Over 30 years ago on November 17, 1988, a heavily pregnant woman named Jackie Hernandez moved with her 2-year-old son to an old bungalow in San Pedro, California. The reason for the move was a troubled marriage, but soon enough this was the least of her worries, when she realized the house was badly haunted.
She claimed that two ghosts haunted her, and like the stereo-typical cop partners, one was the good guy, the other the bad one.
According to a 1993, LA Times article she described where the "benign one" led her to his grave. He'd lived thirteen blocks away from her home in 1913. The other one used her fear to fuel his activity in the bungalow.
She became so desperate she moved, only to find that now she was the one haunted since the ghosts traveled with her. Jackie moved to a desolate trailer in Bakersfield and there was no escaping them.
Jackie's neighbor Susan Castenada who often babysat for her, told her to contact Barry Taff. He had previously investigated the 1974 case of Doris Bither, which would become the real-life inspiration for the movie The Entity (1982).
Like Doris Bither, Jackie's background was troubled. She suffered severe mental duress and she experienced domestic abuse, a violent lifestyle and depression. She lived in a volatile environment which is a common denominator for examples of psychokinetic spikes and poltergeist activity.
In August 1989, parapsychologist Barry Taff led a team to investigate her claims. On the first visit cameramen Barry Conrad and Jeff Wheatcraft accompanied him. They were immediately greeted by a foul odor and despite airing out the house they were not able to find the source.
Barry Conrad would eventually describe strange happening in his condo. Chairs rearranged themselves into the middle of the room, a flashlight would turn on and off by itself, and the worse was when he found live bullets placed on top of his stove which had mysteriously been turned on.
Taff described where this case was unique because the ghost followed her, and "went after the researchers".
Jackie said she saw strange lights, mists, apparitions and blood-like liquid trickling from the walls. This event happened when her friend Kristina Zivkovic were in the kitchen.
The first sign she witnessed that something was off was when her cat chased shadows around the house, and she could hear voices muttering from the attic. The next event was hard to dismiss. She saw pencils fly out of a pencil holder. She wondered if her pregnancy was causing her to hallucinate.
This theory didn't hold up since the events continued after the birth of her daughter Samantha in April, 1989. Soon after she gave birth she went to the bathroom in the middle of the night, she happened to glance inside her children's room. Looking at her with glaring eyes was an old man dressed in a lumberjack shirt and denim suspenders. Then he vanished.
Another time she saw another corpse-like, old man sitting at her dining room table.
Sleep offered no refuge since Jackie started to experience dreams in which she saw a younger man clubbed with a pipe, and then drowned by his attacker in San Pedro Harbor. The time appeared to be during the 1930s. At one point instead of being an observer she became the victim and experienced the horror of being held under water.
At one point Jackie and friends started to use a Ouija board in an effort to identify the ghost. She received information about a murder committed in the 1930s that she believed was linked to her dreams.
Barry Taff and his team visited Jackie on the night of August 8, 1989. They brought different equipment with them in order to capture proof of what she claimed. He described that during the interview, “we kept hearing what sounded like a 200-pound rat running around the attic."
She told the team she had seen the ghostly image of a severed head there before, accompanied by muffled voices.
Photographer Jeff Wheatcraft went into the attic hoping to capture a photograph of what was causing the ruckus. The first night his camera was wrenched from his hands and the lens ripped off of it.
During the second visit on September 4, Jeff again went into the attic, and this time a clothesline wound his neck, which then got caught on a protruding nail. It was tied in a sailor's knot. Another photographer Gary Boehm, also in the attic at the time, saw what happened and rushed over to help and brought him back downstairs.
Jeff Wheatcraft left the house, never to set foot inside it again. He believed the entity had attacked him.
The haunting events dovetailed with the end of Jackie's marriage, where she held down two jobs and the stress of raising a newborn and toddler.
Towards the end of 1989, Jackie and her husband tried to make a go of the marriage and moved to a trailer in Weldon, 300 miles north of San Pedro For a time things were normal. She said, “Within a couple of weeks or so I felt really comfortable being there. I thought I had left the ghost back in the house. I thought everything was going to be OK.”
However there was no saving the marriage, and within months her husband left, and now she was left alone in a remote area with no friends or family. The ghosts returned.
She moved a television into a shed outside, then she saw an image of an old man on the screen. It was the same one who appeared to her in the San Pedro bungalow. That night she heard “someone pounding on the inside (of the shed) wanting to get out.”
She called Dr. Taff, and arrived when night when things were going crazy. The team's cameras would not work, and equipment kept turning off.
They brought the ouija board out, and first the table began to shake, and once again Jeff Wheatcraft became the victim of violence when an invisible force threw him against the trailer wall. Jeff had been targeted because he looked like the spirit’s murderer.
Those answers are contained in part of the scrawled transcript she says she made of the session:
Question: How long have you been trapped (in the spirit world)?
Jackie did not feel threatened by Hendickson's ghost, but the other one did scare her, and she made efforts to identify him. She spoke to long-time residents of San Pedro, and she learned the bungalow where she had lived was built by a man named John Damon. She believed this is the old man she saw there.
In the summer of 1990, Jackie moved back to Los Angeles to stay with a friend. The ghosts trailed along with her but their activity slowed down.
In the spring of 1990 she visited San Pedro and saw a ball of light outside the house where she was staying. She followed it to a nearby graveyard where it settled over a tombstone marking the grave of John Damon. She believed this signaled the end of Damon's attachment to her. The other ghost has left too, and her experiences have tapered off.
Jackie claimed her children did not suffer any ill effects from the haunting, only her son Jamie had a problem sleeping alone.
The ghosts did sour the relationship with her friend and baby-sitter Kristina Zivkovic. Kristina doesn't even like to talk about the strange events and as a result became more religious. She believes that Jackie "overreacts to everything" and has sunk into "total neurosis".
Jackie went onto find an office job, and said, “I’m more scared of dying than I was before. In hindsight I think I was fortunate to see and experience first-hand something that most people never see.”
Jackie has gone on with her life, and has appeared in different paranormal shows detailing the story of her haunted life.
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by M.P. Pellicer