The Blue Ghost Tunnel: Making of a Legend

In paranormal circles across Canada and the United States, the hauntings at The Blue Ghost Tunnel (BGT) frequent the conversation. Often referred to as "The Most Haunted Location" in Canada or a place where you are guaranteed activity, the tunnel is synonymous with historical haunted locations across North America.

I've been investigation the tunnel as a possible haunt for the past 14 years as a solo investigator, with The Niagara Amateur Ghost Seekers and with members of The Shadows Project.

In the late 1990s the tunnel, previously known under various descriptions became popularized as The Blue Ghost Tunnel, the name coined by a young paranormal investigator who is said to have witnessed a "Blue Misty Ghost".

A few years of intense interest on the Internet, multiple investigations and visits by paranormal enthusiasts prompted the once popular TV program Creepy Canada to film at the location.

Together with a Ghost Tour Group Haunted Hamilton, questionable psychics and an impromtu "historian" of the tunnel, they exposed the location to tens of thousands of viewers solidifying the legend and suspected haunt.

The episode depicted the tunnel as "700 ft of Hell on Earth!"

As a result of their illegal trespassing and exposure of the location, the site became explosively popular and thousands of visitors each year come to visit the tunnel prompting the Seaway Authority to attempt to secure the location. Even with extensive security, people trek out to discover the BGT for themselves...

But who really discovered this long, lost tunnel?

What is the truth behind the hauntings and experiences at the tunnel?

Is the tunnel an Urban Legend, conjured-up by a young wannabe author?

Are we simply developing our own experiences using our own minds?

Or is the tunnel really haunted? And by whom?

I decided to write about the tunnel, because I am fascinated with legends and lore and how they develop and what truth is hidden within. The book includes interviews, photographs and documents from decades past including the first ever investigation in 1976.

It includes historical accounts from the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s with photographs and evidence supporting a number of theories.

Photographs have been generously donated by residents including Kevin Valencourt, Niagara-area photographer.

Please visit the Facebook Group Page for The Blue Ghost Tunnel: Making of a Legend and support and discuss this project.

Ryan Buell’s Bogus Journey: A Most Excellent Review

The good folks at Who Forted? have just released a review of Ryan Buell's new book: Paranormal State.

Ryan Buell wants to believe.

Paranormal State was not a “reality documentary” show that he says it is, but a paean to his will to believe and the producers’ efforts to convince the viewer to believe too. I want to believe in cool, spooky stuff too but I guess I have higher standards for evidence than what his Paranormal Research Society(PRS) team (and all other ghost seeking groups) collects.

I had only watched a few episodes of the TV show before. While I was not impressed, I didn’t have a deep disgust of the show like some people I know (ahem, WF? editors). These folks make this funny noise when I mention Ryan and his crack team of young investigators (Weird! I can hear that noise even when the communication is online.). But, as one who begins squarely on the fence, ready to examine things from multiple sides, I really wanted to know what Ryan is about and what his ideas about the paranormal are. I read Buell’s book Paranormal State: My Journey Into the Unknown all the way through with open-minded interest. It was not awful. Well, it wasn’t Dianetics-grade awful or some goofball celebrity NewAge (pronounced like “sewage” with an ‘N’) claptrap. It had some interesting bits.

Read the full review here

Playing with Hope - Psychic Detectives

By Alex Ballingall

Even though Jason Jolkowski has been missing for nearly a decade, his mother still receives regular phone calls from people who claim to be psychic. They tell her they can find out what happened to her son, that they can reveal the answers she so deeply craves.

“This one said he's alive. This one says he's dead. This one tells you these visions of a brutal murder,” says Kelly Jolkowski from her home in Omaha, Neb. Once, a psychic even guaranteed he could tell her what happened to Jason – but only if she paid $25,000.

Jolkowski says such psychics re-victimize families by exploiting their hope and desperation for a solution. She also believes they can impede legitimate police work by giving the public the impression that investigations are under control.

When she hears what psychics have to say, she calls it nonsense. When they come asking for money, she calls it fraud. In both cases it’s harmful, she says.

“It’s like, how dare you? How dare you play this game?”

In October 2003 Jolkowski founded Project Jason, an organization that helps families in the aftermath of having a loved one go missing. After experiencing this herself, Jolkowski now encourages people to be skeptical of psychics when faced with a similar crisis.Jason was 19 when he went missing

“Early on, we didn’t know any better,” Jolkowski says. “You’re so numb that you can’t even think straight. And in addition to that you’re just so desperate. It’s like you’ll do anything to find your child.”

Jolkowski says what usually happens is that people claiming to be psychic either collect fees from families desperate for answers, or they “consult” them for free to boost their own credibility and fame.

Of the hundreds of cases she’s familiar with, nearly all of them involve a psychic in one way or another. “Especially a case that has a lot of media, they'll come out of the woodwork,” Jolkowski says.

The result, she says, is never anything more than more anguish and uncertainty for the families of missing people or murder victims. She adds that she’s never seen any scientifically reliable evidence to suggest psychic abilities have ever been responsible for solving a crime or finding a missing person.

And yet, there are countless self-proclaimed psychics in North America who claim to be able to do just that.

Sarnia psychic sparks local controversy

One of them is a “psychic criminal profiler” from Sarnia, Ont. called Robbie Thomas. His website boasts that he has “successfully assisted” police in both murder and missing persons cases.

It also displays a statement written by the aunt of Tori Stafford, the nine-year-old girl form Woodstock, Ont. whose body was found more than three months after she was kidnapped and murdered in the spring of 2009. It expresses gratitude for Thomas’s support during the family’s harrowing experience.

A spokesperson – who went only by the name Tom – from Thomas’s office confirmed the psychic had “consulted” the family during their ordeal.

But Thomas’s opponents say they don’t believe in his skills. One man calls himself “the Sarnia Skeptic,” and conceals his true identity to provide evidence that Thomas isn’t a real psychic. If he was, says the Skeptic, then Thomas would be able to identify him.

“I’m not out to destroy Robbie as a person, I just want him to change his ways,” says the Sarnia Skeptic.

The tension between Thomas and his opponents has even stirred up some controversy in the lakeside city. During one of Thomas’s speaking events held last March at Sarnia’s Imperial Theatre, a rumour erupted that there were men handing out white, unmarked envelopes filled with anthrax to people entering the venue. The theatre doors were locked and the police called in.

A local salesman named Dave Jones was one of the men handing out envelopes that night. “There was no assault, no anthrax,” he says. Instead, the envelopes contained instructions on how to trick people into thinking you’re a psychic.

Family 'distraught' by psychic

As an example of this, the Sarnia Skeptic points to the decades-old unsolved murder case of 14-year-old Karen Caughlin. The girl’s family, which has been working with the Ontario Provincial Police to keep Karen’s case in the public eye since she was killed in 1974, lashed out at Thomas after he claimed to be involved in the criminal investigation.

In a letter provided to the Sarnia Skeptic and published on his blog, Karen’s sister Kathy Caughlin describes how Thomas approached the family in 2005. She says he told them Karen’s case would be solved within six months.

That was six years ago.

“Imagine how we felt when he said that?” says Kathy Caughlin, who now lives in Calgary. “We weren’t just upset, we were completely distraught.”

Thomas also tried to get the family to sign a waiver that would allow him to talk about Karen’s life in one of his upcoming books, Caughlin says.

Even though they turned him down, Thomas kept citing Karen’s unsolved murder case in the promotional material for his upcoming speaking tour. He also repeatedly took down information posters about Karen’s case and placed them in his office to increase his credibility, says Caughlin.

“We want this man to stop exploiting our dead sister and the horrific manner in which her life was ended,” she says.

Critics say 'psychics' disrupt real investigations

One of her main worries expressed in the letter is that by claiming to be using his psychic abilities to solve Karen Caughlin’s case, Thomas was impeding the ongoing police investigation.

Jolkowski echoes this concern, saying that when psychic investigators claim to be involved in missing person or murder cases, they can give the impression that everything is under control. That may dissuade people from coming forward with tips, or it could make the investigation seem less urgent.

“We always have to fight to keep a case alive and to keep people looking no matter what,” Jolkowski says.

Thomas eventually removed all mentions of Karen Caughlin’s unsolved murder case from his website, according to John Ramses, Thomas’s former business partner. But for Kathy Caughlin, the anger and pain she says Thomas caused for her and her family is inexcusable. Caughlin maintains that if Thomas ever mentions her sister’s name again, her family will sue him.

According to his spokesperson, Thomas was too busy for an interview. When invited to answer to his critics, he didn’t respond.

But Angie Aristone, a self-titled psychic from London, Ont., was willing to speak on the record. She says there are a lot of fake psychics, and that it’s heartbreaking to hear that psychics can add to a family’s trauma in a difficult time.

Aristone admits to having worked with such families in the past, but says she would never approach a family if they weren’t ready and willing to hear from her.

“It doesn’t get any worse than that. That’s like human exploitation at its deepest and darkest level,” Aristone says.

Police rarely use psychics

Although people like Aristone and Thomas mention having worked on murder and missing persons cases, most police organizations say they have never used psychics in their investigations.

Wes Veenstra, a veteran missing person’s detective from the London Police Service, says he takes any tip he can get, regardless of who provides it. Through his entire 35-year career, he’s never heard of any investigation in which a psychic was used.

“I couldn’t qualify it as being scientific,” he says.

Staff Sgt. Doug Warn of the Sarnia Police Service expressed similar experiences, adding that his organization doesn’t ever use psychics like Thomas in their investigations.

“We have to be able to justify every fact in court,” Warn says. “Our job is to deal in facts.”

Still, many families do speak with psychics, usually out of desperation, Jolkowski says. She describes how she felt tremendous pressure from those around her to accept psychic readings after her son disappeared. She says this comes from how many people are uneducated about the implausibility of psychic abilities.

“There's all the influences of the media and TV shows,” she explains. “I've actually had people insinuate that I was a bad mother and I didn't care about my son because I would no longer have anything to do with the psychics.”

Jolkowski says there’s also an aspect of guilt that causes people to turn to psychics for a solution to their pain. No matter what one believes, says Jolkowski, there’s always the hope that the next psychic may be on to something. Maybe this psychic is for real, maybe this is the one with the real answers – or so the logic goes, she says.

“You’re always kind of haunted by that,” she adds.

But now, just a few months before her son Jason’s 30th birthday, no self-proclaimed psychic has ever been able to help her figure out what happened to him. Much like Kathy Caughlin, Jolkowski sees psychics as nothing more than deceptive profiteers of the desperation of families in crisis.

She says psychics either give you false hope where there is none or kill hope when it should be there.

“No one has the right to do that,” she says. “No one."

The Woman in Black Teaser Trailer

Director James Watkins is shooting for a simple ghost story. Here's the official synopsis: "A young lawyer travels to a remote village to organize a recently deceased client's papers, where he discovers the ghost of a scorned woman set on vengeance." And it's based on the acclaimed novel by Susan Hill, which has been a hit stage play since 1989, adapted by Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale. (Hill discusses the novel's origins and how she set about creating an original ghost story here.)

The movie hits theatres two days before halloween!

CrossTalk EVP Review - software that lets you communicate with spirits!

 Over the last year I have experimented with two-way communication using various methods to capture EVPs. I recently visited a web site which sells Crosstalk EVP.

It claims I was about to “take the next step forward in modern spiritual communication.”

That is just what my end goal was and so I decided to try the product.

The vender boasts:

This exclusive software package and “HOW TO” guide has been put together by famous psychic and paranormalist Jason Profit to help you explore 2-way EVP!”

It also boasted some info from Wikipedia about Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) and information about Ghost Boxes and Frank's Boxes.

Furthermore the ad boasted:

Both the franks box and cheap ghost boxes are amazing tools for the paranormal researcher… but now there is a better way to talk with the other side! But you do not need the hacked radio OR a franks box! Just your Computer!”

Then there were the amazing testimonials from paranormal researchers and parapsychologist from around the globe:

Great stuff” -Ebay user 
I am The Founder Of and STAFF at This CD WORKS!” -Dan Conners Jr

Now how could I resist? But there is more...

CrossTalk EVP Software: The next evolution of 2 way spirit communication has arrived! My amazing “Cross Talk” guide teaches you to conduct real time 2 way EVP or instrumental transcommunication with the other side! Thanks to a recent breakthrough in EVP software, you can now use your COMPUTER instead of a hard to find franks box or ghost box! You will receive the “How To” guide as well as Jason Profits exclusive software which will enable you to actually achieve much more easy to understand spirit communication.”

FREE Bonus! Revolutionary audio source for allowing the spirits to generate vocal formations”

The software is marketed by Jason Profit, the modern mind-reader. ( His homepage showcases him bending a freakn' fork! This guy is the real-deal! His tagline is: “Palm Reader, Paranormal Entertainer, Psychic”And yes, he does home-parties! It's all about credibility and this man has it, wouldn't ya say so? He's about two notches above the fraud, Psychic Robbie Thomas.

Anyhow, back to the software.

Installation was a breeze and only took a few seconds. Documentation consisted of a How-To Guide. It basically said how to set up the basic functions of the Crosstalk software to make the spirits be able to communicate easily. Now the CrossTalk Guide was supposed to provide me with exclusive insight into how to communicate with the other side and how to make it work. The guide was complete nonesense and told me to “believe” in what I hear and also to “keep trying” and also to keep the software running throughout the investigation.

I finally got the software set up as said in the documentation and was ready to communicate. I pressed play and this is what I got:

yemenoaisososusuysys jdisss sisisj sis shhs sisjshsh sisjushjs s sjsu s su sjhsjhhj sis sshshshsh sisjsjs


Well, perhaps I contacted a retarded spirit. I loaded the software up again, believed in it, and let it run. I asked questions like a crack head talking to his shoes. Nothing. Just the same message over and over again. I looked through the how to guide and it said I could load up any sound file and use it. Great, maybe I would get success! I loaded up Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix and believe it or not this is what the spirit of Jimi 
Hendrix told me:

Hazep brsa.” over and over again. Fuck Jimi, gimmie a break here and tell me something about how the establishment murdered you and Janis.

Crosstalk EVP is an absolute waste of time and not worth the $24.99 price tag. It simply takes a sound file and breaks it apart and replays it. Ghosts are supposed use the sound and play the sound clips in an order in which they can make words and sentences. I could not see how this would work unless you are into the Ganja. The sound pattern played over and over again

Below are some examples of the software in work. 



Insidious Movie Review

It's been some time for a horror film to actually accomplish its goals – to scare the hell outta the audience. Insidious accomplishes while giving us a fresh new perspective on haunted houses.

The film starts with a family moving into a seemingly normal house, But even when everything is seemingly normal, the grating score and gray colour palette is just enough to suggest something evil is lurking right around the corner. Still, director James Wan seizes the opportunity to pull you in and make you earnestly invested in Josh and Renai’s situation wasting no time in doing so. We do get quite a bit of character development in the first portion of the piece, but not at the expense of a drastic amount of the film’s running time and, before you know it, you’re deeply submerged in the nightmare this family is living through.

This film will bury you deep in your seat and make you extremely anxious and paranoid. It’s a very similar sensation here that many had with Paranormal Activity or Nightmare on Elm Street, but minus the visual gimmick. Each block of scary material is seamlessly interwoven into the family's daily life, making the tonal shift that much more terrifying.

While still successful, Insidious does hit a few bumps in the road as it crosses its midpoint and approaches the third act. It’s one thing to give an audience a good scare, but it’s another to explain that scare’s source. No, writer Leigh Whannell doesn’t make it totally believable, but thanks to the strong build-up, you’re more than willing to go along with the show.

There are a few comical moments in the film that revolve around the ghost hunters. The ghost hunters are stereotypical and offer moments of relief from the frightening scenes and scares. There are some other moments that I am assuming were not to be laughed-out-loud at - the psychic uses a gas mask to communicate with the other side, and the use of Tiny Tim's Tiptoe Through The Tulips (OK Maybe that IS scary.)

From a technical standpoint, Wan and his crew nail just about everything. From the moment the film starts, Joseph Bishara wastes no time letting you know his original music is there and continues to do so throughout the film. Yes, it’s quite intrusive, but appropriately so. As for the visuals, they’re disturbingly striking. Cinematographers David M. Brewer and John R. Leonetti do a fantastic job making use of the houses’ eerie features even when the sun is shining allowing the film to maintain its, well, insidious tone. Meanwhile, the costume and makeup departments are responsible for the striking imagery.

Scary dreams or reality?

Overall, Insidious is a fresh story that is woven quite well in the first two acts, however, toward the end, when the reveal is made as to what is happening, we are left a little less scared. That is ultimately due to the fact that we are scared of the unknown more than anything. Once we know the source of the haunting, we tend to be relieved.

One of the ghost hunters drawing what the psychic sees in the house.

This is true for an actual ghost investigation. The unknown that families face can certainly be frightening, but once one is familiar with the source of the haunting and even the acknowledgement from someone in the field that indeed, their story is to be believed, the fear is gone.

Only in Hollywood movie scripts does the fear persist and invade our minds. Enjoy the Insidious Movie Trailer Below:

Investigating Ghosts and Hauntings in Jamaica

Fascinated with the islands history and general beliefs in ghosts and hauntings I decided to pursue four investigations in Jamaica this year. One was the infamous Rose Hall, which as it turns out is more urban legend, than haunting. You can read more on Rose Hall here.

I journeyed around the island and was escorted by a great guide who took me to three locations other than Rose Hall. One was in a very remote central location, deep in the mountains and another was one area I was looking forward to moreso than Rose Hall - Port Royal, the Pirate City. And yet another was a location deep inside a forested area where a Pirate is supposedly haunting a particular location.

All three of these investigations proved interesting and developed results. I will be posting more about these in the coming months.

But first, I want to speak to the general belief of ghosts and hauntings in Jamaica. It seems, that everyone on the island has had an encounter, or a good ghost story to tell. Many avoid certain locations on the island and are quick to make an excuse to leave if I bring up the topic of a Duppy late at night.

Jamaican's believe in what is known as a Duppy. Duppy is a Jamaican Patois word of West African origin meaning ghost or spirit. Duppies are generally regarded as malevolent spirits.They are said to come out and haunt people at night mostly, and people from the islands claim to have seen them. The 'Rolling Calf','Three footed horse' or 'Old Higue' are examples of the more malicious spirits.

In many of the islands of the Lesser Antilles, duppies are known as Jumbies.

Duppy folklore originates from West Africa. A duppy can be either the manifestation (in human or animal form) of the soul of a dead person, or a malevolent supernatural being. In Obeah, a person is believed to possess two souls - a good soul and an earthly soul. In death, the good soul goes to heaven to be judged by God, while the earthly spirit remains for three days in the coffin with the body, where it may escape if proper precautions are not taken, and appear as a duppy.

My guide told me tales of duppies and said that it is not uncommon to come across them and he promised me to take me to a very haunted location. He kept his promise.

Every once and awhile the local media will pick up on a duppy story and last year the news was engrossed by a boy in Kingston, Jamaica, who was said to be constantly attacked by a duppy. The news camera caught the action for the evening news:

And with a worldwide interest in ghosts and hauntings, Jamaica may open the island up to Duppy Tourism-

Duppy storytelling through the oral tradition was rife throughout the land, before the proliferation of electronic media technologies in Jamaica. It was part of the nightly entertainment in the absence of radio, television, telephone and the Internet. In parts of rural Jamaica, the elderly are still telling these stories to a reluctant young generation, but it is a fast-dying tradition.

However, there might soon be a revival, a resurrection if you will, of duppy storytelling. It is part of the idea of duppy tourism, now being tossed around by Countrystyle Community Tourism Network in Mandeville. Ghost-hunters are to be lured to Jamaica.

Diana McIntyre-Pike, community tourism consultant and trainer, said, "Our Countrystyle Community Tourism Village programme blends well with this niche market as every community has potential with the many old churches, houses and exciting duppy stories. For example, there is an abandoned St Barnabas Anglican church (known as Way Pen Duppy Church) near to Mile Gully en route to Balaclava, in a village called Green Hill, which is supposed to be so haunted that it scared away the congregation who have some amazing stories to relate of their experiences!

"Communicate this to the many passionate ghost-hunters and see how intrigued they will be to visit Jamaica, to experience and talk to the community ... which will result in income generation for accommodation, food and tours businesses. In Jamaica, we can pursue this lucrative market by researching the haunted places and areas with the assistance of the communities and develop an exciting marketing programme highlighting a 'duppy trail' throughout the country, which will take visitors to many diverse villages."

I hope to share my stories and investigations here for Jamaicans and those visiting the island. It has many secrets and many stories to be told - not all of them Urban Legends.

Insidious Movie Trailer [HD] A New Paranormal Movie with a Twist Ending

Inside Edition Investigates Psychic Detectives

John and JoAnn Lowitzer have been searching for their 17-year-old daughter Alexandria (Ali) since she vanished in April, 2010.

But when the case made national news, the Houston parents say they became inundated with calls from so-called psychic detectives. They say some even showed up at their front door promising their psychic visions could help bring their daughter home.

"He guaranteed me that he'd find Ali in three days. I mean what parent wouldn't be excited to hear that you were going to have your daughter home in three days?" said JoAnn.

Mark Klaas, whose daughter Polly was abducted and killed more than 20 years ago, warns families to avoid psychics, saying they prey on the desperate and send police on one wild goose chase after another.

"They descend like vultures," he told INSIDE EDITION. "Never in the history of the world has a psychic solved a missing child case. Never."

But countless psychic crime fighters like Portland, Oregon clairvoyant Laurie McQuary claim they've helped solve hundreds of missing person cases.

McQuary says she has been in the psychic detective business for over 30 years.

So we decided to see what would happen when we asked a psychic detective to help solve a missing person's case.

Posing as the distraught brother of a missing child, we sent a producer to meet with McQuary.

Our producer showed her a photo of a missing girl and the psychic agreed to take the case for $400.

"I think it's solvable," McQuary said, upon reviewing the case.

But what McQuary didn't know was that the photograph our producer gave her was actually a snapshot of INSIDE EDITION's Chief Investigative Correspondent Lisa Guerrero as a child.

"I don't believe she's alive. I'm sorry. I believe that it was a violent passing," McQuary said.

McQuary's "sixth sense" told her the girl in the photograph was brutally murdered and sexually assaulted.

"I think she was hit in the head with a rock," said McQuary.

But her visions didn't end there. Pointing out a remote location on a map, she even said she could help bring the girl's body home.

The next day McQuary sat down with INSIDE EDITION's Lisa Guerrero for an interview to talk about the work of psychic detectives.

"I just had a gentleman in yesterday. 30 years ago his sister disappeared," she said.

She soon began talking about a recent case. But clearly her psychic abilities didn't tell her that Lisa Guerrero was actually the girl in the picture.

"One of the first things I do in a case, Lisa, is I always make sure people know if I feel the person is living or not," McQuary explained.

"So you always know when you talk to a family member when you start a case, you'll know if this person is dead or alive?" Guerrero asked.

"Yes," said McQuary. "And that's the point."

"Every time?" pressed Guerrero.


But apparently McQuary's psychic abilities didn't see this coming:

"Laurie, I'm going to show you something. Does this girl look familiar to you?" asked Guerrero, holding up the picture INSIDE EDITION's producer showed McQuary the day before.

"Yes she does. I worked this case," confirmed McQuary.

 "This is a girl who you said was beaten and killed," Guerrero said. "This little girl is me and you told somebody that she is dead."

"Wait a minute, you didn't disappear?" McQuary asked.

"I'm right here," Guerrero said.

"Well, that's interesting, isn't it," said McQuary.

 "How do you explain being completely wrong?" Guerrero asked.

"I can't explain it. I can't explain it. Okay, you know what dear, I think we're done," said McQuary, and then stood up to go.

"You're taking advantage of desperate people with a bunch of hocus pocus aren't you?" Guerrero asked her.

"No I'm not," said McQuary. "I think we'll go, thank you. It's been an interesting experience. You all have a lovely, lovely evening."

JoAnn Lowitzer told INSIDE EDITION, "Until I see my daughter physically, I'm not going to believe anything that any of them say."

Altogether, ten different psychics told our producer that the girl in the photo of Lisa Guerrero had been murdered. The FBI tells INSIDE EDITION they are "not aware of any criminal investigation that has been resolved as a direct result of information provided from a psychic.


Investigating Rose Hall, Jamaica - home to Annie Palmer, The White Witch PART 2

And there she was, looking right back at me, in full view.

The painting is said to be of Annie Palmer, The White Witch of Rose Hall. I stared in silence at the painting, trying to get an impression and I felt sadness and confusion.

The said Annie Palmer in the painting is smiling, youthful, and has an uncanny appeal to her. She does not look like the stereotypical Voodoo Mistress. But what do I know? Maybe her appearance is an illusion.

I continued throughout the bedrooms but did not capture any evidence on camera, nor with my EVP recorder. Each bedroom was said to be used by The White Witch to kill her husbands in gruesome ways, but I didn't even feel mildly apprehensive. I did feel the sense of history and majesty this place projects, but I did not once feel anything haunted.

I was then told to visit the grave of Annie Palmer outside as it was rumoured to be the most haunted location on the entire property. I proceeded outside and a woman was near the grave singing in Patois. She cautioned me about the White Witch's grave and to be really sure if I want to proceed.

I did.

And again, nothing. No feeling, no evidence no haunting – for me at least. I was gravely disappointed and decided to simply walk around the property on my own will to see if I could get anything. As you can guess, I did not record any evidence, nor feel any evil presence as I was promised I would. I did, however, manage to see a glimpse of Johnny Cash's mansion house. He was fascinated by the Annie Palmer and wrote a song about her.

After wrapping up the investigation I proceeded to do my research. I found countless tales of this haunting, each with their own perspective and story. Then I found documented history, irrefutable facts that makes me believe that Rose Hall is not haunted by Annie Palmer, and the story of the White Witch of Rose Hall, one of the “most haunted places on earth”, the “most evil place imaginable” is simply an Urban Legend, Jamaican style.

It is no surprise that those previous producers of Ghost Hunters International that visited Rose Hall did not do their research, and if they did, they ignored it completely, because after all they are simply there to entertain, not to inform, learn or share.

So how did this Urban Legend begin?

Geoffrey S. Yates, Assistant Archivist, Jamaica Archives explains in detail:

The melodramatic legend of Mrs. Annie Palmer of Rose Hall and Palmyra in St. James, a woman of unknown origins and of sinister beauty, who was murdered by her slaves as a retribution for her wickedness, is widely known and implicitly believed in Jamaica.

It is frequently retold in magazine articles, and visitors to the island are regaled with lurid stories of debauchery and death which are alleged to have taken place at this once splendid plantation house. Sometimes the scene of Mrs. Palmer's murder is transferred to Palmyra, a nearby property.

There have, however, always been bold spirits who have mentioned the conglomeration of inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and over-writing which bedevils the whole affair. It is behind these spirits that I shelter when I come forward to brave the belief of the public and state categorically that neither Mrs. Rosa Palmer nor Mrs. Annie Mary Palmer was ever murdered by slaves at Rose Hall or Palmyra, that there is no evidence that either of them was involved in debauchery or unnatural cruelty, and that the commonly held tales of luxury and ___ers are without any foundation whatsoever.

For this, I rest my case on official archival evidence which has never before been examined in detail. I must also state that neither was Mrs. Palmer ever known to her slaves or contemporaries as "The White Witch of Rose Hall." This title was invented by H. G. DeLisser for his novel which was published in 1929, almost 100 years after the abolition of slavery.

Ruined splendour

Rose Hall, as we know it in it ruined splendour, was built by the Hon. John Palmer, Custos of St. James, somewhere between 1770 and 1780, at approximately the same time as Colbecks Great House and most other plantation residences of Jamaica. It was built on the site of a previous residence which was also known as Rose Hall, after its mistress Rosa Kelly, daughter of the Rev. John Kelly and Mary his wife, of St. Elizabeth.

Rosa Kelly was the Hon. John Palmer's second wife, whilst he was her fourth husband, and they had been married 25 years when she died in 1790. Her monument in the parish church at Montego Bay is well-known. Let me say here that there is no breath of suspicion that either Rosa or John Palmer was a murderer or murdered.

Shortly after Rosa's death, the Hon John married a young bride, Rebecca Ann James, of a prominent family in that past of Jamaica. In 1797 the Hon. John died at his Brandon Hill residence. Almost immediately Rebecca went to England, where she married Dr. Nathaniel Weeks of Barbados and eventually died at Sidmouth in Devon in late 1846 or early 1847.

During all those years, we must remember, Rebecca enjoyed a handsome annuity from Rose Hall and Palmyra under the marriage settlement, and it was this annuity which was the  ---g charge on all the profits and proceeds from these estates.

Lived on credit

Like many other rich planters of the period, the Hon. John Palmer lived on credit, which was fine as long as the sugar boom lasted. His wealth was more apparent than real, and the more he spent on building and furnishing Rose Hall, the deeper he floundered into debt.

Eventually, in 1792, his creditors foreclosed, and he was forced to mortgage Rose Hall and Palmyra, moving to his more modest house at Brandon Hill, where, as we know, he died. To cut a long story short, the merchants, Messrs. Hibbert and Co., sold out their interests and the properties fell into the hands of the Court of Chancery. It was this court which was responsible for administering such properties by means of officially appointed receivers.

The receivers saw to the administration of slave labour, providing such plantation supplies, food, clothing, medical attention, (such as it was in those days), doled out punishment if necessary, sold and shipped the sugar and rum. They were responsible for submitting accounts which were officially lodged with the Court, and which survive in the Jamaica Archives at Spanish Town.

In all these accounts, there is no mention of money being spent on repairing or maintaining either Rose Hall or Palmyra Great House. The receivers, who were men of prominence, such as the Hon. William Miller, Custos of Trelawny, and William Heath, a solicitor, had their own houses. We can therefore assume that Rose Hall and Palmyra were empty, except for housekeepers, from 1792 onwards.

In all this legal embroilment centring round properties in debt, however, the real owner still retained some kind of title. In 1818, John Rose Palmer, the great-nephew and heir to the Hon. John, came to Jamaica, obviously with the intention of trying to wrest Rose Hall and Palmyra from the hands of the Court of Chancery, so that he might enjoy such profits as were left after the payment of Rebecca Weeks' annuity.

His brief life in Jamaica was signally unsuccessful for although he managed to become appointed official receiver to his own estates, he was so hard up that he was compelled to mortgage the receivership to Henry Martin Ancrum of London! I make these points to emphasize the fact that, although he may have had a case for claiming he was the true heir, he did not own the slaves on Rose Hall or Palmyra, nor could his wife, whilst he was alive, as they would belong to him by law.

Now, who is going to lend money for orgies whilst the properties are in the hands of lawyers? And what receiver is going to allow a woman to carry on, as Anna Mary Palmer is alleged to have carried on, when he must endeavour to make the places pay?

Nothing peculiar

In November 1827, John Rose Palmer died at Rose Hall, aged 42. In those days of fever and rudimentary medical care there is nothing peculiar about this. During his brief life in Jamaica he had served regularly in Montego Bay as a J.P.; in 1824 he was appointed to administer the neighbouring estate of Running Gut whilst George Whithorne Lawrence, the owner, was absent in Scotland.

When his death was reported in the Royal Gazette and in the Kingston Chronicle some four or five days after it took place, his obituary read "His intrinsic worth, kind heart, and generous disposition obtained him the esteem of all his acquaintance, but to his family, and those friends who had the pleasure of being intimate with him, his loss is irreparable."

Even allowing for a measure of hyperbole, it is obvious he was quite a prominent citizen. It was his wife who was supposed to have murdered this well-known man, and to have lived on at Rose Hall enjoying the embraces of her lovers until she in turn was murdered.

But can anyone, who has ever read a detective thriller, suppose that such a murder at such a prominent place could have escaped detection and the attention of the newspapers of the day? Where is the evidence? And who was the supposed criminal anyway? The answer is there was no murder, no motive and no evidence.

Was it really Annie?

Annie Mary Paterson, upon whom a malicious and unjust fate has bestowed such an evil and unmerited reputation, was born in the autumn of 1802, the only child of John Paterson, Esq., of The Baulk, near Lucea, and Julian his wife. Her paternal grandparents were Dr. John Paterson, a Scotsman who had settled in Hanover, and Deborah McKenzie his wife.

On the death of Dr. Paterson, the Hanover parish register noted he was "universally regretted." Her maternal grandparents were the Hon. William Brown, a Scotsman and Custos of Hanover, and Mary Kerr James his wife, of Kew near Lucea.

John Paterson married Juliana, the eldest Brown daughter, in 1801 but died at the early age of 24 before his daughter Annie Mary was born. The young girl was brought up by guardians, including her mother, her grandfather, her uncle and later her stepfather, for in 1812 Juliana Paterson married Capt. David Boyd, a retired naval officer and professional planting attorney.

William Brown died in 1817, Mrs. Boyd in 1832, and Captain Boyd in 1842, so that Annie Mary was not alone in the world even after she was married. Her mysterious and unknown origin, her training in voodoo-these must be abandoned in favour of upbringing on a property normal for her time and class.

We do not know how and when Annie Mary met John Rose Palmer, but on March 28, 1820, they were married at Mount Pleasant, St. James, then the home of Capt. And Mrs. Boyd, Annie Mary was 17. The young couple, so we are told by the Royal Gazette, were married again in England, on their honeymoon. This was not unusual as sometimes doubt was expressed as to the validity of marriages in those days.

After returning, the couple moved to Rose Hall, not to a life of luxury but one of money worries, as so often to newly-weds Annie Mary did not enjoy her married life for long for John Rose Palmer died seven years later, some £6,000 in debt. His personal possessions, including £350 worth of plates and some debts owing him totalled a mere £1,137.15. 10 1/2d. What was his wife to do? She had no money, no real claim to the estate, no slaves, nothing.

Seek shelter

She left to seek shelter elsewhere, and eventually sold out whatever rights she may have had in Rose Hall and Palmyra for £200 sterling to a Dr. Bernard in Bristol. This was in 1830. However, Rose Hall was empty before this, as we know, for a variety of reasons.

In a Rose Hall Estate Journal quoted by Shore in his "In Old St. James" (1911) and now, alas! Of unknown whereabouts, but perfectly genuine, there were from the first week in January, 1829, to December, 1832, one slave attending the Great House and two with Mrs. Palmer. This first slave must have been a housekeeper or caretaker, for Mrs. Palmer was elsewhere. She was not at Palmyra, for as we know that too was empty except for a housekeeper, Mary Ann Hill, whom the receivers sold to her own husband, Frederick Earl, for £45 in 1833.

The two slaves may have been allowed by the receivers to accompany Mrs. Palmer to her new abode.  However, according to officially enrolled slave returns, she had in June 1829 four slaves, Cymir aged 30, Sarah Smith aged 30, and Sarah's two children Alexander and Charles aged 6 and 8 respectively.1  

In 1833 she is listed as being at Bellevue, St. James, with 8 slaves.2 Bellevue and Bonavista3 are both shown by the Jamaica Almanacks as belonging to the Bernard family, and may well have been both part of the same property, as both names mean "Beautiful View."

In 1842, William Augustus Dickson, a Scottish merchant of Lucea, and her uncle by marriage, left a will which stated "my settlement in St. James called 'Bellevue' I leave to Mrs. Palmer for life."  It is not clear how he obtained Bellevue4, nor how Annie Mary acquired the slaves.  Probably Dickson obtained land at Bonavista or Bellevue from the dissolution of the Bernard family estates when they got into trouble, and left his niece in charge.  In any case, she was a connection to the Bernards, one of whom had bought up her rights to Rose Hall and Palmyra.

Annie Mary Palmer, for she never married again and had no children5, was not destined to live to a ripe old age.  In 1846 she dies at Bonavista, near Anchovy, and was buried in the church yard at Montego Bay by Rev. T. Garrett on July 9.  No tombstone has survived to mark the spot.

By her will, which may be seen in the Jamaica Archives, she left everything-which cannot have amount to much as it was not specified-to Giolia Mary Spence, her goddaughter, aged two, the child of Dr. & Mrs. Patrick Spence of Montego Bay.  This, then, was the true end of a woman-allegedly murdered twelve or more years before by her slaves-long after the abolition of slavery.


How then, did this monstrous legend grow up?  For an examination of the printed sources I should draw my reader's attention to an article by Miss Glory Robertson of the West India Reference Library entitled "The Rose Hall Legend:  was it really Annie?"  in the Jamaica Historical Society Bulletin of December 1964.

Briefly, all the commonly accepted sources are confused and contradictory, and Roby, in his serious "History of St. James" (1849) does not mention it at all.  Nowhere in the official archives of Jamaica is there anything I have yet discovered which links either Rosa or Annie Mary Palmer with any form of crime, debauchery or unnatural death.

It was a Rev. Waddell who first mentions the strangling of a Mrs. Palmer at Palmyra in 1830.  Being an abolitionist, he would be inclined to accept evidences of the iniquities of planters.  There was indeed a 'bilbo room' or punishment cell at Palmyra which had been repaired by the reviewers for years after his visit!  This he did see when he preached at Rose Hall and visited Palmyra after Mrs. Palmer had left.

As Rosa was not murdered and Annie Mary Palmer was still alive, who could it have been whom he was told was strangled?  Probably he was told some confused story by a slave or plantation hand talking patois, which he did not understand correctly, and which related to some murder which took place perhaps a 100 years before, when such things were more likely.

Legend grows rapidly, smothering facts and attaching itself like a vine to places where it does not belong.  Statements are made only a few years after events have taken place, which on examination are found to be untrue.

Somewhere, a far-off tale of murder has become attached to Rose Hall and Palmyra and to the two Mrs. Palmers who lived there.  Hearsay rumours were taken as gospel truth, and once the legend was given currency, by James Castello in his pamphlet of 1868, it stuck.  Because it was in print, it became believed as true and then people started to look for blood stains and ghosts and saw them.

Delisser gave the legend far wider currency in his novel "The White Witch of Rose Hall" than did Castello.  The legend throve, the facts disappeared.  Now it has become so firmly established-and I frankly admit it is a good story-that a film is to be made of it.  Rose Hall has been bought and is to be restored at a cost of some £300,000.  Is it too much to hope that when all this money is spent, some tiny portion will be set aside to let Jamaica and her visitors know the true tale of Rose Hall?

1This ties in with the 1831 Almanac where she is shown with 4 slaves previously reported (doubled to 8 for not filing a return in 1830.)  Her name is listed as Anna M. Palmer.

2See 1833 Almanac, number still doubled from 4 to 8.

3For the names of the proprietors of Bonavista, see the following Almanacs:  18181826182818311840.   

4See 1840 Almanac.

5See also 1845 Almanac.

Ghostly Lovers, a television show examining Spectrophilia

The Travel Channel aired one of the most interesting paranormal shows ever produced.

Perhaps they were looking for shock value or something other than Ghost Hunters or Ghost Adventures, but what they got was an interesting show which showcases three women talking about Spectrophilia, which is a sexual attraction to ghosts. No, really.

Paranormal researcher, Dr. Barry Taff was interviewed for the show and briefly discusses his involvement with a famous and documented case - the Doris Bither Case. The show also recaps Doris Bither’s case. So if you are interested in the case, don’t miss it.

Here they are for your entertainment:

The Haunted Niagara Falls Customs House

The Stone Jug

The former Post Office, Police Station and Customs House stands tall in the desolate downtown area of Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. The massive three-story stone structure was abandoned after a fire destroyed the interior of the main building and some of the exterior portions of the additions. Holes in the roof have causes extensive water damage and the building is unsafe to investigate or visit.

There have been reports as far back as the 1950s of a shadowy man who has been seen in the upper floors, pacing the hallways and peering out of windows. In the 1970s a group of teenagers believed they saw this same entity walk through the front doors and proceed across the street where the figure vanished.

Others have seen a woman crying on the front steps that appears for a few moments and then disappears into a mist-like form. Strange, unnatural noises from the back portion of the building have been reported by witnesses and many thrill-seekers have ventured into the back portion to investigate. To date, only a handful have been inside to investigate.

I have investigated The Stone Jug on two occasions, once in 2001 and again in 2004 for the book Shadows of Niagara.

The first investigation I was allowed to enter the basement and first floor only, as the entire upper floors were destroyed or distressed. In 2004, we only allowed on the main floor and the back rooms as the building had further degraded.

There have been attempts to repair the building but each attempt runs out of funds and the building stands empty to this date.

Below is a rare view of the Niagara Falls Customs House interior:

More pictures can be found here:

WELLANDCANALS.COM - a source for historic discussion and research

Photo by Kevin Valencourt

Good friend, and fellow paranormal investigator, Gord Westwater has created a rich and dynamic resource for persons interested in Welland Canal History, as well as the history of the Niagara Region.

The web site features, histories, monumental amounts of photographs, research and historical data. In addition, the web site hosts a forum where Niagara history and historical locations are discussed.

And diving into history and researching historical locations is an essential element when investigating suggested haunted locations.

I encourage those interested in Niagara History to visit and also join in the forum.

Cropsey Trailer - investigating an urban legend

What if an Urban Legend was True?

Check out this scary documentary:

Investigating Rose Hall, Jamaica

Investigating Rose Hall, Jamaica Part One
The legends and haunting of Rose Hall in Jamaica is known world-wide. Its reputation as an active haunted location has been documented and showcased by several prominent teams of ghost investigators and individuals researching the paranormal. Rose Hall has come to be known as the most evil, the most haunted and the most scariest place on earth.
I was about to investigate and come face-to-face with The White Witch of Rose Hall. My investigation and research will, no doubt, shock some of the readers.

The Legend of Rose Hall and The White Witch
The Legends and Hauntings of Rose Hall surround one Annie Palmer, matriarch of Rose Hall and the surrounding sugar plantation.
In the 1700s, a woman's route to wealth and power was usually via marriage, and Annie Palmer was no exception. Born in France, Annie was a petite woman (barely 4 feet tall, it is said) who moved to the beautiful island of Jamaica to be the wife of a powerful man who owned Rose Hall and thousands of acres of sugar plantation. Little is known of her early days at Rose Hall but it is said she visited Haiti before arriving in Jamaica and studied Voodoo. We do not know if she came to the island already imbued with a streak of cruelty, or if she cultivated it under the demands of her husband and her duties as the mistress of The Great House. It is said that she pined greatly for the bright lights of Paris, and found life on the island to be a hardship.
Whatever the cause, Annie was feared by the slaves who lived on and worked the plantation. She ruled with an iron fist, and defiance, or even perceived insolence, was answered with public whippings, torture in the dungeon, or even death. Annie started her day by stepping to the small bedroom balcony and issuing the orders of the day to the assembled slaves in the yard. Her orders often included punishments and executions.
Perhaps out of boredom, or sheer wantonness, Annie started taking slaves to her bed. When the Mistress of the House lavished her attentions on a slave, that man's days were numbered. When Annie tired of her lover, she would murder him and have him buried in an unmarked grave. We know little of her first husband, John Palmer, except to say that she murdered him in his bed as well. Perhaps he caught her in the act, or maybe she just tired of him too.
These were rather lawless times, and the sudden death of the master of the estate seemed not to cause any investigation. Regardless, Annie cultivated the image of being a tough and merciless mistress, at least in part to keep her from appearing to be easy prey. These were difficult times to be a woman, particularly a rich widow in a country frequented by pirates and the like. Annie found another way to remain independent and in control – she practised Black Magic.
Many of the slaves were practitioners of the art, and in order to curry favour and live longer, they taught Annie everything they knew about magic, particularly Voodoo. This was to include human sacrifice, particularly of infants, whose bones she used in practising the black magic. Soon Annie was known far and wide as "The White Witch of Jamaica". Her reputation for ruthlessness and magic powers served to keep her safe from those who would normally consider her a target. Even so, Annie found time and reason to marry two more husbands, which she eventually dispatched in a similar manner, acquiring their wealth in the process. One has to assume they were foreigners, unacquainted with Annie's reputation on the island.
Annie's Overseer was a slave known to be quite a powerful Voodoo practitioner, a fact he managed to conceal from Annie, at risk to his own life. The Overseer had a daughter who was engaged to marry another handsome young slave on the plantation. Unfortunately, Annie's lustful eye fell upon the young man, and he was soon called upon to pleasure the mistress of the house. The Overseer knew what to expect, and began to make preparations to protect the young man from Annie's "disposable lover" policy.
However, Annie did not follow her usual pattern, and she killed the young man that same night, instead of playing with him for a week or so. Perhaps he objected to her attentions and declared his love for another. Whatever the reason, the young man was dead, the Overseer's daughter grief-stricken, and the Overseer was filled with helpless rage. Annie must die, at all costs.
A special grave was prepared in the woods, within sight of the Great House, using Voodoo ritual and markings. The Overseer then entered the house, confronting the White Witch, and engaged her in magical and physical battle. He succeeded in killing her, sacrificing his own life in the process. Slaves who were privy to the Overseer's plan entombed the body of the White Witch in the specially prepared grave... a grave designed to keep her from rising and walking the plantation again. But they failed to complete the ritual properly, and the White Witch is said to roam the Great House to this day.
That is the Legend. That is the story told.

Media Attention & Previous Ghost Hunts at Rose Hall

With such a rich heritage and such a dramatic legend it is no doubt that authors, musicians, radio personalities and television shows gained interest in Rose Hall and the said hauntings.

In recent times, Ghost Hunters International filmed an episode of their popular program at Rose Hall. Below are the full episodes for your entertainment.

And previous to GHI, Linda Blair's Scariest Places on Earth, featured Rose Hall. Once again, the episode appears below for your entertainment.

My Investigation Begins
With such media exposure I was tainted and knew the story of Rose Hall and the Legends of the Great House. I was excited and ready to begin when I was told I was not allowed to do an overnight investigation, but was welcome to participate in a daytime or evening investigation. I was told that many of the previous paranormal encounters took place in the afternoon and that I was sure to get evidence and to be prepared.
My investigation began outside, in a peaceful garden area. I moved slowly towards what the caretakers called The Dungeon of the Great House. Historically, I called The Dungeon a previous Root Cellar and now a modern gift store. I was told that people feared the location, smelled blood and felt the horrible crimes of the White Witch. I felt nothing and continued to the first floor.

Rose Hall is a spectacular piece of heritage and the curators have created a fantastic and accurate portrayal of what the Great House used to look like. The US investor spent $1.5 Million to repair and restore the Great House. There is no doubt it was a wise investment - individuals are charged $22 each to take a self-guided tour and it is one of Jamaica's top visited tourist sites.
"The Dungeon" held books, collectibles and trinkets for the tourists. The sad part is, average Jamaicans would not be allowed to visit the site, nor be able to afford any of the gift shop's offerings.
I sat on the first floor alone for several moments and decided to move on.
Several of the bedrooms were mentioned as having ghosts – the murdered souls of Annie's husbands. Each bedroom, I waited, recorded, and investigated. And again, my senses told me nothing. My equipment revealed that I was completely alone.
I was beginning to feel a great deal of disappointment and decided to call out for Annie out loud - to ask her to reveal herself to me...and to my surprise I met her.

Ghost Hunting? There is an App for that!

I received an Android Tablet for Christmas and was impressed with the amount of apps one can load up. Similarly, Smartphones are able to load up a host of ghost hunting apps and other essentials that may assist in your investigation and research.

Robin Pyatt Bellamy wrote an article on the subject for Psican. You can read a sample of the article below and read the full article here.

Ghost Hunting? There is an App for that!
Written By Robin Pyatt Bellamy

In the summer of 2010 I finally entered the world of Smart Phones with the purchase of an iPhone 3GS. My husband purchased the 4G a few weeks later. We’re both delighted with our phones, but have chosen very different applications to download.

As you might have guessed, many of the ones I have on my iPhone relate to my research into the paranormal. Some are more “handy” than others of course. The flashlight is a must have. I have found that the typical “battery drain” I get from AA-D batteries does not happen with my iPhone. I don’t have an answer to why, I just know that statistically I get far more sudden drain with traditional batteries than I do with my phone. The iPhone flashlight applications are generally not extremely bright and have relatively NO range like a traditional flashlight, but when I’m in the dark and my regular flashlight fails, this app is a real blessing. As there are several versions available, it’s a matter of personal preference. Typically these are free apps.

The iPhone app I use most would probably be the “Handy Level” app. This is simply a standard level. Most researchers I’ve come across don’t use a level at all, but my kit has two. I have found the iPhone level as accurate as the standard one. Why use a level? It’s common sense. If things are moving, first rule out slanted surfaces! If you have a witness reporting a glass moves across a table, and the table is not level, it is impossible to rule out natural causation. Especially in Toronto, with its heavy traffic and pubic transit systems, or any building anywhere near a train track. I do use the camera on occasion­ the problem being, of course, that it is digital and therefore creates no negative. But I almost always carry my phone, whereas I don’t always carry a 35mm camera..

About This Blog

Out of the Dark: The Ghost Hunting Chronicles is a blog providing detailed investigations of the Out of the Dark team, paranormal news and editorial.

It will also feature the past investigations of paranormal investigator and author John Savoie.