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Richard SenateMany who believe that ghosts do not exist make the claim that ghost sightings are simply mistakes of the eye or out-and-out frauds. In truth, most sightings are made by real people who experience unexpected and strange events. Sometimes these can be explained away as natural phenomena. In this way we ghost hunters share much with our fellow UFO investigators. Not all sightings are unexplainable. Sometimes the strange light is caused by a passing car or a reflection. The idea that a majority of sightings are caused by out-and-out fraud is ludicrous. Still, one must admit that a few reported ghostly events are caused by fraud. In my two decades of psychic research I have come across several hoaxes. Perhaps by informing others I can point out what people do to fool the ghost hunter. 

Case in Point. File Number 563. An Oxnard home was haunted by a poltergeist that set dishes tumbling out of cupboards and flew pictures from the walls. The center of the haunting was the young wife and her two sons. The wife was terrified of the events that seemed to happen when she was left alone in the former farm house. Not only were the kitchen items affected, but objects seemed to vanish into thin air. These included a hair brush, a set of keys, and an envelope full of $300 in cash. The keys were found in the back yard, but the money was never recovered. In visiting the house the psychic with me felt nothing except a great deal of stress. I went over the house with an electro-magnetic field meter and found nothing out of the ordinary. A week passed and things seemed to get worse. The woman said an apparition had pulled on her toes and she “found out” that a terrible murder had once happened at the house. She saw the ghost, and described it as a tall man wearing a red shirt. I tried to find out where she got her information. She only said it came from a neighbor. When I asked the name of the person to confirm the tale, she said she didn’t know. She was in her yard doing some gardening one day when this man came up and told her about the murder. She didn’t know his name but she believed he lived somewhere in the area. I began to smell a rat. When I came back to take her story down in detail she said that the ghost woke her up by pulling on her foot and that he had on a yellow shirt (somehow the story had changed from red to yellow). 

As many of the events took place at about ten at night, I took a team to spend some time at the house to see for ourselves. The family was understandably upset about the strange events going on. I took down their accounts and took photographs. Just before ten, I saw a large, hard-bounded book inch out of the bookcase and fly to the floor. It was the strangest thing I ever saw. I was at the bookcase in a flash. The book was a Steven King novel. As I picked it up, I glanced at the spot where it came from. I saw a black thread stuck in a sliver of wood on the edge of the bookcase. The thread was looped so someone could pull it and use it to propel the book out of the case! The thread had caught, and snapped, leaving some of it behind. 

In looking over the investigation I tried to find a motive for a hoax. The wife didn’t like the house and wanted to move. The husband was a large, dominating man who refused to think of a change of residence, that is, before the place became “haunted.” In time, to escape the ghost, they did move to another community. The wife had used the ghost, and me, to get her way. Sometimes finding a motive is almost impossible because there are people who delight in causing a hoax. Fooling the ghost hunter is reward enough for such people. 

Case Number 871 involved a family haunted by a “ghostly poltergeist.” The small house in Santa Barbara was beset by mysterious happenings. Such things happened as items being moved (two candlesticks were removed from the mantel and placed on the floor) and strange tapping sounds heard. The most persistent event was the fall of stone. Rocks would hit the roof at all times. The wife was in terror over the “evil spirits” that haunted the place and she was convinced it was because their land was on an “Indian Burial Grounds.” I asked if they had found bones or artifacts on her property? Nothing was ever dug up that would imply the place was ever used by the Native Chumash people. Her belief in the burial ground theory was based on the word of a psychic friend who came to the home once. I visited the older home on a large plot of land just outside the city limits of Santa Barbara. It was an older place built in the 1930s. I focused in on the 16 year old son. Every one of the odd events happened when he was home. He liked to spend a great deal of time with his friends in the back yard. From what I could piece together, the mysterious rocks came from that direction. While I was visiting the house, I heard the rocks fall. I glanced out the window and saw several small pebbles come down as the majority of them clattered off the wooden shingles. The wife went into a fit, fully convinced the spirits were angry I was there. I was out the side door and saw the loose gravel. They didn’t match the kinds of stones on that side of the house. I picked up a handful and when back in the house. The son and his two friends were there, calming the mother down, but I noticed a smirk on the face of one of the high schoolers. The son was very cool, and ask me a great many questions about the “evil spirits,” in fact he asked me too many questions. At that point I baited the hook for an experiment. I told them that if it was really the ghost of a long dead Chumash chief he would act up if I performed the sacred “Wa-how wah” ceremony. There is no such thing, at least to my knowledge. I went to my car, got out an old rag I used to check the oil, a stick, and a piece of string. I returned to the house and tied the rag to the stick and began chanting sounds that sounded like a Native American song. I was waving the “Shaman’s Wand” around in a dramatic way, all the while, trying to keep from laughing.

The three boys went to the back yard to see where the rocks were coming from. As soon as the back door closed, I went to the window, gesturing for the mother to come along, quietly. We peeked out and saw all three boys pick up a hand full of rocks from a graveled walkway and throw them toward the house. We had found our poltergeists. I took my “wand” and left as the mother began screaming at her son. 

People find creative ways to try and fool the ghost hunter, but so far I have discovered the attempts and unmasked the tricksters. It does warn us all to be wary when we investigate the unknown, because sometimes the explanation exists with the living residents and not the dead. 

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