Haunting evidence spooks local news crew — Would it spook a real investigator? (UPDATE: Shenanigans)

UPDATE: (30-Jul-2014) The homeowners have refused an investigation by objective researchers – me and Kenny Biddle. Suspicious? Yes. It gets better… see below.

Another claim of an extremely haunted house. Who do they call? Paranormal investigators, mediums, priests and TV show producers, then the local news team.

Ghost attacks in Hanover haunted house | WPMT FOX43

Homeowner DeAnna Simpson says they’ve lived in the home for seven years, and put everything they had into buying it. She says she and her husband didn’t find out it was haunted until soon after they moved in.

“We put everything into this house,” says Simpson. “And we do want to move, but we would have to list it at such a price where we could recoup what we put in.”

Simpson has ghostly photos, as well as photos from something that scratches people who come inside. She also has audio recordings of voices, children laughing, and dogs barking that were not in the house.

“Five plus,” she says of the number of ghosts in the house. “I have some here that are protecting me, some women here that are protecting me, but the majority are bad, dark forces, inhuman.”

Take a look at the video that made believers out of the credulous reporter and videographer. There are many interesting aspects in it that we should seriously question if we are talking “evidence” of the paranormal.

The homeowner, DeAnna is clearly very invested in this belief. She accepts that she has paranormal activity, even demons, in the home. She claims several ghosts live there and they are “dark forces”, “unhuman”. She is ready with the holy water and blessings when the videographer admits he has a scratch on his arm. It seems like she was not very surprised it happened, that it had happened to others. At the end of the video, however, we hear a slightly different story than what seems to happen on camera. Nick, the camera person says he felt something odd, like hot metal on his arm, looked down and noticed a scratch there. He said he wasn’t going to say anything but DeAnna asked if he was OK and if he’d been scratched. Curious, indeed. But also note that he admits to watching ghost shows so he was certainly primed to interpret anything unusual as “paranormal”. Had he been in another house, not “haunted”, would he have even paid attention to it? Hard to say, it’s all up to perception at that moment.

The videos from DeAnna’s phone camera show orbs. The news camera doesn’t. The video light is VERY bright which would cause dust or vapor particles to reflect in the stairway. Even the shadow hand that shows up seems more likely a shadow thanks to the bright light used for filming. In general, the house seems a bit dark and closed-in adding to the creepy effect.

Screen cap from video taken by homeowner during news crew visit. Shadow darts from right side and back.

Screen cap from video taken by homeowner during news crew visit. Shadow darts from right side and back.

The reporter says they saw lights on the walls and heard noises. So? Every house has that. They say they saw things they couldn’t explain but for this piece, they aren’t trying very hard. That wasn’t their job.

The picture of the shadowperson downstairs is useless as evidence without knowing the conditions in which it was taken and the controls used. Even the closing door (did not close all the way) is unimpressive when I note this happens in houses when the air heat or cooling kicks on or another door is opened or shut causing a rush of air in the house.

The “come here” EVP is also useless. In general, the evidence is the standard poor quality stuff seen in every ghost claim. It’s not that something isn’t anomalous, it’s just that no one looks hard because they now default to “It’s paranormal”.

The owner notes the history of grisly deaths in the house. No details are given on how she can confirm this or the number of ghosts she thinks live there. Obviously, this is just a brief news piece. But it was achieves nothing but to enhance belief in the oddities in the house.

As a scientific-based investigator, one who would look for normal explanations but who is very interesting in finding a house that really (at least seems) haunted, I am very interesting in visiting this house.

I’ll send this story to the reporter, hoping she will connect me with DeAnna and allow for a visit. That is, if they REALLY are interesting in finding out what’s up or down in this house instead of just enhancing the idea that it’s infested with demons.

I’m not afraid of a “haunted” house and actually use the word “skeptical” in proper context – to look for evidence before deciding. None of the evidence I’ve seen so far says “ghost” to me but I’d like to look closer.

Care to invite a skeptical investigator in for a look?

Addition: I can see from the reporter’s bio that she also is interested in TV ghost hunting shows and has done stories like this before. So, again, we see a bit too much bias to be objective about this story. Also worth checking out (I have not yet) was a comment that noted The Dead Files show was recorded a while back and that activity had subsided. Obviously not according to Simpson.

Tip: Angela Sangster

UPDATE: Kenny Biddle contacted Mrs. Simpson as we discussed a joint visit to have a look at the evidence. Simpson asked her husband and shortly thereafter, declined. Kenny had been clear that he was an experienced skeptical investigator. We also learned that The Dead Files is not the only TV show in which this house was featured. It was also on the Animal Planet show The Haunting. The Simpsons stress the “evil” spirits along with their insistance on prayer, cleansing, and the help of God.

I call shenanigans at this point. Simpson and family are true believers in demons and paranormal activity. I hate to state the obvious but there are no such thing as actual demons infesting houses. I base this on centuries of human existence where we have been trying to obtain reliable evidence that such supernatural entities are real. It hasn’t happened. If you are going to make such an extraordinary claim, you are ethically obligated to provide better proof than silly orbs and light anomalies that can be explained in conventional ways. If you truly believe that demons are living in your house, have it open to people who can get to the bottom of it rather than a parade of more true believers who just reinforce irrational perceptions.

Editors Note: Comments insisting that demons are real and I am going to hell will be deleted. The Exorcist was fiction.

  28 comments for “Haunting evidence spooks local news crew — Would it spook a real investigator? (UPDATE: Shenanigans)

  1. Angela
    July 27, 2014 at 6:17 PM

    I’ll have some time in the next week or so–I might do what research I can online as well into the home itself. At least as much as I can find about it. I would love it if I lived close enough to do some hands on research, but I will say in the past I have had a lot of good luck finding information online. I think there are a significant number of people who would be impressed if your offer was accepted.

  2. Fitz
    July 27, 2014 at 6:38 PM

    If I thought my house was haunted the first thing I would do would be get rid off that creepy picture of the kids and the glowing-eye cats.

  3. Gary
    July 27, 2014 at 8:49 PM

    Is she in fact Catholic? I know someone who thought she had a ghost in her cottage and believes in exorcisms, but has never been Catholic! AFAIK, only Catholics have exorcisms.

  4. July 27, 2014 at 10:51 PM

    I reached out and contacted the owner of the house, Deanna Simpson. I introduced myself, explaining that I was a photographer and a skeptical investigator of paranormal claims (adding my work for Skeptical Inquirer, photography consultant for MUFON, and that I lecture and perform training sessions for various organizations). Since the news article stated the owner invited paranormal enthusiasts & clergy to her home to check it out….I asked if she would allow me to come out, document their experience and look into the claims and photos from a more science-based, skeptical standpoint. I explained that my intention was to look into the claims, and possibly offer information that would help explain what was going on, and help them understand what they’re seeing in the photos. At first, she was fine with it…saying she just needed to get permission from her husband.

    A bit later, I was told No.

    This was very disappointing, considering that she allowed paranormal groups and a news crew in, but denied someone with the experience and knowledge to explain many of the claims seen on the news clip and in the photographs. I got the feeling a skeptical viewpoint was not wanted…

  5. Martijn
    July 28, 2014 at 5:13 AM

    Telling, isn’t it?

  6. idoubtit
    July 28, 2014 at 8:47 AM

    No surprise. They only want their beliefs reinforced. It makes me doubly suspicious.

    As with psychics, if you make a claim of paranormal activity – such an extraordinary claim – you owe it to the world to have it investigated properly and verified. If not, you are being disingenuous and likely full of crap.

  7. Leo
    July 28, 2014 at 7:51 PM

    These same people had a show on Animal Planet’s The Haunted (a Killer from the Grave)about 4 years ago. It dealt with a ghost of a teenager who killed himself and the town allegedly covered it up. It’s on Netflix.
    Same people , same house . Different ghost.
    Makes you go hmmmmmm……

  8. July 29, 2014 at 8:43 AM

    Catholics may have cornered much of the exorcism market, but lots of sects believe in demonic hauntings. To give one example, Jehovah’s Witnesses (the sect I was raised in) are fully on board with this sort of demon-haunted-house tale.

    (Needless to say, though, the scary stories I heard as a JW kid were third-hand, groundless, hearsay anecdotes…)

  9. mike
    July 29, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    An extraordinary claim needs extraordinary evidence .

  10. Michael Tammaro
    July 29, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    Nice article. Maybe I am too cynical to be a true skeptic like you are. You take the time to point out explanations for what is perceived to be paranormal phenomena. Did you ever think the whole thing is just all bullshit? She made this up and the news crew went along with her. Since when are TV reporters totally honest?
    I know quite well the guy who owns the ‘slightly haunted house’ in Scranton,Pa. He basically made up all the crap in hopes of selling a nice home in a depressed market. He himself is a skeptic and anything weird his wife felt she witnessed he was able to point to the rational.

  11. idoubtit
    July 29, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    Hoax is often an option but “Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.”

    People are most often wrong or genuinely misled than deliberately fraudulent.

  12. Ife
    July 29, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    I don’t know what JW sect you were with but the one I grew up with never believed in that. Would counsel you against believing in that.

  13. spookyparadigm
    July 29, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    When I used to run Call of Cthulhu (Lovecraftian rpg), I also generally asked people not playing to not be in the game area. Ruins the atmosphere and suspension of disbelief.

    Given that they’ve had TV in, that’s the charitable view.

  14. spookyparadigm
    July 29, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    Wait, seriously?

  15. Ed
    July 29, 2014 at 2:20 PM

    I know that if I were a disembodied spirit, I’d definitely scratch a dude on the wrist and push the cat down the stairs.

  16. Kenny Biddle
    July 29, 2014 at 6:02 PM

    I agree, such claims requires proper investigation into each one, as separate claims – rather than as one under the blanket term “haunting”.

    They are clinging onto the spotlight, engaging in confirmation bias in its extreme. The owner had posted a video she took with her phone (of the stairway…of dust particles), which I posted a comment. I explained the process of dust particles, depth of field, illumination from the camera phone light, and so on….in detail. Within minutes the comment was deleted, and the video removed – I had shared the video on my page, it had disappeared (Luckily, I had taken a screen shot of it). I was blocked from making any further comments. I was polite, but to the point. The owners want nothing to do with logic, reason, or honesty (I suspect some hoaxing was in play, but it’s just a hunch).

    That shows me that they want only the attention, the spotlight. Looking through the photos and reading email conversations between the owner and “para-celebs”, tells me she craves the attention of famous (groan) people, of the TV cameras.

    It’s sad, and a bit pathetic.

  17. Mitch S
    July 29, 2014 at 8:37 PM

    It’s all so lame and obvious they are milking it for ‘fame’. The second most obvious example (first is orbs, ugh) is the video of the door closing. The owner shows the reporter how difficult it is for the door to close all the way, however, if you look at the video, the door obviously does NOT close all the way. The only thing worthy of investigation here is the owner’s credibility.

  18. idoubtit
    July 29, 2014 at 8:59 PM

    But WE look like the bad guys for pointing that out. Frustrating.

  19. July 29, 2014 at 9:22 PM

    Hm? JWs don’t do exorcisms, but their talks and literature have always been packed full of warnings about demons, and behaviors that can invite demons. An example from their own writings:

    A little searching turns up all kinds of JW tales of demonic possession and house hauntings:
    http://users.adam.com.au/bstett/JwElderDavidReed10.htm …ad infinitum

    These people are just steeped in the dangers of demons.

  20. Itsjustme
    July 29, 2014 at 11:04 PM

    I got the impression they were trying to inflate the value of a house they want to sell.

  21. ando
    July 30, 2014 at 11:05 PM

    she didn’t want you to find out what really was going on. you should have made yourself out to be a believer and then do your probing. they will only invite people who will reinforce their claim, not try to go against it by probing around skeptically.

  22. Aeian T'goni
    August 5, 2014 at 8:20 AM

    Even if demons are real, what’s the concern? Apparently the worst they can do is small scratches, closing doors that are slightly ajar, cast shadows, and say “come here” in voices strangely similar to the occupants of the house. Demon infestations are less trouble than insects or mice. Call me when it starts leaving diseased demon droppings or causes some structural damage or something.

  23. Jill
    August 6, 2014 at 8:56 AM

    Did you happen to come across her inquiring to a realtor about pre civil war homes for sale in Gettysburg? She said she would like something that was once used as a hospital and money was no “option” but I think she meant object. I think it had been posted in May.

  24. Johbert
    August 6, 2014 at 5:15 PM

    Hmmm. So, the demons in DeAnna Simpson’s house have scratched at her and pushed her and her cat down the stairs? And she hasn’t moved out because “we would have to list it at such a price where we could recoup what we put in.”

    If I was convinced that demons in my house tried to push me down the stairs, I’d be out 5 minutes later and happily declare bankruptcy. I wouldn’t keep living there for 7 years with a supply of holy water and inviting Fox news in to film my spooky glowing-eyed cat lamps.

    I call bull twaddle on this one. I don’t think this is a question of misguided believers; I think it’s a well-planned hoax. Her behaviour between the 46-51 second mark is very telling. It’s like she’s waiting for something she knows is about to happen, and when it does, she’s trying to hold back a smile.

    Even if I’m wrong and the Demons are real, they haven’t killed anyone in 7 years with their scratching, whispering and shadows. They even helpfully close doors upon request. I agree with Aeian T’goni: “Demon infestations are less trouble than insects or mice. Call me when it starts leaving diseased demon droppings or causes some structural damage or something.”

  25. Alex
    August 6, 2014 at 9:37 PM

    I’m actually thinking you guys aren’t being hard enough on these people. Play their “EVP” next to another, more “credible” one (ie. one that was at least vetted by someone using something remotely resembling scientific method.) Ditto the picture of the “Shadow man.” Then take a look at the famous Spirit photography hoaxes perpetrated throughout history. This is straight up fabrication. I bet you anything further investigation into the lives and (ahem) perhaps financial records of these homeowners will show you they are gunning for publicity and a story option. And they’ll probably get it.

  26. idoubtit
    August 6, 2014 at 9:51 PM

    We don’t want to get ripped for defamatory statements. I never assume people are hoaxing unless it’s very obvious. People are EXTREMELY good at fooling themselves.

  27. August 7, 2014 at 11:31 PM

    Capsaicin cream causes the skin to feel warm. In fact, the skin can feel quite hot, particularly if it is broken, when treated with capsaicin cream. It takes about 30 minutes for it to act.

    Assuming that the homeowner has some experience with magician techniques, it would be fairly easy to apply capsaicin cream to the wrist, even while just shaking hands. You will recall that the photographer says his wrist felt “hot.” Not scratched, but “hot.” That accurately describes the effects of capsaicin on the skin.

    If so, then this is not self-deception by the homeowner, but intentional deception.

  28. Andres
    August 11, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    Why I am not surprised. People keep coming up with these paranormal stuff but in over 100 thousand years of human history, nothing paranormal has ever been proven to be real. You guys are awesome. I saw the story and kept checking the news to see a follow ups to the story and to see how long it would take for the story to either be proven a hoax or have them refuse an scientific and unbiased investigation. I guess it did not take too long.

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