Mediums say they have helped the living get along with the dead in a Phelps house.
It was no Halloween joke. The angry presence was blocking the back hall, the boy’s only route to safety. Voices only he could hear were chanting relentlessly, “Kill Chris, kill Chris,” chasing the 15-year-old downstairs.
Chris’ mom found him curled up in a ball under the dining-room table — eyes closed, hands over his ears, frantically yelling to someone only he could sense, “Leave me alone, leave me alone!”
But the presence just hung in the back hall, blocking his way out — a menacing, glowing red ball near the ceiling.
It was Earl.
The home on Griffith Road in Phelps has been in the family for nearly 19 years. Kim Silsby moved there with her husband and four children in 2001. Although the old brick house, built in 1826 with its round windows and wavy glass, held an otherworldly chill at times, Kim said her family was quite content living there.
But things changed in 2003, shortly after Kim’s husband died in a work-related accident. Chris, then 11, began complaining about other people in the house with them.
“You’d hear him talking to someone in the other room,” his aunt said. “When you’d go see who it was, there’d be nobody there.”
Chris said a young boy was following him to school. He’d chat with the boy as though he were a playmate. It seemed harmless, perhaps even magically imaginative for the young kid who loved Pokemon and video games.
In a family that has always believed in the possibility of spirits all around them, Chris’ new companion seemed insignificant.
It was another year before the other children began to complain of strange sounds, footsteps and voices. “I think they’ve always been scared of the house,” Kim said. “But they didn’t make it known until the last three years.”
Kim admits she, too, has had her own unexplainable experiences in the house — footsteps upstairs when no one else was home, televisions and lights that turned on by themselves, green glowing balls of light hovering near the ceiling. Harmless reminders that they weren’t the only ones in the home.
But the night she found Chris terrified under the table, “that’s when I got upset,” she said. “To see him so upset, I had to do something.”
Three times Kim had the house blessed by her church pastor. Although things would quiet down, they didn’t go away.“Chris still felt uneasy,” she said. “He said it was hiding, but still watching.”
Then, through a friend, Kim met Cindy Newcomb, a massage therapist and master of Reiki, an ancient Japanese technique used to reduce stress and promote healing. Kim began attending Reiki sessions with Cindy during which she expressed her frustration about her unwelcome house guests. Cindy volunteered to help.
“It took six months to get her out here,” Kim said.
Cindy heads what she calls her “ghost-busting business,” Intuitive Communicators. As an intuitive medium, Cindy can sense the presence of others — energies or entities, as she likes to call them. With her, she brings fellow mediums Kate Gruenfelder and Sean McAdoo and a hard-nosed skeptic, an electrician who declined to be named.
“I wanted her to get rid of what was in there scaring my kids,” Kim said. “Or at least find out why it was scaring my kids.”
Cindy and her team arrived at Kim’s home at around 8:30 p.m. armed with a camera, thermal sensor and their intuitive know-how.
Immediately, several of the entities began to vie for their attentions all at once — or so it seemed.
A flickering of lights lured Cindy’s group into the dining room, where the energy of a man responded to questions with one or two flickers of the lights. The man was hungry and asked Sean to cook for him. In the kitchen, Kim’s late husband, an orb of light seen only by the camera, checks in on his wife. And an old canine friend of the family, Hans, stops in as well.
The sound of a television on the second floor draws them up the winding staircase.
Oops, there’s a man sitting on the bottom step putting his boots on, protesting as the groups’ feet step on him as they passed. At the top, the mediums sense an eerie feeling of malice hanging in the air. Kim told them they’d often felt the same thing.
It’s a man, a farm laborer who is unhappy about not getting his due wages from his boss, who once owned the house. The mediums told Kim to be careful on the stairs because he wants to push her back down them. She needs to be firm with him, they said. She needs to tell him to stop.
The team enters the first bedroom where the two youngest boys, Zachary, 13, and Cody, 8, sleep, or try to.
“Black things go in and out of the closet, and the door shakes in the middle of the night,” Zachary said. “It just bugs me.”
There’s also screaming, Cody reminded his brother.
“The black ball bounces all around the room,” Cody said. “It even goes in our closet. And there’s someone screaming like a drug dealer is trying to hurt them.”
Cody describes the black energy as being about his size, maybe 4 feet tall. The boys say they’ve seen children, a boy and a girl and a set of infant twins, around the house.
The boy and girl energies are friendly and believed to be the cause of playful tricks on living members of the household. At night, the boy talks to him, Cody says, and he sees another boy on the stairs where there’s a cold spot.
“It’s just annoying and scary,” Cody said. “When it’s the kids, it’s just annoying.”
Cindy and her fellow mediums sensed two energies in the bedroom with them. The strongest of them being a man named George or perhaps Howard, and a boy named Jonathon. Cindy said George is a bully, most often toward 7-year-old Jonathon. As punishment, George would often put the boy in the closet, where scratch marks visibly mar the lower half of the inside of the door. Cindy told Kim that George’s ghost can’t actually hurt her boys, and the negative feeling detected in the room is only an imprint of George’s energy from the actions he took when he was alive. George is still in the house and knows the error of his ways, Cindy added.
“He’s confused,” Cindy said. “He wasn’t happy in life, and he’s not in balance (in death). He’s just stuck and needs to be forgiven for what he did.”
Jonathon’s story is a sad one. The mediums picked up him banging on the closet door, crying “Let me out, I didn’t mean it. I’ll be good. Let me out.” The intensely emotional impact forced Cindy out of the room to break free of its grip.
Moving to Chris’ bedroom, a friendly soul joined Cindy sitting on the bed. Seen through the camera’s eye as a glowing orb at Cindy’s shoulder, it was Katherine, a woman who simply loved the home when she was alive. “Hi. I’m on camera. I’m on camera. Can you see me?” Cindy heard her say.
Katherine likes to straighten up things around the house.
“Every night, my sheets are pulled off the bed, and I have to remake it,” Chris complained, adding that he doesn’t even bother anymore.
That’s Katherine, busy at work changing the sheets on the bed. She even clued the crew in to the fact that their camera battery was about to run out.
But for Chris, some of the energies that seem to surround him are anything but playful. There are things he won’t discuss.
“I just get the feeling that someone’s watching me all the time,” he said.
That eerie sense coupled with the palpable angry vibes in the back hall that chased the young teen under the dining room table finally had a name: Earl.
Not an unruly soul by any means, Earl is simply annoyed with the living beings who have invaded the home.
In search of his married mistress, Elizabeth, Earl used to climb the back stairs to the master bedroom where he would meet up with Elizabeth for afternoon romps. Cindy said Elizabeth often watched for Earl’s approach from the little round window at the end of the curved hallway. Now, unable to find Elizabeth, Earl didn’t understand who these living beings were and was putting all of his energy into frightening them away. Once settled with the understanding that he and Elizabeth had both passed on, he from a heart attack, Cindy said, Earl is quite the jokester and has a penchant for flirting with attractive women, including her. Earl, the mediums said, envisioned himself the man of the house when Elizabeth’s real husband wasn’t home. Earl even invited Cindy over to the fireplace to get a picture with him.
In all, the mediums sensed some seven entities in the home and two more in the barn. Some channeled their stories, but most were simply imprints of past lives, residue of high emotions left behind long after the person passed on.
The skeptic spent the evening trying to disqualify and rationalize scientifically the strange events happening throughout the house.
The flickering lights he thought he had figured out: old electric wiring. Besides, he said, the lights didn’t flicker when the adjacent living room lights were shut off; perhaps a short or something.
His theories were dashed, however, when Kim announced the house was newly remodeled with new wiring, and the lights flickered even when the rest of the house was dark.
Upstairs in the front bedroom, he said he found it strange that he drained two fresh camera batteries in mere moments, trying to determine the source of temperature fluctuations in the closet.
Skeptical, not so much anymore.
As part of their investigation, after the team tours a location they delve into its history. In their report to Kim, there is little verifiable information about the house on Griffith Road. Only a couple of names could be confirmed through old deeds dredged up.
They also gave Kim and the kids tools to use when the dead encroached on the living.
“Tell them to go away and leave us alone,” Kim said Cindy told her. “They have to comply.”
Kim’s family has learned to live with the entities sharing their home. Thanks to Cindy and her crew, the ghosts and living members of the farmhouse have a better understanding of why they’re all there together. The kids still see strange globes of light and hear the occasional footstep, and the television in the front bedroom still turns on by itself sometimes. The living have learned how to live with the dead, and know what to do when spirits become unsettled. A harmony of sorts has settled in the home.