Monday, January 31, 2011

The Little Boy in my House

Author’s note: As regular readers of “From the Shadows” know, I rarely write about my own experiences. This blog is about you, not me. However, after the umpteenth radio talk show host (I can’t blame them; it’s their job) asked me why I’m interested in the paranormal, I thought I’d share it with you.

The day was bright; I remember that; and a Saturday – the greatest day of the week to a 10-year-old boy.

If I’d been asked to design a day to best suit my needs, I couldn’t have come up with better. A morning full of Quisp cereal while watching Ultraman, Bugs Bunny, Superfriends, Scooby Doo, Where Are You?, and Isis (yowza. Even at 10 I wasn’t immune to actress JoAnna Cameron’s charms), then a black-and-white science fiction movie at noon. Perfect.

But by 2 p.m., the fun was over and I had to find something to do until The Love Boat and Fantasy Island after supper. So I decided to read.

I remember walking from my bedroom in our 120-year-old house toward our back hallway bookshelves. As I entered the hallway, I knew something wasn’t right. I don’t remember a fight-or-flight response, nor do I think the hallway was at all cold. What I know is that I saw something – someone – in the hallway with me.

It was a boy of maybe six years old. He just stood there, looking at me.

The problem with a six-year-old boy standing in our hallway was the fact that this was a farmhouse, and I was the only little boy within six miles of anything.

The boy just shouldn’t have been there.

But he was – and he stared at me. He had tousled brown hair and a blue flannel shirt. My eyes didn’t go any further, not because of his vacant, somewhat lonely eyes, but I suddenly realized I could see the bookshelves through him.

I don’t know how long I stood there, staring at the boy. It seemed like hours, but it must have been more like seconds. Then the transparent boy blinked and broke whatever spell of surprise I was under. I turned, walked back to the safety of my room with its NFL comforter on the bed (28 teams), and shut the door.

When I finally came out, the transparent little boy was gone.

I didn’t talk about my experience for 30 years. When I did, I was finishing an interview with psychic Joyce Morgan (she died Oct. 29, 2007, about a year after the interview). Morgan, a member of the Missouri-based Miller Paranormal Research group, often assisted police in missing persons cases and was featured twice on Court TV.

I’d only told Joyce I saw the ghost of a little boy in my house as a child. She filled in the rest.

“The little boy’s name was John. His last name was like Petry or Petty. The little boy died in 1912,” she said. “They either rented the house or were landowners there.”

“John” died of pneumonia, or diphtheria, Joyce said. But what she said next frightened me almost as much as the encounter.

“He had light brown hair,” she said. “He had on a pail blue shirt with puckers on the sleeves. His britches were those kind of bloomy-out britches.”

That was the boy I saw. The same color hair, the same color shirt.

“His father’s name may have been George,” she continued. “I don’t know if he was the landowner of this property or if they were trying to rent it to live in it.”

But, she said, “George” owned cows and sold milk.

“I sat here and it just started unfolding in front of me,” Joyce said. “He had two sisters, Catherine and Nelly or Nell.”

And that was it. She’d described what I’d seen, and filled in as many blanks as she could. I’m quick to say I don’t trust anything someone purporting to be psychic tells me. There are way too many charlatans out there. However, Joyce was different.

During our conversation I mentioned a light my wife kept seeing over our newborn’s crib around 2 or 3 a.m. I’d seen it too, on one occasion. Joyce frankly said, “Oh, it’s just your grandfather (she gave his correct name) looking over his namesake.” I’d never mentioned the baby’s gender, the baby’s name, or my grandfather in our conversation – but she was right. Joyce was the real deal.

I never investigated Joyce’s claims of John or the history of the house because I don’t want to know. As I’ve said in many of my radio interviews, the paranormal’s fun as long as it happens to somebody else.

Copyright 2011 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, P.O. Box 501, Maryville, Mo., 64468, or Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”

Jason’s newest book on the paranormal, “Paranormal Missouri: Show Me Your Monsters,” is available at Jason’s blog,

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Phantom Jogger

The first members of John Markway’s family who noticed something wrong were the twins.

John and his three sons, the twins 17, the youngest 12, moved into the house in Bothell, Washington, with John’s new wife, but not until the twins started running track in high school, did any of them notice the darkness in the neighborhood.

“They were putting in practice time running the roads around our house and they soon discovered that this area has some eccentricities,” John said. “The area of strangeness seems to parallel a road, now called a street, that runs not far from our house. It appears to be a typical ’20s-era farm road that is fairly common in these parts.”

When John’s family moved into the area, they heard stories about that road, stories of a local “peeper, which was creepy, but probably just kids right?” John said.

It wasn’t just kids. Kids wouldn’t go anywhere near that road.

“An area on the road perhaps two short blocks from our home was simply unpleasant,” John said. “Everyone avoided that stretch of road except for car use. Hell, blackberry vines were out in the road, and kids used a detour through a field to bypass the place.”

When the twins took that road on their evening running route, they sensed a phantom jogger ran behind them.

“After consulting with other neighborhood runners they discovered that that area was avoided for that reason,” John said. People, including the twins, “would hear footsteps mimicking theirs behind them, breath upon their shoulders, hear breathing and upon a couple of occasions had things thrown at them.”

Although the twins didn’t believe in the paranormal, they had no explanation for what was happening to them on that road.

“What really got my attention was the incident that ended their nighttime running in that direction,” John said. “Number Two twin encountered a green fog in a sort of cloud about a block away. He said that it glowed.”

A few nights later, John decided to go out in the dark and look at this road himself.

“It was probably late September to October. There was a full moon, about 42 degrees and absolutely clear, something not common here,” he said.

John’s youngest son, 12, accompanied him.

“We got up onto the road and got our bearings,” he said. “No green fog; life is disappointment.”

But John wasn’t to be disappointed.

Father and son walked down the lonely road toward the spot John’s older son encountered the fog. A narrow shoulder separated the road from the field and thick trees on the left.

“I had a flashlight but do not remember using it,” he said. “I looked in back of us for a second, and saw a shadow rapidly approaching us from the south.”

The shadow seemed to be caused by something in the sky. John first thought it may be an airplane, cloud, or some kind of balloon, but he saw nothing that could have caused the shadow.

“This was no small shadow, this literally encompassed everything,” he said.

Immediately the dim grayness of the night turned noticeably darker – but the moon and stars still shone through a cloudless sky.

“We continued to walk, making for a streetlight that seemed to mark the end of the affected area,” John said. “When we got there, a crossroads, there was what looked like a wolf grinning at us under the light pole. Too weird. We took another way home.”

Neither John nor his son encountered anything else strange on their walk home, but after that night, everyone in the house began to have strange experiences.

“Other phenomena afflict our lives,” John said. “At times we go through 20 light bulbs a month, and sometimes we know ahead of times that they will blow. We have repeated phantom visitors – the sound of someone coming in the front door, footsteps, phantom dog scratches, and things falling from walls.”

The darkness John and his youngest son experienced outside may have followed them inside.

“My wife and I both feel that the house is too dark,” he said. “And sometimes feel as if we are being drained. We both have medical retirements and we spend a lot of time here. We were ready to move when the housing bubble popped. We have a lot of equity but no one is buying, or we'd be long gone. Something is wrong with this place.”

Copyright 2011 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, P.O. Box 501, Maryville, Mo., 64468, or Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”

Jason’s newest book on the paranormal, “Paranormal Missouri: Show Me Your Monsters,” is available at Jason’s blog,

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Haunting of Hillhaven

Hillhaven Nursing Home in Marceline, Mo., sits vacant, a haven for vandals and skittering rodents.

However, in the dark of night, this three-story, crumbling brick edifice is not quiet.

The building, constructed in 1923, has housed the Putman Memorial Hospital, St. Francis Hospital, Hillhaven, and finally Meadowbrook Nursing Home.

Ryan Straub, founder of the mid-Missouri paranormal research group Tir Firnath, is familiar with the building – his mother, Patty Cruzan, worked there for 10 years.

“My mom says death comes in threes,” he said. “The reason she says that is because of this place.”

At least 10 people died in the building while she worked there.

Dust and plaster coat parts of the floor that aren’t covered with broken furniture and boxes of books and other forgotten refuse. Crossword puzzle pages dot the ground along with puzzle pieces nursing home residents once used to build landscapes. In one room, former St. Louis Cardinal Mark McGwire’s smiling face perpetually stares from the Oct. 5, 1998 issue of “Sports Illustrated.”

When Meadowbrook closed, the owners left everything. Pots and pans sit on rusting stoves that will never again be lit to cook. Desks and chairs huddle in offices. Beds and equipment – still recognizable after all the vandalism – lay broken in patient rooms.

Cruzan worked at Hillhaven from September 1988 until August 1992 when Meadowbrook bought the building. Meadowbrook closed in 1995 and the company hired her to “maintain the grounds and handle inventory,” she said.

She worked there alone until 1998.

One night she received a call at home about the empty building – a light was on. She asked her then-teenage son to drive to the building and turn off the light. He did, but discovered he wasn’t alone.

In a room on the second floor, Straub saw an old woman sitting in a chair looking out the window. As he watched her, the woman turned her head toward him.

“I was a witness to an entity that was in the shape of an elderly woman who, when she recognized my presence, turned her head 180 degrees and smiled,” he said. “Her smile literally went from ear to ear.”

Straub quickly left, but he’s been back. As a paranormal researcher, he has investigated the building a dozen times and always encounters something strange.

“There have been times I’ve been down here and all the doors in the hall were open and when I got to this door,” he said, placing his hand on a door at the end of the second-floor hall, “they’d all shut.”

Cruzan was with her son one day when this happened.

“We went through that building, the doors were open,” she said. “We went back, they were closed.”

She also knows of things she can’t explain that have happened in the building.

During its years as a nursing home, Cruzan said third-shift workers occasionally reported hearing people walking upstairs, but when they checked, every resident was asleep.

One worker said tasks she’d turned away from would be complete when she returned to them. And Cruzan experienced something herself while she was there alone.

“At one time I thought I heard something down in the kitchen,” she said. “Something was going on down there, like somebody was there. I didn’t find anything. I didn’t stay long.”

People have reported being unable to breathe in certain parts of the building and have heard footsteps running down the second floor hallway. Many people who worked there said they never felt alone. Straub said his mother was familiar with the feeling.

“She always felt like there was somebody here,” he said.

But Straub knows the strangeness of the building isn’t because of people. It might be the building itself.

“At night, it literally sounds like the building was growling,” he said. “It feels like the whole building was growling. It almost feels like the building wants to mess with you a little bit.”

Copyright 2011 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, P.O. Box 501, Maryville, Mo., 64468, or Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”

Jason’s newest book on the paranormal, “Paranormal Missouri: Show Me Your Monsters,” is available at Jason’s blog,

Monday, January 10, 2011

UFO Crash Recovery in the UK

The light sank into the forest near Farnborough, Hampshire, UK, as Hilary Porter and her family drove home.

“In 1977 July, whilst traveling through a military wooded area, still open to the public at that time, we were convinced that something had downed at the edge of the woods,” Porter said.

As they neared the area where the light would have landed, the military was already there.

“We were met with many blacked-windowed Army buses, accompanied by loads of soldiers in combat gear with rifles, all spreading out over the land,” she said. “We had no choice but to turn back and get out of there.”

As they turned to retrace their steps away from the armed soldiers, Hilary and her husband noticed a large, round burn mark on the ground.

After a short drive they realized their encounter wasn’t over.

“After going back down the road for about quarter of a mile suddenly we saw two very thin humanoid beings about six feet or so tall, dressed in all white with helmets, looking on at the soldiers,” she said. “The beings suddenly ran down into a clearing, which both my former husband and I saw, and then they dematerialized right in front of us.”

Hilary turned to her husband.

“Get the hell out of here,” she shouted.

As they drove home, shaken, they discussed what they’d seen and were sure they’d been witness to extraterrestrials and a UFO crash retrieval.

“The big round burn mark in the ground was the giveaway to what was going on,” she said. “This area alone has had more than its fare share of UFO sightings.”

In 1977, Farnborough was the home of the Royal Aircraft Establishment and Hilary is convinced was also the site where the military took the craft she and her husband saw downed in the woods.

Hilary also thinks something followed them home.

“Within a few weeks, my family and I suffered much poltergeist activity,” Hilary said.

Activity such as the sound of buckets full of stones poured down their roof late at night, appliances turning on and off, cups exploding, and the sound of dirt clods thrown against their windows.

“And yet next day there was nothing on the ground,” she said.

Then they saw the light again.

“In early September, a smoky gray/blue craft was hovering in the sky,” Hilary said. “From my house, which is up on a hill overlooking this site, I could see what was happening clearly and watched this with a telescope.”

After observing the craft for 45 minutes, she asked her husband to look through the telescope.

“Suddenly the craft changed color to blood-red and twice it’s initial size, then it suddenly zoomed over into marshland, which is still part of the ground of the Farnborough Airfield,” she said. “My husband took the telescope and dashed over to the airfield, two hours later the craft was still there, I had been watching it with binoculars.”

Her husband returned after those two hours, and had seen the craft close up.

“The craft was at least 20 feet across, self-lit and glowing red,” Hilary said. “It was either on the ground or hovering just above it; there seemed to be zero activity on the ground. No one got out or entered the area of the landing.”

Hilary is convinced the craft she saw go down in the woods was at the airfield, home of the British government’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch, and the glowing red craft was searching for it.

“This place is on a par with your Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in its own way, and possibly Europe’s answer to Area 51,” she said. “All downed craft, be they planes or UFOs, come to this above place for re-assembling, as this is the British crash retrieval site.”

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, P.O. Box 501, Maryville, Mo., 64468, or Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”

Jason’s newest book on the paranormal, “Paranormal Missouri: Show Me Your Monsters,” is available at Jason’s blog,

Sunday, January 02, 2011

The Baby’s Voice

When Myra Thom and her mother stepped from a corner bakery back onto the streets of Sikatuna, Philippines, Myra expected them to walk to the next store for their weekly shopping trip.

She didn’t expect a paranormal encounter to burn itself into her memory.

“The encounter happened quite a long time ago, back when I was 18,” Myra, a 38-year-old book editor and transcriptionist from Cainta, Rizal, Philippines, said. “But it stands out vividly in my mind, just like it happened a couple of hours ago.”

As the women walked out of the bakery and turned to their left, Myra heard a tiny voice.

“We both distinctly heard the voice of a small child calling my name,” Myra said. “My name was pronounced clearly, as if by an adult, but when my mother and I turned, we saw that it was a very small child, not even two years old, maybe just a little over a year old. He could not walk on his own yet.”

Two women walked toward them, each holding one of the child’s little hands.

“(They were) two seemingly identical women,” Myra said.

The boy, with chubby cheeks and curly light brown, almost blonde hair, was “rather unusual in this part of the world,” Myra said. “It wasn’t entirely Caucasian. You could say he was a mestizo, but at that time I remember being struck by his appearance for some reason.”

The women, dressed in identical blue jeans and white shirts, didn’t seem to notice Myra as they approached, but the child did.

“The little boy was looking straight at me with a knowing, absolutely unchildlike gaze,” Myra said. “It was as if he knew something about me that I did not know.”

The baby smiled faintly at Myra, never moving his gaze from her.

“The most unusual or strange thing about him was the expression on his face. It was definitely, absolutely not something you would expect to see on the face of a child that young,” Myra said. “It was a knowing look, almost malicious, and it was made even stranger by the fact that it was coming from a child that looked like the very depiction of the cherubim in the church.”

The women Myra calls the “nannies,” both appeared to be typical Filipino women, but she didn’t get a chance to see their faces. As the “nannies” walked past, chatting about something indiscernible, Myra’s eyes were fixed on the child.

“They both had their backs turned,” Myra said. “The baby was twisting its head and body all the way around just to stare at me, and it stayed that way all the way to the corner until they disappeared from our view.”

Although the encounter unnerved Myra, her mother’s account of the events reassured her the odd baby lead by the strange, identical “nannies,” had said her name – and something was wrong with the child.

“My mother corroborates this,” Myra said. “What really struck her about the child is that weird look on its face that was very unchildlike and the fact that it did not remove its gaze from me while we were within viewing distance of each other.”

This encounter has occupied Myra’s thoughts for 20 years. The identical “nannies,” the blonde, curly-haired baby not yet old enough to walk by himself, and her name spoken from this strange child’s lips.

“I do not know why I did not rush up to him and ask him how he knew my name,” Myra said. “I have always wondered at my reaction. My mother and I just stood there and watched the child and its ‘nannies’ walk away and round the bend. I guess we were both in shock.”

Although the encounter still baffles Myra, it does provide her with some comfort.

“I consider it a gift from the universe, for it gave me what I consider to be my first real proof that there is something out there beyond what we normally believe to be absolute reality,” she said. “But at the same time it has also always worried me. Was the child an angel, a demon, an alien, a ghost, an elemental? What was its purpose in calling my name?”

Copyright 2010 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, P.O. Box 501, Maryville, Mo., 64468, or Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”

Jason’s newest book on the paranormal, “Paranormal Missouri: Show Me Your Monsters,” is available at Jason’s blog,