Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What Would You Do? Weird Soup

This is another in my series that presents you with a client's haunted house scenario for you to tell me how you would handle it.

The house was about 50 years old. Not old by most standards, except for Arizona where that was considered historic. The homeowner complained of footsteps in the hall, whispering voices and lots of electrical issues. This was an impressive constellation of issues that often come together in a haunting. To top it off, the land was atop of the ancient HoHoKam (ancient tribe that disappeared without explanation) canals where there seemed to be a lot of activity in that part of town. What the homeowner reported was pretty typical for issue in that particular part of The Valley.

She and her family checked out as very normal people. They were preparing to move, so the house was partially packed. She wondered at first if taking down her Catholic idolatry might have instigated things, but upon questioning, activity seemed to be present most of the years they had lived there.

When asked if her visiting adult children were experiencing the issues when they stayed, she said that they had mentioned hearing various sounds of footsteps in the hall, not distinct, but more like sliding or dragging and problems with their computers and lamps turning off.

When asked for one impressive event, she said her cat seemed to be very sensitive to the problems. He followed her down the hall while she as doing chores one day and the sat in the entry way and stared at the light on the wall in the hall and it suddenly turned on. She made an immediate connection between the two things and assumed the cat saw something she did not.

With that unusual feature, the study of the home began. How would you go about this task?


  1. I think I'd bring in a cat or two, and perhaps some other animals, and observe their behavior.

    I think animals have much to teach us dumb humans.

  2. Bubba;
    You're on the right track. We did check out the cat's behavior around there which seemed perfectly normal. It did at one point in the conversation sit down in the same entry way spot and looked up at the light, but the light did not go on.

  3. Hmmmm....I'll have to agree with Bubba. I'd make a point to study the behavior of her cat, and any other animal she may have. Bringing in another animal may also help, but you have to understand, when an animal is brought into a strange situation and/or place they are going to act strange anyway, because it's not their "house"...so a "foreign" animal may NOT present with the desired reactions. They will be more tuned in to the fact that "hey, this isn't my house! Who are these strange people? Why the HELL am I here!"....so the best bet is to work with the animals that are currently residing there. That way there is no "adjusting" period, which for some animals could take up to 3-6 months.

  4. Good point, T-Dear! You bring another animal and it will invariably be stuck sniffing all evidence of another animal in the area. Since her cat seemed to know something, we decided to start a basic study of the house to see if we could find anything apparently wrong with it. We let the cat follow us to use it as an early warning device. With so many electrical issues, I went for a baseline EMF reading and found it was nearly off the charts! The house had no real baseline, it was elevated in the entire building with no place registering under 1 milligauss and most areas showing 3-8 which is ridiculously high. Following the lines from plug outlets, I was able to determine the wall electrical was a mess. The house's wiring was insane. Now, we might have a reason for electrical issues, but we still weren't sure just what was going on. At one point, I noticed a vent near the floor and asked about this feature which is unusual in AZ. She let me unscrew it and look inside. While we were working on it, I flicked on the hall light but it didn't go on. I figured the lightbulb must be out. The woman assured me that the switch was intermittent. That intrigued me as the light managed to go on when the cat was staring at it. I got on my knees and looked into the vent which was a hole that lead under the house--a dirt tunnel. It was an early form of air-conditioner register return and very archaic. In fact, when it rained, the hole would fill up with water and swoosh, creating what sounded like something sliding along the hallway as it tunneled directly under the hall. I made a note to have her listen to it during the next rain. With the vent there, you could certainly have a great access to the swishing sounds. When I got up from the floor, a rumbling car went down the street and the hall light that I had left on turned on. What happened was the woman would come into the house, hit the hall light to see and it wouldn't turn on a good deal of the time, so she'd move on and turn on a lamp light in the room, leaving the switch on. When the house vibrated, the hall light would seem to go on for no reason, but the switch was in the on position. My advice--get your electrical looked at--it's a hazard.

  5. Sucio;
    You are so right. Probably Taiwanese wiring too.

  6. Sometimes logic explains all. Thanks for clearing that up so I didn't look foolish guessing.

  7. MM;
    I'd love to see what you would do. We started from the ground up. I'm rather logical and so I started with electrical since it was the biggest complaint and the vent thing was a lucky find. They did discover that water rushes through there and makes the most insane sounds like people shuffling in the hallway.

  8. how I'd go? I'd walk right out of there and go to somewhere less scary :P

    following you now, you've got some interesting stuff in here

    my blog, if you feel like giving it a click :)

  9. I think cat saw something she did not. Cats are highly efficient predators and have acute sences of sight hearing and smell in comparison to humans especially in the dark.

  10. Zoey;
    That can would not break. We even tried water torture and we all know how much cats hate water!

  11. I've had a second thought, prompted by Echo's comment about cats being 'highly efficient predators'.

    Rodents are known to travel inside walls, so maybe the cat was listening to something scratching around near the light.

    Then some short in the wire was jiggled at just the right time for the light to suddenly come on.

    When investigators showed up, the rodent in question didn't stick around in the same place.

  12. Bubba;
    Very good thought. With those hollowed out tunnels under the floors too, it's a fantastic way for rodents to get inside. They might have been causing a good deal of their electrical issues. I need to follow up on them and see if they had their electrical worked on yet.

  13. I'd lay money they find gnawing damage in their wiring. Rodents love to gnaw wires for some reason.

  14. When I originally moved into my house, one of the switches was like that. It either worked or did not, depending on its mood. However, if it was left in the "on" position and the switch hadn't turned the light on (fairly common), it would often turn itself on....eventually. Sometimes as much as a day later.

    Just a matter of cruddy wiring and a gunked up connection.

  15. "Cruddy wiring and junked up connection" (official cause of haunting) :-)

  16. Look at that! I was right, and I didn't even have to visit the site.