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    "Death is no more than passing from one room into another." – HELEN KELLER

Happy Halloween

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Reader Submission - "The Anguished Man"

This story was submitted by Sean Robinson:



Over twenty five years ago a friend of my Grandmother gave her an old oil painting called "The Anguished Man". She told my Grandmother that the artist used his own blood mixed in with the oils and committed suicide shortly after finishing the painting. I have no way of confirming if this story is true or not but my Grandmother passed the story down to me when she gave me the painting. I really liked the painting but because my wife didn’t like it, I kept it in the cellar.

After our cellar was flooded during a prolonged period of heavy rain I moved the contents of the cellar to my parent’s garage while the cellar dried out. When I got the painting back, I decided to keep it in our spare bedroom on the third floor of our house. Shortly after getting the painting back, we started to hear strange noises, loud unexplainable bangs and an odd scraping noise like someone scratching their nails on fabric. When the painting was in the cellar, our dog would not go in the cellar, she would just stand outside growling; now when it was upstairs she refused to go to the top floor despite the fact that she usually used to follow me everywhere.

At night we would often hear crying and sobbing noises. I suppose these noises could have come from outside the noise and it was suggested the crying could have been a cat outside but they sounded like they came from within the house. I wasn’t duly alarmed at this point and put everything down to natural phenomenon. However, I started to see the shadowy figure of a man in the house. It was always just in the corner of the eye or brief fleeting glimpses of a dark shape. Soon the rest of my family were seeing things too. It has been suggested that because we all knew the history of the painting that we were all imagining these things and I suppose that is a possibility but at the time it felt very real.

As the weeks went by, the noises got progressively worse. I even heard crying that seemed to be coming from inside our own bedroom. Again, it has been suggested that this could have been from a cat outside the window but I’ve heard the noises cats make and this sounded distinctively human. A few nights I woke up suddenly and saw the dark figure of a man standing at the foot of the bed. Could I have been dreaming? Again this is a possibility but at the time it felt very real. The figure had the appearance of a tall middle aged man but his features were unclear. I never actually felt afraid at this point just extremely curious. I wanted to find out what was happening. Was it just my imagination or was there something paranormal happening?

We started to notice numerous cold spots around the house and we often had a strange feeling of being watched. I often felt like someone was standing directly behind me and heard whispers that seemed to be extremely close by. One evening my wife had gone to bed early, she thought it was me getting into bed beside her but when she turned around she found herself staring into a strangers eyes. I heard her scream from downstairs and ran upstairs to find her extremely shaken up by the experience. She has since told me she may have had a very lucid dream but at the time she was convinced it had actually happened. After this experience, my wife persuaded me to put the painting back in the cellar. Things settled down almost immediately but once again my dog refused to go anywhere near the cellar. When the painting was upstairs, the dog would quite happily follow me into the cellar.

After posting the videos on YouTube I attracted a lot of interest worldwide and several people asked me if I would consider setting a video camera up in an attempt to record some of the activity. I moved the painting back into the top bedroom and set up the video camera. I recorded for approx eight hours over three consecutive nights. After the first night I was convinced I had left the bedroom door open but in the morning it was closed so I changed the camera angle in order to record more of the bedroom because at first it had been focused solely on the painting. After spending several hours looking through all the footage I found I had recorded quite a lot of noises, most of them sounded like they came from outside the house and were easily explainable but a few were different. They sounded like they came from inside the bedroom. There was a strange scraping sound similar to the noises we had previously been hearing and the sound of a loud bang, like something falling but in the morning nothing was disturbed. When I checked the footage from the second night I found I had recorded the bedroom door suddenly swinging shut despite there being no drafts in the room. The third night I closed the door before recording in the hope it might swing open through the night but on this occasion it remained closed.

I decided to leave the painting in the top bedroom for the time being and over the next few weeks my wife felt someone stroke her hair when she was in the bathroom and one night when I was going to bed I saw a strange fog like mist at the top of the stairs. I walked into the middle of it and it was extremely cold. It felt like I was standing in the middle of some dry ice. My vision was blurred and I became very light headed. Then suddenly it vanished as quickly as it came. Now while some of the incidents could be explained by saying I was dreaming or it was a result of my over active imagination. This strange mist was real. It was something I could see and feel and something for which I can find no explanation. While the painting remained upstairs the whole family experienced feelings of being watched. We also started to hear the noises at night again. Somehow the whole house felt different when the painting was upstairs. I also began to experience intense feelings of anxiety and dread and suffered from terrible nightmares.

At one point it felt like I was being repeatedly and violently lifted up out of bed and slammed back down. I also started dreaming about the painting and kept dreaming about the same man, a tall middle aged man but I could never quite make out his face. After a few weeks I decided to set up the video camera again in the spare bedroom to try and catch some more of the activity on tape. This time I recorded over four consecutive nights for about seven hours each night. I spent hours looking through the footage again and I found I had recorded several strange light anomalies. At the time these were recorded everyone in the house was sleeping, there are thick curtains up in the bedroom so it can't be light from outside. There was one small lamp on in the bedroom at all times. They were not like the usual ‘orbs’ you see on some videos and photographs, they seemed to be moving around and over the painting. I also recorded many noises, such as bangs and scraping sounds that were similar to the sounds in my previous video.

A few days after this was recorded I heard my sons footsteps coming down the stairs then suddenly I heard him stumble and fall down the last four or five steps. I jumped up and rushed to help him, to my relief he was unhurt, just a little shaken up. Later on in the day I could tell that something was bothering him so I asked him what was wrong. He was a little reluctant to tell me at first for fear of sounding stupid but after some persuasion he told me that it felt like something had pushed him downstairs. He said that he was just walking down the stairs when he felt a pressure on his back that pushed him forward. He tried to stop falling but he said the force behind him was too strong. Well this really concerned me. Was I putting my family at risk by keeping the painting in the house? I decided to put the painting away again in the cellar and once again the activity seemed to stop. I have tried to research the paintings background and have posted the story all over the internet in the vague hope that someone will recognize the artist but so far I have had no luck. I have had many offers from people wanting to buy the painting but I really have no desire to sell it.

At first I thought the painting was very unsettling but I put down all the activity to the fact I had been told of its background and perhaps I was imagining things, but the longer I had the painting the more convinced I became that there is something paranormal about it. It has been suggested that because he used his own blood in the oils it could be the restless spirit of the artist but a few people have told me that it may be much more sinister than that. They told me that it could be some sort of demon. At first I was a little disturbed by the activity but I always felt there was nothing malicious or evil about it but since my son’s ‘fall’ down the stairs I’m not too sure. If the painting is indeed ‘haunted’ then is the ‘spirit’ trying to communicate with us, trying to tell us something? I have been advised at various times to burn the painting or even bury it, then I have been told not to burn it because if I burn it and it is some sort of gateway then I would be just sealing whatever has come through into our reality and that could make matters much worse. I have also been told to have it blessed or even exorcised.

I do know now, however, that I don’t want to destroy it. I have asked my family if they know anything about the painting but nobody knows anything about it. All I have to go on is what was passed on to my Grandmother and in turn was passed on to me. Hopefully I will eventually find out the artist’s name and then I will be able to research the validity of its back story. I have tried to remain objective and look at the events rationally but I have no explanation for some of the things I have experienced.

Aokigahara Suicide Forest

Aokigahara Forest
At the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan sits a dense forest. To those who are unfamiliar with it's reputation, Aokigahara would appear like a run-of-the-mill forest. However, venturing inside would reveal the weight it bares. Any unexpected hiker will likely find more than trees, caverns and the lack of wild animals in this forest. Personal items, such as credit cards, wallets and rail passes are often found as well as a decomposing body hanging from a tree limb. Aokigahara is the second most popular suicide location, ranking under the Golden Gate Bridge. There is an average of 50 to 100 suicides bodies found each year. Signs posted throughout the forest telling people to seek professional has saved a few lives but still lack the power to deter all suicides. Why would so many choose this forest as a place to take their own lives?

There area a couple of possible reasons for the high number of suicides. Seichō Matsumoto wrote a book in 1960 called Kuroi Kaiju (Black Sea of Trees) which describes the suicide of two lovers in Aokigahara, leading to romanticizing the act. Although, suicide is believed to have been associated with the forest long before the book was published. It is believed the 19th Century practice of "Ubasute" where an infirm or elderly female relative is carried to a mountain or desolate location and left to die by dehydration or starvation had more than once taken place there. Wataru Tsurumui’s controversial 1993 bestseller, The Complete Suicide Manual, describes various methods of suicide and even lists the forest as "the perfect place to die". Some who have committed suicide in the forest had been found with the book in their possession. However, there are those who think Japan's expectations of excellence may have something to do with it. Citizens who find themselves unable to succeed buckle under the pressure.

Then again, some remains found may not be from those who took their lives willingly. Supposedly, underground iron deposits cause compasses to go haywire and interfere with GPS devices, making it quite easy to get lost. Not only that, but the forest also contains cenotes, collapsed lava tubes, and hidden caves. Each can play their part in taking a life.

Either way, Aokigahara is not only associated with suicides but myth and ghosts as well. When Forestry workers come upon a body in the forest they carry it back to their station where a special room is designated for such occasions. In Japanese mythology, a corpse can not rest alone. If it is, the lonely, unsettled soul or Yurei will scream the whole night, and the body will move itself into the regular sleeping quarters.

Aokigahara is considered the most haunted location in Japan. Dubbed the "Purgatory of Yurei". Hikers have often seen apparitions as well as heard the howl of Yurei on the wind. Some have reported objects moving and seeing shadows amongst the trees. Spiritualists say that the trees themselves are filled with a malevolent energy, accumulated from decades of suicides. They try to prevent you from getting back out. They say if you look hard at the trees, you can see the faces of the dead in the bark.

Today, the forest is littered with colored tape used by walkers to find their way among the trees as well as discarded items and nooses, used to facilitate the suicide of its recent victims and bouquets of flowers left by grieving friends and family members.

Sneak Peek Tuesday - Ghost Hunters/Paranormal Witness



TAPS investigates a local factory turned bar in Claremont, New Hampshire that serves patrons from the other side. Ghost Hunters Wednesday at 9/8c.



The season finale of Paranormal Witness reexamines the story of Chicagoans Ed and Marsha Becker whose haunted Northwest Side home led to the first nationally televised exorcism in the US broadcasted by NBC in April 1971. The exorcism was conducted by nationally known psychic Joseph DeLouise and Rev. William Derl-Davis.Watch Wednesday at 10/9c to see what happened.

Rialto Square Theatre

Ghost Hunters next stop is the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet, Illinois. After two years, it opened on May 24, 1926 as a vaudeville movie palace costing nearly $2 million to build. The first talking picture show premiered on October 9, 1928. Despite being one of the finest theaters in the United States, time and the weather took a toll on the building and in the 1970s, it came close to be demolished. After the Rialto Square Arts Association launched a campaign to save it, the theatre went through extensive restoration in the 1980s. It has seen it's share of notable performers over the years including B. B. King, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, The Three Stooges, and Taylor Swift. It is believed a few former visitors may have never left.

There are many stories about a couple of ghosts often seen in the theatre. One talks of a little boy named "Colin". He is known to be a bit of a prankster. Another common ghost is a young woman in her 20s seen dressed in white. Her true identity is unknown but some believe she was an actress who previously performed at the Rialto and I guess loved it so much she decided to never leave.

The balcony hosts a spectral couple. Many witnesses have seen a man and woman haunting the very place where they may have died. The couple has been associated with a tragic death of falling from the high seating area. Now, they continue to pop in for a show or two.

Other experiences include lights turning on by themselves, seats flipping in a down position on their own, doors open and close, being touched, and clothes tugged on. The Rialto has currently started paranormal tours.

Gardette-LaPrete House

In the French Quarter, you'll find a four story Greek Revival house unlike any other. It's not the architecture or wrought-iron laced balcony that sets it apart from the rest. Gruesome murders turned a wealthy vacation home in to legend.

Gardette-LePrete House in 1937
The house was built in 1836 for a dentist from Philadelphia named Joseph Coulton Gardette who later sold it to Jean Baptiste LaPrete, a Creole and wealthy plantation owner, who bought the pink house as a vacation home. LaPrete invested a lot of time and money, transforming the residence in to a suitable place for his family. LaPrete decided to rent it for extra money when he began to fall on hard times after the Civil War. LaPrete would later lose the house to the bank.

A mysterious young man allegedly from Turkey approached LaPrete inquiring about renting his residence. An agreement was made and the man moved in with his treasure, harem of women and eunuchs. No one knows for sure who the man was, but he came to be known as "The Sultan". There are theories this man wasn't a sultan but actually, a brother of The Sultan.

Adjustments were made to the house upon his arrival. Doors and windows were covered and blocked. The balconies were closed off. The iron gates were chained and locked. Guards with curved daggers patrolled outside the house regularly. Soon, the air was filled with smell of incense, music and laughter, trickling from the house every night. It is said "The Sultan's" harem was complete with women of all ages and sizes and men as well as young boys. Some say he went as far as to kidnap women and tortured them until they gave in to his pleasures.

One night, the usual rowdy sounds turned to screams. Many people in the neighborhood were conditioned to "The Sultan's" parties and didn't give it a second thought. It took neighbors walking by the following morning to notice something was wrong. The gate was unlocked as it never was. Upon closer inspection, they noticed blood trickles of blood oozing from under the front door. It sent them running to notify the police. Knocks went unanswered, green-lighting their forced entry in to the house. Their eyes fell on one of the most gruesome sights ever. Blood coated the floors and walls. Body parts of "The Sultan's" harem and guards were strewn about and was later determined they were all raped prior to dismemberment. "The Sultan", however, was not among them. Police wandered out in to the garden to find a hand sticking out of the soil. "The Sultan" had been buried alive. Their killers were never determined.

Who could commit such a crime? There have been two persistent theories. The first puts the blame on pirates. Some claimed to have seen a pirate ship docked briefly in New Orleans at the time of the murders. Pirates were a part of Louisiana culture and the treasure "The Sultan" kept within his home had been taken, making it a possible theory.

The second turns the murders in to a personal nature. It is believed "The Sultan's" brother sent men to murder him.The reason? To possibly eliminate any competition for their inheritance or the throne from the brother. Another possible reason was to avenge their family for stealing the family fortune.

No matter who it was the house was left to its ghostly happenings. It changed hands several times over the years. In the '40s, it was converted in to the New Orleans Academy of Art but was forced to close after so many students left for the armed forces. It then became a boarding house and later a hiding place for vagrants. And eventually, around the 1960s, it was rescued and turned in to luxury apartments. Today, it is a private residence (Please respect their privacy).

Over the years, people have reported hearing Oriental music emanating from the house as well as the smell of incense. Others have heard screams and footsteps and seen people wearing Oriental clothing. "The Sultan" himself has made an appearance on occasion

Sources:

The Witching Hour

Haunted New Orleans Tours

Dread Central

Mount Misery

Mount Misery is a vast 854 acre wooded area in Huntington, NY. It's name doesn't derive from the many legends attached to the property. In 1653, local Indians sold the land to the settlers. The Indians sold them what they believed to be cursed land. They claimed evil spirits roamed the land. There were rumors of strange lights and sightings of a "man beast" or hell hound like creature with glowing red eyes. The settlers soon realized the land was no good for growing crops. It was used mainly as a trade route. The rough terrain and steep hill made it difficult for wagons to pass. Thus, it became known as Mount Misery.

In 1840, a hospital was built for the insane, but not long after, a fire burned it down to the foundation, killing many of the patients. The hospital was rebuilt about 15 years later. New patients and staff began reporting the smell of something burning and unexplained screams heard during the night. The new hospital burned down 5 months after being built.

Mount Misery is believed to be rather paranormal active. There have been sightings of a lady in white. No one knows for sure who this spirit may be but there's speculation she might have been a patient in the mental hospital. Actually, some believe she caused one of the fires and was among the patients who died in the fire. She is seen walking alongside of the road and even likes jumping in front of cars. There also tales of an elderly male spirit who carries around a wicker basket full of decapitated heads. Some witnesses traveling down Sweet Hollow Road have encountered the spirit of a fallen police officer. He was shot in the head and killed during a routine traffic stop. Even after death, he still pulls cars over. You don't notice anything wrong until you get a peek at what is missing, the back of his head.

There are stories of a girl who was hit and killed by a passing car while trying to fix a flat in the 1970s. This supposedly took place directly under the Northern State overpass. They say if you park your car there at night, shut off the lights, and put it in neutral, she'll push your car until you clear the overpass. Witnesses have reported seeing children hanging from the Northern State Overpass on occasion. Children believed to have committed suicide there and may not have been the only one. There is a story of a young girl who was supposedly attending a nearby horse riding camp. She was allegedly molested by the counselors. When she told her father, he didn't believe her. In a rage, she killed them all and then hung herself from the bridge.

Spirits are not the only things wandering the mount. There have also been sightings of UFOs in the area and strange visits from men in black to the locals after each sighting.
 
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