The house is painted bright yellow. Twin trees border the sidewalk leading up to the two-story home. Multiple windows serve as portals to the outside world for those who venture inside.
But one family new to Franklin County said the house in the 800 block of East Seventh Street — or rather the spirits dwelling within it — were far from inviting when the family decided to move into the Ottawa rental home. Members of a team of paranormal investigators from Paola said they are working to cleanse the structure of any spooky entities, but the family doesn’t plan to stick around long enough to find out if it works.
In September, Chuck and Sadie Spath, along with their six children, moved to Ottawa from Wisconsin. Since that time, they said, unsettling incidents at the home in Ottawa have caused them to reconsider their local residency — and make plans to move back north.
“We moved down here for a new start,” Chuck Spath said. “And it’s been hell ever since.”
The Spaths said at least two spirits are haunting the Ottawa house they rented for about three months. The incidents began the first day they moved in, Sadie Spath said, when their 14-year-old daughter saw something on the second floor of the home.
“Savannha, the very first night, saw a tall shadow-like figure over in the corner upstairs,” Sadie Spath said.
Noises kept family members up at night, Spath said, causing the children to later fall asleep in class.
The apparition of a young boy, whom the Spaths eventually began calling “Ben,” also made frequent appearances.
Josh Quinn, 17, who lives with the Spaths, told his guardians a boy stepped out in front of him in the hallway one night, laughed at him, then ran into the closet. The Spaths’ son, Kye, 10, said he thought he heard the boy talking to him — whispering things like “I did that,” “I took that” and “That was me.” Kye, however, said he wasn’t scared of the voice.
Family on the move
The family developed three rules for living in the rental house, Sadie Spath said: No talking about the spirits, no sleeping in the upstairs portion of the home and no talk of moving.
The most paranormal activity came between the hours of 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., as well as 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., Chuck Spath said. He didn’t believe in ghosts until moving to Ottawa, he said, but his experiences the past few months changed his mind.
Aside from unexplained noises — which included the sound of a little boy laughing and running upstairs — family members said they also experienced something touching them and seeing shadowy figures walking around, as well as objects missing or being moved and electronics not working properly; all fairly mundane incidents, Sadie Spath said she thought.
But then the spirits began showing more aggression toward the family, she said. One such incident involving Sadie Spath’s visiting mother and stepfather proved to be the final straw.
Spath said her stepfather uses a breathing machine when he sleeps at night. Though the machine is not easily disabled when in use, she said, one of the spirits attempted to suffocate the man during his visit.
“Everything was still on and [the spirit] physically flipped my mom over on the side, shut his [breathing machine] off, suffocated the air out of the room,” Spath said.
The spirit then left the room, she said, and moved on to the Spaths’ 15-year-old daughter, Devontia.
“It pounded through, ran, took our other daughter off her bed, held her up, flipped her over and smashed her back down on her face,” Spath said, clamping her hands together quickly to demonstrate the event and laughing nervously.
Their daughter was shaken up after the close contact with the spirit, she said.
“I was sleeping, and I was flipped,” Devontia said. “And I was on my back, and I felt someone take my arm and flip me over and I dropped.”
After the incident, but before they were able to relocate to another house, family members began sleeping downstairs in the same room — avoiding the more active second floor. When a new rental house was found, the family moved out in eight hours, they said.
Built in 1900, according to the Franklin County appraiser’s website, the home on East Seventh Street comes with little known history. Researchers from Unfinished Business: Paranormal Activity, a paranormal investigation team based in Paola, said they hit dead-ends when attempting to find out more about the property or what might have happened there to cause a haunting.
The house was boarded up from the late 1970s until recently when it was renovated by the owner, Karen McIlvain, landlord and property manager for the home, said.
McIlvain put the Spaths in contact with the paranormal investigators in hopes of finding answers and calming family members’ nerves.
The spirits within the house aren’t out to hurt anyone, Vincent Porter, founder of the Paola group, said. They simply aren’t used to having people living inside the long-vacant structure. Porter said he and his team investigated the home in an attempt to substantiate the Spaths’ claims. Some of the stories they were told by the Spaths panned out, he said. Others did not.
“Nothing scared me at all there,” Porter, a 20-year paranormal investigator who has taken part in more than 200 investigations, said. “We had a couple of weird noises that we heard — what sounded like a scream coming from somewhere in the house.”
The investigators spent about seven hours in the house last month, compiling video and audio recordings using about $7,000 worth of equipment. They used trigger words to try to elicit responses from whomever or whatever might be in the home, Porter said. The team ended up with about 200 hours of recordings, and investigators are about 80 percent done with the review, he said. In reviewing the tapes, Porter said, the paranormal researchers were able to detect some unintelligible voices, or electronic voice phenomenon (EVP), on the recordings, as well as during a Skype call done while in the house. In both instances, the sounds were not coming from the investigators, Porter said.
Porter and his team of paranormal investigators have blessed the family, their new rental home and are planning to bless the so-called haunted house soon. Their efforts will send the negative spirits away, Porter said, and make the house inhabitable for living people.
“We’re going to clear any of the negative energy out of that home so that nobody else that moves into that space has to experience the things that previous people that have lived there have,” Porter said.
Self-trained in both Native American and Christian blessings, Porter said, a blessing of a house using his techniques has never failed. He was careful to emphasize he doesn’t’ think the spirits in the East Seventh Street home are “evil” or that the house is a “negative” space.
“I don’t want to make this location out like it’s a negative, evil location, because I don’t feel like it is,” Porter said. “I feel like there is some kind of prankster spirits there, unhappy spirits ... and I think they probably just don’t like people being in their space.”
Though the Spaths apparently are the second family to report experiencing spooky happenings in the house (the previous tenants declined a request to be interviewed), McIlvain was adamant she hadn’t felt or seen anything strange in the house. She said she hopes the paranormal investigators’ work was effective, because she wants to find new tenants for the home.
“It’s just a house,” McIlvain said. “I’d like to be able to rent it again.”
The Spaths are safe now, Porter said, because the family has been cleansed. Chuck and Sadie Spath, however, said they aren’t taking any chances. After four months in Ottawa, they said, they are making plans to move back to Wisconsin. Sadie Spath said she and others believe the spirits from East Seventh Street have attached themselves to her family.
“We didn’t believe in all this crap that could happen,” she said. “It’s like watching ‘Ghost Hunters’ and all those on TV, and you think, ‘Oh my gosh. Yeah right. That’s not going to happen.’ But it happens.”