by Robin M. Strom-Mackey
“The only thing I can ever say is, have you ever had the experience of walking into a place and saying, this is holy? It’s maybe a church or something like that? This was the opposite. It was desecrated. It was evil.”
Recently I was sitting with a young couple who were at the time applying for membership with the group. I began the interview with my usual first question, “So why do wish to investigate the paranormal?” I wasn’t prepared for the answer.
“Well, one reason is we saw a demon.”
A startled me asked quickly, “You what? What do you mean you saw a demon?”
“Yes, we were at our friend’s house playing board games and we saw a demon. Clear as day. Both I and the woman who lived there saw him.”
I halted the interview right there and ran for my audio recorder, as I didn’t want to miss the details. They agreed without hesitation to my recording and writing about their experience. And what I heard was a harrowing story of a young lady’s struggles to keep home and family together in the midst of evil.
The account began innocently enough. A young couple with a three-year-old daughter had rented an apartment in a newer complex, once again defying the belief that only older buildings with a tragic past can have paranormal activity. The husband worked for the Department of Corrections in Georgetown, Delaware at the time, working nights. He’d depart for work around three or four in the afternoon and wouldn’t return home until later in the morning. Often he would work double shifts, and hence was absent a lot.
The wife, for anonymity’s sake we’ll call her Jessica, was a stay-at-home Mom who spent most of her time with her daughter Anna. It was a two bedroom apartment, one bedroom for the couple and one for their daughter. A family room and kitchen area led off the hallway to the bedrooms, with the hallway visible from the kitchen. In Brianna’s estimation the activity didn’t begin immediately, but started four to six months after the couple rented the apartment.
Predictably the activity was first experienced and reported by the daughter. This is the norm in demon cases, where a demon will first begin by ingratiating themselves with the child or children. Anna started repeatedly telling her mother about a door in her room, only it wasn’t actually a door anyone could see. The child would tell her mother, “door, Mommy, door,” meanwhile pointing at the wall above her doll house. Not having any idea what the little girl was talking about, Jessica brushed it off at first. Then Anna started reporting that she would see a man and she would see a monkey, meanwhile pointing at the corner of her bedroom and saying, “door, Mommy, door, door. Monkey wants to play.”
Jessica had been a very close friend of Brianna’s, and because her husband was gone so often Brianna and Carl spent a lot of time with Jessica and young Anna to ease the loneliness. They started hearing about the strange stories that Anna was telling her Mom. And then Jessica confided that she had started to notice odd things herself. In the bathroom above the tub, near the ceiling, Jessica noticed small grimy hand prints as if a child hand had put their hands in ashes and then placed them on the wall. Only Jessica had no conceivable idea how Anna could have reached that high. She also started to hear scratching noises in Anna’s room on the wall where the supposed “door” was located. Carl and Brianna were staying the night one evening, camped out in the living room/kitchenette when they also reported hearing scratching noises on the wall that separated them from Anna’s room.
Jessica also started noticing objects moving unaccountably and the sinister occurrence of the number three. According to Brianna, Jessica had coasters she kept in the kitchen. She found the coasters on day on her kitchen table in a triangle of three. She would sometimes hear three knocks on the wall. Carl agreed, “She kept getting these constant three, three, three, and I told her this isn’t good. And she didn’t want it, anytime I brought it up she didn’t want [to hear it].”
Other items were moving as well, according to Carl. Items from the laundry room would be in the kitchen. Things from the bathroom would be in the bed. They were all small objects, objects that a child could move. Only the items would be moved when her daughter was asleep, or when they were out of the apartment. There didn’t appear to be any logical reason for the items to be where they were found.
Jessica started noticing that Anna had odd bruises, about the width of a finger that would appear on the back of her neck, right under her hairline. Carl said, “She wouldn’t have them when she went to bed. She’d wake up with them. It looked awfully funny.”
Carl and Brianna both admit that the apartment felt oppressive and that after leaving the apartment they often felt exhausted. Brianna concurred, “It was draining. And they were newer apartments.”
Sadly, Jessica’s husband of the late nights and double shifts was rarely home. He was also a reservist, so he was often training in Virginia on weekends when he might otherwise have been home. When he was home he didn’t experience any of the weird phenomena that Jessica and Anna were experiencing. Hence he didn’t believe Jessica when she tried to explain the strange things that were happening to her and Anna. Worse, Carl noted that he was fiercely skeptical. In Carl’s estimation, the husband could have experienced the phenomena first-hand and still not believed it, he was so fiercely skeptical. A rift was developing between husband and wife, fueled by their constant time apart, and fed by his denial of what was happening to his own family.
Brianna and Carl spent every Wednesday night with Jessica and Anna, it was their standing date. One particular Wednesday evening the three adults were playing a board game in the kitchen at Jessica’s pub-style kitchen table. Brianna was sitting with her back to the hallway, but Jessica was sitting facing the hallway and Carl was standing in the kitchen facing the hallway and both clearly saw a figure right out of a nightmare. Brianna could tell there was something going on by the, “look on their faces. I could tell there was something wrong, and I asked them, what did you see? And Carl just said, ‘we’ve got to get out.’”
In Carl’s own words, “I saw a figure, completely [black], blacker than black, walking at me. And this thing was like six foot six [inches]. The grin…and teeth it showed… The only thing I can describe it as, it just wanted to make your soul want to scream. You knew it was just pure evil. The eyes weren’t a distinct color but they were long to the side, kind of like a fish. I’ve never seen anything like it.” Carl reported that he noticed no distinguishable clothing as the rest of the figure was simply a dense black.
Carl also recalls a feeling of fear that went beyond simply seeing the creature. “It’s one thing to walk into a place and feel it’s creepy. You walked into it…sigh. The only thing I can ever say is, have you ever had the experience of walking into a place and saying, this is holy? It’s maybe a church or something like that? This was the opposite. It was desecrated. It was evil. Seeing it made you physically sick. I wanted to throw up.”
“I just remember the eyes and the grin, and the teeth. And I turned to Jessica and she looked at me and she just wanted to vomit. And she said, ‘you just saw that, right?’ I said, get the kids out, because they were all just sitting there watching T.V.” Jessica’s niece and nephew were over visiting that night as well.
I asked Carl if he any other recollections of the event hearing anything odd, smelling anything? Carl did recall a strange odor in the apartment that he couldn’t actually identify. But then he noted that there was an apartment of Haitians above them. “And they were all the time cooking very strange things. And they were all the time playing extremely strange music.”
Brianna added, “They were always stomping around. She [Jessica] had had to make several complaints. It would be like one or two in the morning and they would be up there stomping or dancing, or whatever they were doing up there. She actually went up there herself at one point. She said there was no furniture in the place. She said there were quite a few of them. I don’t remember how many there were, but she said there was no furniture. She said it was very, very odd.”
The account was starting to take on similar overtones to other accounts I had researched where practitioners of voodoo (also known as vudun, vaudin, voudoun, vodou or vaudoux) had, whether knowingly or unwittingly summoned something dark.
It appears that Haiti was the birth place of voodoo around 1724. Borrowing aspects of Western African religions, voodoo intermingles many of the Catholic saints and rituals into its practice. The religion was brought to Louisiana in the early 1800’s when Cuban plantation owners began importing Haitian slaves.
While practitioners of voodoo believe in one higher being, they believe that God is so far removed from their everyday lives that they must invoke other spirits for favors. Basically for the voodoo practitioner there are three categories of spirits from which they can invoke, the spirits of beloved ancestors, the spirits of the dead who were unloved and unclaimed, and the Twins which are the twin forces of good and evil.
Voodoo rituals are steeped in secret magical language (often Latin), animal sacrifices, spirit possessed dancing and trances. The object of invoking the spirits may be to communicate with their deceased loved ones, or they may be for darker purposes. The more sinister practices are used to cast curses and spells on enemies, and yes, to summon evil spirits (1, 2).
Demonologists insist that demons cannot enter a premises without being invited, either knowingly or through negligence such as living a life steeped in violence and deceit. It may be that Jessica’s Haitian neighbors had not only rung the bell on this particular demon’s door, but had invited him over for a nice long visit.
After Jessica and Carl witnessed this creature in the hall they decided they must immediately vacate the apartment. It was very late in the evening, and the only thing they could think to do was take everyone out for ice cream. “Friendly’s in Seaford was still open at that time. So we went in. When she was ready we took them back [to the apartment. It took a while, and we, for a long time just sat in the car and talked. And when she was ready to go back we went back. She didn’t really want us with her. She basically said, ‘you know what, it’s late. You guys just go home. I’m just going to go to bed.’” Later in the night Jessica heard scratching on the walls, as she had before.
In Carl’s estimation, the activity started to escalate quickly after the sighting. Anna started refusing to sleep in her room, demanding instead to sleep in Jessica’s bed. Further Anna started reporting, “Monkey and man” and pointing to the left-hand corner of her mother’s room. Jessica became scared, and mother and daughter were sleeping on the couch in the living room. Carl notes that the little girl was suffering from horrific nightmares. “The nightmares that she was having. Things that a child that age shouldn’t have. Monsters killing her.” Brianna added, “Screaming, ah, she went to bed about seven or seven-thirty, and she [Jessica] would lay her down and the monitor would be out with us. And she was just so restless. Crying in her sleep. And she [Jessica] would go running into her room. We’d be watching T.V. in the other room and her daughter would just wake up screaming. And she’d run in. And she really didn’t say a whole lot, because she really didn’t want to talk about it. She got to a point where all this stuff was happening and it’s my home.” Jessica was at a loss. It had taken them awhile to find the apartment in the first place, and now it was their home. She simply felt she had nowhere else to go.
Carl and Brianna felt they had to seek help. Brianna asked her father for assistance. Being Native American, Brianna’s father was friends with a shaman named Little Bear who would sometimes conduct cleansings for friends who asked his assistance. They contacted Little Bear and he agreed to come to the apartment to assess the situation and if necessary to cleanse the apartment. When he arrived, Little Bear initially left his gear in his car, telling Brianna he simply wanted to go in first and find out what he, “was dealing with.” He had brought Brianna’s father and his wife and two other friends along as well. According to Brianna there was some hesitation at the door of the apartment, when the two companions decided they would rather not go in to the domicile. “Little Bear’s friend refused to enter the apartment saying, “We’re not going in there. Another said, ‘I’m just going to stay back and kind of watch.’”
Brianna said that without being told anything of the situation, Little Bear walked into Anna’s room and pointed to the space above the child’s doll house and said there was, “in essence, a doorway or portal through which the demon was coming through. He said it’s a doorway to the other side and that’s not the side you want to go to.” Little Bear explained that being a child, Anna was more susceptible to the creature, and finally added that possession of the child’s soul was a demon’s ultimate aim.
The shaman collected his tools which consisted of a turtle shell, eagle feather and sage. He directed them to open all the windows and the doors, and had Jessica and Anna vacate the apartment. Brianna narrates, Little Bear said, “We’re going to go through and we’re going to smudge everything. We went back out and he blessed us before we went back in.
Alone in Anna’s room, Little Bear said a prayer and smudged the area. He came back out and directed them to bring Anna, “back in. Because it’s not going away. We brought her back in and he said, ‘honey, what do you see?’ And she said, ‘door.’ She said, ‘that’s the door.’ She said, ‘monkey, man, play with me.’"
Little Bear took more time working the room. “It took a while. After, when we were able to go back in it was like it was out of there. It was like you would walk in and you just kind of felt tensed. Now it was more relaxing.” But Little Bear made some predictions. “He said, “it’s not out of the house, but right now it’s out of the room.”
Carl, Brianna, Little Bear and Jessica were standing in the hall after Little Bear’s ministrations in the child’s bedroom. “And when we came out of the room, and Little Bear was in front of us.” As the group was walking toward the living room the group was startled. “He was still smudging, going into the living room when this big ball of light looked like it had just gotten thrown at us and at the same time there was this high pitched sound like a squeal.” Carl added, “It was the most primal scream I’ve ever heard in my life.” The ball of light appeared to be coming at them right at face level, it was soaring at them one moment, and gone the next. Having no other explanation the group spotted a smoke detector in the hallway and wondered if the smoke from the sage if it had set off a light in the gizmo. Upon taking the detector apart, they found no bulbs in the unit. The group was never able to come up with a plausible explanation for the ball of light.
After the cleansing, Little Bear felt that he had rid the building of the demon. For the first time in a very long while Anna was able to spend the night in her own room, and the little family had a few weeks of respite.
Sadly a few weeks of peace was all they would get, before the odd happenings began again. Anna reported that the door was back on the wall of her room, and started sleeping with Jessica again. On another night when the group was together playing a game at the table Brianna distinctly felt her hair tugged. Thinking at first it was Carl who had yanked her ponytail, she realized that his hands were cupping a soda at the time. Not only did Brianna feel the tug, but Carl said he distinctly saw the ponytail rise up into the air on its own.
And then things started to get “weird” between Jessica and her friends. Jessica didn’t want any more help, and she indicated to the couple on a few occasions that with Brianna’s Native American heritage perhaps Brianna had somehow brought on the bad things. She further started displaying emotional problems of anxiety and depression. Jessica eventually broke ties with the couple.
Jessica’s marital problems were escalating as well. In a strange stroke of fate, three months after the house cleansing, Jessica’s husband moved to the mid-west, taking Anna with him and leaving Jessica alone in the apartment. Brianna said, “I thought that was weird because she had been inseparable from this child. They were tied to the hips since she was born. And then she goes and lives with her Dad.” Roughly six months after Little Bear’s cleansing Brianna saw a posting on Facebook that Jessica had finally escaped the apartment herself. “She had made that apartment her home,” Brianna surmised, “and it really wasn’t.”
Demonologist Ralph Sarchie in his book, Deliver Us from Evil notes that he often gets an indication that a demon has left the premises. He describes times during exorcisms when he’ll suddenly hear a loud banging or popping sound, usually from another unoccupied part of the building. Having forcibly thrust the interloper from Anna’s room, I wonder if the ball of menacing light and the squealing sound that both Carl and Brianna reported wasn’t just that, the demon’s announcement that he had left the premises.
In order to do a thorough and complete exorcism of the property, however, the exorcist needs to have access to all floors and all rooms of the building. In Jessica’s case, Little Bear could only gain access to one of the several apartments. Thus while his rousting of the demon was successful in the apartment, all the creature had to do was hide somewhere else in the building until such time as he could regain access to his doorway into Anna’s room, which he eventually did.
I think the most tragic part of this tale is Jessica’s plight. While resilient little Anna moved out and away, Jessica stayed, losing her husband, daughter, friends and home. Her mental state deteriorated. I’m sure the fact that she was both frightened and isolated were a double dose of poison that eventually broke down her reserves. This is another classic sign of a demon haunt. It’s a divide and conquer strategy where the person who is being terrorized or afflicted is afraid to tell other people of their experiences for fear of being labeled foolish or mentally ill. Instead they withdraw into themselves and try to battle the bizarre on their own. Jessica’s husband was without a doubt not a supportive influence in her life. And eventually Jessica saw even her friends as her enemies. Not long after the cleansing Brianna admits that Jessica had started showing signs of crumbling mental health. As she had experienced bouts of both anxiety and depression before, Brianna admits it had never been as bad as it got when the creature returned. This is what a demon desires; fear, self-doubt, self-loathing. This is a breeding ground for the first stage in a demonic haunt, known as infestation.
I'm often asked at places I've investigated whether the paranormal activity is demonic. Demons are very much on the minds of Americans lately, although such manifestations are rare. In the accounts I have personally collected, it seems that those who have honestly encountered such evil spirits immediately know the difference. There is a sickening, gut-wrenching, instantaneous knowing that what you're encountering is evil, which is unlike a traditional haunting by a human ghost. But remember, a demon can't come in, into your home, or your life, unless you invite them in.
Anonymous (2016) Voodoo Religion – The History. AllAboutTheOccult.org. Retrieved January 16, 2017 from www.allabouttheoccult.org/voodoo-religion.htm
Anonymous (2015). Haiti; Magical Country of the Caribbeans. BlackMagicWorld.com Retrieved January 16, 2017 from http://www.blackmagicworld.com/haiti-magical-country-of-the-caribbeans.html