April 29, 2012

Haunted House on Trial in New Jersey

Many of you have seen the 1947 film “Miracle on 34th Street” (or the remake, I suppose) about a sweet old man who claims to be Santa Claus. When he’s institutionalized as insane, a young lawyer takes the case, arguing in court that the man is, indeed, dear old Saint Nick.

Well, now the courts may have to decide if a house is truly haunted. Hmmm.

It all started on March 1, 2012, when Michele Callan, her two children, and her fiancé, Josue Chinchilla, moved into their rented house in Toms River, New Jersey. By March 13, they had fled to a motel where they have been staying ever since. Why? The house, they claim, is haunted—complete with flickering lights, bizarre sounds, mysterious voices, and a malevolent presence—and they are in fear for their mortal lives. Now they want their deposit back.

As expected, the property’s landlord, Richard Lopez, has his own version of the story and has filed a counter lawsuit against the couple. Not only is he fighting to keep the hefty deposit, but he’s seeking damages. Claims that a house is haunted play havoc with a property’s marketability.

In her defense, Callan has lined up a few authorities on the subject of ghosts and hauntings, beginning with the Shore Paranormal Society, which has classified the goings-on in the house as “paranormal.”

The conclusion of Marianne Brigando, of NJ Paranormal Investigators, is  bit more disturbing. The results of her investigation pointed to an active or intelligent haunting.

According to USA Today, the couple’s pastor, Terence Sullivan, who rounds out the list of experts, has come to an even more unsettling conclusion. He is certain that the activity in the house is due to demonic possession.

Whatever the case here, the courts will have to decide.

According to an article on the general subject on Legalzoom.com, “In a famous 1991 New York case, a buyer sued the seller and the seller's Realtor for failure to disclose the house's ghostly reputation. Prior to putting the house up for sale, the seller wrote about her bumps in the night for the local paper and Readers' Digest, but the buyers were unaware of the home's reputation. Although the court did not rule nondisclosure of the house's reputation as fraudulent, it did allow the buyer to back out of his contract and get his down payment back.”

So, if this house in Toms River, NJ, has a prior history of “bumps in the night,” maybe Callan has a case. The question is, if she wins, does this mean that the existence of ghosts or, at least, the paranormal will have been legally established? It worked for Kris Kringle.

What do you think?

Read a description of Callan and Chinchilla’s paranormal adventures here and view videos taken in the house by the Shore Paranormal Research Society: http://www.digitalspy.com/odd/news/a377651/couple-demand-deposit-back-on-haunted-house.html

For the landlord’s side of things, go to:
Happy Hauntings!

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