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2012 News:
Princess Diana ancestor Lady Winchcombe is haunting Kate Middleton family's 4.7 million home
The Mirror
Bucklebury, England - January 27, 2013
External New Source

Red shirts to drive away ghosts
Bangkok Post
Surin, Tailand - January 17, 2013
External New Source

Victims fund is personal mission
The Boston Globe
Bellingham, Massachusetts - January 6, 2013
External New Source

The Paranormal Research Society Blog
North Carolina - November 26, 2012
External New Source

Deputies Find Paranormal Invesitgator Stranded Overnight
Pella, Iowa - October 10, 2012
External New Source

Paranormal power influencing kids to self-immolate?
Indore, India - September 21, 2012
External New Source Aims to Replace eBay Closing Metaphysical Sections

Is Apple Haunted?
Cult of Mac
Cupertino, California - September 1, 2012
External New Source

eBay to Prohibit Selling of Psychic and Other Paranormal Services
Huffington Post
August 17, 2012
External New Source

Baltimore Museum of Industry presents the most extensive Ouija and Talking Board exhibit ever assembled

Got Ghosts? How to Sell a Haunted House
National Association of Realitors
October, 2011
External New Source


An insane place to renew wedding vows
Peoria, Illinois - July 7, 2012
External New Source

Man: Demons, ghosts told me to destroy hotel room
Memphis, Tennessee - June 18, 2012
External New Source

Portsmouth man says Titanic replica could be haunted
Portsmouth, Virginia - June 14, 2012
External New Source

Pointing Fingers at Folklore

Two teens killed in ghost legend game
Poplar Bluff, Missouri - June 5, 2012
External New Source

Vatican publishes guide on how to deal with supernatural phenomena
The Telegraph
Vatican City, Italy - June 1, 2012
External New Source

Saudi ghost-hunters raid haunted hospital
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - May 30, 2012
External New Source

Landlord of 'Amityville Horror' house in Toms River, N.J. sues tenants
Toms River, New Jersey - April 29, 2012
External New Source

Toms River couple sues landlord over 'haunted house'
The Star-Ledger
Toms River, New Jersey - April 16, 2012
External New Source

Teen stabbing suspect: Ouija board said do it
McAllen, Texas - March 16, 2012
External New Source

Kids won't hear from ghost-hunters
North Platte Telegraph
North Platte, Nebraska - January 27, 2012
External New Source

Man arrested for punching his wife tells police: A ghost did it
The Mirror
Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin - January 25, 2012
External New Source

Obituary: Dr. William G. Roll
Parapsychological Association
Villa Rica, Georgia - December 30, 2011
External New Source

Are Spirits Still Milling About at Slater Mill?

June 8, 2012

Pointing Fingers at Folklore

Where to look for blame in Missouri

by Christopher Balzano

It's hard to put a warning on local ghostly folklore. It creeps into the personality of a place, feeding on universal themes and attraction and becomes a living, breathing thing that begs to be heard. By its very nature, it draws us in, and asks us to become part of the story. They are tales told during sleepovers and campfires, sometimes even as cautionary tales told by parents with pointed fingers, but they become the narrative of a location, the reason why the house is left unoccupied or the sign is posted. The lure to be part of the story and to test whether the tale could possibly be true is too strong. What fun is it to just hear the story anyway? It's the easiest way for an ordinary person to be part of something extraordinary.

This week that attraction led to tragedy. In Poplar Bluff, Missouri, five teens were testing the validity of a local ghost story by parking on train tracks that are supposed to be haunted and waiting to see the apparitions that are supposed to invade the car. As the train drew closer, the car refused to start again, and two of the teens who could not get out of the car were killed while a third who rushed back to help them was seriously injured.

The children were trying to get a look at the two ghosts said to haunt the tracks, both of which supposedly died in a train accident that killed several people in the early 1900s. One is of a woman who lost her small child during the accident and who asks people who stop on the tracks for helping finding them. The other is a man who was decapitated and is seen searching for it in a ditch nearby. Other activity includes car radios being played with and an unexplained fog that clouds up the windows.

If any of this sounds familiar, it should. The same story is probably told in your town or a town nearby. Everyone knows the tale, and it speaks to something inherently sad and attractive at the same time. We might not all believe in ghosts, but people tend to believe in the mythology surrounding ghost stories. Tales like this have all the earmarks of appeal: an accident that is plausible, a loss of life, a spirit unable to get to the other side because of unfinished business, children trapped in time. Throw in a specific location and the story that other people have witnessed it, and you too can be part of the legend that is too good to not be true.

The truly frightening part of a story like this is that when something like this happens, it only strengthens the lore of the story. Why was the car unable to start again? As time goes on and the names and faces of the victims fade, people will speak of the man who held them in or the angel who pulled the last girl to safety as she tried to help. At Session House, a dorm at Smith College in Massachusetts, there is a tradition of looking for the ghosts that haunt the building on Halloween night. One year a student got hurt falling down the stairs, but over the years the story became more sensationalized. She now is said to have died and is also haunting the college. And that is the way it goes, half truths become cemented and unquestioned fact.

It is not the first time something like this has happened. The most famous story happened almost six years ago when a group of teens trespassed on a property in Ohio, and one, Rachel Barezinsky, was shot in the head and barely survived. There have been other reports of teens getting hurt or lost looking to follow up on a local legend, but the tragedy in Missouri might be the most dreadful because of the loss of life and the way it played itself out. These stories appeal to people who look for ghosts, but the youth have always felt the stronger pull. Long before Ghost Hunters there was Bloody Mary and Suicide Rock down the street.

In the coming days there will be plenty of blame. Already people have pointed to Web sites such as and the proliferation of ghost investigation television shows. People have said the trend of kids to want to legend trip too often leads to things like this happening, which is, of course, the kind of exaggeration that leads to legends in the first place. The fact of the matter is that people find these places and have found them long before there were lists of haunted places on the Internet. One administrator of a popular site that lists locations to find ghosts and ghostly legends has made it very clear where he stands. "If a place makes it to my site it is because a lot of people in that town know about it." In other words, responsibility does not land on him because they were going to find in anyway.

Of course, this is only part of the answer. In actuality, today's climate of investigating and tripping is different from the past. Social media is the campfire of today, Web conferencing the sleepover. People hear the stories from their friends or passed down from the older kid next door, but they also search them out. The information put out there often becomes the stepping stones for thrill seeker. Instead of a trickle whispered about, the information becomes a faucet, but this does not mean any of these sites or the producers of a ghost show are responsible.

There may truly be no blame. The folklore overrides the commonsense of the moment. Thinking educating teens, while a valuable endeavor in other respects, would have stopped this is like thinking teaching gun safety to gang members will stop drive-bys. In the moment there is only the story and something in us that we can only partly explain. It is the reason we watch scary moves or our minds wander during rainstorms. It is why we drive too fast on the highway at night or invent pastimes that call for us to throw ourselves off cliffs. The ghostly legend has its base in our very humanity, and you can't put always put a warning on that.

2014 Haunted New England Wall Calendar by Jeff Belanger photography by Frank Grace
Check out the 2014 Haunted New England wall calendar by Jeff Belanger and photography by Frank Grace!

Paranormal Conferences and Lectures
Don't miss the following events and lectures:

Jeff Belanger and “The Bridgewater Triangle” at Dedham Community Theatre - April 6, 2014 9:00PM

The Spirits of the Mark Twain House - Hartford, Connecticut - April 12, 2014

Paracon Australia - East Maitland, New South Wales, Australia - May 10-12, 2014