EXTREME PARANORMAL, POLTERGEISTS AND RSPK – Theresa Argie’s Occult Kitchen
Tales of ghosts and hauntings come in all shapes and sizes, but a few stand out as “extreme”. These are cases where the paranormal activity reaches a level far beyond an average haunting, if there is such a thing. Extreme hauntings often include violent attacks and severe physical phenomenon.
The extreme haunting that has given me pause for over two decades is the strange and terrifying tale of Jackie Hernandez. Often referred to as the San Pedro Haunting, this case is one of the best known and well documented haunting in the United States. I studied the reports of those who were there – eyewitness accounts and official documentation of those involves in one of the most terrifying paranormal encounters of our time.
1989 – Single mother Jackie Hernandez moves into a small unassuming bungalow in San Pedro, California. The events began in a rather benign way but quickly escalated into one of the most dangerous hauntings ever recorded. The disturbing phenomenon weighed heavily on Hernandez who was newly divorced and expecting her second child.
Strange noises could be heard throughout the house including voices coming from empty rooms and the attic. There were weird lights and shadows, pungent smells, and objects moving of their own accord including a framed picture that flew off the wall crashing several feet away from its origin. Hernandez witnessed a water-like substance pouring inexplicably from a lighting fixture. It was soon evident that she was living in a haunted house.
After the birth of her daughter, Hernandez knew she had to do something. Her family was more vulnerable than ever and her sanity was slowly slipping away. After months of living through a barrage of paranormal activity, Hernandez had a face-to-face encounter with evil.
One evening after putting the children to bed, Hernandez encountered the ghost that had been haunting her home. She watched in horror as a face began to materialize out of the darkness. The distorted face turned into the full bodied apparition of a decrepit old man in shabby clothes. The darkness in its eyes chilled her to the core. This was not the case of a friendly family spirit dropping by to check on the children; this was something dark and negative.
Hernandez called in a team of paranormal investigators led by one of the most well respected names in the field Dr. Barry Taff. Taff was affiliated with the Parapsychology research lab out of UCLA. He was accompanied by a small team of investigators and photographers, including camera man Barry Conrad and photographer Jeff Wheatcraft.
Conrad and Taff had investigated numerous paranormal encounters including the 1974 incident known as “The Entity Case.” Considered one of the most well documented and scientifically researched hauntings, the case was the basis of a 1983 movie staring Barbara Hershey also called The Entity. Dr. Taff acted as an advisor on the film.
The story of The Entity follows Doris Bither (fictional name Carla Moran) and her four children who experience severe paranormal disturbances in their Culver City home. The events quickly escalated from disturbing to violent. Taff, a colleague from UCLA, and a team of research assistants were called on to investigate the event. It quickly became apparent that this was no ordinary haunting. Something strange and powerful was at work in the home. Doris Bither was the target of this unusually strong energy, possibly a poltergeist.
Paranormal activity and physical attacks were common. Nothing researchers did seemed to lessen the severity. What shocked investigators was Bither’s claim that she was sexually assaulted by the malevolent entities in her home. According to Bither, two male entities held her down and another larger one raped her. The attacks happened frequently and sometimes in front of witnesses.
Among the numerous anomalies witnessed by Taff and his team were extreme temperature drops, repulsive smells of rotting flesh, strange lights, and what can be described as an (almost) full bodied apparition. Witnesses reported erratically moving balls of bright lights that coalesced into the upper torso of a human figure.
The Entity case garnered national attention from both media and the scientific world, propelling the careers of Dr. Taff and Barry Conrad. The film version received mixed reviews. Horror fans loved it but it was dismissed as a “true story” by most of Taff and Conrad’s academic contemporaries. But the multiple witnesses would say different.
Similarities can be drawn from both the Culver City and the San Pedro cases. Although in the San Pedro case, a bystander, not the homeowner was the target of the physical attacks.
August 1989 – During the initial investigation of the Hernandez residence the team witnessed peculiar events which included strange balls of glowing lights, muffled disembodied voices, and loud banging sounds coming from the empty attic. Photographer Jeff Wheatcraft made his way up to the attic to investigate.
While in the attic, Wheatcraft’s camera was violently and inexplicably pulled from his hands. The lens and the body of the camera were thrown forcefully, landing in opposite ends of the room.
Some of the other unusual activity happening at the San Pedro home included the inexplicable appearance of a liquid substance found oozing from the walls and floors. No source of origin could be found for the strange viscous fluid. Samples of the substance was sent to a lab where it was determined to be male human blood plasma.
September 1989 – Conrad and the team returned to the San Pedro house after receiving a frantic call from Hernandez. The activity was reaching a crescendo and Hernandez was in fear for her life.
Jeff Wheatcraft hesitantly went upstairs to the attic to take photographs with fellow photographer Gary Boehm (aka Gary Biehm). Hernandez, Conrad, and neighbor Susan Castaneda anxiously waited downstairs. Within seconds they were startled by a loud painful moan coming from above.
It was Jeff Wheatcraft fighting for his life.
Suddenly and without warning, Wheatcraft fell victim to a powerful paranormal force. Within seconds of entering the attic, something unseen wrapped a clothesline around his neck, lifted his body over the rafters, and secured the rope to a nail essentially hanging him. Amazingly, Gary Boehm snapped several pictures at the exact moment of the attack. These photographs are some of the most compelling pieces of visual phenomenon I have ever seen.
Jim Harold’s Note: I do not have rights to include these pictures here but they can be found on the internet.
In the now famous pictures, you can clearly see Jeff Wheatcraft’s look of terror, head tilted to one side, clothes line wrapped tightly around his neck. Boehm rushed to loosen the rope, bending the nail in the process. Shaken, pale, and utterly confused, the pair quickly joined the team downstairs.
If Boehm had not been in the attic at the time, Wheatcraft believes he would have surely died. The rope burns around his neck showed the aggressiveness and the severity of the attack. It was later determined that the rope was tied in a nautical bowline knot, used commonly by seaman working the San Pedro docks.
Jackie Hernandez felt the haunting was becoming more and more dangerous. She moved out of the Bungalow shorty after the incident. It soon became apparent that the source of the activity was not tethered to the property itself. She relocated to Walden, California, but the paranormal still plagued the young single mother who was on the verge of a complete mental break.
Hernandez was alone, fighting a powerful force she did not understand. She called the only people who seemed to believe her deadly plight. Apprehensively, the investigative team made their way to Walden, determined to finally get to the bottom of the haunting.
Conrad, Wheatcraft, Hernandez, and a neighbor tried to communicate with the entity during a seance. The used a ouija board as a means to connect with the spirits. Sitting around a table in a storage shed with their finger on the planchette, the investigators began asking questions. A camera crew attempted to film the session. The answers received from the board seemed to indicate that the spirit was that of a murdered dock worker from San Pedro.
But there was much more than that.
When asked how many ghost were among them, the board answered; “Phantoms fill the skies around you.” When asked why Wheatcraft was attacked, the entity answered that Wheatcraft resembled his killer.
After ending the communication session, the spirit once again attacked Jeff Wheatcraft. Witnesses claim he was suddenly pulled from his seat, levitated in mid-air, and violently thrusted backwards against the wall of the storage shed. Unfortunately, the cameras that were recording the event all malfunctioned at the exact time.
That was the second deadly attack on Jeff Wheatcraft.
Jackie Hernandez suffered with the haunting for more than three years, but the scars left on her soul remain forever. Jeff Wheatcraft was never the same after the San Pedro haunting. Besides being attacked by a ghost, he was attacked by droves of non-believers and skeptics who accused him and the team of faking the entire series of events.
It is possible that this and the Culver City case were nothing but elaborate hoaxes. Possible, but not probable. Something strange was going on. Something out of the normal. By definition, something paranormal. There were numerous eyewitnesses to each occurrence as well as an unprecedented amount of recorded data. The film footage and photographs are considered some of the best evidence of the paranormal ever captured.
Dr. Barry Taft devoted his life to studying this and other extreme haunting cases. He has been quoted as saying “There is no such thing as the paranormal. It’s a misnomer.” He claims it is all a complex psychological phenomenon known as RSPK (Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis or Zero Point Energy) where the mind physically manifests the perceived paranormal events. Like the Entity Case, he believes that there is something much more complex at work.
Taff believed that Jackie Hernandez and Doris Bither were causing the poltergeist activity. They were the agents, the source of the energy that turned their world upside-down. Their unconscious minds were running amuck, emitting so much power that objects could be manipulated physically and audio phenomenon created out of thin air.
Jeff Wheatcraft became the victim of this power for reasons only Jackie Hernandez could know. She had the ability to create a devastating and possibly deadly force from within. Similar to poltergeist phenomenon, RSPK needs an agent. It’s not demonic, yet it could be mistaken for such.
So is it normal or is it paranormal when one’s energy causes such incidents? Taft believes it is internal, emanating from some powerful portion of our subconscious. It’s not the disembodied spirit of a once living person. It’s not dark energy from an evil demon. It’s not a ghost. Unless we are our own ghosts.
It begs the question – Are we haunting ourselves?
My personal opinion is that RSPK could possibly account for some of what was happening in the both cases, but not all of it. There are more than a few holes in that theory.
What happened in San Pedro and Culver City is not cut and dry. I think the incidents have more in common with extreme hauntings than just poltergeist activity or RSPK. According to many paranormal experts, Jackie Hernandez nor Doris Bither were the typical poltergeist agent, which is usually a teenager or sometimes an older women going through menopause.
There were things reported that, to me, point to an angry human spirit, or possible an inhuman energy with an agenda of chaos and destruction. Why would a woman, consciously or unconsciously, put her children in danger, right in the line of fire so to speak? Why would she target a stranger or manifest apparitions resembling humans? Why didn’t the activity “burn out” quickly like in most poltergeist cases?
Scientific and paranormal experts have studied the cases and may have a better understanding of the details than someone like me who is drawing conclusions from reports and evidence some 25 years after the fact. But I know it would be remiss to completely rule out the possibility of a more traditional, yet just as terrifying cause in extreme cases such as this.
When ghosts attack they do so for a reason. Jackie Hernandez was not a random victim. Jeff Wheatcliff certainly was not just someone in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes the paranormal has to be experienced to be believed. The more severe the account, the harder it is for others to accept.
I’ve had my share of physical paranormal encounters and psychological attacks. I cannot accept the idea that I was the source, the essence of energy that powered the activity.
The human mind is complex and there is much to learn about its power. Science may some day have a better understanding of the intricacies at work inside our brains. But I cannot dismiss the idea that our consciousness can sometimes survive after death.
Are ghosts the cause of all paranormal activity? Probably not. There are some things we simply can’t explain with our current understanding of the world. Maybe the most frightening thing is not the spirit that haunts our house, but the entity from within.
How do we fight the ghost inside us? Is it completely out of our control? How do we stop haunting ourselves?
(Sources used for this article taken from first hand accounts of Dr. Barr Taff and Barry Conrad, including their subsequent books, official transcripts, televised stories, and film documentaries.)
Theresa Argie, The Haunted Housewife, is an experienced lecturer, educator, researcher and paranormal investigator and has had many years dealing with spirits, ghosts and paranormal activity. Theresa has worked beside some of the most well-known experts in the paranormal field, and has been featured by countless media outlets. She is also the co-author of America’s Most Haunted.