Sometimes hauntings are localized to a place, a house with a dark past or an old structure with a history of death. Sometimes, in the worst cases, you can find yourself haunted, no matter where you run. That’s exactly what happened to Jackie Hernandez between 1989 and 1990.
In one of the most documented and unsetting cases in the history of paranormal investigation, a young mother became the victim of a predatory spirit while trying to get a new start in San Pedro neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Jackie Hernandez was a single mother who recently left her husband to begin again in San Pedro, California. Jackie was already under severe emotional distress as she struggled with multiple jobs to feed her two young children and often left them in the care of her neighbor Susan Castenada.
One night, when Jackie went to check on her children, she was met instead by a sight straight out of a horror movie: a haggard, old man sitting in the corner of the room staring back at her. His eyes were glowing and emotionless, she later said.
In a state of panic, she ran to her neighbor’s house. Susan calmed her down and listened to her bizarre tale. Susan was not thrown by the seemingly fantastical nature of Jackie’s story. She believed the figure to be a spirit and advised her friend to get in touch with paranormal investigator Dr. Barry Taff and his team.
The Investigation Begins
With Jackie’s steadily increasing fear and the presence of two young children in the house, Taff prioritized Jackie’s claims. He arrived at the house with his cameramen Barry Conrad and Jeff Wheatcraft. They were immediately greeted by a foul odor they could not locate. The crew aired out the house in an attempt to discover the source.
During the beginning moments of the investigation, the crew heard a loud bang in the attic followed by another, even louder thud. Jackie traced the source of the banging to the ceiling above her kitchen. She then claimed to have seen the ghostly image of a severed head there before, accompanied by muffled voices.
It was also during this initial questioning that she spoke of being the target of projectile objects from an unseen force and of a strange liquid that oozed from the walls. The team began photographing the house.
It was during this photo session that cameramen Wheatcraft and Conrad went up to the attic to document the area. Wheatcraft was reportedly attacked by an unseen force that threw his camera from his hands and pushed him. They left for the night, determined to return and discover what had accosted them in the attic.
The second attempt proved even more dangerous. On September 4th, Wheatcraft was the victim of an attempted strangulation when a cord mysteriously wrapped itself around his neck. Photographer Gary Boehm, also in the attic at the time, saw what was happening and rushed over to help and brought him back downstairs. After explaining what happened, Jeff Wheatcraft left the house, never to set foot inside it again.
The Haunting Continues
Eventually, Jackie moved out of the house to return to a trailer park with her estranged husband, 300 miles north of San Pedro. Everything seemed to return to normal; while the case was not closed, at least it was behind her.
However, one night when Jackie was helping a neighbor store a TV in their shed, she saw the screen flicker on. She claimed the image of the old man from the San Pedro house stared back at her once more. Then, loud bangs began to come from inside the shed, just as they had with the attic.
Taff, Wheatcraft, and Conrad traveled north to continue their investigation. They held a séance with Jackie to speak to her ghostly follower. The group claims to have made contact with the apparition; it identified itself as the ghost of a man murdered in the San Pedro Harbor. It also informed them that several other spirits were haunting the area and Jeff had been targeted in an attack because he looked like the spirit’s murderer.
The ghost revealed it had been using Jackie for her energy. Once again, Jeff was seemingly attacked again by an unseen force, leaving him physically fine but with lasting paranoia.
With no closure on the incident, Jackie decided to move again. She moved multiple times over the the next several years and the paranormal activity seemed to lessen each time. She finally settled back in Los Angeles, and a good distance away from her former home. Residents have come and gone in her San Pedro home, with several claiming to have heard strange and unexplainable sounds coming from the attic.
A New Beginning
Ultimately, Dr. Barry Taff suggested that the ghost was Herman Hendrickson, a 28-year-old man whose body was discovered floating in the harbor in March of 1930. His death had been ruled an accident by the Los Angeles Police Department.
Taff also thought the ghost of the haggard old man may be that of John Damon who originally built the home and, perhaps, still resides there.
Many of Taff's cases involved clients who have suffered emotional distress and possible recent mental trauma. This may be the most famous such story, but it is certainly a common thread amongst paranormal tales. Taff concluded that Jackie’s emotional distress at that time in her life helped contribute to the power of the hauntings.
Since the first occurrence of the haunting, Jackie has gained a sense of safety and calm, forcing the spirits to weaken their hold on her. Since the haunting, Jackie and her family affected by the incidents say they have put the haunting behind them and moved on with their lives.
This Story Was First Published on Occult Museum.