THREE MORE CLASSIC POLTERGEIST CASES
Posted November 17, 2012on:
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There has been quite a bit of interest in some previous poltergeist cases I have written about, so I thought I’d dig out 3 more cases, all classic illustrations of this fascinating subject.
STAUS, SWITZERLAND 1860
Melchior Joller, a lawyer by profession, lived in Staus near Lake Lucerne, with his wife Caroline, 4 sons and 3 daughters. Theirs was a comfortable existence, and they were able to employ a number of servants. In the autumn of 1860 one of the maids reported that she was being disturbed by knocking noises on her bedstead, and she believed it was a portent of her own death. She also claimed to see eerie grey shapes. Soon after Mrs Joller and one of her daughters heard the knocking noises too, but in another bedroom.
Several months passed, and in June 1861 their son Oscar was found unconscious in the wood store. He said he had heard knocking coming from within, but when he entered a “whitish formless shape” had come running at him.
Sobbing noises were heard from one of the bedrooms at night, and a maid began to hear footsteps on the stairs and her name being called. Mr Joller thought she was being overly superstitious and had her dismissed. She was replaced by a 13-year-old girl. Now aside from the fact that people in the 19th century weren’t averse to employing child labour, teenage girls are often a common factor in poltergeist outbreaks.
On 15 August 1862, whilst Mr and Mrs Joller were away in Lucerne, the children and the maids heard the sound of knocking from one of the corridors. They became so frightened that they all fled outside. They sat on the stone steps of the front porch and a fist-sized pebble landed between two of the children. At lunchtime they returned to the house to find every cupboard door open. They were securely bolted, only to fly open again. Heavy footsteps were heard on the stairs. The new servant-girl saw a white shape in the kitchen, and this time they all fled to the barn and sought refuge with some labourers.
In the early evening they returned to the house, and the maid saw an object spouting little blue flames coming down the chimney. It caused a small fire, which was doused with water. The sound of a spinning wheel was also heard in the house.
Mr Joller had remained stubbornly skeptical up until now, but on 19 August he too heard the knocking noises, and recorded them in his diary. The next day he saw the kitchen door bow inwardly. When he pulled it open, he saw a mysterious dark shape. From then on the haunting stepped up a gear. Doors slammed, bottles and glasses were smashed, and loud noises were heard all over the house. In September an apple bounced around the house, but when a servant threw it into the yard it bounced back in again.
On 6 October the apparition of a sad-looking woman with a bowed head was sighted. The Director of Police appointed 3 police officers to investigate the haunting. The Jollers moved out whilst the investigation was in process, and the police moved in. The haunting ceased (naturally) for the duration of the investigation. When the family came back, it resumed again. Joller became the butt of endless jokes, and the whole thing became too much for the family. By the end of the month they had had enough, and they fled to Zurich. The next tenant stoutly denied the existence of any paranormal happenings at the house.
Whatever the truth of the matter, the haunting was to have a devestating effect on Joller. He died in 1865, a mere shadow of his former self. Scorned by his friends, he wound up penniless in Rome. Shortly after arriving in Zurich, he had muttered “now I understand”, but nobody has ever managed to ascertain what he meant by this tantalising comment.
BATTERSEA, ENGLAND, 1927
This house was occupied by Henry Robinson, who was an 86-year-old invalid, his son Frederick (27), his 3 daughters (two of whom were schoolteachers), and his 14-year-old grandson Peter. Frederick Robinson asserted that the family had lived happily in the house for 25 years, before the strange happenings began at the end of November 1927.
It began with objects raining down on the conservatory roof. When a policeman was called to the scene, he was hit on the head with a lump of coal whilst he was standing in the back garden. On another occasion the Robinson’s washerwoman found the wash-house full of smoke, and red-hot cinders on the floor. She gave notice. Ornaments were smashed, furniture over-turned, and windows broken. A journalist, Jane Cunningham, watched as lumps of coal, coins and washing-soda completely obliterated the conservatory roof.
Our old friend, Harry Price, ghost-hunter extraordinaire (of Borley Rectory fame) investigated. He heard a strange thump, but wondered if the objects that landed on the conservatory roof had been thrown from next door, where was situated a hospital for shellshocked ex-servicemen.
Soon after, Frederick had a nervous breakdown and had to be hospitalised. He was under suspicion by the police, who thought he may have been causing the strange phenomena himself. The haunting continued whilst he was away though, and it is said that at one time several chairs marched in single-file down the hallway. Henry was also removed to hospital, (a passer-by who was called in to help move the bedridden man, witnessed a heavy chest of drawers falling over of its own accord), and one his daughters fell ill. Some of this strain must have been down to the presence of onlookers, so many gathered outside the house at one time that mounted police had to be drafted in. The police advised the whole family to leave the house for a while.
A medium visited the empty house and had a shivering fit, but failed to identify a spirit. Frederick checked himself out of hospital, and made arrangements for the family to live elsewhere. The haunting ceased. Several years later though, in 1941, Frederick claimed that slips of paper had fluttered down out of nowhere. One read “I AM HAVING A BAD TIME HERE. I CANNOT REST. I WAS BORN DURING THE REIGN OF WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR. TOM BLOOD”. It has often been pointed out (with much justification) that poltergeists are notorious liars. They almost seem to be impish spirits/minor demons, out to deliberately cause confusion.
Harry Price was fairly skeptical about the haunting, and suspected some of the family for being responsible, but he concluded: “I consider that the evidence for the abnormality of the occurrences is much stronger than that for the theory that the Robinson family were wholly responsible for the trouble”.
ROSENHEIM, GERMANY 1967
At one time this was an enormous case in the world of the paranormal, extensively investigated and well-documented. At its heart was a teenage office clerk called Annemarie Schnaberl (although her name is listed as Schneider on Wikipedia). Annemarie worked in a lawyer’s office, which saw the bulk of the phenomena centred around her, although it has been said that strange things happened when she went out bowling with her boyfriend too. Skeptics have pointed out that Annemarie was going through a traumatic relationship with her boyfriend at the time, and she may have vented out her emotional frustrations in the workplace.
Anyway, this haunting too broke out in the autumn (a popular time for poltergeist outbreaks). Lightbulbs exploded in the office, lampshades fell to the floor, all the telephones would ring at once, drawers came out, and loud banging noises were heard all over the building. The telephone bill soared, when the speaking clock was repeatedly dialled. When Annemarie walked along the corridors the lights swung and gyrated behind her.
The Freiburg Institute, headed by Hans Bender, investigated, but found the phenomena would only happen when Annemarie was under stress. It also observed that the haunting was draining the power supply in the place. Annemarie quit her job and the phenomena reportedly ceased. However, a news team claimed to see a vapoury form materialise and form into a human arm.
During the 1970s Annemarie was interviewed by paranormal investigators. By now she was living in Munich, looking much older than her years. She had had little luck, and every job had been plauged by her “spooks”. She flatly denied knowing what was happening. The investigators concluded that the phenomena had been caused “by intellgently controlled forces that have a tendency to evade investigation”.