Last year, a house in the small city of Wilkes-Barre, PA went up for sale, a steal at $28k, but with one caveat: it was "extremely" haunted, the owners said. Now, the new owners of this "authentic haunted house" say that reality TV "ghost hunters" have declared it the real deal...but actual paranormal investigators disagree.
The ugly little house on South Welles Street has occasionally been the subject of whispered stories since the 70′s, tales that told of restless spirits and the residents terrified of them. After awhile, the The Welles House earned itself the nickname of "Wilkes-Barre's Amityville Horror". One of the former tenants, Walker Bennet, moved out of the house in 1983 after coming face to face with the spirit of a woman in a white gown, hearing strange noises emanating from the attic, and witnessing blood drip from the walls. Bennet chalked it up to voodoo.
Despite efforts from other owners to prove that the home wasn't haunted, the last tenant embraced the rumors and wrote up an ad that included the ghosts as a feature. The ad went viral, and in December of last year the home finally found an owner open to the idea of sharing a space with spirits – Tim Wood, the man behind all-paranormal streaming video website LiveSciFi, a website known for hosting some rather, well… dramatic investigations.
John Zaffis, of the recently cancelled SyFy series Haunted Collector and the self-proclaimed "godfather of the paranormal", was on hand for the weekend investigation, and claims that the rumors of the home's haunting are true.
"There is definitely paranormal activity that transpires in this house," he told the local news. "They are definitely dealing with something with a very strong intelligence."
What made Zaffis so confident that the home was haunted? A conversation with a broken radio. Not kidding.
The "Ghost Box" is a "device" created by tampering with an AM/FM radio's signal sweeping mechanism, a process that results in a radio that rapidly sweeps through channels. Eventually, the flickering sounds of morning DJs, advertisements, and top 40 hits mash into a jumble of static that amateur ghost chasers believe that spirits can actually speak through. It makes absolutely zero sense, but it looks great on television.
"What is your name?" Zaffis asked the box. The box continued to hiss with static, only this crackle translated to "get out", according to Zaffis.
But while former reality television stars are more than willing to say that the home is chock full of restless spirits, local paranormal investigators are saying that the the whole story is just a ruse. In fact, according to Donald Shovlin of the Luzerne County-based Graveyard Paranormal research team, the tale is pure "BS".
"I grew up in that neighborhood, and as a teenager my best friend lived in that house and I had spent well over 100 nights sleeping over, and not once had anyone experienced anything paranormal," Shovlin wrote. "I myself, as founder and lead investigator of my own ghost hunting troupe, Graveyard Paranormal, am sure that there is absolutely nothing haunted about this house."
So where did the whole "Wilkes-Barre Amityville Horror" tale come from, if the home isn't actually haunted? Shovlin thinks he has a pretty good idea..
"The whole story was concocted by a local disc jockey in the mid 1970′s, though I haven't a clue as to his motivation, his revelation happened to come along during the hype of the first Amityville Horror movie."
It doesn't take a seasoned paranormal investigator to deduce that the new owners behind the local haunt (and the former reality stars promoting it) might just be less interested in capturing evidence ghosts than they are in snagging a development deal with a production company. Maybe it has more in common with the Amityville Horror, a proven hoax, than anyone realizes.
But to steal a classic John Zaffis cop out, we may never know the truth.