California's First Theatre, The Monterey Bay Aquarium, The Monterey Hotel, The Old Spaghetti Factory, Pacheco Pass / Highway 152, Red Robin, The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, Spirit of Monterey Wax Museum, Toys 'R' Us, The USS Hornet, The Winchester Mystery House
California's First Theatre
California’s First Theatre was originated in 1844 by Jack Swan, a sailor who arrived in an English merchant ship. When settling in Monterey, Swan purchased the land, where the aged adobe still stands today. There, he built and ran a bar, and made a boarding house for his former fellow ship mates, and other sailors to stay in while they visited. Less than a decade after he had started his business, he added a theater where people could perform.
The theater had a small stage with red and blue blankets used as curtains, and oil lamps lining the front. With extreme interest and curiosity, the audience would sit on benches made from planks and supported by gunpowder kegs. The structure received its name after being the first theater in California that required an admission fee.
Business did very well for a lengthy period of time at the bar, and Jack Swan was believed to still manage the place, even after his death in 1896.
After Swan’s passing, due to poor health, the building closed and remained empty until it was reopened in 1906 as an historical landmark. The city provided guided tours until recent years when it was shut down completely; except for its pleasant garden in the back that is still open to the public.
For over a century, the theater is said to have had an abundance of paranormal activity. Past visitors and employees claim to have experienced such things as objects moving on their own and reappearing in a different place, in addition to unexplainable sounds, and the feeling of a presence.
It is claimed that Jack Swan’s ghost is creating the activity on the property. Actors who performed there alleged hearing an unseen force whisper their lines to them while on stage.
Jack Swan’s spirit has been observed by multiple eye witnesses over the years usually near the stage or the bar. Paranormal investigator and author Jeff Dwyer claimed to see Jack’s apparition on three separate occasions, and described him to be a thin man with long, glowing white hair and a beard. His first incident with Jack’s spirit was in the 1980s, when he appeared sitting on the edge of the stage with translucent legs. As Jeff approached him, he suddenly vanished. To hear more about Jeff Dwyer’s sightings of Swan, I suggest you check out his book titled Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Monterey and California’s Central Coast.
My friend Spike Perkins and I visited the historical landmark in February of 2012. As we were approaching the theater’s back garden, I started to feel lots of energy progress as we got closer, and felt almost drawn to the area. I wonder if there are ghosts still performing and putting on shows, playing cards and drinking navy grog, I thought.
We noticed a gardener on the grounds and thought we might as well ask him if he’s had any encounters.
“Excuse me. Sorry to bother you,” I said. “I know this may be kind of a strange question, but have you had any paranormal experiences here before?”
The Italian man’s eyes widened and, after a moment, gave me a look of relief.
“Oh man, I’ve been waiting for someone like you to come here and talk to me,” said the worker, who asked to remain anonymous.
“I feel and see things here. My family has a history of being sensitive, and this place is definitely haunted.”
The man paused, looked down at the ground, and back up at Spike and I.
“I feel a woman watching me here while I’m working in the early morning through one of the back windows. Sometimes I even see a white apparition whip past me from the corner of my eye.”
“Oh wow!” I said. “How often do you work here?” I asked.
“Twice a week for the last three months,” said the gardener. “And I’ve been experiencing things since the first day I was here.”
CALIFORNIA’S FIRST THEATRE
Year built: 1844
Pacific Avenue at Scott Street
Monterey, CA 93940
(Not open for business)
The Monterey Bay Aquarium
Where the old Hovden cannery once stood, ghosts have been sighted, felt, and heard within the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
An abundant amount of spiritual energy is felt near the boilers of the old cannery exhibit, where ghosts have been seen. By the majority of the spirits’ attire, witnesses believe they are the ghosts of past cannery workers.
The cannery worker that has been observed the most at the Monterey Bay Aquarium is the ghost of an elderly woman wearing a white dress, a heavy apron, a hair net, and gloves. “When employees ask if the lady needs help, she usually does not respond and simply vanishes. Occasionally, she replies in a language that sounds like Portuguese.” – Jeff Dwyer’s Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Monterey and California’s Central Coast
“Our Security officers work around the clock, including during the aptly named graveyard shift. Several have reported odd sights, eerie sounds, and hair-raising feelings during their late night rounds.”
– Karen Jeffries, Monterey Bay Aquarium
“A few years back one of the weddings I was designing for was being held at the beautiful and absolutely enormous Monterey Bay Aquarium. It’s a great venue where you and your guests are surrounded by all those huge tanks of gorgeous fish, kelp Forrest’s and marine life. It’s big and cavernous and empty at night, but not quite as empty as I had thought.
At one point I was running madly back and forth from a small utility kitchen and then back to the dinner reception area and then back again to the little kitchen. Twenty some odd trips carrying gallons and gallons of water to fill enormous vases on each table.
Each vase got a submerged orchid and then was topped with floating candles. It was lovely, but a ridiculous amount of work. It also didn’t help that I was alone for this particular event and had no one to help me.
Exhausted, I paused in the kitchen to try and catch my breath. I had slumped over the sink and to no one in particular I said out loud, ‘Oh my god. I can’t do this, this is terrible!’, or something to that effect. The words no sooner left my mouth when a man directly behind me in a low voice said, ‘You’re telling me.’ Happy to have someone to commiserate with, I turned around to engage them in conversation and … there was no one there. Nobody. I was absolutely alone in that tiny room … A chill ran through me. I knew what I had just heard and it was most definitely the sad voice of someone who sounded completely beaten down. And it had been directly behind me. I was certain of it.
Later that evening I approached the on-site event coordinator, ‘So, the place is haunted huh?’ She perked up immediately and with her best chirpy ‘public voice’ tried to sweep it under the rug saying that those are just silly stories and rumors and to not believe what I hear from the staff.
I immediately set her straight and let her know that I wasn’t asking her, I was TELLING her ... the place was haunted, and I had just experienced it! With that she shrank back down into her chair and dejectedly told me that the place was most definitely haunted and that most of the staff there have had at least one or two experiences.” – Contributed story by Santa Cruz local, Fredrick James
A woman in black has been witnessed by staff, as well as being recorded on the security cameras in the Open Sea Wing. During graveyard shift, security officers observed her on the monitors standing beneath the anchovy round-about; in addition to watching her “glide” through the Open Sea exhibit.
Another officer claimed to hear children laughing and giggling in the basement late in the night. “There are definitely wandering souls around here in the midnight hour.”
“Sales & Reservations Coordinator Janelle Brown was working at one of our entrances when she started noticing something out of the corner of her eye. Thinking it was a guest, she’d turn around but no one was there. This would happen repeatedly.” – Karen Jeffries, Monterey Bay Aquarium
-Some have reported feeling an unseen force touch their shoulder, as well as hearing a disembodied voice whisper in their ear.
-Wet footprints have been found around the outside edge of the aquarium, as well as the front entrance; beginning and ending in random places, and also leading into walls, or through fences.
-According to author Randall A. Reinstedt’s book, Ghost Notes, a spirit has been witnessed standing in the upstairs banquet room. After one employee sighted the entity, he was so frightened he refused to work there ever again.
MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM
Year built: 1984
886 Cannery Row
Monterey, CA 93940
The Monterey Hotel
Built in 1904, the historic, elegant, and beautiful Monterey Hotel in downtown Monterey has been claimed to be haunted for decades.
The hotel’s most well-known ghost, Fred (the past maintenance man), died when he was crushed in the elevator shaft, which is no longer used, and where high EMF is also found. Fred lived in Room 217 for years, and it is believed by many that he still does. To this day, he definitely makes an effort to make people acknowledge his existence. Guests and employees have alleged seeing objects move on their own in Room 217, such as a TV sliding out from a hutch, and the wooden blinds have been witnessed moving when the windows are closed. Strange, uncanny popping sounds have been heard in the hotel room, along with disembodied voices.
The ghost of a little girl has also been witnessed running past, and standing in front of Room 217. Visitors have claimed to hear a child running past the door in the middle of the night. Some claim to hear knocking at their door and find no one there when they answer it. Legend has it that the little girl and her sister were murdered by their mother in Room 407. Occasionally, the little girl has also been witnessed standing at the top of the stairs that look down upon the lobby during the wee hours of the night. A couple of psychics claim that the little girl is scared of some of the hotel’s male employees for some reason.
The majority of the employees believe that the hotel is severely haunted. Fady, the hotel manager, claims that Do Not Disturb signs are randomly moved from door to door, and this is believed to be caused by the little girl. Fady has encountered papers on the front desk being moved and shuffled around many times when no one else was around. He has also seen something in the office closing the heavy door, which had a door stop in front of it. He said that if a glass of water is left out, that it will be emptied, sometimes within minutes.
Chris, a Monterey Hotel employee, also encountered the office door closing on him, as well as the radio (with a solid button) turning on by itself. He has noticed an unexplainable hot spot, only recognized at times behind the front desk. He said that the temperature difference is very noticeable and that he can feel the temperature drop while he’s standing only a foot away from the warm area. Lights have been said to turn on and off on their own, and mysterious whispers have been heard throughout the hotel.
Ahmed, another staff member, has heard disembodied voices pass him while walking the halls. Once he heard a ghost mimic his voice over the walkie-talkie. He also had an unexplainable encounter when he saw something moving on its own, along with an apparition that looked right at him. His friend quit his very first night working at the Monterey Hotel when he looked up to see the ghost of a man standing at the front desk.
In 2011, a hotel security guard was actually lifted up by a spirit while sitting in her chair in the area of the building that is being remodeled. She felt the entity lift her several inches off the ground, holding her up for a few seconds before placing her back in her seat.
The basement is believed to have the most paranormal activity in the hotel. Two construction workers quit on the spot after they were both scratched by an unseen force while down in the basement. Two employees saw the scratch marks and their only explanation was that it was caused by something paranormal.
In March of 2012, sensitive Mel U. and I stayed the night in room 217, at the haunted Monterey Hotel. We first investigated the elevator that has been closed for years, above where Fred the Handyman is said to have died. The elevator was non-operational, yet we were receiving EMF spikes on our detectors. Mel pointed out that there was a pattern by the way the K-2 meter lit up.
Next, we inspected the mirror in the lobby, where the apparition of a man has been witnessed. Right away we received high EMF spikes on both of our devices. EMF was detected all around the front of the mirror, particularly near the center. We made sure the lamp and its outlet that was a few feet away, wasn’t creating the readings. Ahmed also verified that there wasn’t any type of power source behind, in, or on the other side of the wall. It made me wonder if the mirror was some type of portal. (It is said that ghosts are able to transport to other places or dimensions easier through mirrors. Why, I do not know.)
Chris and Ahmed, with their amazing hospitality, arranged for us to investigate the basement, which I said earlier is claimed to be the most haunted vicinity of the hotel.
“Here we go,” Ahmed announced.
My palms immediately began to sweat as we walked down the stairs of the dark and eerie basement. Ahmed led us to where Fred was said to have died in the elevator shaft. While walking to the area, we passed a room where I sensed something inhuman standing in the doorway staring at us. I was actually able to picture the image in my mind. It freaked me out, which is pretty rare, so I just tried to ignore it and continued filming and walking ahead.
We set the flashlight near the elevator shaft, and asked if any spirit was with us and if they could please turn the light on. After asking several questions, and not receiving any responses, I wondered if the ghost just wasn’t into talking to me and Mel, especially since Chris had mentioned earlier that sensitive women claim that they feel like Fred doesn’t like them. Mel and I headed back up to the lobby so Sean and Ahmed could see if the ghost and, or ghosts would rather talk to them, but they no luck either. We decided to move to another room of the large basement, where I had sensed something watching us when we first arrived. Without mentioning my experience, Mel shared that she felt something in that room as well, but was too scared at first, to suggest that we try going in there.
About a minute or so after we had set down the flashlight, hoping an unseen force would turn it on -it turned on. After saying hello and thanking them for making contact, we began to ask questions. Because our investigation was so long and detailed, I will try to sum it up for you.
The flashlight turned on for questions such as: Did you die in this hotel? Are you from Monterey? Are you from room 407? Is this the mother?
“Should we be scared of you?” Ahmed asked the spirit.
“Oh no,” said Mel with concern.
Unable to wait for a response, about two seconds later I asked if they could hurt us. The light shined very brightly.
“See ya!” Ahmed exclaimed.
“I knew they were going to say Yes! They want us to be scared.” Mel declared.
After a series of more of questions, Mel and I both felt the entity get progressively agitated with our inquiries. The room felt very heavy and unwelcoming.
“Would you like us to leave?” I asked.
The ghost turned the flashlight on very brightly.
“Okay. We’ll leave. Thank you. May I ask you one more question?” I asked. “Is this the mother in room 407?” (I just had to verify it.)
The light turned on again.
“So you want us to leave?” I asked again.
The spirit turned on the flashlight once more, so we left the basement.
-A lady in white has been witnessed by individuals in the hotel’s breakfast room.
-The apparition of a man dressed in Edwardian clothing and a top hat has been seen in the mirror located in the lobby.
-The ghost of a Hispanic female housekeeper has been seen on the top floors of the hotel. Some people don’t even realize that she is a phantom until she vanishes without a trace.
The Old Spaghetti Factory
The elegant eatery which was established in 1969, was once used as an old wagon garage where a little girl allegedly died due to an unfortunate accident. She is believed to have never left after her untimely end, and is said to haunt the Old Spaghetti Factory in San Jose, California.
In 2012, a group of psychics were dining at the restaurant and witnessed the ghost of the little girl walking around their table. On another occasion, a sensitive claimed to see a little girl hovering over him and his dinner party.
While visiting the vicinity in October of 2014 with sensitive Jane Reynolds Heath (RIP), we both sensed heavy residual energy within the upstairs banquet room. We both got the feeling that something violent had occurred. We asked an employee if they had ever heard of a fight breaking out there. They said they hadn't, but it was highly possible since the banquet room was said to be used by mobsters back in the day.
While eating in the main dinning hall, Jane stated that she strongly felt the child's presence. She shared that the spirit of the little girl seemed to be having fun.
Soon after our visit, a customer happened to be taking photos inside the restaurant and caught what they believe to be the ghost of the little girl standing with her back turned in the phone booth. Below is the actual photo that was taken.
- Eerie growling sounds have been heard in the dining room by visitors, along with an uncanny “long-winded ‘Booooo’,” says Adrienne from Bay Area Ghost Hunters.
- One night when the staff was locking up for the night, the video games in the loft started turning off by themselves.
- The upstairs banquet room as well as the kitchen, are claimed to have a lot of unexplained occurrences and paranormal activity; such as staff members returning the next day to see that the cooking supplies, or silverware have been rearranged in an oddly manor.
THE OLD SPAGHETTI FACTORY
Year originated: 1969
51 North San Pedro Street
San Jose, CA 95110
Pacheco Pass / Highway 152
Over the centuries, numerous deaths have occurred on and around “Blood Alley” creating its dark history. It is alleged that Indians were massacred by where the highway now lies. This, along with many other events and accidents that occurred on Pacheco Pass is believed to have created a residual energy to forever repeat itself. Some claim that it’s almost a Bermuda Triangle on land. People have claimed to see ghosts that are dressed as if they lived as far back as the 1700s. There have been reports of Indians, soldiers and settlers on wagons witnessed along the highway.
Witnesses claim to have seen a hitchhiking ghost around the area. The young girl dressed in jeans and a plaid shirt, which now haunts the vicinity, was tragically hit by a semi-truck while trying to hitch a ride long ago. It is alleged by various truck drivers that they pulled over to give the phantom hitchhiker a ride, and spoke with the ghost, whom they believed to be alive. As she would walk around the truck to the passenger door, she’d suddenly vanish.
In a small grove of rocks off the highway near the mission, the ghost of a woman has been seen on occasion late at night. She appears in her wedding dress in the vicinity that allegedly her fiancé died in from a car wreck. After his death, the ghost bride took her life by jumping off the rocks, hoping to join her love once again.
Pacheco Pass / Highway 152) can be upsetting or even frightening to some sensitives and psychics. Sylvia Browne (RIP) was one such person. Browne claimed to receive psychic images there, and said she saw “a little girl in a covered wagon cowering with her fists pressed against her eyes while Indians raged around the wagon train. Her sense of hopelessness was overwhelming,” Haunted Houses of California.
- Many people have seen the spirit believed to be a Franciscan Monk and described him wearing a black robe and standing on the side of the road, between Casa De Fruta and Bell’s Station.
- Others have reported seeing a headless man walking on the side of Pacheco Pass near Bolsa Road.
-The ghost of a woman in a Victorian dress has been sighted along the road. It is alleged that she’s endlessly searching for her child.
-The haunting of Highway 152 has been featured on television shows, including Sci-Fi Channel's "Sightings," and Travel Channel's "Haunted Travels."
PACHECO PASS / HIGHWAY 152
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers
Believe it or not … this is an actual genuine photo of a ghost taken at Red Robin in San Jose, CA in 2010. I wouldn’t believe it was real myself if I hadn’t known who took the actual photo. But my good friend’s sister took this, and their family has a very good and honest reputation. Some might just think it’s Photoshoped, or someone had used a cheesy ghost app … but look closer. --You will notice (especially in the zoomed photo that ALL the pixels line up. -That’s very hard and almost impossible to do in Photoshop, even for a Photoshop expert).
The little floating apparition you see on the right edge of the picture looks to be the ghost of a little girl. I had a few local psychics including Shelly Crowley and Jena Reece examine the photo, and they all believe it’s real, as do I. They all shared that they felt as if she was a spirit who died on, or near the vicinity a very long time ago. Two psychics sensed the girl was hung; another psychic kept visualizing water around the spirit, and believes she could have been a victim of a possible drowning.
Note: I blacked out her face for privacy.
1000 El Paseo de Saratoga
San Jose, CA 95130
The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum
Founded in 1915, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum is definitely a place where the veils are very thin. Both ancient and vintage apparitions have been witnessed, as well as shadow people. Disembodied voices and footsteps have been heard, and items have disappeared. Many visitors and past employees felt as if they were being watched by an unseen force.
The most commonly known ghost seen at the Egyptian Museum is the founder, H. Spencer Lewis, who passed away in 1939 and is buried on the grounds. The spirit of the round little man, dressed in ‘30s attire or fraternal regalia, has been witnessed in the front of the property or on the corner, waving to people as they pass by. The merry spirit has been witnessed over decades by dozens of citizens. Some who say they tried speaking to H. Spencer Lewis claim that he smiled at them and then disappeared before their very eyes.
The Planetarium is claimed to be the most haunted building on the premises. Eerie disembodied voices and cries have been heard on occasion. A female spirit is believed to haunt the building and has been heard crying uncontrollably. Her intense energy has filled the Planetarium at times, and many people have literally run out in fright.
A past director who worked at the museum during the early ‘90s claimed to have had several experiences in his office on the property. He first heard voices speaking to him and footsteps around the room. After weeks of experiencing this activity, one day the director watched as a foggy mist began to appear in the doorway. Slowly but surely the supernatural haze coalesced into an Egyptian figure. The two stared at each other for several seconds before the spirit vanished.
In 2014, my friend Jane Reynolds Heath (RIP) and I visited the museum where we had an unexplainable encounter. While we were observing some of the ancient artifacts, we both felt as though some unseen force had walked through us.
“WOW!” I said, “Did you feel that?”
“Oh my god,” Jane replied, “it felt like it just walked right through me.”
"Same here," I said.
The energy that moved through us was intense and hot. It was weird.
Spirit of Monterey Wax Museum
Step into history and hauntings in this dark and ever-so creepy wax museum, located in one of the two old Monterey Cannery buildings, on Cannery Row, in Monterey, California.
Derived from novelist John Steinbeck, the haunted underground maze has over 100 vintage wax figures that are posed in scenes from Steinbeck’s dark stories.
In June of 2013, local psychic Renee G. and I happen to come across the museum while walking Cannery Row, and decided to give it a go. As we entered the building (which also has a restaurant and gift shops), we immediately sensed the place was haunted. We approached the ticket booth where two elderly women stood smiling at us. I couldn’t help but ask right away if they, or others had experienced anything paranormal within the structure. The employees happily shared that they and several others have had many ghost encounters over the years.
The ladies claimed to feel an entity near scene 15 within the wax museum. They told us that on occasion the monolog for the scene unexplainably starts and plays on its own; as well as saying random things that were not the norm, or programmed in.
They told us about a ghost of a little boy who is said to haunt the building, and has been seen riding in the elevator that sometimes operates on its own. Around 2010, a custodian quit on the spot after seeing the boy’s full-body apparition in the elevator during his graveyard shift. They said no one knows who the little boy is or where he came from, but he definitely makes his presence known.
Steinbeck’s Spirit of Monterey Wax Museum entrance with the haunted elevator behind, Monterey, CA
After hearing the ghost stories, we headed down the stairs to the museum feeling eager. When we got to the first scene, it was dark and the air felt heavy. We were the only ones down there, yet I felt as if we were being watched. I honestly was a little scared, and was sensing an overwhelming amount of energy.
Scene 1: American Indian Camp, Monterey Wax Museum, Monterey, CA
The Mission scenes gave off a very creepy, unsettling, and dark vibration.
California mission scene, Monterey Wax Museum, Monterey, CA
I took several (about 60) photos while walking through the museum using my old Canon Power Shot. In one photo, a possible spirit orb was caught. (See photo below)
Possible spirit orb caught, Monterey Wax Museum, Monterey, CA
When we got about halfway through the museum, I remembered to turn on my ‘Ghost Radar’ app on my phone, to allow any spirits that wanted to communicate to do so by letting them select words from the built-in ovilus, which the app will then say.
After a couple minutes the radar said, “deep.” It stayed quiet until we were standing at scene 14, when it said, “fifteen.” --(Scene 15, just like the elder ladies told us about at the ticket booth!) --Coincidence?! … I think not.
Screen shot of my phone showing readings on my Ghost Radar app while at the Monterey Wax Museum, Monterey, CA
Scene 15, Monterey Wax Museum, Monterey, CA
“That museum is scary as hell.” - T.L., Monterey, CA
“Four stars on the merit of being COMPLETELY TERRIFYING. Hats off. Truly. I would not recommend this for people with young children. I assumed it would be kitschy and somewhat creepy but I underestimated it. Alone, underground, in a very dark room with the shadowy figures of forty mannequins. Some are in the stocks, wearing expressions of agony. Some are children being gently held from behind by catholic missionaries. Some aren't even facing the twisting visitor path, so all you see is the back of their head. Every last one of them gives off a vibe of malevolent sentience. You have to press a button to light up their scene. I got to button number one. I BARELY had the wherewithal to walk to the next room and the one following that before diving through the exit curtain back into the realm of the living."
If you want to be frightened, or if you're a lover of kitsch, the place is worth the $10 admission. But don't do what I did. - Don't go alone.”
“This was the creepiest place I have ever been, no kidding. The wax museum is in the basement, and all the lights are off. It probably didn't help that I was the only moron in the wax museum on a Thursday night, but it was creepy … I made it through 3 'scenes' before I booked it out of that place.” – F.M., Yelp review
“… A place that truly got my hair to stand up all over my body, and had me ran to the exit door after 5 seconds.” – Foot Tracker, wordpress.com
“… This wax museum is very, very creepy. I'm almost certain there are ghosts in there. Five stars.”
SPIRIT OF MONTEREY WAX MUSEUM
(The original Cannery building)
Year built: 1918
700 Cannery Row
Monterey, CA 93940
Toys 'R' Us
In the 1840s, a wealthy landowner by the name of Martin Murphy Jr. owned a large orchard and abundant farmhouse where Toys ‘R’ Us stands.
In the 1880’s Murphy hired a ranch-hand by the name of Johnny Johnson, also known as Yohnny Yohnson, who enjoyed preaching in his spare time.
Johnny fell in love with Murphy’s oldest daughter Elizabeth, aka Beth and was heartbroken when she told him she was leaving to be married back east to another man. Beth’s departure left Johnny devastated; he began chopping wood furious and fast. The axe slipped and cut his leg, and Johnny slowly bled to death.
As soon as the toy store was built on the “Murphy Ranch” in 1969, paranormal activity began to arise. Many people, including psychic Sylvia Browne (RIP), believe(d) that Johnny is endlessly searching and waiting for his love Beth.
In 1978, Sylvia Browne conducted a séance at the haunted toy store in Sunnyvale, CA. Not only did she make contact with Johnny (whose spirit is forever haunting the location) professional photographers captured Johnny’s ghost in a photograph on an infrared camera. (See photo below.)
Ghost photo of Johnny Johnson (standing) during the séance at Toys ‘R’ Us, Sunnyvale, CA, 1978
Many were present during the time of the séance and everyone claimed to have been sitting down in the circle the entire time during the filming. No one saw the figure standing except for Browne, and after the photos had been developed, the photo that captured his apparition backed up her claim. The haunting appeared on the T.V. show, That’s Incredible; where Sylvia claimed that as soon as she saw Johnny, she heard him say, “Have Mercy on me, Beth.”
Employees have claimed to have seen toys and boxes fly off of shelves, and find toys lying in the middle of the aisles when opening the store. Some have heard the sounds of horses galloping, unnerving whispers, sobbing, and voices calling out their name.
There have also been claims of lights turning off and on, electronic toys starting on their own, and faucets turning on by themselves in the women’s restroom.
Where Johnny Johnson’s spirit is believed to reside, the back hall in Toys 'R' Us, Sunnyvale, CA
Staff members have heard strange voices over the intercom, when there was no one near the microphone in the locked office. One night while employees were closing up, they all heard an eerie unfamiliar voice say over the intercom, “The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away.”
One employee reported seeing Johnny’s ghost who appeared in knickers, a long sleeved shirt, and a tweed snap-brim cap.
“Funny things happen here you can’t explain," an employee shared.
In 2010, while the store was closed and locked tightly for the night, and not one staff member was on the property, the front doors opened on their own. They stayed open for 30 minutes until the police arrived. When law enforcement and management watched the video recordings, they didn’t see anyone in or around the building, and couldn’t find any evidence that there had been an intruder. It was concluded by most that viewed the video or heard the story that it was Johnny who opened the doors.
In 2012, I spoke with a few employees as well as the manager of Toys ‘R’ Us in Sunnyvale, CA, who all believe Johnny’s spirit still resides in the building. The manager said that a couple years back, a few guys were doing construction work upstairs where Johnny is also known to hang out, and left quickly without finishing their job, due to being scared by the ghost. Unfortunately, they didn’t give any details.
The manager explained to me that she wasn’t sure about the toy store being haunted until she began to have encounters of her own. While walking down an aisle, a popcorn bag fell off the rack in front of her. She picked it up and put it back. As she started to walk away it fell again. She fixed it once more and heard it fall again seconds after. “Okay Johnny,” she said out loud, “… we’ll just leave it there then.” The manager said that toys from the sports aisle are still being moved by Johnny during the night. When entering the store in the morning, it is common to find numerous sports toys sitting in the middle of the aisle.
TOYS ‘R’ US
Year built: 1969
130 E El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
The USS Hornet
The USS Hornet was built in 1943 during the peak of World War II. During its service, the massive aircraft carrier shot down over a thousand planes and sank dozens of ships. Given all the blood that was shed on the ship, it’s understandable that it would be one of the most haunted places in California.
Several former and current employees believe that the Hornet is inhabited by restless spirits. In 1998, the 900-foot long vessel was opened as a museum. People who were working on its restoration claimed to have had experiences with entities from another realm. Others deem there’s residual energy left there from the war. Many people believe that countless amounts of loyal spirits remain on the ship because of their strong sense of duty and dedication.
The ghost of a marine guard, dressed in uniform with a rifle strapped over his shoulder has been witnessed by several people patrolling the craft. Others have claimed to have had an encounter with a ghost of a friendly Hornet officer near the front of the ship as they’d come aboard for the tour. Some people discover he is a ghost after noticing his apparition wasn’t in the photographs that they had taken.
A museum employee saw a dark, shadow-like apparition in the kitchen one morning. Later on, he went back to the area where he had seen the entity and started talking aloud to it. Within seconds a glass coffee pot flew off a high shelf, shattering on the floor next to him. That wasn’t the only time an unseen force threw something at a worker in the kitchen.
In 2010, my friend, sensitive and paranormal investigator Nancy Bowman from Saratoga, CA (RIP) investigated the Hornet with her ghost hunting team. Nancy had a couple experiences in an area of the Brig, where prisoners were held. While holding her tape recorder though the bars of a jail cell, an unseen force pushed her hand and bent it forward. In an adjacent cell, Nancy caught an EVP saying, “Help me … help.” When investigating the hospital inside the Hornet, she heard a noise coming from one of the surgical rooms. When she turned around to see what it was, she noticed a bed with a large spot of fresh, wet blood in the middle of it.
-Heavy doors slam shut and open on their own as well as the sounds of footsteps on the metal deck. Loud unexplainable tapping sounds can also be heard.
-Employees have claimed to have seen an apparition of a man hanging from a rope. It is said that the Hornet had the highest suicide rate in the Navy. Those who took their lives aboard the ship generally hung themselves.
-Items have been witnessed moving on their own.
-A few people have claimed to have been touched by an unseen force.
-Solid apparitions have been witnessed walking through walls.
Paranormal author Jeff Dwyer, myself, and psychic Nancy Bowman (RIP), USS Hornet, June 29, 2012
The Winchester Mystery House
The enchanting Winchester Mystery House was built around the clock from 1884 to 1922. The gothic Victorian was owned, designed, and occupied by Sarah Winchester, wife of William Winchester, whose father invented the famous Winchester rifle.
Sarah and William were married in 1862 and conceived a child four years later. In 1866, their infant, Annie, died of a rare disease. Fifteen years later, William Winchester died of Tuberculosis. Both of these deaths were traumatizing for Sarah; and she lived the rest of her life in mourning.
Sarah Winchester was always very interested in the paranormal, and decided to see a psychic to help with her grief. Sarah met with a medium from Boston who told her she was being haunted by the Indians who were killed from the rifles her father-in-law and husband produced. The psychic also explained that the spirits caused her husband’s and daughter’s untimely deaths, and that she could be next. To save herself, the medium told Sarah to build a house out west for the Indian spirits to reside. Trusting the psychic, whom she just had met, Sarah quickly bought an 8-bedroom home in Santa Clara Valley. She immediately hired carpenters to work nonstop to add more rooms to the house. In the end, it was transformed into a seven-story mansion containing 160 rooms, 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, 47 stairways, 47 fireplaces, thirteen bathrooms and six kitchens.
What made the mansion even more unique was that Sarah Winchester had the carpenters build doors to nowhere and staircases that lead to ceilings. She believed that these bizarre passageways would confound the evil spirits, in hopes that they would leave in confusion.
Every night until her death, Sarah communicated with the spirits in her séance room known as the “The Blue Room.” At midnight, she’d ring the bell in the tower to summon the spirits, and then she’d speak with them using the automatic writing method. During that time, Sarah received messages from the spirits, instructing her to proceed with the construction of the home. At 2 AM, she’d ring the bell again to close the nightly channeling.
The number thirteen was very intriguing to Sarah Winchester. Believing that it signified good luck, she ordered parts of the property to be decorated and constructed in multiples of thirteen. Sarah had her driveway lined with thirteen palm trees, had thirteen bathrooms built in the house, many ceilings had thirteen panels, and rooms had thirteen windows. She wore thirteen robes during her séances, signed her will thirteen times and even detailed the mansion with Chandeliers that had thirteen lights, thirteen hooks, thirteen drainage holes in a few sinks, and thirteen daisies (her favorite flower) in various stained glass windows.
Sarah would sometimes find bizarre traces of signs from the spirits, and she took their warnings very seriously. One night, Sarah Winchester went down to her wine cellar and discovered a black handprint on the wall. The spirits told her later that it was a print from a demon’s hand. Sarah was horrified and believed it was a word of warning to not drink alcohol. She immediately had the cellar sealed off with all her bottles of liquor still stocked and to this day it has never been located.
Sarah Winchester passed away while sleeping in her bed on September 5, 1922, at eighty-two years of age. After her death, it was believed by many that her spirit roamed the haunted halls of the sprawling mansion. Some people have actually caught a glimpse of Sarah Winchester at the Mystery House.
Ghost Hunter and writer Antoinette May investigated the Winchester Mystery House with well-known psychic Sylvia Browne. In May’s book titled, Haunted Houses and Wandering Ghosts of California, she writes, “While sitting in Sarah Winchester’s bedroom, Sylvia and I saw great balls of red light that seemed to explode before us.”
Sarah Winchester's bedroom where she passed away, Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, CA
Over the years, dozens of people have reported having paranormal experiences on the property, such as hearing footsteps, chains rattling, whispers, organ music playing, hammering, and feeling breezes and cold spots. There have been reports of smelling food cooking as well. Orbs are seen on the property, along with shadows, mystical lights, apparitions, and door knobs turning on their own.
Several people believe that ghosts of old employees roam the Winchester grounds. One ghost in particular has been seen on many occasions in the basement, dressed in white overalls, sometimes pushing a wheelbarrow. The ghost has also been witnessed walking up the stairs to the mansion, and then suddenly vanishing.
Local well-known psychic Annette Martin, who passed away in 2011 (RIP), claimed to have conversed with a spirit named Clyde on several occasions, who is also said to haunt the Winchester Mystery House. Allegedly, Clyde told the psychic that he had been a groundskeeper for Sarah Winchester, and had promised to look over the property for eternity. Annette claimed that the ghost would meet her at the front entrance whenever she came to visit, concerned with the crowds of people going in and out of his boss’s home.