“HAUNTED CHILDREN AND CHILDREN WHO HAUNT” #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: It’s been said that kids are more open to the supernatural, perhaps because their minds haven’t been closed off to the possibilities that ghosts really exist. That makes stories about childhood hauntings even creepier. The real stories I’ll be sharing in this episode include ghosts encountered by kids of all ages. The stories might convince you that the nightlight your child insists stay on in the bedroom, needs to stay on for a reason. (Haunted Children) *** There’s something inherently chilling about old orphanages. Maybe it’s the fact that scary orphanage stories abound – after all, the buildings are associated with heartbroken and lonely children. And not all of these tales concern the living. Plenty of real life ghost stories feature orphanages filled with restless and vengeful child spirits. (Orphanage Ghosts) *** And what should you do if your child says they see a ghost? Do you tell them there is no such thing? Do you encourage them to believe more fully? What’s the right thing to do? A couple of child psychologists have a few ideas on what you can do. (What To Do When Your Child Sees a Ghost)
TRANSCRIPT FOR THIS EPISODE…
(Scroll to bottom of blog post):
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE…
“The Original Ghost Hunter, Harry Price” episode: https://weirddarkness.com/archives/6264
“Serial Killer Showdown” episode: https://weirddarkness.com/archives/3655
STORY AND MUSIC CREDITS/SOURCES…
(Note: Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)
“Haunted Children” by Amanda Sedlak-Hevener for Ranker: https://tinyurl.com/ycu2wcfp; and from The Every Mom: https://tinyurl.com/ya42v2lq
“Orphanage Ghosts” by Elle Tharp for Graveyard Shift: https://tinyurl.com/ybtnfowq
“What To Do When Your Child Sees a Ghost” by Rosemary Counter for the Washington Post: https://tinyurl.com/ugq65et
Weird Darkness opening and closing theme by Alibi Music Library. Background music, varying by episode, provided by Alibi Music, EpidemicSound and/or AudioBlocks with paid license; Shadows Symphony (http://bit.ly/2W6N1xJ), Midnight Syndicate (http://amzn.to/2BYCoXZ), and/or Nicolas Gasparini/Myuu (https://www.youtube.com/user/myuuji) used with permission.
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I always make sure to give authors credit for the material I use. If I somehow overlooked doing that for a story, or if a credit is incorrect, please let me know and I’ll rectify it the show notes as quickly as possible.
“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46
Find out how to escape eternal darkness at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IYmodFKDaM
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Rachael Rogers was putting her four-year-old son Thomas to bed when he began talking about a ‘man in his room’. Rachael was a single mum – she and Thomas lived alone – and as far as she could see, they were the only two people present, but her son was insistent, pointing at the empty spot beside her. ‘He’s there, standing next to you, look!’
‘Thomas had always been quite shy and reserved and I thought this was an “imaginary friend”,’ says his mother Rachael. ‘I played it down and said the man was coming out of the room with me to have a cup of tea so that Thomas could go to sleep. I remember calling my mum and joking, “Thomas sees dead people!’”
But it didn’t end there. Thomas continued to talk about the man who sometimes visited and played with his toys, always describing him the same – even drawing pictures of him. ‘This man had a mainly bald head and wore very thick-rimmed glasses,’ says Rachael. ‘Thomas wasn’t scared of him and there was no sense of threat. He’d say that the man had been to visit and I’d say, “Did he, darling? That’s nice!”’
A couple of years later, she and Thomas were at Rachael’s father’s house looking at old photos because Rachael was researching the family tree. She was showing her father a picture she’d found of her paternal grandmother standing beside her second husband, someone Rachael had barely known and had no photos of at home. Thomas immediately became animated. ‘Mum, that’s the man!’ he cried. ‘The man who used to come and play in my room!’ He matched Thomas’s description perfectly – bald with thick-rimmed glasses. Then Thomas pointed at his wife, Rachael’s grandmother, who had died when Rachael was four. ‘And that lady came to our old flat and stayed with you when you had the car crash,’ he added.
‘When Thomas was 20 months old, we’d been in a very serious car crash and I could have died,’ says Rachael. ‘Thomas told me that this lady – my dead grandmother – had looked after me. He was absolutely certain.
I was shocked; the hairs on my neck were on end. I have to be honest – I do believe he saw what he said and that he has a gift. It was just too much of a coincidence and there’s no other explanation.’
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.
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Welcome, Weirdos – this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
Coming up in this episode of Weird Darkness…
It’s been said that kids are more open to the supernatural, perhaps because their minds haven’t been closed off to the possibilities that ghosts really exist. That makes stories about childhood hauntings even creepier. The real stories I’ll be sharing in this episode include ghosts encountered by kids of all ages. The stories might convince you that the nightlight your child insists stay on in the bedroom, needs to stay on for a reason.
There’s something inherently chilling about old orphanages. Maybe it’s the fact that scary orphanage stories abound – after all, the buildings are associated with heartbroken and lonely children. And not all of these tales concern the living. Plenty of real life ghost stories feature orphanages filled with restless and vengeful child spirits.
And what should you do if your child says they see a ghost? Do you tell them there is no such thing? Do you encourage them to believe more fully? What’s the right thing to do? A couple of child psychologists have a few ideas on what you can do.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
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The idea of the psychic child is many centuries old. In 1620, William Perry, a 12-year-old who claimed to be possessed, caused thousands to flock to his sleepy Staffordshire village. (He eventually admitted he was faking it, though not before the poor woman next door had been arrested for witchcraft.) Now it’s a growth area. In the US, there are summer camps and workshops where ‘highly sensitive kids’ can develop their ‘intuition’, ‘spiritual gifts’ and ‘energetic awareness’. The hit US TV show Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal followed ‘spiritually gifted children’ as they talked to ghosts, predicted disasters and attempted to find missing people. Endless YouTube videos offer up similar child-related spooks. One of the most spine-tingling focuses on Cameron, a boy from Glasgow, who has remembered a former life on the remote Hebridean island of Barra ever since he has been able to talk. His level of detail is phenomenal – the white house with the secret path to the beach, the black and white dog, the family name – all of which turn out to be true when Cameron and his mum finally take a trip there.
All this interest is set against the backdrop of a surge in so-called ‘magical thinking’. It’s no longer taboo to dabble in the paranormal. Robbie Williams has claimed that he used to talk to dead people as a child. Meghan consults a psychic, while Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop is turning crystals and cosmic flow into must-have items. Gigi Hadid, Jessica Alba, Demi Lovato and Keanu Reeves all say they encountered ghosts as children.
Children, it’s popularly believed, can lead us to this other realm because they still have a foot in both our world and the spirit world. According to many spiritualists, they (like animals) are purer than adults, more primeval, with no cultural filters: they haven’t yet been told what to think or see. This is why they so often surprise us with their intuition – sensing when we’re sad or worried, or knowing that we’re sick or even pregnant before we’ve announced it.
Emma Salter, 36, a council worker from Hull, believes her daughter Hermione was born with psychic powers. ‘As a baby, she was happy to be alone,’ says Emma. ‘She’d never cry. She’d lie in her cot, looking in a corner, cooing.’ As she began to talk, Hermione would tell Emma about friends in her bedroom – the first was a boy under the bed, wrapped in bandages – which Emma assumed were dreams or imagination.
However, when Hermione was three, before she’d started school, Emma took her to a Victorian school museum. ‘She became so excited,’ Emma remembers. ‘She told me this was like her “old classroom” and explained to me what everything was, lifting the desk and telling me this was where she kept her slate and pencil. There is no way she would have known what a slate was. She told me her teacher had a funny cap and a long cloak and carried a stick. In another part of the museum, she told me what a mangle was and when we came to what looked to me like a big drum with a stick in it, she explained that this was where her mother used to wash the clothes. She recognised everything. By the time we left that museum, I thought, “Yes, my daughter can see things and remember things.” I just believed her.’
Now a teenager, Hermione no longer displays any psychic gifts but the family do believe her powers once saved her life. ‘One morning, she’d had a nightmare about two scary men that really upset her,’ says Emma. ‘She kept crying. She even told her nursery teachers about it.’
That evening, Hermione was staying at her auntie’s house – Emma’s sister – and the kitchen ceiling collapsed. ‘By that I mean the whole ceiling, not a few bits and pieces,’ says Emma. ‘Hermione had been coming downstairs, about to go in there, when she’d seen the two men from her dream outside the kitchen, frightening her away. The next night, she saw them again in her dream and they were smiling, wearing white dresses and they weren’t scary any more. They told her they’d been there to keep her safe.’
Claire Waters, a homeopath who lives in rural Hampshire, has been so bewildered by what she believes to be her daughter’s psychic gifts that she has recently written a book about her journey, Raising Faith.
‘My daughter Faith had always been a wise soul, quite reserved, always calm,’ says Claire, ‘but her psychic gifts came out of the blue. My husband is still on the fence – he’s a scientific person and doesn’t believe he has seen anything that is set-in-stone proof – but I’ve no doubt that Faith can see spirits around her. She never revelled in the attention of it, she didn’t even think it was that interesting – it was just normal for her. As a mother, you know when your child is telling the truth.’
Faith first told Claire about her ‘spirit visitors’ when she was four – though it’s worth noting that it was in answer to Claire’s direct question. Claire had been to see a medium who told her that her daughter was ‘all seeing, all knowing’. (Claire remembers it as a ‘bizarre and awkward conversation’ and when the medium mentioned her daughter, Claire began to regret going to see her.) However, she couldn’t shake the medium’s words from her mind, so one day, while Faith was playing alone on the floor of her bedroom, Claire plucked up the courage to ask her daughter if she could see other people.
‘She didn’t look interested or stop what she was doing,’ remembers Claire. ‘She just said yes and carried on playing. I asked if there were people in the room now. She answered yes and I asked who. She shrugged and said, “Lots of people.” She also told me that my grandad – who had died – read her bedtime stories. I asked if he looked the same and she said, “Yes, but his hair is darker.” This was normal for her – not something she thought was a big deal.’
Over the next seven years, Faith opened up to Claire about her spirit visitors, and Claire’s book is filled with ‘spooky details’. When the family moved into a new house, their dog would frequently focus on full alert as if watching something invisible. When she asked Faith, her daughter laughed and said they’d inherited two spirit cats. Claire also says that from time to time, she became aware of a strong smell of antiseptic in random places, like the car. ‘Faith told me it was someone I’d worked with in a former life during the war and that she was wearing a nurse’s uniform with a green cross on it. I said I’d only ever known nurses with a red cross but Faith was quite sure this one was green.’ (In fact, there was a women’s volunteer ambulance corps, also known as the green cross corps, during the First World War.) Faith is 15 now and rarely speaks about spirit visitors or psychic matters. ‘She’s still wise, super diligent, very reserved. She wants to be a normal teenage girl,’ says Claire. ‘She thinks I’m the weird one.’
Deborah Hyde, cultural anthropologist and editor-in-chief of The Skeptic magazine, is unconvinced. ‘Children have had imaginary friends for ever,’ she says. ‘I had one and I also remember doing it for attention. You can usually put these cases into categories.
There’s outright pranking from the child, and sometimes attention by proxy for the adult. Adults have agendas that might be invisible to children and if you dig deep enough, you can usually see adults picking up the story and taking it along as a way of getting their own message out into the world.’
Hyde gives the example of the notorious 1977 Enfield poltergeist, the subject of books, documentaries, films and TV dramas. The haunting of a modest council house in Enfield, North London – loud noises, moving furniture and thrown toys – centred on two sisters, Margaret and Janet, 13 and 11, who also appeared to levitate. The events made headlines and attracted parapsychologists who claimed to have witnessed the strange events for themselves and became heavily involved in the children’s lives. Although as adults, the sisters have admitted to faking ‘two per cent’ of the phenomena, they largely stand by their story – while also avoiding media attention.
‘First of all, there were many people who visited and weren’t convinced,’ says Hyde, ‘but their voices are rarely heard and the mother didn’t like people coming unless they were believers. Those girls were intelligent, frustrated and unhappy – their father had left home and that was unusual in the 70s. I think that what probably started as adolescents mucking about then brought in some lovely, supportive male figures and there was too much at stake to stop. I’ve met Janet as an adult – she was extremely shy and very nice. I feel sorry for her.’
Usually these cases, somewhere along the line, suit an adult’s narrative, often that their own child is special. Hyde points to the new-age phenomenon of ‘indigo children’, who are supposed to possess supernatural traits and whose typical qualities include resistance to authority and being seen as strange. Critics argue that parents have chosen this label when in fact their children are displaying classic signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism or mental illness.
Is this enough to explain all the spooky sixth-sense moments that mums such as Rachael Rogers may witness with their child, then play down and file away? Whatever your beliefs, even the Spiritualists’ National Union recommends that ‘playing it down’ and ‘filing it away’ is exactly what you should do. ‘Children say they can see things – it might be genuine, they might be making it up or they might have parents putting them under pressure,’ says minister Steven Upton. ‘It’s impossible to know, but children’s minds are incredibly impressionable and you can create false memories just through the way you question them, so it’s a very dangerous area.’
According to Upton, if your child seems to exhibit psychic knowledge, keep it light, make sure they’re not frightened and move on. ‘When they’re adults, they can decide for themselves if this is something they want to develop,’ he says. ‘Until then, let children be children.’
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Later in this episode we’ll find out what a couple of other psychologists suggest you do if your child sees a ghost. Up next, has your toddler ever pointed to the empty space next to you and told you that someone is there? I’ll share a few stories that might explain why your child insists you leave the door cracked open so they can see light from the hallway. You wouldn’t want to be in the pitch black with some of these ghosties either.
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Washington Post columnist Rosemary Counter once wrote, “When I was about 3, my mother took me to her friend Donna’s farmhouse. As the grown-ups sipped tea in the kitchen, I played freely throughout the house — this was the ’80s — until reporting back with some alarming news: A little girl was crying at the top of the stairs. Mom dismissed it as just my imagination while Donna’s face turned white. She just remembered what her daughter, long grown up and moved out, used to see and say as a child: a little girl crying at the top of the stairs. I don’t remember any of this, of course. Three decades later, this un-fact-checkable story has gone the way of many campfire tales. It’s mostly fun and only partly scary, though firm proof for this undeniable truth: Children are spooky little creeps who see ghosts, report past lives and chat at night with dead relatives.” If you don’t feel like sleeping tonight, that’s good – because you might have difficulty doing so after I share several stories from mothers and numerous Redditors about children experiencing and even interacting with the paranormal. Turns out kids see ghosts all the time.
From arialist: I wasn’t allowed to lock my door as a kid. I was about 7 years old, and one Saturday morning, I had woken up at 7 or 8 am (I didn’t know the beauty of sleep then), and had found that my mom had locked her bedroom door when I tried to go in and wake her. Childishly I decided to go ahead and lock my door too, and then figured I’d let myself enjoy a computer game until my mom woke up. I was actually in the middle of fighting Captain Hook when I realized that this weird, metallic clicking noise wasn’t actually coming from my game. With the way my room was laid out, my back was facing the door while sitting at the desk, but I had a clear view behind me if I glanced at the mirror that hung over my dresser to my right. The door knob was turning- slowly, but non-stop, almost as if someone were trying to sneak in as quietly as possible, but was starting to get impatient or agitated. I remember blinking a few times before asking “Mom?” and as soon as I spoke it stopped. Now by this time as a kid, I’d heard plenty of scary stories and even stories about supernatural happenings that had occurred around me as a baby, so I was a little concerned, but being a pretty sensible kid, I figured I had to at least double-check and make sure it wasn’t my mom pulling a prank. I opened the door and the hallway was completely empty. I tried calling for my mom again, trying not to panic and hoping she was just elsewhere in the apartment and – nothing. Just the soft sound of birds and the occasional rumble from a car outside. With a last bit of a hope I went to my mom’s door and pressed my ear to the wood, hoping I’d hear her talking at least, or moving around, but instead all I heard were soft snores. It definitely wasn’t her. I remember then the hallway went frigid, like a 20 drop degree in the space of less than a minute. My brain went into automatic mode and I took off running down the hall, headed straight for my Yorkshire Terrier’s crate. I scooped her up and ran back down the hall to my room, where I shut and locked the door immediately. Our dog was still pretty young and so she didn’t mind much being carried or how I sat her firmly in my lap, watching the door apprehensively. I kept waiting for something else to happen, but finally after about 5-10 minutes, I turned around and went back to my computer game, trying to forget the whole thing. I’d finally settled back into the game when I heard it again, except this time it wasn’t soft or sneaky. As I turned to look at the mirror my Yorkie growled sharply from my lap, and I saw the doorknob twisting violently. The door starting to bang, and my dog snarled and jumped off, running for the door with her hackles fully raised and clawing at the door. I didn’t know what to do, so I did all I could think of: I closed my eyes and prayed. It’s funny in retrospect, because even back then I wasn’t religious at all (despite being raised in a Catholic family and being forced to do a First Communion), but it was the only thing I could think of to do, and so I did, mumbling and stuttering through it until my Yorkie’s growls and barks finally stopped and the rattling disappeared completely. I think I stood there for a full 10 seconds before I started screaming my head off, waking up my mom and getting in trouble for making a ruckus, but I sure was glad to hear her voice after all of that. I’m still not sure what happened. It wasn’t the only weird/scary thing to happen in that apartment to me. But I can remember every detail, even to this day.
From mikecarroll360: When I was 12, my little brother Rogan was six. I had another brother and sister that were at friend’s houses for the night, and my dad was on business in Sweden for a week. So it was just me, my mom, and Rogan that night, I guess. I didn’t talk to anyone but my mom that night, and that was only to get a snack, because I sat in my room playing video games. So around 10 pm, I walked out of my room to get another snack, and passed Rogan’s room with its door open. I looked in for a second to see him sleeping. Only he was sleeping facing the wall, breathing heavy, sweating and skin eggshell white. I ran downstairs to get my mom and tell her that Rogan might be having a seizure. She told me he was at his friends Ryan’s house! I said someone was in Rogan’s bed. She didn’t believe me so I walked upstairs with her to see the bed and sheets covered in fresh sweat and messed up with no one in it. My mom called Ryan’s house and Rogan was put on the phone. My mom said goodnight and she went back to bed. I didn’t sleep that night and just continued to play video games.
From Ashlie M., mom of two: “When we were looking at condos to purchase our first place, Claire was just shy of her third birthday. We brought her with us to all of our showings because we wanted to see how comfortable she was as it would be her home too. When we walked through the door of the place we ultimately bought, the second floor of a 1911 Chicago brick three-flat, we all knew immediately that it was the right place. That evening, I asked Claire if she thought that place would be a good home for her, and her response was, ‘Yes! And the little boy that lives there is really nice too.’ This took me aback, but I tried to remain calm. I asked her what she meant, and she said there was a little boy in his pajamas that she saw in the dining room. She said he had waved at her, he was about her age, and he was only in the dining room. She knew his name (which I don’t remember now) and that he was afraid of water. After she went to bed that night, I looked up ways to clear the energy of a home, how to communicate with a ghost so they don’t bother your family, and anything else I could find to make sure at least I could be comfortable living in this otherwise perfect condo. Claire never talked about him again, not even the next day when I asked her to tell my husband.”
From PM-ME-YOUR-POEM: Laying in bed one night, it’s pitch black apart from the light creeping under the door from the landing. My mum was actually with me in the same room, as we had just moved in and she was sleeping on the floor. I look up and the door slowly creeks open and an oldish woman peers around the door, looks at me, and goes away. I just thought I was having a nightmare, so I turned around really fast, and went under the covers, hoping I would wake up. Then I will never forget my mum whispering to me “Did you just see someone peer round the door?” Safe to say we didn’t sleep a wink that night.”
Ryliesmama tells this story: When my daughter was an infant we of course had baby monitors. One night, really late, we heard two people on the monitor talking… a man and a woman. They were talking about how peaceful she looked… we both went running to her room and she was laying there peacefully sleeping, with no one in the room. My husband swore it sounded just like his dead grandparents.
Reddit user PsychedelicGoat42 says: In high school, I used to hang out with my friend “John” almost every day. When we first began hanging out at this house, I would sometimes hear disembodied footsteps, but very often I would see what looked like the shadow of a person out of the corner of my eye, only to have it disappear moments later. After a month or so, I finally mentioned this to my friend and he got mad – he demanded to know who had told me he saw “shadow people” and begged me not to joke around with him about it. I assured him I was serious. Soon, we would hear laughter when no one else was home, doors would close by themselves, and the TV would turn itself on and off. One day, after these experiences had grown more intense and more frequent, I mentioned to my friend blessing the house. Right as I said this, a box sitting on a nearby counter flew right towards me. It sounds unbelievable, but it was the single most terrifying experience of my life. My friend and I got holy water and sprinkled it around the house while saying a prayer and never experienced anything in the house again. Months later, my friend came to stay at my lake house with me for a weekend. At one point in the night we both thought we saw a “shadow person” but decided to pass it off as nothing. Later that night, we woke up to what sounded like voices coming from the living room. He went to investigate, thinking someone might have broken in, and I stayed put. A few moments later I heard the sound of someone thundering down the hallway, and ran out to see why my friend was running -but he wasn’t in the house. My friend was outside on the porch, and came inside saying that he had heard a loud noise from the house, too, and thought it had been me. Nothing else happened for the rest of the weekend, but the next time I went to the house, after it had set empty for a week, a picture frame with my photo in it had been ripped off the wall and thrown down the hall, and the pillows from my couch were stacked one on top of the other, in the very middle of the couch. I’ve since stopped hanging out with “John,” and I’ve never experienced anything of this sort again.
From Reddit user LittlePrettyThings: So, both my parents tend to snore quite heavily when they sleep, and sometimes one will be loud enough to drive the other out of the room to sleep somewhere else for the night. So every now and then, one of my parents would come crash in my room or my sibling’s room on the spare bed, or on the other side of the double bed. One night I woke up in the middle of the night, and saw there was someone sleeping in the bed next to me. I assumed it was my dad (it sort of looked like him, and it was dark), and that he had trouble sleeping in his own bed, so I just figured no big deal, its quite comforting to have a parent around anyway, so I turned around and went back to bed. The next day, just randomly in conversation I mentioned something to the effect of “So mom must have been snoring quite heavily last night, ey?” My parents both just kind of looked at me like, “what?” Me: “Isn’t that why you crashed in my room?” Dad: “No, I was asleep in our room all night…” I asked siblings, etc. No one had gotten up throughout the night or anything. Who did I see?
From Erin T: “My son was around 2 at the time. We were driving past the cemetery when he said, ‘Look, mama! Dead people.’ Yes, darling, I responded. ‘Kids!’ he continued, matter-of-factly. And sure enough, we were passing by the children’s section. Curious, I asked if the kids were happy or sad. ‘Happy, mama!’ he said. ‘They are running around that daddy.’ All I saw was a man standing alone with his head dropped. It warmed my heart, honestly.”
From Mrhegel: When I was younger, I used to think I was having dreams of an old woman in a blue dress and cat-eye glasses sitting at the end of my bed singing to me. She’d always sing the same song and then leave. One night I followed her into my brother’s room (he is younger than me and was around 5) and instead of singing to him, he woke up and they began talking. After like 20 minutes, my mother came in and asked what we were doing. My brother said “I’m just talking to the lady in the blue dress.” She made us go back to bed. I woke up still thinking it was a dream. My mom told me the next morning that she didn’t want me sneaking out of bed anymore in the middle of the night to play with my brother. I asked her what she was talking about, and she gave me her version of what she saw the night before. To this day I believe that was real, and that every night the old woman would sing to me. I get goose-bumps just thinking about it. She stopped singing to me soon after that, though people in my family still caught my brother speaking to nothing on numerous occasions. A while later, an aunt came to visit from down south and refused to come in to our house after seeing an old woman in cat-eye glasses standing in the upstairs window. She came in asking who was upstairs, then freaked out when my mother told her no one and let her search the house.
YOUSHOUTEDTHIS says: My family was very religious when I was growing up. One time, we were in church and they’d asked a few members to go to the front so they could pray for someone specific. (They were led to a small wooden railing, like a church pew with no seat.) My aunt had gone to the front and brought 5-year-old me with her. We closed our eyes and started singing and lifted our hands in prayer (Pentecostal) and after about a minute, I felt someone’s hands touch mine, like flat against mine. I swayed my hands slowly from side to side as I’d seen the adults do, and the person touching my hands followed along as normal. I thought it was the pastor’s wife, who liked me and in general really liked all the children of the church. I was so happy she’d chosen to pray with me that after a few minutes, I decided to break prayer protocol and open my eyes to smile at her, but quickly realized it wasn’t her. It wasn’t anyone. I looked from side to side to see if maybe the person had moved on to pray with someone else, but everyone else was doing their own thing. There was no one else there, but I distinctly felt someone’s hands touching mine. I know I wasn’t mistaken, I mean, you would be able to tell if someone placed their hand on yours, right? I don’t know if this qualifies as creepy, but for me it’s still unexplained.
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Up next, more stories of children seeing ghosts. And later, how should you react if your child sees a ghost? These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns.
The Weirdo Watch Parties we’ve been doing have been so successful, we’re bringing Eerie Late Night to the Weird Darkness web site! Now, you can enjoy schlock B-horror and thriller movies, and hilarious horror hosts, on the Weirdo Watch Party page at WeirdDarkness.com. It’s now streaming old horror, classic serials, retro TV commercials, and more – 24/7, every day of the year – and it’s FREE to watch whenever you want. Meanwhile, our next Weirdo Watch Party is Saturday, May 23rd! Join me, other Weirdo family members, and horror hosts Slash and Foxi Roxi as they present the 1984 B-horror movie, Carnage. Carnage is the story of Carol and Jonathan, a newlywed couple, who move into their new house which is haunted by the ghosts of another newlywed couple who committed suicide in the house three years earlier. (Creepy!) You can be a part of the Weirdo Watch Party for free – just visit the page and click the play button to start watching! The chat room is also there, so during the Weirdo Watch Party we can all join in to chat with each other, comment about the film and the horror hosts, and most of the time the horrors hosts jump into the chatroom with us to get in on the jokes and conversation. It’s FREE, it’s FUN, and it helps to promote different horror hosts and show them that we appreciate them keeping the art form alive. So join us for the 1984 schlock horror film, “Carnage”! Put it on your Google calendar, set a reminder on your smart home device, write it on your home or office calendar with blood – whatever you have to do so you won’t miss the fun! This time the party is on the Weirdo Watch Party page on Saturday, May 23rd at 9pm Central (10pm Eastern, 7pm Pacific, 8pm Mountain) at WeirdDarkness.com!
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We’ve all heard the stories. A television that flips channels on its own. The house that echoes with a baby’s cries, despite no baby actually living there. A bar stool that skitters across the floor when no one is near. The piano that plays itself at all hours of the night and day. Do ghosts exist? Turns out, if we want an answer, all we need to do is look to our children.
From Priscilla A: “We bought our current house from a man who was married for 40+ years. His wife passed away a couple of years before we bought the house. One evening, while tucking my 2.5-year-old into bed, he said, ‘Mama, night-night to the grandma,’ while pointing to the hallway between his room and mine — what was her room back then.”
baronjohnson tells this story: I woke up in the middle of the night and I looked in the corner of my room and saw a hooded figure next to my dresser. At first I thought it was just some clothes hanging off my dresser, but then it turned and I saw red eyes staring at me. I immediately jumped out of bed and turned on the lights. There were no clothes hanging off my dresser. I would have just brushed it off as a bad dream, but then I saw my dog staring at the corner. I was outside of the room and I kept calling for her to come out, but she would not stop staring where I had seen the hooded figure. She did not react at all to me calling her, and so I finally just went back in my room and yanked her off the bed. I slept in the living room the rest of the night, and my dog slept in my parents’ room for the rest of her life.
From another Reddit user: Part of my dad’s job when I was younger was to go around a very old house that was falling apart, and check on these dowel things in the walls every 6 weeks. He basically replaced them and packaged the ones we took out, and sent them away to find out how the building was drying out after years of rain leaking in. This was a listed building and the company wanted to bring the house back to its former glory, but as far as I’m aware since my dad stopped working for them, it’s back in complete disrepair. I would go along with him on a Sunday morning to do the changes of these dowels, since I loved being down there and have always been interested in history. So, off we went one morning and turned on the generator and my dad got to work, I’d normally wander around playing Indiana Jones by myself, since this was a huge manor house. It was a construction site, but I was old enough to appreciate the rules and knew not to go near any holes or find a way to fall through the floor. So, my dad is busy getting to work on the first dowels when I’m playing upstairs in one room I always liked because it was a child’s room. I had claimed it as my own play space whenever I visited. I played for about 5 minutes when I felt someone was watching me, and I turned around to see what looked like a long skirt follow someone along the hallway. I sneaked out and tried to see who was there, and saw the back of a lady walk into another room wearing a floor length skirt. I tried to follow her, but when I went into the room literally 2 seconds after there was no one there. I called my dad and we checked every room in he house, but no one was there. The only way to exit would have been to walk past us, so I have no idea what I saw.
From Amy F: “When we moved into our house, Leo (2.5) was seeing a ghost. He would say ‘ghost’ and point to the dining room table. One day, I mentioned ‘Mr. Hutchinson’ to someone while giving a history of the house, and Leo said, ‘Mr. Hutchinson, my ghost friend?’ We confirmed with a house cleanser that someone attached to the home, like a grandfather figure was here, and attracted to Leo’s light and innocence. We have since had our house cleansed twice!”
Reddit user Sassicide says: Not sure if this qualifies as childhood, since I was in my teens, but here goes: My mom was married to my father (a minister) for a long time, and when she left him, she left behind all the traditions they had out of spite. One of these traditions was “blessing” a house before entering it. Well, needless to say, the new house she and I had moved into after their split was in need of a blessing. It was located between a Civil War-era cemetery and a more modern one. I don’t know if it had anything to do with what was happening with the house. The first day we were there, the stove had turned on by itself, and shattered a glass pan that we had sitting on one of the burners. We brushed it off. From then on things escalated. The radio would turn on and off, box fans would mysteriously turn on full blast, and my dog would end up barking at the corners with more ferocity that I’d ever seen her use. My mom got locked in the bathroom once when she was home alone and had to wait for me to come home from school to let her out. Thankfully it was only an hour or so. I saw our “visitor” once or twice and took to calling him “Sam”. To this day I can’t explain what exactly was going on in that house, but I’m very glad that I’m out of it.
From samirbrokeit: I never met my maternal grandfather, as he died before I was born at a relatively young age, around 50 or so. He had died of a heart attack. He was too drunk to acknowledge he should have gone to the hospital at the time and instead sat in a chair in his living room, with his house keys in his hand – and he squeezed them so hard that they were all bent when they found him the next morning. My mum described that night feeling his “presence” over her with his keys in his hand. Many years later, when I was about six, my mother told me about my grandfather for the first time and showed me some photos of him. She told me the next morning that I claimed he’d visited me the previous night, and handed me a set of bent house keys to play with. There’s no way I could have known that detail – and I maintained this for many years until I was too old to recall it, and she told me the story.
From Tracy B: “My then 4-year-old would tell me about a little girl who wanted to play with her. She apparently wanted to play all hours of the day and night. When I was finally able to sort out what was up with my daughter, in the middle of the night, I left this little ghost some toys in an upstairs closet so she could play by herself. She had a stuffed lamb and a stuffed duck, and I used to find them moved most mornings. The 4-year-old shared a room with her sibling, so I know it wasn’t her moving the toys.”
From another Reddit user: When I was 4 or 5 (I’m 28 now), my older brother and I were rough-housing in the basement. I remember this very distinctly, because I still can’t explain what happened. It was just my brother and I in the house (mom went grocery shopping). We were in the basement, when all of a sudden a closet door just swung open. We both stopped and stared at the closet when a dark/black entity floated out of the closet towards us. My brother took off upstairs and left me by myself, and I remember just staring at this black mass. I had no idea what it was. I blacked out and when I came to, I was crying on the stairwell with my mom asking me what was going on… I was crying, saying, “There is a ghost downstairs.” She didn’t believe my brother and me. To this day, my brother and I swear a dark entity/ghost floated out of that closet. The weird thing is, my brother slept downstairs in one of the rooms, and at night he claims he could hear someone walking around outside his room. One time his friend stayed over and slept on the floor, and his friend claimed there was something staring at him from underneath the bed. A cousin of mine stayed over one night and claimed he saw a black/dark mass roam from room to room in the basement. He got up to check it out and found nothing in the rooms, so he sat down in the rumpus room (where my brother and I were rough-housing), when he claimed he saw a dark mass staring at him at the end of the hallway. He ran upstairs. We all sat down and talked about these experiences, and came to the conclusion that someone was possibly murdered because the house had a really big crawl space. The crawl space entrance was located in the closet that the entity came from. No idea how to explain it, so we decided on someone being murdered.
From Expl0siveAmnesia: I was about 12 at the time, babysitting my little sister who was around 8. My parents were out for the evening, at the church setting up for some event, as I recall. I remember it was around 8-9 at night, plenty dark out. My sister and I were playing in the unfinished part of the basement, and in the Midwest, that meant this part of the basement was mostly underground with just the storm windows at ground level. This is when things got weird. I heard the garage door upstairs open, and two distinct pairs of footsteps walk into the house. They did not belong to my parents. Being familiar with not only the sound of my parents, but also the sounds of the floorboards creaking above our heads, I knew people were in the house. I quickly shushed my sister, looking up, trying to figure out what to do. The closest phone was upstairs, where the footsteps were. I knew better than to call out. Two small girls home alone… my only concern was getting my sister out safely. As the footsteps tread back and forth, I assumed they were turning out the lights we had left on upstairs. I could heard two men’s voices, not enough to make out words, but I distinctly heard two men. As soon as my sister saw I was panicked, she began to freak out, crying and what-not. The footsteps immediately stopped. I slapped my hand around my sister’s mouth and picked her up under one arm and ran up and out of the unfinished part of the basement. To get to the bottom-level sliding glass door, we had to pass the stairs that led from the upper level (where the men were) to the basement (where we were). After a moment of silence, I heard booming footsteps. I could only assume they heard my sister and were headed towards us. Running with every bit of “I’m gonna die” adrenaline. I heard the thundering sounds of them coming down the stairs behind us. As I got to the sliding glass door, I threw it open, shoved my sister out and screamed for her to run for help. I tripped out soon after her. I could feel them right behind me. I had CLEARLY heard them practically falling down the stairs… huge booming footsteps. I fully expected to get grabbed. My sister, now screaming bloody murder had attracted the attention of our neighbors. I turned around to see….no one. They were right behind me. I heard them. I knew they were there. I had no idea where they could have gone. Needless to say, the cops were called, and my parents rushed home. There were no signs of entry at all. All of the upstairs doors were locked. The garage door was shut. There was nothing missing, nothing out of place. I still have no idea what happened that day. It was definitely one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.
From Dee Dee A.: “Ender, my 4-year-old, will tell us stories about the little girl who shuts doors and turns off the lights. He can’t tell us what she looks like or where she goes. I don’t talk about ghosts or anything that would give Ender this idea. The last time the little girl was here, I heard the door slam. I ran in and asked him if he had closed it. He told me ‘No, the little girl did because she didn’t want to play.’”
brownelld shares this story: So this is more of a collection of stories, and I haven’t told them in a while because even thinking about it freaks me out, not to mention makes me question my own sanity. Anyways, here goes… To preface, when I was entering 5th grade, my dad’s company gave him an opportunity to transfer to an overseas job in Florence, Italy. My parents obviously jumped at the chance, and we lived over there for 3 years, which was an awesome experience for the most part. The first few months we lived in an apartment across from Santo Spirito Cathedral, and then moved out to a small town in Tuscany called Impruneta, where my father’s company basically paid for us to live in this awesome Italian villa, I mean 7 bedrooms, 5 baths… it was the biggest house I’d ever seen. We started speaking to the farmer who works the olive orchards around the house, and who knows the family who has owned it for centuries, and find out that the oldest part of the house was a 500-year-old hunting lodge owned by the Pitti family, and then the rest of the villa was built around it in the late 1700s. Since we were renting it, it came furnished with all sorts of cool old furniture, art, etc. My father, in a conversation with the neighbors, heard from them some anecdotal stories about the “monk ghost” who haunted the house, guarding the Pitti’s forgotten treasure, and he told my mom, but they didn’t tell me sister and me because they didn’t think it was a true story, and they didn’t want to freak us out. The first thing I remember being weird about the villa, was that I was never comfortable being there alone. I’ve been a very solitary person my entire life, and I usually enjoy time by myself. However, I can remember right from the start that any time my parents would leave me alone there, I would feel like I was being watched and/or there was another presence in the house. I spent months convincing myself it was just nerves, that I wasn’t used to living there, or that the huge size of the house was what was freaking me out. Then I noticed that our cats (we had 1 house cat when we moved in, but we also adopted the 4-5 cats that roamed the property, and some of them moved into the house) would act strange sometimes, staring at empty spaces, running up to a spot like they would a person, when there was nothing there, but it seemed like I only noticed them doing it when I was there alone. By the end of our first year in the house, I was terrified of being left alone (my parents thought I was crazy), and whenever I was there by myself, which was rarely, I would lock myself in my bedroom with one or more cats, who I thought could protect me. (I don’t know how, or why, it just seemed like a good idea at the time). At the same time, I started noticing noises at night, scrapings, clawings, that sort of stuff, but when I would freak out, my dad would come in and remind me that the house was hundreds of years old, and there were probably mice, bats, and other critters above my room making the noises. It made sense to me, but I can’t even begin to recount how many nights I got woken up by these strange noises that seemed too loud or persistent to be a mouse. I started to occasionally hear random doors shutting, those sorts of things, but by this point I just kept it to myself, because my parents were already thinking I was crazy. After about a year, our relatives started to fly over from the States to come visit us. They basically got a vacation in Tuscany for the price of a plane ticket, so we had guests at least once a month, if not more. The first major incident I remember was when my aunt and uncle and two cousins came and visited, and stayed in the apartments that were originally the second floor of the hunting lodge. I’ll mention briefly that it seemed like a majority of the incidents/noises/etc. seemed to all originate from the oldest part of the house, which was the 3 floors of the original hunting lodge, the root cellar below it. There were two adjoining bedrooms, with a bathroom opening onto the front bedroom. My aunt and uncle slept in this front bedroom; my cousins in the back. To make a long story short, my cousin Casey woke up at like 5 in the morning, walked into the bathroom half-asleep, and saw a man standing in there, so he turned around and sat on the chair outside the bathroom door. He had been sitting there for a couple minutes when my aunt sat up and asked him what he was doing, and he told her “waiting for dad to get out of the bathroom,” To which she replied, “Dad is still in bed, right here,” and he was. Needless to say, by the time breakfast came around, we had all heard the story, and it was at this point that my father finally made mention of the ghost stories he heard from the neighbor, and that supposedly this was the reason the villa had been empty for a few years until we started renting it. Apparently, the last people to live there had been freaked out. I pretty much flipped out on all of them, because I felt like everything I had experienced finally made sense, and they had been making me feel insane by passing off my experiences as something I made up in my head. After it was out in the open in my family, we all started noticing how frequently weird things happened in that house, and I’ll just list a few examples: My sister had a slumber party for her birthday with 5-6 girls, and my mom sat out in the stairwell around midnight for a bit to make sure they all went to bed. She started hearing furniture being dragged around, and went down to see what the girls were up to, but they were all talking, and no furniture was moved. A week later, my parents had the owners come out and open up the 3rd floor of the hunting lodge, which were 2 rooms they kept locked up as storage, and inside there were several large wardrobes, dressers, and other pieces of furniture that had been dragged around at random (you could see the trails through the dust where they had moved), anywhere from a few inches to several feet. The owners got mad at us, thinking that my sister or I had managed to break in and mess with their stuff, but the door was locked, and my dad pointed out that there were no footprints. The owners freaked out, made a bunch of hurried excuses and dismissive gestures, and left pretty fast.
From Michelle K: “My husband’s father passed away several years before my son was born. He died from the flu, and my husband had always felt guilty because he had been the one to share the sickness with him. We never talked to our son about his grandpa, but one morning he woke and said point-blank, ‘Daddy, Papa Don wanted me to tell you he’s doing fine.’ We asked him to describe his grandpa and he did so to a T, despite never having seen a photo of him. He said he was standing by a fast car with a cloud of smoke around him. This made perfect sense because my father-in-law raced sports cars and smoked heavily all his life.”
This comes from Tokaiguy: A few things as a kid. In the first house I lived in, my parents and I were sitting at the table eating dinner when suddenly we heard this whistling sound. Not like the wind whistling through a door, but a full-on song. I was about 5 at the time and remember pretending I was the one singing so that my parents wouldn’t be concerned. My mom immediately told me to stop pretending and said it was probably the TV downstairs. After dinner I went downstairs to check and all of the lights, TV, everything was off. I don’t claim the house was haunted or anything, but it’s something I remember vividly and have never been able to explain. When I was about 10, we moved into a new house, and my younger sister for years would talk about the man in black that she would see around the house. No one took her seriously, but 20 years later she still swears she saw him, although she doesn’t anymore. I never saw anything like that, but can remember hearing cupboards open or drawers shutting while home alone late at night. Recently my dad woke up at 3 am to find his TV on full blast and his phone screen had been smashed during the night. Lastly, when I was in kindergarten, I used to have recurring dreams about this black figure with red eyes following me. My dreams were relatively normal, but always in the background this figure was stalking me. Eventually after a few weeks of this, in one of my dreams my grandfather confronted the figure and told me everything would be okay. The figure left and I never dreamed of it again. I mostly chalk that up to being a kid but still kind of interesting to me, especially considering how vividly I can remember that last dream.
From flyingkneebar: When I was a kid, I lived in these apartments that were pretty normal, and didn’t seem like they would have a history of anything odd or unusual. After a few nights of living there, I would hear the sound of something dragging on the floor. I didn’t think much of it, since it was an apartment that had super thin walls. One night, the dragging sound was loud like if it were in my hallway, so I took a peek out and noticed something that looked like a man army-crawling on the floor. It wasn’t clear, since the lights were off and the only light I had was coming from outside through the windows. My immediate reaction was to close the door, which I did, and waited in my room until I my parents woke up. As soon as they did, I tried explaining to them that I saw a man crawling on the floor and they immediately dismissed it as a “bad dream.” After that night, I never heard dragging sounds or saw the crawling man again. Fast forward a few years later when we were finally moving out. I returned the keys to the manager and asked who used to live in the apartment before us. The manager stated that a paraplegic gentleman used to live in there and passed away a year before we moved in.
This creepy story comes from jo_jawz23: So, I used to live in Florida, and was just a small car trip away from St. Augustine, which is one of the oldest cities in America. One day, my mom, brother, and I went on a nice little sight seeing trip there to visit a few places. One of those places happened to be the old lighthouse. When we walked in, there was a little room giving some history on the place, and as soon as I walked through the doorway, I just felt a heavy presence all around me as if pressure was being added to the room. Let’s just say that we decided not to check the room out. Next, we made our climb to the top. My mom is really afraid of heights, but she went up there anyway. When we got to the top, we were just looking at the view when all of a sudden some lady that looked like she was dressed in 1930s attire came up to us and said “Oh, you don’t have to be scared of heights. It’s okay.” She then walked off, and we then went around the whole lighthouse top and never saw her again. We then looked at a picture of some of the residents that used to live there, and what a coincidence: one of those people just so happened to be the same lady we saw up in the lighthouse.
From lilylily_4: One time when I was about 6 or 7, my brother and I were playing out in our yard. It was pretty late. I told him that I’d be right back because I had to use the bathroom. The yard is weird, since there are 2 houses on the lot. My dad lives in the front house, and the coach house is where my grandma lives. My brother was headed towards the front of my dad’s house, and I was headed towards my grandma’s. I just stopped dead in my tracks. Along the corridor that runs on the side of both houses was a door the led to the alley. I saw a floating figure there that I can only describe as the grim reaper. It was just floating in front of the door. I know it couldn’t have been someone playing a trick on me, because it disappeared while I was looking at it, and we had been playing near that door all day. To this day, I can’t go near that door, it creeps me out.
From arvotheaspie: Little things would move around my house while I was home alone. I live in a very small town in the south, so during the summer, parents would usually leave kids home alone (kids like 10 and up, at least). Markers would go missing while I was coloring in the living room, only to be found in my parents’ bathroom the next day. Action figures would go missing while I was playing with them on my bedroom floor, and when I would look for them I’d find them sitting on my (very tall, I still can’t reach the top of it without a stool) TV stand. Books would go missing. CDs, video games, you name it. They were never missing forever, with the exception of a Hillary Duff CD (I was 10, okay,) and I’d usually always find them later in the day or within a couple of days. This only ever happened when I was alone and I still have no idea why.
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So I guess ghosts can be Hillary Duff fans. Coming up… we move away from children seeing ghosts, and move towards adults seeing ghosts of children. That might be something you would expect in one of the many haunted orphanages around the world.
Also… what should you do if you have a child who claims to see a ghost? A couple of child psychologists have some advice to share on that subject when Weird Darkness returns.
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There’s something inherently chilling about old orphanages. Maybe it’s the fact that scary orphanage stories abound – after all, the buildings are associated with heartbroken and lonely children. And not all of these tales concern the living. Plenty of real life ghost stories feature orphanages filled with restless and vengeful spirits.
These scary orphanage ghost stories all take place at actual haunted orphanages or abandoned orphanage sites around the world. These creepy stories aren’t just campfire fodder, but are based off of real life tragedies that actually occurred at these places. You can even visit these locations, if you’re in the mood for a firsthand ghostly encounter. Just be warned – you never know what might come home with you. And in these cases, you didn’t have to be a child to see the ghosts – but some of the ghosts could very well have been children themselves.
According to Ohio legend, Gore Orphanage in Vermillion burned down in the 1800s. Rumor has it that the fire was started by a disgruntled employee, or by the owner himself to collect insurance money. None of the children survived the fire. The site has since been razed and abandoned. But visitors to the area claim that you can see ghosts of the orphan children frolicking about the woods. Others report smelling burning flesh and hearing the screams of children, and even finding tiny hand prints on their parked cars.
The Holy Family Orphanage in Marquette, MI, opened in 1915. While it was initially meant to be a whites-only orphanage, the first occupants were 60 Native American children. These children weren’t all orphans – some had been taken from their mothers in an effort to assimilate them into white culture. Rumors of abuse were common. One story says that a young girl who had disobeyed orders and stayed out in the cold perished of pneumonia. Her body was put on display as a warning to the other children that they had better behave. The Holy Family Orphanage closed in 1965, and visitors report hearing moaning children and sighting ghosts on the property.
St. Mary’s Orphanage housed children in Galveston Island, TX. That is, until a hurricane wiped out nearly all of the orphans. In 1900, the “Great Storm” descended upon the island. As the orphanage began to flood, the Sisters working there tied the children to them with rope as they sought higher and higher ground. Eventually, the roof collapsed, trapping them inside and slaying 90 orphans and 10 Sisters. Their bodies were discovered still tied together by the rope. Today, the site is home to a Wal-Mart. Employees report toys going missing and hearing kids’ phantom laughter. One employee was certain they heard a child calling for her mother, but upon a store-wide search, no one was found.
The Guthrie Boy’s Home in Oklahoma opened its doors sometime in the early 1920s. According to legend, one employee of the orphanage took his own life in the bell tower. Another employee, a nurse maid, abused many of the boys and slayed several. The building was closed in 1978 with the emergence of the foster care system. Today, visitors to the Guthrie Boy’s Home claim to hear footsteps in the bell tower, bells ringing, and even gasping. The ghosts of the boys can be heard screaming late at night and the spirit of the nurse maid supposedly lurks in the main entryway.
Raleigh North Carolina’s Crybaby Lane was once the spot of a Roman Catholic orphanage. When a fire broke out in the dormitory in 1958, it gutted the building and slayed many of the orphans. All that remains is a patch of grass and the cornerstone of the original building. Months after the fire, neighbors continued to complain to the city about the strong smell of smoke. People walking through the field felt as though they were being suffocated. And, creepiest of all, they heard the cries and screams of the orphan children. Because of this, the surrounding houses have now been abandoned.
A privately owned orphanage known as The Fairmount Children’s Home opened in Alliance, OH, in the 1870s. Unfortunately, the headmaster of the orphanage was said to be a cruel man who tortured and even slayed the children who lived there. That is, until one night in 1944. According to legend, the children rose up against the headmaster and hanged him from a pipe in the basement. The headmaster supposedly began to haunt the orphanage, looming over children’s beds and appearing as a shadowy figure in the back of class photos. The orphanage eventually shut down and was abandoned in the 1990s before it mysteriously burned down.
During the Civil War, orphans of Union soldiers were often taken to The National Soldiers Orphan’s Homestead. The orphanage ran without problems for years, until Rosa Carmichael was appointed the orphanage’s matron. Said to be an abusive disciplinarian, Carmichael reportedly tortured children in the cellar of the orphanage. Eventually a runaway outed her abuse, and she was fined for her transgressions. Apparently, the spirits of the children she tormented don’t believe justice was served. The building is now a tourist attraction, and said to be highly haunted. Some visitors claim to have sighted Rosa Carmichael herself, trapped and angry in the cellar.
The Elizabeth Orphan Asylum opened as an orphanage for girls in Elizabeth, NJ, in 1858. It closed in 1962 and was eventually razed in 1996, but during its years of abandonment, it was the site of a lot of creepy folklore. The basement was rumored to be used for satanic rituals. The house became considered a sort of magnet for evil, as it was hit by a small airplane in the 1970s, and partially burned a few years later. People often claimed to see demons or satanic nuns in the area. Visitors also reported noticing glowing green orbs, almost like eyes, in various sections of the house.
The Montana Children’s Center, also known as the Twin Bridges Orphanage, was established by the state in the 1890s, as the mining boom of the area declined. While some of the children there were orphans, many were simply abandoned by parents who couldn’t afford to care for them. Tales of abuse at the orphanage were numerous; children were whipped for wetting the bed or hung on coat hooks and locked in dark rooms as punishment. Many children also perished on the property from disease. One former employee said there were 30 headstones in the yard for children, but they’ve since disappeared. The orphanage closed in 1976, and the current owner claims to hear children singing when alone on the property. It was investigated by the TV show Ghost Adventures, who communicated with the spirit of an orphan girl and found flashing lights dancing from room to room.
Opened by Sisters of Mercy and the Catholic Church in 1905, St. John’s Orphanage in Goulburn, Australia, housed 200 boys at its peak. By many accounts the boys were treated as slaves and cruelly punished. They were given one set of clothing upon arrival, and they were beaten and caned regularly. Neglect was common, and most of the orphans were not educated beyond fifth grade. As it wasn’t the happiest of places, it’s no surprise that it is now known as one of the most haunted locations in Australia. Disturbing messages are written on the walls, seemingly by someone who once lived there, and the spirits of little boys supposedly still roam the premises.
The Liverpool’s Seaman’s Orphan Institution later became Newsham Park Hospital, a medical hospital, and then, just to make things extra creepy, ended its days of actual human occupancy as a mental asylum before it was finally closed down by the city council in 1997. This abandoned Victorian building is just asking to be haunted. The building once housed 400 orphans, who risked being locked in unlit “naughty cupboards” in an attic corridor if they misbehaved. There have been many ghost sightings at the location, on the building roof and in Ward G. Visitors have also reported hearing dragging noises in the dining room and have feelings of uneasiness in the basement.
The Odd Fellows Home was constructed in 1900 in Liberty, MO, as a place for unfortunate souls. It included a hospital, a home for the elderly, and an orphanage. It was run by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.), a fraternal order meant to help others. But the order may have had a more sinister purpose. Many residents at the Odd Fellows Home passed – 600 bodies are buried in the cemetery. That’s a lot of spirits. There’s also suspicion that the I.O.O.F. had some creepy secret practices, which included using human remains of their residents in their societal rituals. This supposedly upset the spirits, who are said to haunt the location, now a winery, to this day.
The Old Orphanage in Savannah, GA, was built in 1810. The stone mansion was once an all-girls orphanage, until a fire trapped and killed 11 of the 17 girls who resided there. Today the owners claim to hear young girls singing and playing, and say they often move items around the rooms.
There’s little factual evidence to be found on the Good Servant (later known as Good Serpent) Orphanage in Vallejo, CA. There was an orphanage built in rural Vallejo in the 1800s that closed amid investigations of child abuse and passings. Less substantiated rumors claim the orphanage housed mentally unsound children who were experimented on and lobotomized. Whatever the real story, the orphanage was eventually destroyed. A golf course was built in its place, and later a housing development. Many residents of the housing development claim their houses, despite being new, are haunted. They hear footsteps and moaning and see the ghosts of children.
There are many haunted buildings in New Orleans, and St. Vincent’s Guest House is no exception. It was originally built as an orphanage in the 1860s, a time when many children would have died from yellow fever. Today, the orphanage has been turned into a hotel. Guests constantly report hauntings, specifically that children laugh inside the walls, the apparition of a nun stalks the top floor, and spirits move their possessions and wake them up at night.
The Wise County Orphanage in Wise, VA, was abandoned in the 1920s. Not much is known about the orphanage itself, but those daring enough to venture into the area have reported hearing bouncing balls and laughing children, and seeing orbs of lights.
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The phenomenon of kids (allegedly) seeing ghosts thrives online, but no matter how improbable or unprovable, the volume of these stories alone is enough to make scientists take notice. “There are admittedly lots of reports of kids seeing ghosts,” says Jacqueline D. Woolley, psychology professor at the University of Texas. Woolley’s research dives deep into children’s evaluation and understanding of reality vs. the fantastical. She revels in Rosemary’s tale about the girl on the stairs I shared earlier in this episode. “That’s enough to make you believe that it’s real — for about a millisecond,” she says.
Though good Halloween fun, there are many holes in stories like that of Rosemary and the girl at the top of the stairs, Woolley says. Namely, the brain.
“Our minds naturally make connections between events, whether they’re connected or not. The brain pays attention to evidence that fits our theory and ignores the evidence that doesn’t fit,” she says.
For example, it’s far more likely that a child overheard the name “Suzy” a hundred times, than the undead Suzy lingers in this realm for an eternity of tea parties.
Next, consider children’s fertile imaginations and you could easily argue that Suzy is not a ghost but actually an imaginary friend. “We know that between a third and two-thirds of children have imaginary companions,” says Charles Fernyhough, a psychologist at Durham University, where he investigates the phenomenon of hallucinations. Not too long ago, imaginary friends were considered a precursor to mental illness; now we know they’re a positive sign of healthy child development. “Now adults come to me concerned if their kid doesn’t have one,” he says.
Developmental psychologists such as Jean Piaget have been fascinated by the murky line between fantasy and reality for kids — whether it’s imaginary friends or dreams or, yup, ghosts. Old thinking assumed kids just couldn’t differentiate between what’s real and what’s not, while new thinkers such as Woolley believe “kids know full what’s real, even if it looks like they can’t tell the difference.” Fernyhough falls somewhere in the middle: “I think on occasion kids do mix up imagination and reality to have something like a hallucination-like experience.”
If you would never tell your child their imaginary friend isn’t real, or that they’re just imagining things or even lying, you should treat an encounter with a so-called ghost the same way. Which presents a strange question: How should you react if your little one reports a visit from the other side?
Most important, do not flip out. “A lot of parents get worried about imaginary companions and strange experiences,” Fernyhough says. “Unless there’s real distress, do not worry.” To know whether there’s real distress, just ask the child.
“You want to work with the emotion, not the ghost,” Woolley says. Now is not the time for a grown-up lesson on imagination vs. reality. “Because if they’re scared, it doesn’t matter anyway.”
Instead, Woolley suggests you “work within the fantasy” just like you might for a monster under the bed: “Engage with the kid as to what it looks like and what it does. Ask her if she’s scared of the ghost or if she likes it and if she’s seen it before.” A scary ghost can be tweaked as necessary — maybe you can help the child pretend he’s in old-timey underwear, for example — to become a friendly one. “Then it’s up to you as a parent to decide if you want to encourage or discourage this belief.”
According to Rosemary Counter, the columnist with the “girl at the top of the stairs” story, “My mother did the former, subscribing fully to the notion of friendly ghosts, which to this day are said to haunt our house. As for me, I’d say I’m 99 percent logical unbeliever, though really 1 percent is all you need.”
Even the scientists agree: “It’s important to never say never,” Woolley says, “because it’s the scientific way to be.”
It can’t be easy, but child psychiatrist Jim B. Tucker is balancing science and the paranormal at the Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia. “We don’t take the approach of believer or nonbeliever. We research and explore the phenomenon of children who report past lives,” he says. Overlapping often are reports of kids who see dead relatives — including some who were dead long before the child was born.
They tend to go something like this: “When my daughter was 3 years old, she started telling us that she was being woken up in the night by a man who kept tickling her feet,” read one tale on BuzzFeed. “We figured she was just dreaming until we came across an old picture of my grandparents on their wedding day and my daughter pointed at my grandfather and said, ‘That’s him! That’s the man who tickles my feet!’ My grandfather passed away when I was six.”
“When you hear enough stories like that, you do start to think there must be something there,” Tucker says. “I’m open to it, that’s all I can say.” Whether you believe or not, his best advice is to be cool. “I don’t know if you really have to do anything other than listen to what your child says. Kids grow up and grow out of it and let it go.”
But do they really? Rosemary is living now, three decades post little-girl-on-the-stairs, still loving to tell her story. And now that she has her own toddler, I’m sure she sponges up all her mother’s love of witches and ghouls come October.
“My guess,” Woolley says, “is that kids see ghosts much more commonly around Halloween when their parents believe.”
To boot, one last story from Rosemary: “We were curled up reading books the other night when my 2-year-old whispered, ‘There’s someone at the door.’
“‘What did you say?’ I asked, peering at the dark empty doorway.
“‘There’s someone at the door,’ she slowly repeated. Then she pointed matter-of-factly at the book we were reading, where Little Miss Lucky indeed had a visitor at her door, proving the only spooky creep in this bedroom was me.”
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When Weird Darkness returns, we’ll step into the Chamber of Comments.
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We’ll step into the Chamber of Comments in just a moment.
If you made it this far, welcome to the Weirdo Family. If you like the podcast, please tell your friends/family about it however you can and get them to become Weirdos too! And I’d greatly appreciate you leaving a review in the podcast app you listen from, that helps the podcast get noticed! While you’re listening, you might want to check out the Weird Darkness website. At WeirdDarkness.com you can find transcripts of the episodes, paranormal and horror audiobooks I’ve narrated, the Weird Darkness store, plus you can visit the “Hope In The Darkness” page if you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or thoughts of suicide. And if you are an artist and find inspiration through the podcast, you can submit your work to the Weirdos Art Gallery. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
Now… let’s step into the Chamber of Comments….
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Here in the Chamber of Comments I answer your emails, comments, podcast reviews, tweets, letters I get in the mail, and more. You can find all of my contact information, postal address, and social media links on the CONTACT page at WeirdDarkness.com. While you’re there, join the Facebook Group, “Weird Darkness Weirdos” and hang out with me and the rest of our Weirdo family! Or drop me an email anytime at: email@example.com.
(Email from Hansel Silva): I just started listening to Weird Darkness, and I finished the Original Ghost Hunter: Harry Price episode. I love the show so far, and I’ve told my friends and my dad about it. The show is super awesome! For avid believers of the paranormal, and crime-story addicts (WHICH I AM BOTH) this is the perfect show. Great work man!
REPLY: Thank you, Hansel! Really happy that you found the podcast and that you’re already being brainwashed into thinking I do a nice job with it. My evil plan is working! Say hello to your sister Gretel for me! And please, avoid edible houses.
(Email from David): Darren, I absolutely love your show, but I most often want to listen to it when I drive and I would like to know where and how I can download episodes of your show that I can listen to when I do not have an internet connection available. I cannot find links on your website that will allow me to download your shows. Can you help me out with this? Thanks.
REPLY: Hi, Dave! I don’t know what you use for listening to podcasts, but mine (I used PocketCasts) allows me to download episodes without internet, so long as I have a cell signal. That requires a data plan though. What some people do is download a bunch of episodes all at once so they’ll already have them when they travel. That keeps them entertained long enough to get to their destination – and then they do the same thing again for the return trip: download as many episodes as you want before getting into the car. Another option would be to do this same thing, but with the YouTube version. If you have YouTube Premium it allows you to download a bunch of videos to watch later. Same idea, just on YouTube instead of on a podcast app. I hope this helps!
(Review from Josey Family): Weird Darkness is incredibly addictive! Between the stories (a nice mix of history, lore, true crime, witness accounts and creepypasta) and Darren Marlar’s signature voice this makes for a great on-going listen while doing chores or hiding under the covers with the doors and windows locked! Love the fact the coarse language is dialed back and enjoy the scriptures at the end- a sort of cleansing/calming ritual to reset your mind from the horrors you just listened to.
REPLY: Thank you, Josey Family – glad to have you in the Weirdo family!
(Email from Travis): Hey Darren. Wow what can I say this is a great podcast. I listen to you every day while I’m at work, driving, and any other chance I get. You have an amazing voice and a real talent when telling the stories; I get lost in them and time flies by, which is a good thing at work haha. I’ve been listening to weird darkness for about 2 years now and I recommend it to everybody I meet. 10/10 for the podcast you really do an amazing job. Thanks Darren. –Travis O
REPLY: Thank you, Travis! Especially for that “I recommend it to everybody I meet” part of your email. A HUGE thanks for that!
(Email from Chris Goins): Darren, Just wanted to drop ya line to say thank you. Thank you for being a positive voice in this weirdness that is all around us. Thank you helping others by giving them ways to fight against depression and finally thank you for helping me. I wait to listen to your podcast until the weekend then I binge listen while I draw. All your great stories help recharge my batteries so I can deal with everything going on around me. I believe God gave me the ability to make others happy with my artwork. I also believe that God gave you the ability to make others happy with your voice. Don’t mean to be sappy just had something to say. Once again thank you. Your friend in the weird darkness, Chris “Madman” Goins
REPLY: Thank you, Chris. It’s odd you mention how God is using our talents to make others happy. I couldn’t agree more. Even when I first got saved decades ago, I didn’t feel called to be a pastor or an evangelist, or anything like that – I felt called to be an entertainer, which is what I’ve been doing all my life. Sounds like you might have the same calling to be an artist! Hey, look – we’re both in the ministry!
(Review from EvilBeaver13 regarding “Serial Killer Showdown”): This is the most awesomely horrifying story!!! I can’t wait to share this my husband, but it might be a little TOO much for him! Thanks SO MUCH for this terrifying tale!
REPLY: You’re very welcome, Evil Beaver! I haven’t thought about that story in a while. In fact, it was almost a full year ago, May 9th, 2019 that I uploaded that! I’ll post a link to it in the show notes for anyone who hasn’t heard it or wants to hear it again.
I’ll answer more of your emails, comments, and more next time! Again, you can find all of my social media and contact information on the CONTACT page at WeirdDarkness.com.
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Do you have a dark tale to tell of your own? Fact or fiction, click on “Tell Your Story” at WeirdDarkness.com and I might use it in a future episode.
All stories in Weird Darkness are purported to be true (unless stated otherwise), and you can find source links or links to the authors in the show notes.
“Haunted Children” by Amanda Sedlak-Hevener for Ranker, and from the website The Every Mom.
“Orphanage Ghosts” by Elle Tharp for Graveyard Shift.
“What To Do When Your Child Sees a Ghost” by Rosemary Counter for the Washington Post.
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music.
WeirdDarkness™ – is a registered trademark. Copyright ©Weird Darkness 2020.
If you’d like a transcript of this episode, you’ll find a link in the show notes.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… James 1:2-4 = Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
And a final thought… from Thomas Edison: Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.