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The Bizarre and Lonely Death of Olivia Mabel

In 1994, Texas authorities responded to silent 911 calls from the home of Olivia Mabel. What they found horrified them...


The bizarre and lonely death of Olivia Mabel is the only unsolved demise in the history of the quiet north Texas town of Celina. Though the tale screams “horror movie”—and is indeed the subject of a campaign to fund a short film called Thoughtform—it is all very tragically true with real world ramifications lingering to this day. In addition to the mystery surrounding her death, there is shocking evidence that Olivia Mabel may have actually constructed a “thought form” entity out of her grief over her son’s passing, and this entity may have contributed to her death.

olivia mabel


Olivia Mabel was a doting mother to Aiden and wife to Travis living on a sprawling property called the Footlights Ranch about an hour north of Dallas. Her world came crashing down in 1990 when seven year-old Aiden was found dead in a pond on the property. Overcome with grief and guilt, Olivia retreated from her work, friends, church, and husband, leading to their divorce in early 1991. Utterly alone in the world, she was last seen alive in September, 1991.

Two and a half years later, on February 27, 1994, police responded to silent 911 calls from the Mabel home.

Dead at the Altar

When they arrived on the scene, hearing no response, officers broke down the bowed door. What they found shocked and horrified them. They entered what felt like an abandoned house, choked with dust, long neglect, and dead air. Searching the house, as they entered Aiden’s incongruously tidy room, they found Olivia dead in a nightgown and slippers, perched on a rocking chair in front of a crude altar to her son, clutching a stick figure doll in his image. Investigators estimated she had been dead for months.


Upon the “altar” — a trunk covered with a “child’s bedsheet” — was a photo of Aiden; hand drawn images of Aiden; a profusion of messages handwritten to Aiden by Olivia; personal possessions of his including a baseball glove, teddy bear, and a pair of shoes; an urn containing ashes; candles; flowers. Affixed to the front of the altar was ceremonial writing in a language lead investigator Terry Goldscher didn’t recognize, which turned out to be Sanskrit. The writing translated to English as “construct” or “to build.”

Francesca Santiago, among the first officers on the scene, described what she found. “I spent a lot of time in El Paso and had an uncle that was into some really dark occult stuff. I recognized it immediately. When I walked in that room and saw the symbols and the photos on that altar I felt a strong angry presence looming over me. It was honestly the last thing I expected to see in this town.”

The Tulpa of Olivia Mabel

Based on the altar, the Sanskrit, the doll, the isolation, the obsession, the “strong angry presence” Santiago felt, many have speculated that Olivia Mabel managed to channel her momentous grief into the creation of an actual entity, known in Tibetan Buddhism as a tulpa, or in English, a “thoughtform.” A tulpa is described as a being created through “sheer spiritual or mental discipline alone,” or “magic formations generated by a powerful concentration of thought.”

One pictures a diaphanous haze of thought shaped and compressed down into tangible form and given autonomous life by the intense concentration, will power, even the desperation of the creator.


Incredibly, a note—dated February 27, 1994, the date of the 911 calls and the arrival of the police on the scene—was found near the body, though Olivia had clearly been dead for weeks or months.

The stunning message reads, “My Aiden, I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry. I should have never let it get like this. I’m leaving. I will not let you keep me you ViLE, EViL CREATURE. Mommy’s coming for you, Aiden, my sweet Aiden. Mommy loves you.”

Officer Santiago commented later, “One of the oddest parts for me is the date on the last letter we found. Dated the very day we kicked that swollen door down.  The city concluded that she post-dated everything but I don’t believe she was alone in that house.  And I don’t believe her spirit wasn’t still in the room with us that night.  But then that makes me the crazy one, right?”

Had the tulpa Olivia created in Aiden’s image gotten out of control, turned evil? And who or what placed the silent 911 calls from the house that evening? Belgian-French explorer, spiritualist and Buddhist, Alexandra David-Néel, observed tulpa creation in 20th century Tibet and wrote in Magic and Mystery in Tibet, “Once the tulpa is endowed with enough vitality to be capable of playing the part of a real being, it tends to free itself from its maker’s control. This, say Tibetan occultists, happens nearly mechanically, just as the child, when his body is completed and able to live apart, leaves its mother’s womb.”

Paranormal Investigation

In 2005, current owner Christopher Hagen, unable to sell the property, brought in Austin paranormal investigator Drew Navarro who said of the investigation, “In the hundreds of locations I’ve studied I’ve never felt such an imposing force. I couldn’t breathe, my heart was constantly racing. Its energy kept changing, but none of it felt inviting. Whatever is in there, it’s extremely possessive and behaves so erratically, like a jealous child throwing a tantrum. As far as I’m concerned, that house and that entire property should be avoided.  It needs a serious intervention, because I’m not sure what we’re dealing with.”


The property remains unsold.

As stated earlier, the story is being told in short horror movie format by the folks at ElfTree Media who have an intriguing Kickstarter project in the works with the rather modest goal of raising $10k to make the film, calledThoughtform. They seem to have an excellent team together for the project, and given the incredible story, I hope we get to see what they come up with.

This article was first published on America’s Most Haunted.

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All photos via America's Most Haunted