We all watched as the top of the candle taper broke off and the lit upper portion began to travel across the room, picking up speed until it finally flung itself into the wall right over Kim’s head. The point is that the candle fragment started out slow and then picked up speed as it progressed across the room.
Kim had plenty of time to duck it once it was clear the taper flame was headed her way.
We all just sat there. Later that day, me and two other people witnessed a pencil that Cat had been using to take notes, slowly rise in the air of its own accord and float across the room. It wasn’t flung at anyone–but then Kim was not present.
By the time I witnessed these things, I’d already had my terrifying experience, so, these events seemed mild by comparison–still they were unnerving.
The phenomena didn’t follow Cat into her next house, although the vibes there were also quite intense from time to time. In fact, none of her subsequent homes were ever as active as the townhouse was, at least not during any of my visits.
I inhabited the 3rd haunted domicile during the same time period that Bob Berdella, the Kansas City, MO serial killer who I knew, was arrested and his crimes made public.
The haunted house/apartment (I lived on the second and third floor of a large house that had been converted into apartments) was only two blocks up and one over from Berdella’s house–where he had performed his atrocities.
This was the apartment in which I performed that ceremony in which I encountered the entity energy that seemed to be connected to Bob, and which I have detailed in other places, so will not recount here.
I’m pretty sure that whatever resides in that apartment has little or nothing to do with Berdella, since many of the experiences predated his arrest. So, I’ll only recount the things that my roommate and I both experienced–although she seems to have gotten the worst of it.
The kitchen was on the third floor, as was the second bedroom where my roommate resided, and it was very common that I would hear someone walking upstairs and banging pans around when my roommate wasn’t there.
In fact, my roommate told me that the banging would occur when she was there and trying to sleep–and at first, she thought I’d gotten up in the middle of the night to make something and when she’d look out no one was there and nothing was disturbed.
She and I both had cats–and fortunately, they all got along well. But both of us witnessed, at different times, our cats seeming to play with something that led them along the floor in a chase only to disappear (at least to the cats) leaving them confused and looking around. Neither she nor I could ever see anything.
I had a private bathroom while my roommate used the larger master bathroom on the second floor. I often kept my rooms (a bedroom, the bathroom and an adjoining room on the second floor) shut off because my cats would romp around all night long and disturb my sleep–I have a whole story about one of them giving me a black eye because they got into a fight on top of me one night.
Several times I’d had the experience of sitting down on the toilet in my bathroom and feeling a small furry person, like a cat, rubbing on my leg. I’d absently reach down to pet it, thinking one of my cats had somehow gotten in, only to find that nothing was there. I found out that my roommate had had similar encounters in her bathroom.
However, she had the scariest experience. One night I went to bed early because I wasn’t feeling well. I knew she’d be out late–I think she was going out with some folks after work.
All I remember is that I was awakened by blood curdling screams, followed by sounds of her and another person running up and down the stairs.
There was a common entrance into the building and one entered the door to our apartment and then came up a short flight of stairs to a landing. My rooms were to the immediate right of the landing. Her part of the apartment and the kitchen was up another flight of stairs to the far left. A large living room was to the immediate left and across the landing from my rooms.
I got up to see what the commotion was about, and this is what she told me.
She’d gotten home, came in the apartment door and started up the stairs when she saw the figure of a man standing right outside my doors, facing her at the top of the landing.
There was some light coming in the windows, so she could see he appeared to be dressed in dark pants and a checkered or plaid shirt, his hair was medium length and his face seemed to be in shadow. As soon as she saw him, he turned and seemed to walk to his right (her left) towards the living room.
She immediately thought that this was an intruder and something had happened to me. She had screamed spontaneously when she saw the figure and ran back downstairs to arouse the neighbor who was a single guy living alone.
As they came back up the stairs together, they both thought they saw a figure of someone standing in the living room and then suddenly the figure disappeared-just faded out. They both did a search around the house, upstairs on the third floor–but no one was there.
By the time I was awake enough to get up, the neighbor was on his way out. I’d registered her scream as a dream–so it was more of the commotion of them running up and down the stairs that had alerted me to something odd.
I have no idea if the figure came into my rooms at all–and I never saw anything like that–but I completely believe her since she isn’t the kind of person to make things like that up.
The one commonality between all these houses is their relative proximity to secret murder that is then discovered-even though the timing is different. It also happens to be the case that I personally had extremely scary experiences myself in each location– which I’ve discussed or described in other places.
For me, it’s the fact that others experienced odd phenomena, or that groups of us witnessed strange occurrences together, that renders the homes truly haunted. It’s not up to just my word, but the combined accounts of others that provides the credence needed for me.
In each case, I have no idea whether the dwelling in question remained “haunted” after the principal observers/experiencers left. Sometimes I think that hauntings require a certain set of circumstances, or people, to trigger manifestation.
But together, I can say that these three houses helped me to conclude that there are unknown and unexplained things in the universe–enough to keep research on these topics perpetually relevant.