This week, Janine presents a most unusual musical instrument known as the armonica (or glass organ) and Katie tells the tale of the Ridgeway Ghost of route 151 that runs from Dodgeville to Blue Mounds, WI.
This episode contains a shapeshifting ghost, an old WI legend (from the 1900’s,) a spinning glass organ, and a haunted bath mat.
Shadowy figures in the corner, strange noises in the night, and a little dog that senses an unseen and unearthly presence. This, dear reader, is only a glimpse into the life that was the haunted reality of Jannis “Jan” Bryant Bartel. Bartel was a poet, lecturer and off-Broadway actress. She appeared in such plays as “Bell, Book, and Candle,” and “Night Must Fall.” Her poetry was published in several magazines. Bartel’s experiences prompted her to write a detailed account of her time at 14 West 10th Street in New York titled Spindrift: Spray from a Psychic Sea. I’ve found a copy of the book at a reasonable price (copies range anywhere from $40-150) and look forward to reading it, though it hasn’t gotten terribly good reviews. I’m wondering if Bartel’s accounts are so far-fetched that they simply can’t be believed or if the language is a turn-off. Apparently, it’s wordy and wandering. I thought adding her story to the ever-growing Haunt Heads collection of creepy fare would be entirely appropriate given that the Halloween season is upon us and so, without further delay, it’s time to cuddle into a corner of the sofa, snuggle down into a blanket, and chew off all of your fingernails.
It’s 1957 and Jan Bryant Bartell has just moved into the top floor apartment of 14 West 10th Street in Manhattan. Her husband, Fred G. Bartell, was a restaurateur who was seldom home, his work often causing him to work late and spend weekends away. Most notably, Fred ran the Riverboat restaurant once located in the Empire State Building. Jan found Fred to be a difficult companion at times. He was a WWII veteran who suffered from PTSD and was prone to outbursts, but by all accounts, Jan herself was rather difficult. She was spoiled and neurotic and suffered from clinical depression. I suppose they were well suited in their brokenness. There was little to be done for depression in the 1950’s-60’s and the condition absolutely colored Jan’s writing. It’s believed that she attempted suicide on more than one occasion, though this is pure speculation.
Contact with the other side…
Interestingly enough, Jan possessed psychic abilities, but the presence of these abilities only amplified her anxiety once the activity in her home began to escalate. Her attempts to understand what exactly was happening were fruitless and she even called in self-appointed psychic expert and ghost hunter Hans Holzer to find some sort of peace or resolution. If Holzer’s name rings a bell, it absolutely should. Holzer investigated the Amityville Horror House with Ethel Johnson-Meyers in 1977 and has written over 140 books on the paranormal and unexplained. Holzer wrote a nonfiction book about the house, “Murder in Amityville” (1979), which formed the basis for the 1982 film “Amityville II: The Possession”; he also wrote two novels, “The Amityville Curse” (1981) and “The Secret of Amityville” (1985). In the end, Holzer was unable to silence or dispel the spirits in the house and all of Jan’s attempts to find peace ended in failure and only added to her distress.
From the nypost.com:
“The strange occurrences started out small: a sound of footsteps following her up the stairs, a brush against the back of her neck even when her hair was tied up, a strange rotting smell that would seemingly come and go like wispy smoke.
Things got darker. Shadows that no light would touch, a mysterious chair their dog would snarl and growl at as if it contained some invisible enemy. Then a phantom, shriveled grape that appeared in the dead center of a clean dinner plate, even though the couple hadn’t bought grapes in months. She found furniture inexplicably moved from its usual place. The sound of crashing glass chased her around the building.
Most unsettling was the odors that appeared out of nowhere: one fragrant, like ancient perfume, the other a “rotting miasma” that was offensive. Then one day, a vision of a man appeared. Bartell reached out to touch it.
“What was it I touched?” she wrote. “A substance without substance. Chilly, damp. Diaphanous as marsh mist or a cloud of ether. I could feel my fingers freeze at the tips. They were numb, and yet they tingled. In the split second between contact and recoil, the scent came. Fragile and languorous. And sweet; unbearably, cloyingly sweet.”
I find myself flashing back to Edgar Allen Poe’s The Telltale Heart and wonder if there isn’t a festering organ hidden somewhere beneath the floorboards.
In 1973, social and economic changes began to affect their neighborhood and Jan and Fred finally settled into a home in New Rochelle, NY. Some reports say that Jan committed suicide in the bathroom on June 18, 1973, prior to the publication of her book. Others say that Jan died of a heart attack. She was 51. Fred went on to manage other restaurants in New York and passed away on September 8, 1980, in New Rochelle, NY. (Through additional research, I did find a Frank Bartel that passed away on April 1, 1978.)
As we well know, one haunting does not a haunted hot-spot make! For your consideration, some other haunted and unnerving occurrences at 14 W 10th St.
A man known only as Dennis said he lived in the house for several years and also experienced paranormal activity such as lights going on and off and “little clips and visions of women in long gowns going from room to room.” Dennis was a photographer and musician and would often invite women to his apartment to photograph them. He said on more than one occasion that women would run out upon seeing a woman in a long flowing black dress followed by a cat. Is anyone else having a hard time believing that women were running from a ghost and not from Dennis himself? He’s a “photographer?” Anyway… Activity has been reported at the location as recently as a few years ago.
Joel Steinberg, a disbarred New York criminal defense attorney, attracted international media attention when he was convicted of manslaughter after he beat his adopted daughter to death at 14 West 10th Street in November of 1987. Hedda Nussbaum, an author of children’s books who was employed by Random House, watched as Steinberg beat 6-year-old Lisa Steinberg to the ground while under the influence of crack cocaine. Nussbaum was not charged in the killing. The couple had illegally adopted Lisa after Steinberg had been asked to find a suitable home for the child. He instead took her home and raised her with Nussbaum. As of 2006, Steinberg maintained his innocence.
From the NYT article on the case from March 1989:
Joel B. Steinberg was sentenced to 8Y to 25 years in state prison yesterday in the death of 6-year-old Lisa Steinberg, the girl he helped raise. The penalty was the maximum he could have received, and the judge said he would recommend strongly against parole.
Mr. Steinberg received the sentence without any sign of emotion, except for slumping slightly in resignation at what he knew was coming.
Before the sentence was imposed, Mr. Steinberg – sounding like the lawyer he was until his disbarment – addressed the bench, at first dispassionately, almost clinically, going over bits of evidence presented in the trial, and then moving into a rambling monologue about Lisa’s death and his role in her life. By the end, his voice was breaking, although he said that he felt no remorse because he had not caused her death.
”I feel that pain every day,” he told the judge. ”It’s my loss. I’m a victim, as was everyone else who knew Lisa.”
When police first entered the home, they found Lisa beaten into unconsciousness. She died of a brain hemorrhage in the hospital 4 days later. Police also found another of Steinberg and Nussbaum’s children “tethered to a playpen by a length of rope.” The clothing of the child and the mattress on which he was sitting were covered in urine.
Leanna Renee Hieber, author of Eterna and Omega, writes, “Tucked within a famed high-end real-estate area where most of the gorgeous townhouses have stately stoops climbing to glorious first floors, 14 descends down below the sidewalk before you—as does the energy of the building, dropping off sharply. Just walking by it gave me a sinking, troubled, pressed, and fraught sense; the sense that the building is, in and of itself, a distinctly negative presence and that something is deeply wrong there.” She goes on to call it “A Manhattan version of Amityville.”
Truly, there is a darkness cast over the location. As many as 44 murders are said to have occurred there and it seems as if the paranormal tales won’t let up anytime soon. The house has been cut up into 10 separate apartments, but apparently, a spooky vibe still lingers.
Would you spend the night?
Your Fellow Haunt Head,
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NOTE: Haunt Heads will return the middle of January 2019 with new blog posts and podcasts to binge. Stay tuned and, most importantly, STAY SPOOKY!
It’s a new year and a new episode of Haunt Heads! This week, Mimi and Janine bring you tales of ghosts and geists! Janine weaves the tale of the Enfield Poltergeist and Mimi takes us on a tour of the Lemp Mansion in Saint Louis, MO.
This episode contains a peeping tom ghost, a haunted bar, marbles and Lego’s learning to fly, and a spirit named Bill.
Music: Our intro/outro has been generously supplied by Fox and Branch. To hear more of their music, visit them at http://www.foxandbranch.com/.
If you haven’t already, please take a moment to leave us a review on iTunes. We’d really appreciate it. =)
This week, Mimi and Janine recall some of their favorite past episodes and topics and discuss shuffling off their mortal coils (a discussion of life insurance.) Janine discusses corpse medicine and Mimi takes us to Banff, Alberta, Canada, and into the Banff Springs Hotel.
This episode contains nostalgia, mummies used as a cure-all, blood marmalade, a ghostly bellhop, and a hidden room.
DISCLAIMER: This episode contains descriptions of cannibalism and the use of human remains as medicine. It might gross you out if you’re a sensitive sort. Listener discretion advised!
Janine explores the practice of Spiritualism and tells the tale of the Stratford Knockings and the Fox Sisters. Mimi again takes us across the pond to the Thirsk Museum in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, UK, for a sit and a cuppa. Whatever you do, don’t sit in Busby’s Chair!
This episode contains turkey talk and traditions, a (potentially) dropped burrito, an entity named “Mr. Splitfoot,” and a little healthy raggin’ on Bagans.
Music/Intro St. James Infirmary, is generously provided by Fox and Branch and is used with their permission. For more info about them and additional samples of their music, visit their website HERE. You can also purchase digital and physical copies of their CD’s, which is something we’re sure they’d love. =)
Another week, another episode! This week, Mimi shares the story of a haunted Manhattan hotel, the Morris-Jumel Mansion, and Janine fans the flames of speculation surrounding spontaneous Human Combustion (SHC.) This episode features a “shrunken” head, an elderly ghost, an expression of love for musicals (from Mimi,) and some Googling (it sounds dirtier than it is…) Thanks to http://anomalyinfo.com for all of the awesome info regarding Spontaneous Human Combustion. If anyone is interested in learning more about SHC, check out this website. It’s full of interesting information and a chronological list of SHC cases throughout history. http://anomalyinfo.com/Topics/spontaneous-human-combustion-reports-chronological-order
It’s a familiar tale. A struggling family moves into a beautiful house, ready to make it a home. They fill their new home with artifacts, mementos from family vacations, photographs, and textiles. Then, a darkness seems to settle over the space… There are strange noises in the night. Family members begin acting strangely. You can feel eyes moving over you. There are shadows moving in your periphery. The house is far from being a home.
In 1986, the Snedeker family rented a beautiful colonial style home in Southington, Connecticut. Carmen Snedeker found it was large enough for her entire family and was very reasonably priced, encouraging an immediate move. Carmen had been driving her son some distance from their current home for cancer treatments and the drive was difficult on him due in part to the nausea from the treatments and his medication. After searching for some time for a home closer to the hospital, the colonial home seemed to drop conveniently into her lap. The landlord said she was welcome to move in immediately, she’d struggled with finding a place that would allow four children, and she and her family did so. Carmen’s husband, Allen, still had to travel for work, but was there on weekends or as often as he could be.
As the family started moving their belongings in, they began to notice there was something odd about the house itself. Above each doorway on the main floor, a crucifix was mounted. They appeared old and as if they had been there for some time. In the basement, there were strange tables lined against the wall containing what appeared to be medical tools, in the center of one of the rooms was a metal table on a swivel. In a corner of the basement was a large drain. A large hoisting mechanism was situated on one of the main walls. The family soon realized that the home they had moved into was originally the Hallahan (sp) funeral home and had operated as such since sometime in the 1930’s (some neighbors have speculated the business had operated there even longer). This in itself didn’t make it impossible to live in the house. After all, a funeral home is nothing to fear. Yes, corpses had once been stored in the basement and lifted in coffins to a viewing area on the first floor. Yes, preparation of the dead, embalming and drainage of fluids, had taken place. Every old house has a history. But, after a very short time, that history began to show its face.
Carmen’s son, Phillip, began exhibiting strange behavior. He was irritable, paranoid, and prone to fits of anger. Carmen chalked the behavior up to the medication and treatments he was receiving, believing that some of the things Phillip claimed to see were only in his mind. He would tell Carmen he saw men in the basement with long, dark coats and spoke with the ghost of a young boy with black hair down to his hips who lost his life in the house. When one of Phillip’s episodes became violent, threatening the safety of his siblings, Carmen made the difficult choice to have her son institutionalized. It was safer for everyone involved.
When Phillip left, the activity in the house escalated. One by one, the crucifixes above the doorways on the first floor inexplicably disappeared. When the crucifixes were all removed, the paranormal activity that seemed to be confined to the basement began to move upstairs. Food placed in the refrigerator would become rotten quickly, even if it had only just been purchased or eaten a short time before being stored. Carmen, while cleaning the kitchen floor, found that the mop water turned blood red upon contact with the linoleum and began to smell of decay. No matter how much she tried to mop it away, the festering puddle just kept getting bigger. The children began seeing shadows moving in their rooms at night, heard strange noises and voices, and experienced objects being thrown by unseen hands. The Snedeker children claimed that even leaving the house gave no relief. The spirits harassing them at home would follow them into social situations. If they went out, either they or their friends would experience the sensation of being touched or, on a couple of occasions, slapped. Both parents reported they had been raped and sodomized by demons. Many people asked why the family didn’t just move. Carmen stated that, not only would they lose their deposit for breaking their lease, something they were financially unable to do, they worried that the dark energy in the house would attach to and follow them wherever they went.
After a few weeks, the activity in the house got so bad that the family slept together in the living room on air mattresses.
It was at this point that Carmen decided to call Ed and Lorraine Warren, experts in the field of the paranormal and unexplained. It didn’t take long for the Warren’s to declare the house haunted and recommend the family go public about their experiences because, as Lorraine Warren stated, it would be easier to get the Catholic church to take notice and get involved if there was public outcry. Carmen’s husband was reluctant to go public at first, but after living in the home for so long, he had reached his breaking point. Their story was made public and the home was, eventually at least, as the Warren’s claimed, “successfully exorcised.”
Horror novelist Ray Garton brought the Snedeker’s story to light at the Warren’s insistence. Garton interviewed each family member individually about their experiences, but he encountered a problem. None of the stories matched up and they were unable to keep their stories straight about the paranormal activity. Garton claims he approached Ed Warren about the issue and was told that the whole family was crazy. According to Garton, Ed told him to find what story he could and make the rest up. “Make it up and make it scary.” According to some, that is exactly what Garton did.
The current owners of the home state that they have had no paranormal activity whatsoever, but that they are constantly bothered by people trying to take pictures of the home and asking about their experiences within its walls. Neighbors of the Snedeker’s have reported suspicious activity surrounding newspaper reports vs. actual occurrences on the property and doubt the property was ever really haunted at all.
Is the Haunting in Connecticut just another Amityville Horror story or is there more to it? Were the Snedeker’s telling the truth about what they experienced?
Neighbors and friends of the Snedeker children claim never to have heard anything about the haunting, though they did see the Snedeker children running around outside on warm evenings and making “spooky sounds” in through the open windows. None of the children ever mentioned it. One friend reported that he was eight at the time of the supposed haunting and it was never brought up. Were the children so afraid of what was happening in the house that they couldn’t bring themselves to speak of it? How realistic is it for a child around eight years old to keep that information secret? Was Carmen feeding stories to her children for the press and telling them to keep the information from their friends?
Enter the 2009 film, The Haunting in Connecticut, supposedly a true story about the Snedeker’s ordeal. The movie claimed to be “based on true events” and told of all the horrifying and demonic experiences the family had in the house. Overall, it wasn’t a terrible movie, but it seemed as if the movie often deviated from Carmen’s account. I’m still trying to figure out where the box of eyelids, bodies hidden in the walls, huge fire engulfing the house, and the carved symbols into Phillip’s body come into play. If by “true events” they mean a family moved into a haunted house and had some crazy shit happen to them, I suppose they’re not wrong…? The movie grossed over $77 million at the box office and DVD sales topped 1.5 million.
The truth is, there is little to no proof of any paranormal activity in the case of the Snedeker family. Perhaps they saw all the press The Amityville Horror had received and found out how the Lutz family had profited from their story. Maybe the mounting medical bills from Phillip’s treatment made the opportunity to craft a believable story impossible to resist. Desperate times…
What are your thoughts about the Snedeker’s story? Let us know in the comments.