Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Tales from the Ouija Board

The group of friends huddled around a game board, their fingers hovering over a small flittering planchet.

It was the 1960s. Roland Sneed and his then-wife were in Kansas City from Oklahoma visiting her parents when someone decided it would be fun to play with the unknown.

“My former wife and I spent several hours with friends using the Ouija board,” Roland, now of Blue Springs, said. “Sometimes the planchet went very slow and sometimes it would go so fast that it would fly off the board. Some answers were cryptic, some muddled, and some very, very interesting.”

Later, the couple slept in a seldom-used room in the old house. But the board wasn’t finished playing.

“My wife began making strange movements and then started talking in a voice not her own,” Roland said. “I wasn’t scared, but fascinated. I started asking questions about who she was and she replied that she was an ancestor of my wife. It is hard to know whether or not this was true. Specific facts were not given.

“After a while, my wife came out of this trance with beaded sweat on her brow and scared out of her mind. She said that she could feel the spirit trying to take over her body and had struggled against it until she got back into control. She refused to even look at a Ouija board after that.”

Roland and his wife met what Dawn Newlan, a medium with the Ozark Paranormal Society, calls “lower-level energies.”

“Generally, the things that come through always tell you they are a friend, a family member, a whatever,” Dawn said, adding you should keep your distance.

“Ouijas to me, and to most anyone who’s been around one will tell you they are very dangerous,” she said. “When someone plays with a board they begin to open up the doorways of communication with the other side.”

Negative energies come through these doorways, Dawn said. Sometimes these energies are people who were bad in life, and sometimes they are demons.

“Satan has his legions,” Dawn said. “If you do not know how to discern good entities from bad entities, that’s when you wind up with your problems.

“What most people don’t understand is that if you ask them a question, ‘hey what is my dog’s name?’ (The name) is in your head,” she said. “That spirit can take it out of your head and give you what you want to hear.”

Dawn speaks from experience. She’s used a Ouija.

“I was young and stupid,” she said. “Something came through and told me it was my grandma. It told me it loved me and wanted to visit me.”

Later the board began spelling “evil, evil, evil, evil.”

“A Ouija board, until you experience it, is a fascination,” Dawn said. “Your common sense tells you you really shouldn’t be doing it, but your curiosity pushes you. Once it scares the hell out of you, you’ll quit.”

But some people believe the Ouija board works, not through spirits, but through the subconscious mind of the user.

“It’s my preferred explanation for the phenomenon,” Marleigh, who posted on from-the-shadows.blogspot.com, said. “One or all of the participants is moving the pointer, subconsciously. I’ve had it happen to me where you will ask “what is your name” and I will think a specific name, say, “Jason,” and without me pushing the pointer, the name Jason will be spelled out. This could explain Ouija board happenings.”

Maybe. I don’t want to find out.

Copyright 2006 by Jason Offutt

Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt c/o The Examiner, 410 S. Liberty, Independence, Mo. 64050, or jasonoffutt@hotmail.com. Include your name, address and telephone number. Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”

Jason Offutt is a syndicated columnist, author and fan of all things Fortean. His book of ghost stories, “Haunted Missouri,” will soon be available at www.jasonoffutt.com and all major bookstores.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Strange lights in the sky

Gary was a Kansas City Police officer in 1960. He and his partner Richard were working the “dog watch” from midnight to 8 a.m. one Saturday when they saw something strange in the sky.

“About 2 a.m., we drove to St. John and Hardesty and were sitting at the northeast corner of Budd Park,” he said. While they were filling out reports, a bright light appeared and hovered above their car.

“There was no engine noise at all,” he said. “Just as suddenly as it appeared, it shot away into the western sky from a dead stop to gone in the count of three.

“Dick and I just sat there and stared at each other and then I said, ‘should we put this in our log report?’ His response was, ‘well, I guess that depends on how much you like psychiatrists.’”

They had seen a UFO. And, no, they didn’t report it.

Twenty-one Missouri UFO cases were reported this year to the Mutual UFO Network, an international investigation group. The cases range from witnesses reporting glowing spheres to seeing unidentified craft. On rare occasions, a case will include contact, or telepathic communication.

“I was about four and a half years old. I was sitting on the front steps to my house,” Fred of Kansas City wrote in his MUFON report. “I saw, suddenly from the east, a UFO come into view. … I kept mentally asking for a ride. I suddenly got a reply, ‘no. Not now. Not yet.’ Being a kid I got angry and shot three rolls of single-shot caps at it. A few minutes later, it flew back east.”

This was in 1950.

Most reports don’t include contact. Jim Johnson, director of the Kansas City chapter of MUFON, said the group’s objective is to apply scientific methods to the investigation of UFOs. But simply seeing a strange light or reporting mental contact isn’t enough to attract MUFON’s attention. The group needs physical proof, or at least corroboration in order to make the investigation worthwhile.

“It’s hardly credible if only one person saw it,” he said.

But, one-person reports make up the majority of UFO sightings, so the Kansas City area only has “one or two” UFO cases a year MUFON considers worthy of an investigation.

Gary’s second encounter in 1979 might fit into that category.

Gary and another officer, Paul, decided at 11 p.m. to drive to Bennett Spring for trout fishing. Gary stopped at his house to pick up his son, fishing equipment, and coffee.

They stopped in Cole Camp to use the outdoor restroom at a closed gas station.

“When we walked outside we were enveloped in light,” he said. “We looked up and just like the first time, hovering right above us was a UFO.”

The three of them rushed into the car and the UFO “left in a blink.” They continued to Bennett Spring, but didn’t sleep much that night.

“I occasionally see a show on the History Channel about UFO sightings and find myself thinking how incredible some of those stories are,” Gary said. “If I find them hard to believe, how can I expect those who have not seen to believe?”

Copyright 2006 by Jason Offutt

Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt c/o The Examiner, 410 S. Liberty, Independence, Mo. 64050, or jasonoffutt@hotmail.com. Include your name, address and telephone number. Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”

Jason Offutt is a syndicated columnist, author and fan of all things Fortean. His book of ghost stories, “Haunted Missouri,” will soon be available at www.jasonoffutt.com and all major bookstores.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Shadow People

The woman was afraid.

Each night on her way home from work she saw a dark man standing on the roadside, hitchhiking. But the dark figure wasn’t a man. It was just a form, a shadow. Standing. Staring.

Unnerved, the woman called a friend, Dawn Newlan, a medium with the Ozark Paranormal Society, who told her to find an alternate route home. She did, and when she went back weeks later, the dark man was gone.

Dawn’s friend had seen a Shadow Person, one of the black figures we see out of the corner of our eye, or sometimes leaning over our bed at night.

These stories are common.

In Joplin, the black shadow of a man reportedly weaves through the trees that surround Peace Church Cemetery, the resting place of serial killer “Badman Bill Cook.” Cook, a hitchhiker, killed a family of five and a sixth random motorist in 1951.

“That’s funny,” Dawn said, after hearing of Cook. “This woman was in Joplin.”

Was Cook the woman’s dark man?

Shadow People are seen by children, teens and adults, usually in their homes during the late hours; a human-like, black figure often walking down hallways, or skulking in corners.

“I have seen them over the years,” Lee Prosser from Springfield said. Prosser is sensitive to the spirit world. “But I never felt threatened by them.”

Some have.

Josh LeMar, at the time a Maryville High School junior, took a group of friends and freshman girls to a nearby cemetery.

“We had the intentions of scaring the (freshmen),” Josh said. “We were going to give the word and all the guys were going to jump in the cars and leave the girls there. When we got to a gravel road we realized we left a guy back with the girls. We pull back in and see the guy we left behind was upset.”

There was something in the cemetery.

“He’d seen somebody (dark) jumping from headstone to headstone and hiding behind them,” Josh said. “We got out of there right away.”

He’d seen a Shadow Person. But what are they? Dawn said for the most part Shadow People are ghosts.

“A lot of times they are just someone who has passed and is still earthbound,” Dawn said. “Most of the time they are not threatening, or not of an evil nature. But there are (bad) things out there.”

Lee said people sometimes associate Shadow People with the specter of death, but he said they could be something more physical.

“I feel these Shadow Entities are scouts or explorers from another dimension simply taking a peek-see at what humans are doing,” Lee said. “They can appear at any time, and at any place … watching and observing.”

Darren Carson, now athletic director of Desert Technology High School in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., worked as a security guard at Central Methodist University in Fayette, Mo., when he saw his unexplained shadow.

“I was doing security rounds with Ben in the spring of 2001,” Darren said. “We were out about 12:30 or 1 a.m. and we saw this shape, pitch black, come together in the tree. This shape formed into a ball and shot out of the top of the tree. There was no sound and no wind. It still gives me goose bumps.”

As it does for most of those who see Shadow People.

“A lot of people will see or experience these dark shadows,” Dawn said. “And all they know is it scares the living hell out of them.”

Copyright 2006 By Jason Offutt

Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt c/o The Examiner, 410 S. Liberty, Independence, Mo. 64050, or jasonoffutt@hotmail.com. Include your name, address and telephone number. Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”

Jason Offutt is a syndicated columnist, author and fan of all things Fortean. His book of ghost stories, “Haunted Missouri,” will soon be available at www.jasonoffutt.com and all major bookstores.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Death brings a new look at life

Cathy Gregor died in 1995. Depressed and tired after caring for her dying mother, she drank a morphine and beer cocktail. As Cathy's husband Tom dialed 9-1-1, she saw a bright light, and went toward it.
For Cathy, dying changed her life.

"I was at a very bad place, taking care of my father after a very long illness," she said. "He died in January. Mom got very sick. I was devastated. I was very, very close to my parents."

During the illness, Cathy moved in with her mother, administering morphine every two hours.

"She begged me and my husband to kill her," Cathy said. "I couldn't. Mom was terrified to die alone and I promised her I would be with her. I held her for two days. I hugged and kissed her telling her I was there and not to be afraid."

Cathy kept her promise.

"Mom died in my arms, but hours before she died she told me her only regret was leaving me behind."

Hours later, Cathy's mother died.

"My mother died in my arms while I was telling her to go to the light," Cathy said. "I saw a brightness above the bed in the ceiling."

Cathy's brother came from Georgia to help with the funeral, but Cathy wasn't well.

"At the funeral home I just screamed and passed out when the casket closed," she said. "I wanted to climb into that casket with Mom and go with her."

Then she passed out at graveside.

"The doctors said I needed rest desperately," she said. "So to bed I went, but I would wake up every two hours Š and then cry."

Soon after, Cathy started smelling her mother's perfume.

"The perfume would always come when I sat on Mom's rocker and cried over my loss," she said. "When I talked to her about how I just can't go on anymore, Mom would always come back. Tom got more and more upset with her presence and Mom's perfume permeating our home. One night Tom told me to either die with Mom or I have to move on with my life.

"I unfortunately took Tom literally to die with Mom."

So she did. She spoke to her mother as she smoked a cigarette and slowly drank the beer and morphine.

"Sometime later, Tom came downstairs and found me dead," Cathy said. "I did see people working on me. I couldn't understand why they were so upset because it was beautiful where I was and I continued through the light."

In the light, Cathy saw her parents and grandparents.

"I felt I was home, at last," she said. "But then they told me I had to go back; but I wanted to stay there."

Then Cathy's family said why it was OK to go home.

"They told me they hear us when we talk to them," Cathy said. "My mother said they are only on the 'other side of the street,' walking beside us and watching over us. Then I was back in my body."

Cathy went into grief therapy and later appeared on the Gordon Elliott Show to discuss her experience. Now, she talks with young people about suicide.

"I work with kids that think suicide is the best way out," she said. "I can now scare the crap out of them to not ever do what I tried. At least I am proud to say that I have helped others through my foolish experience."

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Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn't identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt c/o The Examiner, 410 S. Liberty, Independence, Mo. 64050, or jasonoffutt@hotmail.com. Include your name, address and telephone number. Your story might make an upcoming installment of "From the Shadows."

Jason Offutt is a syndicated columnist, author and fan of all things Fortean. His book of ghost stories, "Haunted Missouri," will soon be available at www.jasonoffutt.com and all major bookstores.

Copyright 2006 by Jason Offutt