When I was guided to the hiding place of eighty-two love letters by a ghost who wished to reveal the reasons for her suicide, I became convinced that a spirit could significantly affect the thoughts and actions of a living person. Ladell Allen, who consumed mercury cyanide on Christmas night in 1948 in the master bedroom of the house in which I now live, compelled me to go to the attic on a hot August morning in 2009 and pry up a floorboard to find her secret.
Since I completed my book A Haunted Love Story: The Ghosts of the Allen House, in which I describe the circumstances of my discovery of Ladell’s letters and their contents, my wife and I have experienced a growing intimacy with Ladell, as well as with the other spirits with whom we share our home. Rather than moving on after my discovery of her letters, as some paranormal investigators thought she might, Ladell is even more present and willing to mingle with me and my wife Rebecca.
We have hosted several paranormal investigations at our house in the past year, and Rebecca and I both notice that we have acquired an uncanny ability to tune in to Ladell’s attitude toward investigators. Almost as soon as the investigators enter our house, we sense whether she likes, dislikes, or is uninterested in the ghost hunters. We also sense the attitudes of other ghosts in our house, such as Ladell’s mother and son, but we particularly notice Ladell’s—her emotions are seemingly the strongest and most volatile.
Last winter, while investigators were setting up their equipment throughout the house, Rebecca whispered to me, "Ladell doesn’t like somebody in this group. It’s like she’s jealous or something. It’s weird." Indeed, although the group as a whole had a very successful investigation that included several personal experiences and the recording of extensive evidence of paranormal activity, one team member—an attractive young woman—experienced nothing and recorded nothing on her various devices. Wherever this investigator was, Ladell made sure to be elsewhere.
Just in the past year, I’ve noticed that I can sit in a room with ghost hunters and sense whether any spirits are with us. Consistently, whenever I sense that Ladell or her mother, her father, or her son are present, EMF meters start flashing, Ghost Boxes start talking, and EVPs get recorded. When I don’t get the feeling of a presence, nothing happens—the Ghost Boxes remain silent; EMF meters remain unlit. And I find myself saying out loud, "No one’s here. You’re not going to get anything."
I can also sense when the ghosts get bored or annoyed. For example, during one EVP session, I started talking with the investigators about Ladell, and I sensed her enter the room. An investigator then went off on a tangent talking about herself and her own personal experiences. It wasn’t long before I sensed Ladell’s annoyance, and I felt her leave the room. Ladell clearly likes to be the focus of attention, the topic of conversation.
Late one morning last spring, Rebecca suddenly felt somewhat drained of energy and sat down on the sofa in the sitting room of the master bedroom suite. After she sat down, she felt further drained of energy. She then became aware of the presence of three spirits, one at her feet and two others moving in circles around her, twirling as though they were dancing with each other. She felt not only drained but also as though she was held down. She wanted to get off the sofa, but she couldn’t budge. This sense of helplessness and immobility lasted about two hours, although while it was happening she had no sense of how much time was passing. The pressure then suddenly disappeared; she could move, her energy returned, and the spirits were gone. She believes that the ghosts might have actually been dancing with each other, that they had used her energy to manifest and indulge in an activity they had enjoyed in life. (The Allens, by the way, frequently hosted dances and parties in the house, as well as at the hotel they owned down the street. In a December 1948 letter, a friend of Ladell’s told her of a new movie she had recently seen and said that Ladell would enjoy it, largely because of the lovely dancing in it.)
This October, I awoke one night and walked from the master bedroom into the master sitting room on my way to the bathroom and paused as I entered the sitting room, a bit startled to see two persons on the sofa in front of the television. The room was lit only by the TV, but I was certain I saw Rebecca sitting on one end of the sofa looking at the TV and a figure slumped at the other end asleep; I assumed the sleeping figure was our son. I continued on into the master bathroom, and when I came out, Rebecca was groggily standing in the room, and I noticed no one was on the sofa. I asked where our son had gone, and she said he was in his room, where he had been all night. Rebecca insisted she was alone on the sofa, and she apologized for falling asleep in front of the TV. I was confused; if she was the slumped, sleeping figure...then who was sitting on the other end of the sofa? The figure I saw was distinctly female, and she looked straight ahead at the TV. She was dark haired and petite, like Rebecca. Also, like Ladell.
Just a couple of nights later, I was in bed when Rebecca came into the master bedroom. Standing at the side of our bed, she said, "Who do you have there with you?"
"What?" I said. I was half asleep and unaware of anybody else being in the bed.
She thought our little boy had crawled into bed with me. She reached over to touch him but pulled back her hand quickly and blurted, "Oh, my God, nobody’s there! I thought for sure somebody was there."
I then sat up; she literally jumped back from me and said, "Mark?"
"What’s wrong?" I asked.
She said, "Oh, my eyes are playing tricks." Her hand was on her heart. "First, I saw somebody in the bed with you, and then when you sat up you looked like somebody else."
"Who did I look like?"
"I don’t know, but you didn’t look like you."
Ever since I moved into the Allen House, people have asked me how I can live there. Am I not scared?, they ask. I’ve always said I’m far more afraid of living people than I am of dead ones. And besides, you get used to things. Yeah, a door opens and then closes, and you just assume that somebody came into or left the room. You hear footsteps in the attic. The temperature of a room suddenly drops, and you feel someone behind you. No big deal. But what’s been happening this past year is a bit more disconcerting and significant than our witnessing doors opening or hearing voices or even seeing figures. Rebecca and I and the ghosts of the Allens have taken our co-existence in the house to a new level of intimacy.