Across the Great Divide

 “Haunted House for Rent”

Haunted houses have been the stuff of local legend for generations; often these stories are exploited by Hollywood. Sometimes, though, there’s nothing fun about the experience, as the thought of sharing a home with an unexpected guest is no laughing matter.








Josue Chinchilla and Michele Callan, of Toms River, New Jersey, filed a lawsuit against their home owner, declaring that the rental property is also the residence of at least one paranormal entity and that this was never disclosed to them before moving in.

They believe they had no choice but to flee the property, along with their two children, only one week after moving in. The couple is demanding the return of their $2,250 security deposit because they claim to be witness to such activity as moving doors, flickering lights, and recorded voices whispering, “let it burn.”

The family moved in on March 1, and immediately felt that they were not alone. By March 10 they’d had enough. That was the night that Chinchilla says that blankets started inexplicably sliding off his bed, and he felt an invisible grip on his arm; Callan added that she saw a “shapeless dark apparition” nearby.

The family checked into a hotel on March 13, where they have been staying ever since.

They at first laughed off the activity as a trick of the senses, then tried to ignore the recurring events, but according to a report by the Asbury Park Press, when the entity began to pulling sheets off the bed, and a dark apparition appeared in the bedroom, they knew they had to leave.

The home’s owner refutes the entire “haunted house” lawsuit is a ruse, and are making up the story because can’t afford the $1500 monthly rent; he defends that he has rented the home for the last ten years without any issues.

In a report by the Huffington Post, the Shore Paranormal Research Society, based in the same town, investigated and later classified the activity as “paranormal,” but that it did not indicate a haunting, according to the group’s website. They have released a video showing a bowling pin reportedly falling over of its own accord.

Marianne Brigando, an investigator from New Jersey Paranormal Investigators, says that the home is indeed haunted and states that the home is “the site of an active or intelligent haunting.” She based her conclusion on the results of the oft-maligned “flashlight test, which involves communicating with an otherworldly presence via a flashlight. When Brigando asked questions, she claims, an unseen force would turn the flashlight on and off- two flashes for “yes,” one for “no.”

To add to the controversy, the couple’s pastor, Terence Sullivan, reported that he is certain a “demonic possession” has visited the house, raising the possibility that Chinchilla and Callan may have brought the ghost with them.

Or it is possible that the house does have a history, which the owner is refusing to disclose to tenants.

Consumer interest laws have arisen in recent years demanding that landowners disclose the history of a property including any reported paranormal activity, or cases of murder and suicide. If the landlord knew about the haunting, he had a duty to disclose the information before the lease was signed.

We’ve often seen the flip side of this, with restaurants, hotels, and other businesses, reaping the press and rewards of having ‘big name’ groups like The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS, claim on air that a place is haunted and then sit back and watch their customer base boom.

It’s arguably a material fact, but if they brought the ghost with them, then it’s a haunting of another level, and the non-disclosure lawsuit would most certainly fail.

A hearing was scheduled for the end May, the results of which were not available by press time.


Sources: Reuters, USA Today, CBS News, Huffington Post, ABC News, Asbury Park Press

Image © 2012 ABC News

© 2012 R. Wolf Baldassarro/Deep Forest Productions