October 28, 2006 01:04 am
HALLOWEEN — Ghostbusters meet Jesse James. Or not.
Kearney, Mo. (AP) — Jesse and Frank James and their
bank-robbing gang are the stuff of Wild West legend. So are
rumors that their boyhood home here is haunted.
The James farmstead home is now a museum, and tales abound
that a few employees have seen faces of a man and a child in
the windows. Others have heard strange noises, and one
employee reported that a mouthpiece from an antique phone
inexplicably flew across the room, hitting her in the face
during a tour.
Elizabeth Beckett, the museum director, discounts the
haunting claims. But as a result of the stories, some
employees refuse to be on the property after dark.
‘‘Granted, it is a little creepy going into the house in the
dark,’’ Beckett said. ‘‘But what we have are raccoons in the
Still, separating ghost stories from actual events has
proven as difficult as separating the James myth from actual
history. That’s where Miller’s Paranormal Researchers come
Members of the ghost-hunting group in Kansas City set out
last weekend to see if the house is haunted. The home is
where Jesse and Frank’s eight-year-old stepbrother, Archie,
died during a raid.
‘‘There was a lot of tragedy on that property,’’ said Brenda
Marble, the group’s co-founder and lead investigator.
A GHOSTLY MALFUNCTION
Marble’s six-member team entered the farmhouse armed with
home video cameras, digital recorders and pocket-sized
digital cameras. Beckett didn’t attend the investigation,
but several members of her museum staff did.
In each room, Marble and her group set up the large array of
electronic equipment. One psychic with the group, Misty
Maeder, couldn’t get her video camera to communicate with
her computer. Was it ghostly interference or a tired laptop?
Maeder couldn’t say.
‘‘It’s strange, I can’t even get it to reboot,’’ Maeder
Joyce Morgan, another psychic with the group, decided to try
the first reading of the evening in the old kitchen, the
site where it is said Archie was mortally wounded with
shrapnel. Morgan grasped a tissue -- she says her nose tends
to run when she is communicating with spirits -- and closed
Speaking in a calm monotone with a southern accent, she
channeled Zerelda, who said that she shot a bushy red-haired
man named Henry, because she believed him to be a detective.
Some of the attendees in the room said they witnessed a
motion sensor reacting when no one was within range, and
said they heard someone whistle and knock on a door.
Marble also said she caught a barely audible EVP, or
electronic voice phenomena, on a digital recorder. Flash
bulbs regularly penetrated the darkened house as Marble and
other members of her team shot photos with 35 mm and digital
CHANNELING AN OUTLAW
When it was Maeder’s turn to do a reading in the kitchen,
she paced in front of the fireplace of the darkened room,
clutching a mini-digital recorder while relaying questions
from museum employees to Jesse, the spirit guest of honor.
Maeder revealed that Jesse told her that he had a previously
unknown child with an Indian woman in the Oklahoma
Still clutching a tissue, Morgan spent most of the rest of
the evening in Frank and his wife’s darkened bedroom. She
said she saw a dark figure behind Will Davis, an intern at
‘‘I did feel chills behind me at that time,’’ Davis later
told a group of other young museum employees.
Like those who believe the James brothers were a
misunderstood Robin Hood duo vs. those who believe they were
simply a pair of murdering thieves, the psychics landed in
Maeder believes the house is haunted by ghosts, but not by
members of the James family. Morgan, on the other hand,
thinks that James family spirits visit from heaven -- but
that there are no ghosts, whom Morgan described as beings
who haven’t entered the light.
Other beings, however were confirmed to haunt the grounds.
Twice, a strange smell wafted through the house. Museum
employees confirmed it to be the resident raccoons.