We rarely get a chance to hear for ourselves the evidence of a ghostly presence. One exception is the Enfield Poltergeist, who may have been caught on tape. The Enfield haunting is one of the most extensively covered tales of paranormal activity ever and was the basis for the 2016 film The Conjuring 2.
As is often the case with hauntings, teenagers are at the center of the story. (See: the Perron family, the Smurl family.) This particular incident began in the summer of 1977. Single mother Peggy Hodgson called police to the house she had recently rented for herself and her four children at 284 Green Street in Enfield, England, just north of London. Two of her four children, Janet, 11, and Margaret, 13, had been playing with a Ouija board. Afterwards, they reported seeing a chest of drawers move across the floor. Their beds began shaking, and the girls heard strange knocks from inside the walls.
One of the officers dispatched to the house, Carolyn Heeps, later signed an affidavit saying she saw a chair rise into the air on its own and come down several feet away. She was just one of many people who, over the next two years, claimed to witness strange phenomena at the Enfield home. Toys, coins, lamps, furniture and even sometimes the girls themselves were reported to fly around the house.
The case attracted the attention of the Society for Psychical Research which sent two paranormal investigators to the Poltergeist house, Maurice Grosse and Guy Playfair. It was these two men who reported hearing the strangest phenomenon of all—an old man’s voice coming from somewhere around or from young Janet.
“Just before I died, I went blind,” the voice said, “and then I had a hemorrhage and I fell asleep and I died in the chair in the corner downstairs.” Investigators decided the voice belonged to a man named Bill Wilkins who had died in the house several years earlier. The voice was gruff and often obscene.
Grosse made hours of recordings inside the house, including the strange voice coming from young Janet Enfield, so we can all judge it for ourselves:
Two other researchers involved in the case were far more skeptical than Grosse and Playfair. John Beloff and Anita Gregory ultimately decided the girls were faking. The strange voice, they judged, was ventriloquism. The other bizarre phenomena they said were faked. A professional magician who listened to the tapes said nothing he heard was “beyond the capabilities of an imaginative teenager.”
In fact, the girls were caught trying to stage several phenomena, like bending spoons. They admitted to the pranks, but later retracted their admission. Grosse and Playfair believed that even if some of the strange events were faked, others were genuine.
But among the believers is another single mother who moved into 284 Green Street long after. She also had young children, this time boys. She reported that she always felt she was being watched. Her family moved out of the house after only two months.
All photos via History vs. Hollywood