Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sise Inn’s Playful Ghosts

Portsmouth, NH

This Bed and Breakfast is located in the quaint seaside town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

John Sise, a wealthy businessman built this Queen Anne style home on land formally owned by his wife’s family in 1881. He and his wife Lucy, and their daughter Mabel lived happily on the property for years. When Mabel married she and her husband inherited the home.

In the 1930s the property was sold and then used as business and doctor’s offices. It later was a beauty salon and then was converted into apartments. By the 1950s the home was being used as a halfway house for the mentally ill.

It was at this time the haunting was first noticed by several patients. 

Sise Inn today.
In 1986 the home was renovated and became the Sise Inn. This inn has a charming Victorian Era atmosphere. Every room has antiques and the butter wood paneling adds to the overall warmth of this 3-story building.

At the time the inn opened a modern light-filled atrium was added to the building.

With guests coming and going the ghostly activity became more pronounced.

Two Ghosts

Some feel there are two ghosts at the inn one being male and the other female. Both are very mischievous--especially the male ghost who appears to be the more active of the two.

Ghosts tend to be fascinated by doors and these two are no different. They like to open and shut doors but they take this a step further and lock and unlock doors.

Haunted Suite 204
One couple staying at the inn returned late one night to find their room key would not open their suite’s door. The desk clerk and the manager tried with their passkeys but they couldn’t unlock the door. At 4:00 a.m. a locksmith was called and this man tried the couple’s key and the door unlocked easily.

Maids at the inn have also reported having trouble unlocking doors--they report cold spots each time this happens.

These two ghosts seem to be obsessed by the inn’s elevator--it often goes up and down and the door opens and closes without human assistance.

They are also fascinated by the inn’s second floor ice machine. One evening the desk clerk heard a commotion upstairs when no guests were staying on the second floor. This staff member found ice strewn around the hall and stacks of cubes melting on the floor in various guest rooms.

Another time a maid saw ice cubes being thrown across a room.

These two also enjoy moving objects. One noted incident involved a large potted plant that was seen levitating off a coffee table by a guest staying in a suite. This man demanded a new room.

A rocking chair that is near the front desk is seen rocking on its own.

In this same area one evening the desk clerk stepped away from the counter briefly and returned to find a pair of scissors on top of the counter--moments before these scissors where in a box where they are normally stored beneath this shelf.

A Ladies’ Man

The male ghost has gained a reputation as being amorous. Female guests often report having their bottoms grabbed. One female visitor reported seeing this ghost lie down on the bed with her.

Maids have also reported his cheeky behavior. One stated this ghost approached her from behind and placed his hands on her hips.

Why is this Inn Haunted?

What is unusual is the two ghosts in this building have no apparent connection to the home’s history. Most haunted houses have former owners, servants or someone that stayed on the property while alive return after death.

One popular backstory or legend that is circulated about the home states a butler of Sise’s fell in love with a housemaid but when their relationship went sour the butler killed the maid and then hung himself. But there is no evidence this actually happened.

Most feel since these two ghosts are playful that it is doubtful they experienced violent or tragic deaths.

Who these two might be remains a mystery.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Washington State: Lady of the Lake

Lake Crescent
Lake Crescent located within Olympic National Park has the reputation for “rarely giving up its dead.”

The following ghost story is an exception to this rule. Olympic Peninsula citizens often share this gruesome, tragic tale about a murder and a body that turned to soap.

The Discovery

One summer morning in 1940 two fishermen boating on Lake Crescent spotted a large object floating on the surface. When they drew near they realized it was a human body wrapped in blankets and hogtied with rope.

The coroner who then took charge of the body discovered a corpse in an unusual condition.

The body had not decomposed or decayed and it had no apparent odor. The flesh was hard and waxy. It was found the body had gone through a process known as saponification--this is where fatty acids convert to soap.

The cold deep waters of the lake had preserved the body and the salt and calcium had slowly converted the tissue into a material similar to Ivory soap called adipocere.

The coroner noted this 36-year old female victim had been murdered for she had discoloration and bruises on her neck and evidence of an extensive hemorrhage on her chest. She had been beaten and strangled.

Her Identity

Despite the well-preserved state of the corpse the authorities had a hard time determing whom this woman was. The body was missing a face, fingertips and toes.

The preserved corpse.
The locals quickly dubbed the mystery corpse--Lady of the Lake.

Her dental records were sent to over 5,000 dentists. Finally a dentist in South Dakota came forward in 1941 stating the upper dental plate belonged to a former patient of his--Hallie Latham.

Hallie Latham Illingworth

Hallie Lathan Illingworth
Hallie was born to a hard-working farm couple in Greenville, Kentucky in 1901. As a young adult she had moved slowly across the west in search of a better life.

By the time she reached Port Angeles in Washington in 1936 she had ended her second marriage and was working at the Lake Crescent Tavern --today known as the Lake Crescent Lodge--as a barmaid.

She met and married her third husband Montgomery “Monty” J. Illingworth, a beer-truck driver and known ladies man in Port Angeles on January 16, 1936.

The marriage was a turbulent one. Hallie often would show up to work with bruises on her arms and face. At one point the police were called in to break up a pre-dawn fierce fight between the two only 5 months into their marriage.

The Disappearance

After almost one year of marriage Hallie suddenly went missing shortly before Christmas in December of 1937. Monty told her family and friends that she had run off with a fisherman from Alaska.

Hallie’s close-knit family though became alarmed when she did not contact them over the holidays.

In the meantime, Monty seemingly unconcerned about his missing wife moved to Long Beach, California with a woman he had been romantically connected to in Port Angeles before Hallie’s disappearance.

By 1938 Monty was granted a divorce from Hallie.

Three years after her disappearance on July 6, 1940 Hallie reappeared as the Lady of the Lake sending the citizens of the Peninsula Coast into shock.

Apprehending a Killer

In October of 1941 Monty Illingworth was arrested in Long Beach. He was brought back to Port Angeles and was put on trail for Hallie’s murder in Clallam County Superior Court in February of 1941.

Monty Illingworth during trail.
This 9-day trail’s sensationalized headlines competed with news about the Second World War around the U.S.

Throughout the trail Monty maintained his innocence. Stating that the body that was found was not his ex-wife. He even stated that she was still “gallivanting around with her lover.”

But the evidence against him was overwhelming. The Dentist from South Dakota was a very credible witness--he insisted the dental plate belonged to Hallie.

Hallie’s friends who testified identified the clothing found with the corpse as belonging to her.

The key evidence turned out to be the heavy rope that the corpse was hogtied with. Monty had borrowed 50 feet of rope from the storekeeper at the lake. The store still had remnants from this rope--the fibers matched exactly.

After 4 hours of deliberation the jurors found Monty guilty of second-degree murder * he was sentenced to life imprisonment at the Washington State Penitentiary at Walla Walla.

Illingworth served 9 years of this sentence and then was paroled in 1951. He died in 1974 in Los Alamitos, California.

* The murder was not considered premeditated --it  was believed instead to be just one more of the couple’s violent fights but this time it had escalated out of control.

The Haunting

Since this murder a legend has grown about Hallie's spirit still haunting the area where she worked and died.

Lake Crescent Tavern
Mid 1930s
Tourists that stay at the lodge have seen her ghost. She is spotted sitting at a table smoking a cigarette. Some unsuspecting visitors have reported she spoke to them.

Staff at the lodge report hearing her clatter up and down the stairs in the early hours of the morning.

Other reports include lights flickering, doors slamming and music playing loudly in the lounge. Some state this makes sense since Hallie liked to drink while alive.

She is also seen walking along the lake’s shore. She is described as a dark, pale translucent figure. More legendary reports mention she is sometimes seen gliding across the water.

One first person account mentions seeing Monty in a rowboat and him carelessly dropping Hallie’s weighted body into the deceptive waters of Lake Crescent. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Belmez Ghost Faces

In 1971, Belmez de la Moraleda a tiny town located in southern Spain became the center of a world paranormal controversy that is still hotly debated today.

Maria Gomez Pereira was cooking in her kitchen when she noticed a face start to form on the cement floor beneath her feet. Maria a superstitious woman had her husband destroy the cement with a pick ax. He then laid a fresh slab of cement.

A week later the face reappeared again on the spot where the slab was replaced. Maria then noticed this face faded but later another one replaced it on her floor.

Word spread quickly and people by the thousands began to show up in Belmez with the hope of catching a glimpse of this strange phenomenon that became known later as the Belmez Faces.

Research was done and it was discovered that the Pereira home sat on an area that had been used for 100s of years as a burial site. The Belmez City Council decided to excavate the spot where the faces appeared.

Nine feet down human remains were found. When these bodies were removed and given a “proper burial” it was assumed the faces would stop appearing. But this wasn’t the case.

After this excavation more faces appeared--among them smaller ones that appeared to be children.

Scientists and paranormal teams where called in to try and determine what was happening. * It was felt by many that these faces could easily be debunked. But again this wasn’t the case.

Skeptics immediately announced that it was just a hoax. Over the years many have pointed to the Pereira’s son as the culprit, stating he was painting these faces on the home’s floor and the family was just out to gain attention.

One problem with this is it was determined the faces were apparently within the cement not on it. The mayor of Belmez at one point had the slab completely removed--it had two different faces on it at the time-- so it could be checked for tampering etc.

No definitive conclusions were drawn from this investigation including any kind of chemical reaction. No paint was found on the cement.

Bender and Argumosa
The main investigative team of Hans Bender and Greman de Argumosa arranged to have the floor in the kitchen and the home sealed off for 3 days. No one was allowed in during this time.

When the Pereira’s home was reopened it was discovered that the face on the floor that was observed before the home was sealed off had shifted position. 

Oddly, neither of these two men ever published an official report about their investigations. Bender did make the following statement during a lecture.

“In Belmez, slight changes of the faces’ configuration during the period when the phenomenon was under seal (attested by a notary) have contributed to ensure its paranormal origin.”

Maria eventually viewed the faces as a blessing and the Periera’s stopped trying to remove them. She lived with them for 33-years--these faces were both male and female and appeared in various shapes and sizes. 

In 2004, Maria died at the age of 85.

It was believed after her death the faces would stop appearing. They did stop but strangely soon after her death they appeared in another home nearby--the one she was born in.

* Some investigators felt the faces were a “thoughtographic” phenomenon--caused by Maria--which is the ability to burn an image onto a surface with the power of the mind.

The following has an investigator that believes Maria was the cause like mentioned above. It also has an interview with Maria--my impression is she is telling the truth.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Ghost of Lon Chaney

Lon Chaney Sr. was a beloved character actor in the silent film era.

His portrayals of tortured, often grotesque and afflicted characters are celebrated even today. 

Lon Chaney's Phantom
Lon Chaney’s skilled and artistic use of makeup set him a part in roles such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923, and The Phantom of the Opera 1925.

His unique ability to transform himself with makeup earned him the nickname, The Man of a Thousand Faces.

Chaney’s characters of Quasimodo the bell ringer of Norte Dame and Erik, the phantom of the Paris Opera House are considered to be “the most grotesquely deformed characters” in film history.

But this is not why he is beloved by all who view his films. What many forget is the success of most of his characters resulted from the fact they solicited both sympathy and pathos from the viewing audience. This is the true testament to Chaney’s ability to act.

Under the masks he created for his characters was a compelling need for all things human.

Chaney often picked characters that experienced unrequited love-- he chose to betray men who it would be impossible to love. This concept hit home with his audiences because as author Ray Bradbury once stated, Lon Chaney brought a universal fear--never to be loved--out into the open.

Chaney's Quasimodo

Lon Chaney Sr.
Lon Chaney Sr. had talents beyond the horror genre and his makeup artistry. He was a highly skilled dancer. This is evident in the grace in which most of his characters moved across the screen. He was also a comedian and a singer with a rich baritone voice.

He died of Lung Cancer in 1930 at the age of 47.

The Phantom Stage

Stage 28 at Universal Studios located in Los Angeles is known as The Phantom Stage. It was on this stage where Lon Chaney filmed his classic story The Phantom of the Opera.

For years, both visitors and employees of this studio have considered Stage 28 to be haunted. The ghost that is seen is believed to be Lon Chaney.

Electricians, carpenters, designers, art directors and studio security guards have all reported seeing a man in a black cape who comes and goes without warning.

Many who have seen this figure’s face close up have stated it is looks just like Lon Chaney Sr.

The Phantom of the Opera set is
still hidden at the back of  stage 28.
Visitors and employees have reported seeing Chaney’s ghost running overhead in the catwalks. It is sometimes reported he carries a chandelier.

Security guards who are reticent to talk about this ghost often admit that when Stage 28 is shut down for the night they have seen lights go on and off and heard doors slam shut when the stage is deserted.

Other witnesses have stated they have heard whispered voices on this stage that have no logical source.