Imprisoned

Posted: January 14, 2016 in Uncategorized

The oldest jail in Los Angeles is home to some seriously deranged energy. In the audio clip above, you can hear a male voice in the background saying, “Hey baby”. Seems appropriate, since there were several women attending this investigation, including many officers in the LAPD. One of them was accosted by someone who apparently didn’t appreciate her presence in the jail, for obvious reasons. I won’t go into detail about her experience; it was upsetting to her and unnerving for those of us listening to her story.

The “Goodbye” is fairly clear in this clip. Maybe whoever was still there wanted us to leave; but we didn’t oblige them.

At the very beginning of this audio clip, you can hear scurrying footsteps. I like this one, since we all heard these footsteps at the time, as well. The idea that someone unseen was running through the dark and empty rooms behind us was unsettling, to say the least. This was not an investigation for the faint of heart.

People have broken in many times to cover the walls with graffiti and litter the floors with garbage. The first floor is a monument to neglect and sadness.

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The experience that evening was odd for me. I had that familiar feeling of “oppression,” that unique feeling that you had better watch yourself carefully, because there were forces attempting to invade your psyche. The spirits there went on the attack a couple of times, leaving some of us emotionally drained. I was very careful this time. I know what bad people can do to you, whether alive or dead.

Marsha told me later that the area we all thought was only an old cafeteria also housed the morgue. That makes sense. It felt far, far too dark and depressing to simply be a cafeteria. At the point we were investigating that area, I kept my head down while others asked all the questions. This has become my usual modus operandi when investigating traumatized sites: I stay silent. The reason for this is simple: I don’t want to talk to those souls who might not welcome my presence, or might have some interest in harming me psychologically.

It was fascinating to watch the newer investigators. I think they started the evening as a fun adventure, something interesting and novel to do on a cold night. However, about halfway into the investigation, they were very subdued. At least a couple of people were genuinely scared, but not in the “scream and run” way, but that other scared: when you know you’ve walked into a situation utterly beyond your control and you can’t identify the aggressor. You can’t see him or touch him, only perceive him as a threatening presence. Is there anything worse for those in law enforcement, used to at least some measure of control when faced with a hostile person? You can hear voices in the distant rooms, you can feel the looming nastiness pushing into you, you can even hear them walking around, but you can’t do anything at all to protect yourself physically. You are utterly vulnerable.

Some people refuse to investigate this place, and I completely understand their point of view. Why surround yourself with such evil? Why indeed . . . while I can’t fully answer that question, I can say that when something is so mysterious, the curious have to keep trying to figure out how such a thing could happen, how someone could survive their deaths in this manner.

Dangerous? Yes. Will I go back if invited? Absolutely.

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The Cursed House

Posted: January 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

I don’t usually start a blog post with an audio clip. This one, however, is pretty impressive. My husband and I were in the back bedroom of a house that will not sell. The door was closed. We did not leave during the time we recorded this, and we neither opened nor closed any doors. I know this because we are talking about a cord under a lamp; we were both examining it and commenting on the ugly, utilitarian nature of it and how it was off balance due the cord wrapped underneath it. That was all we were doing. There is no explanation for the closing door and the squeaking door you hear in the audio.

Let me back up. The agent for this house has asked me to keep this post general and neutral regarding its location. She contacted the PHW for help with a home that has sat on the market for several months now, something almost unheard of in a very tight, competitive real estate market. This house is located in an area where homes sell quickly and often for over asking price. She was fairly desperate to sell, since the son of the owner needed to move his mother out of there ASAP. As of this writing, there were multiple accepted offers that fell out of escrow because the buyer changed his/her mind at the last minute.

This can happen occasionally, but never have I heard of it happening repeatedly. When a buyer pays for an inspection and appraisal and removes the contingencies, 99% of the time the sale goes through. And yet, in this crazy hot market, this had happened more than once to this home that–from the outside–was innocuous and pretty in a standard, West Valley way. Since I was only able to set up a walk through and investigation during an open house, my husband and I were the only ones in the group who could make it. We were determined to figure out this mystery, and we might have done so.

I did my research. The owner’s father had passed away about a year ago, and spent his last weeks in bed in the back bedroom. The bed where he lost his battle to cancer occupies a far corner of the master bedroom. The owner’s mother doesn’t want to sell, but realizes she has no choice. Right away, you have a potent mix of grief, attachment to the house and fear of the future that combine to drown the house in emotion. But there was more. As we drove up to the house, I noticed the window next to the garage. Something was wrong with that area of the house. As we walked in and dispensed with the pleasantries with four real estate agents who were all there to see what we would do, my husband took some EMF readings.

The entryway EMF levels were off the charts. They were even higher in the room by the garage, the one I didn’t like on an instinctual level. The high levels in the entryway could be explained by the alarm system, whose central hub was by the front closet; however, this did not explain the crazy readings in other areas of the house. An electrician had checked all the wiring and electrical systems as part of the routine house inspection, and he had found nothing out of the ordinary. Almost immediately, the back of my head started throbbing. Oddly enough, when I first heard about this house and was on my way to drive past it, the same headache seized me in the car. Listing to the audio in my office provoked the same, physical response of intense pain in the back of my neck and head.

While in the house, the head pain might be explained by the high EMF readings; however, I don’t understand the other incidents. In any case, the house had other issues, as well. It was largely empty, since the sparse furniture had been pushed back to the walls. The windows were without decoration of any kind; no moldings, no frames, no decorative flourishes anywhere. The tile floor gave the house an institutional feeling. Outside in the back yard, the ornate, white lampposts were all leaning to one side, as if some mischievous child had pushed them. The outside, enclosed patio was marred by oddly shaped cut-outs that were supposed to be windows, I think. Everything seemed slightly off balance or strangely constructed, like someone’s home projects had all gone slightly awry.

It was the back bedroom that took my breath away. It felt heavy and strange. The sick bed in the corner oozed misery. My head felt as if it were going to explode, and my dizziness almost knocked me off my feet. My whole body responded and reacted to the emotional energy in the room. I ran audio and a couple ‘ghost apps’ while taking pictures to document the physical issues in the home. Then, I simply meditated on the situation.

I came to the conclusion that the mother’s grief was the core issue, more than a conventional haunting. She was holding on to her husband’s memory and spirit, and the home had absorbed the sadness of his passing. She didn’t want to leave, I believe, because she felt that he was still in the house. The interplay of her mourning and her need to hold on to her husband might have trapped part of his consciousness in the house. His presence, however, was not as strong as her pain. I don’t think he can move on nor can that house ever sell as long as the mother of the owner refuses to let her husband transition to his new reality. I think she still feels him in the house and believes that if she moves, she has lost him completely and forever, even though all she has now is a faint experience of his spirit and her memories.

So what explains the fact that people walk into the house, stay less than two minutes, and leave? What explains why someone would attempt to purchase the home, spend money on inspections and appraisals, and change their minds in the eleventh hour? I understand why people come in and walk out of that house; the combination of the high EMF, the ‘off balance’ visuals, the lack of decor, the strange positioning of the furniture, are enough to drive potential buyers away. It’s harder to explain the buyers’ last ditch cold feet. As investigators, many of us pick up on a home’s emotions, ‘vibes’ and energies very quickly, because we’ve trained ourselves to do that, and it’s our intention to divine the spirit of a place. However, for someone not looking to connect to those energies and simply buy a house, the spiritual and emotional issues in a house do not present themselves right away. Over time, on the third, fourth or fifth visit to the house, the buyer feels progressively more uncomfortable. Something ‘works’ on her, creating a feeling of unease that won’t go away and increases with every hour she spends there. This produces an anxiety that ramps up and resists a buyer’s ability to deny the obvious: the house is haunted.

The living can haunt their own homes with equal or greater force than the ontologically challenged (the dead). Sooner or later, everyone figures out that a house does not want to be sold. As of this writing, this home is still available. But I won’t give out the address; you would never buy it anyway.

EVP #2: For those with good ears and headphones, you will hear a faint “no” after my question.

EVP #3: Odd thumps and bangs occurring during the EVP session. Please note that the agents are constantly talking in the background and form ‘white noise’. Any anomalies you hear are close to the microphone and not coming from distant rooms where people are talking.

EVP #4: Here I am speaking with one of the agents about the house and the bedroom. There is a very sad sigh under our conversation and perhaps some words. This is not coming from any of us.

HAUNTED BATHROOM

Posted: December 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

There is a haunted bathroom at Serrania Park in Woodland Hills. Every time I walk in there, I feel the strange and disturbing energy, so I quickly pee and run. Sure, it sounds silly and funny, but if you’re an investigator, you know that there is something about bathrooms that seems to hang onto trauma or negative emotion. We all have our theories about this. Mine is simply this: bad things happen in bathrooms. People are vulnerable. They have their pants down. Predators and unbalanced individuals lie in wait in bathrooms. There are too many opportunities for the unhinged and the violent to attack people who are half naked and trapped in a stall.

I don’t like using the restrooms in public places. I always feel like a trapped animal, always on alert for someone about to lock the main door and drag me out of my hiding place. Horror movies play on this fear all of the time. The hapless victim (usually a pretty girl) thinks she’s alone in the stall, her pants around her ankles, when a horrid hand grabs her leg and drags her out kicking and screaming. In the next scene, all you see is blood pooling on the floor and dripping from the walls.

If you have investigated any state hospitals, then you know that the bathrooms carry the heaviest and most traumatized feelings. I suspect many rapes happen in bathrooms, along with other forms of abuse and molestation. That is why I limit my time in those areas of buildings, especially buildings with a sad, violent and painful history. However, this does not explain what is going on the women’s restroom at Serrania Park.

I have learned not to speculate too wildly on what I think happened in a place, so I won’t pretend that I know anything about this particular restroom. But I will say this: I have become very good at picking up stories and feelings emanating from places, rooms, buildings, sites and areas. My entire being is like one, giant antennae for distressed feelings. Marsha, Erin and Jennifer are exactly the same. Those ladies are like psychic sponges. I haven’t yet dragged them to investigate the restroom. It’s too small, for one.

So, investigators, if you find yourself in Woodland Hills, go check out this place and maybe let me know what you pick up. I have some ideas, but I’m keeping them to myself. Please write to us if you do manage to find yourself there with some equipment, because I would like to know if there is a story we can all put together.

Thank you for reading and happy hunting.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD/PHW

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Illness and the Paranormal

Posted: December 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

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It’s a common complaint. After an intense investigation, many of us feel sick. In my case, a haunted location will manifest itself first as an intense headache, usually starting in the back of my neck and working itself up to the top of my head. If the spiritual energy is heavy enough, I’ll find myself dizzy and nauseated, and the floor will feel like it’s rising and sinking.

There is a long history of mediums dying young, fraught with various illnesses and diseases. To those who protest that they are investigators and not mediums, let’s look at the word “medium”: in this context, it means the conduit between one reality and another. That is what we all become, with enough experience and hours dedicated to turning ourselves into human antennae. We don’t need to fit the stereotypical image in the medium to actually function as one. We do not engage in dramatic displays of clairvoyance or dress like a member of Fleetwood Mac, nor do we gaze into crystals or pretend that Uncle Joe is talking into our ear with special messages for a paying customer; no, instead we devote hundreds of hours fine tuning our ability to connect with spiritual energies that pick up and respond to our willingness to make our conscious and unconscious minds available to them to use any way they see fit.

This meditative state we fall into on a ‘ghost hunt’ takes a toll on our health, both emotional and physical. The more negative the energy, the worse we feel. The only times I have felt invigorated by an investigation and not sick happened after spending many hours at spiritually active churches or ancient adobes. After investigating defunct state hospitals or prisons, I usually develop a blinding migraine, suffer from terrible nightmares or can’t get out of bed for a couple of days. That is why I limit those kinds of investigations now; what used to be exhilarating and sheer awesome excitement is now draining and overwhelming.

Some might object that it’s the physical environment that creates the illnesses, such as mold, dust and various toxic residues from the building’s past. While I don’t discount the dangers of old buildings, there is a difference between engaging in urban exploring and engaging the residual energies of a psychopath or mentally ill and angry spirit. When I wander through destroyed and abandoned sites without turning myself into a medium for distressed energies, I am fine afterwards. When I limit myself to taking photos or picking through debris looking for odd bits and pieces of someone’s life, nothing happens afterwards. However, as soon as I turn on my recorder and start asking questions, the headaches, nausea, dizziness and unsteadiness hit me like a wave.

It seems that the more ‘sensitive’ I am, the more my body falls apart. That, for the most part, explains why I’ve become so selective about where I investigate and who is with me. My protection rituals help, but they do not completely keep me from physical and emotional drainage. This all reminds me of a student I had years ago who confessed to having investigated New Orleans haunted buildings (of which there are many) years and years ago. At that time, I was a relatively new investigator, and I wanted to hear all about it. After class, she pulled me aside and told me that she doesn’t ever conduct investigations anymore. I couldn’t imagine why not. It made no sense!

“Because,” she said, “it became scarier and darker. And . . . because I started to get sick.” After that, she refused to discuss it. I didn’t understand what she was talking about then. I do now.

What truly scares me are the number of investigators I know who have developed serious illnesses during the few years I have known them. What’s happened to them seems far beyond the realm of coincidence. I can’t definitely connect investigations with the resultant illnesses, and I can’t say for sure if these diseases would have popped up regardless of their paranormal pursuits, but there is enough evidence for a connection that I have scaled back my outings, and when I do go out on an investigation, I tend to keep quiet.

It’s almost as if, after years of calling attention to myself in the spirit world, I don’t want them to notice me anymore.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PHW/PhD

 

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One would think that the longer you investigate paranormal phenomena and the world of spirit, the less afraid you would feel. One might even think that it would be business as usual, occasionally boring, but certainly nothing to fear anymore. One would be wrong.

Boredom is only a factor when you’re not paying serious attention to what’s going on around you, either because your devices are all-consuming or there are too many (human) distractions. If you are truly tuned in to the worlds you can’t see, then your fear can escalate over time. It can become, sometimes, overwhelming. I should say here that I am representing my own feelings–Kirsten’s–and not necessarily how Erin, Jennifer or Marsha feel. Maybe they would have a different opinion about this.

For me, the recent news of two investigators’ violent deaths comes as a warning and a wake-up call. I cannot say for sure whether or not their investigations had any effect on their emotions, behavior or the tragedy that ensued; but if they were anything like me and others I know in the paranormal field, those investigations certainly impacted them on many levels. Investigators routinely live in more than one world, and we have little idea who we are reaching on the “other side” from us; we can hope that those voices are human and kind, but we are often wrong. Just as we run into many unsavory characters in the material world, I imagine that there are just as many souls that are lost and corrupted who take the time to communicate with you. In fact, I often wonder if the impure of heart and the hopelessly lost form the majority of the spirits that answer our inquiries.

Otherwise, I doubt that they would have time for us. Anyone imprinting his voice on my audio or using my mind and emotions to communicate with me is probably in some sort of spiritual trouble. I leave out of this equation family members who desire to reach out to loved ones with the intention of relieving their worry or grief. For everyone else, there are probably darker motivations for communication. When I enter a building with a solid, haunted reputation, it takes me less than a minute to pick up the emotional content of the place. That has come with years and years of experience. That immediate impact affects me more deeply now than it did five or ten years ago. Now, when I walk into a troubled building, I almost lose my breath. It hurts.

One thing I noticed about agreeing to home investigations where the activity was strange or upsetting: afterwards, I would feel drained, with the characteristic headache at the base of my neck. That headache usually extended into the next day and sometimes into the next week. I would feel ‘off,’ slightly out of control of my emotions and exhausted to the point of feeling physically ill. Many paranormal investigators don’t have great boundaries, a characteristic that makes them effective at picking up spirit activity; however, it also leaves you vulnerable to the emotions and intentions of some very troubled and angry people. I also noticed that listening for EVP for hours on end can damage your well-being in many, subtle ways. Paranormal activity would spike all around me while I listened to my audio because I was connecting myself to another reality. That reality is one that none of us understand well.

Investigators often fight intensely over ethics, good practices, techniques, how to publish results of investigations and where investigations are conducted. What we don’t talk about enough is how what we do affects our emotional and spiritual life. In some cases, it seems to be all for the good; in others, it leads to tremendous pain, conflict and loss. Most paranormal groups fade out in about three years or so. The ones that don’t are careful, very careful, about where they investigate and with whom. They have particular, individual practices for self protection. They also know when it’s time to take a break from that world and focus on something else: our families, our lives in the here and now, our friends.

The PHW have learned when to take a step back and when to jump in with both feet. Right now, it seems the paranormal community needs to love, respect and take care of one another more than anything else. We have all proven to ourselves that, in addition to the great joys, there are great dangers in the spirit world. Let’s remember to protect ourselves and each other. If we don’t, then more of us will be lost to that world we only see through a glass, darkly.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

PHW LA TIMES

HAUNTED and ALONE

Posted: June 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

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The Walker House in San Dimas has a restless little spirit, a boy about 10 or 11 years old. The historic building has been converted into a beautiful restaurant, and the wait staff know that they have a ghost.

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He seems to spend much time in the basement, although he has been seen on the third floor in and around one particular room, which three of the Paranormal Housewives identified independently of each other. We can feel his presence very strongly.

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We lured him with a teddy bear, equipped with motion detectors and other sensors. He ‘answered’ our yes and no queries in a very logical fashion, giving us as much information as he could via our technology.

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There was a particularly sad moment: I asked if he was with any friends, and the bear lit up like a Christmas tree. Then Marsha asked if he was in Heaven: no response at all. It was the only question he did not answer, and his silence made us realize, yet again, how little we understand about the afterlife, and how mysterious these contacts truly are.

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He answered more questions later, but his silence regarding Heaven made me wonder: is “Heaven” a concept that has no meaning to him? Is “Heaven” a purely religious concept with no meaning in the afterlife?

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The Walker house has more than one child roaming the building. They have been spotted in the restroom, running around corners and wandering through the dining room. The staff has heard many odd, unexplained noises, and when we were there, the lights flickered on and off for the duration of our visit. They said that had never happened before.

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As of this writing, I do not know of any reason that the Walker House would have child spirits inhabiting it. It was not a private residence; however, there is no way to know who might have spent time there over the many, many decades of its existence.

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And there is no way to know, of course, who may have died there and why they consider the Walker House their version of Heaven.

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–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD/PHW

715,000 for 800 square feet. Yup. Only in L.A.

$715,000 for 800 square feet. Yup. Only in L.A.

I won’t belabor the point, nor will I continue to write on this topic, but I ask that my readers give me one more chance to discuss the topic of housing in Los Angeles.

I decided yesterday to run the numbers and see what my husband and I could afford to buy in the greater Los Angeles area. My husband is an attorney, and I am a tenured professor at a local college. We are not rich by any stretch of the imagination, but we’re certainly making a respectable income. We are solidly middle class. Anywhere else in the country, owning our home would be expected and relatively easy to do; but here, we can afford a $408,000 home. What does that get you in Woodland Hills, the city where our jobs happen to be? NOTHING. There is NO HOME CURRENTLY FOR SALE that would could buy. There was one, but they were only accepting all cash offers. Who has all cash? The multitudes of investors buying all of the houses in the area and renting them out for absurd prices.

I checked Calabasas and Agoura. There was one house, and here it is:

Actually, MORE than we can afford. Notice the square footage. Plus, it's a tear down.

Actually, MORE than we can afford. Notice the square footage. Plus, it’s a tear down.

I love old houses, don’t get me wrong; my dream is to live in a house from the 1920s, and here is a house!!! So, what’s the problem? Well, for starters, it has 700 square feet. The other issue? It’s in such terrible condition that it must be torn down. I know this because my husband and I actually visited this home a year ago when the residents were clearing out the house. No renovations had been done in at least 60 years, and the entire foundation was crumbling. The list of what is wrong with this place would take many hours to detail, but suffice to say that I am VERY willing to fix up an old house, and even I could not imagine how I could even start to fix this disaster.

Here is a house that we cannot afford to buy in Woodland Hills (it’s about $90,000 too high, but it’s the closest thing I can find):

Very pretty, right? 700 square feet. No garage. No bathroom on the ground floor. A kitchen the size of a closet.

Very pretty, right? 700 square feet. No garage. No bathroom on the ground floor. A kitchen the size of a closet.

The one above is in the cheapest neighborhood in Woodland Hills. It’s a vintage Girard cabin. Perfect for us. I checked it out with great enthusiasm and high hopes. Even in our wildest dreams, we don’t fit into a 700 square foot home. This one is surrounded by houses that stare down at the tiny backyard, and there is nowhere to park and no garage. The bedroom is downstairs and requires one to walk up a circular, metal staircase in order to use the one bathroom. It used to be a rock musician’s studio. No one ever thought to actually live there. The kitchen is the tiniest affair I have ever seen–it is literally smaller than my very small closet.

The monthly payment for the above homes is around $4,000 per month if you add in taxes, insurance, PMI and fees that the FHA charges for their 3.5% down payment program.

The home we rent has 1100 square feet, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a huge deck with a killer view of the entire Valley, a big kitchen, is on a fabulous street with much more expensive homes and is vintage 1962 in excellent condition. We pay $2300 per month, and the rental company takes care of all maintenance and repairs.

We all know this, I suppose, but it’s recent news to my stubborn self. Unless you are an all-cash investor, a flipper, a huge rental conglomerate, a REIT or a millionaire, you will not be buying a home in the Los Angeles area. So what, you might say. Who cares? I care. When you squeeze out the middle class to the point that over 70% of Angelinos cannot afford to buy a home, you create a situation where families have to cram into tiny apartments and cannot invest in their neighborhoods or help to create a community. The history, charm and beauty of the many neighborhoods in Los Angeles is lost as investors buy up and tear down historic homes, or they gut them and “remodel” them with the cheapest Home Depot specials so that they are “renter friendly.” The owners in our neighborhoods are no longer families who carefully tend to their yards and who host block parties and yard sales. We are the middle class, and we can’t lovingly build and create our local communities, because we are not allowed in.

As much as I need to rent and appreciate the ability to do so, I also know that I don’t improve the property or make a big effort to garden and paint because it’s not my house. I keep it up, but I don’t do all those little things that homeowners do. I would have painted the front door. I would have replaced the spider plants with rosemary. I would have terraced the back hill. I would have repainted the trim and stripped the kitchen cabinets. All those little projects that make a house a home are on indefinite hold, because I know that I am a temporary occupant of that house. I sign papers that say I have one more year to live there, MAYBE another year after that, but at some point, the owner will decide to sell, and we won’t be able to afford to buy it. So we’ll move on to another rental property unless the real estate market has crashed to the point that we can afford to buy.

We are taught that owning a home is one of those markers of adulthood, something that makes us true members of a community and allows us to upgrade not only our home, but the entire neighborhood. We grow up believing that only the young, the poor or the unstable and uncommitted choose to rent. Of course, that’s not true; but the ideology of this country pushes us in the direction of owning. I know realize that this is purely an economic reality and has nothing to do with status, morals, values or some home-spun Rockwell painting depicting the American Dream. We are pushed hard into buying a home by a culture bought and paid for by banks, lenders, agents and other financial institutions and . . . dare I say it . . . our own government, based on one thing and one thing only: they all make lots of money if we buy houses. The further we sink into debt, the more money we throw into a hugely inflated mortgage, the more fees and insurance we cough up, the more money our financial institutions make, and all those associated with them.

I watched more than half of the people in my old neighborhood undergo extreme financial and emotional trauma as most lost their houses and were forced to move. The pain was–as is–palpable, as houses sit vacant and start to fall apart. How could we possibly think that the crisis is over? It’s only over for the wealthy. It’s not over, not by a long shot, for the middle class Angelino. I’m grateful for my little house on the hill, don’t get me wrong–but something is wrong when I realize that we will never be able to purchase a home in the town we call home, the town where we work, the neighborhoods that we love and have dedicated much time and energy to. We serve this community in a variety of ways, and yet we cannot put down roots here and feel that we are truly welcome to stay as long as we wish.

This is really about the abysmal differences in social class in this part of the world. It’s really about the fact that the middle class is sliding down that economic ladder while others occupy the top 1%. What do we need? Do I dare say, a revolution?

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD