Paravizionz Locks Down Ohio’s “Sleepy Hollow”
Illicit affairs, money, greed, envy…the deadliest of sins prove to be just that, extinguishing lives like a sudden gust of autumn wind douses the flickering light of a candle, creating a haunting lore that seemingly breathes with a murmuring life of its own. While every locale around the world has their own ghost stories and legends, Bellbrook, Ohio has their fair share as well, most of which reach back into the dim mists of a century gone by.
There is the story of a servant girl who involved herself with the town’s very influential Mayor and managed to get herself pregnant in the process. The Mayor refused to acknowledge her anymore and had her removed from the premises. The young lady took to a life of prostitution to get by, quickly becoming the subject of gossip and ridicule. When her baby was born, she would only take it outside with it’s face covered, as it was whispered that the child bore a striking resemblance to the father. It was thought that the young woman had fallen into a downward spiral of madness as she was often seen walking along with her baby safely bundled up from the prying eyes of the townsfolk, singing and talking to the bundle of tattered fabric that shrouded her little one. One night, the weight of her plight must have been too much to bear and she plunged herself and her baby into the cold, swirling depths of Possum Run Creek or, as it is known now, the Little Sugar Creek. A week later, her body was found by two local youths, washed up upon the creek’s bank. Her icy, lifeless arms still clasped the tattered rags that were once wrapped around her child, but the baby itself was never found. It is said that on certain nights, especially those peculiarly still nights in June when the mists rise up into the ebony darkness, you can see her glowing form stumble along the sides of the creek, a lilting singsong sigh being sung to the bundle of rags that she carries.
I grew up in Bellbrook, long before it became the lush suburb that it is today. When I lived there, it was still mostly a bucolically rural town. Carpenter Rd. still had a hair pin turn where, legend has it, that on certain nights, you could see the silhouette of a hanged man…just another person who had decided to end it all when they came to the end of their rope. Back when you would walk along Little Sugarcreek Rd., quickly succumbing to a whistling bravery as you passed Fallis Cemetery after dark. A time when, out of the corner of your eye, you would see skittering shadows and the out of tune tinkling of a piano coming from the music room of the Elementary School. You would hear whispered legends about the creaking madness held within the walls of several of the towns original homes. Stories of the strange behavior exhibited by the living as they face the heady unknown of death, like the undertaker who could not bear the loss of his wife and kept her embalmed body in the front window of his establishment for over a year before singing into the downward spiral of lunacy.
These memories came back to me in a rush as I met up with two gentlemen, Lee Allen and Davis Jones, the founder and co-founder, respectively, of ParaVizionz. ParaVizionz is a paranormal investigation and research team that has completed over 180 paranormal investigation since their inception in 2008. Lee and Jones met in early 2008 when TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) visited Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to investigate paranormal activity there for their wildly popular television show on SyFy called Ghost Hunters. Jones had managed to weasel his way into the event with little more than an ID on a lanyard and, after befriending the film crew and being allowed to jump to the front of the line, he ran into Lee, who was trying to assemble a team of local paranormal investigators. Since that time, a team of investigators, technicians and mediums have been assembled and the group has gelled into one incredibly in-tune entity who have compiled a list of completed investigations, an archive of EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena) and a slew of stories that would make most people cringe.
There are those that are dismissive of paranormal investigations and make light of others beliefs in otherworldly events…right up to the point when they are standing in the murmuring darkness and feel a cold finger trace the line of their spine. Jones came to believe in supernatural activities while still very young while living in Michigan. He had just moved into an old farmhouse in the woods with his sister, father and his new stepmom. It had been said that one of the previous owners had hung themselves from the apple tree outside the kitchen window, but this barely registered with the young Jones…until the noises began. Creaking footsteps and rocking chairs that were invisibly animated made he and his sister believers in very short order. Another memory he held of that time was his new stepmother’s use of a Ouija board, but he gave it little credence. It was just a Parker Brother’s game, after all.
Conversely, Lee’s induction into the world of the unknown came about through personal loss. He and his wife lost one son, Austin, in infancy and then another older child, a daughter named Caitlyn, some time later. Lee said that after these two incidents, he would hear voices in the children’s rooms and sense their presences from time to time. While I didn’t press Lee as to the association between these events and his sudden passion for the paranormal, one can infer that it would almost become a necessity for one who had suffered such a tragic loss. Even separated by a wall of sleep, a father needs to know that his children are alright and to know what kind of world that they exist in.
This past summer, ParaVizionz has been doing a series of investigations in Bellbrook, Ohio. They have investigated everything from private residences to my old Elementary School and have come away with many personal stories as well as EVPs, which they have posted on their website. Paravizionz has shared their stories online and created the Jonathan Winters Ghost Walk and Historical Tour that ran the weekend of September 30th through October 1st. All of their activities has even garnered them a proclamation from the Mayor of Bellbrook, Mary Graves. All of these goings-on will culminate with the Bellbrook On Lockdown event slated for Halloween weekend, starting at noon on Friday, October 28th and ending at 3:00pm on Sunday, October 30th.
The Bellbrook On Lockdown event will have lectures, celebrities, tours, information, vendors, activities and entertainment. The Master of Ceremonies, a Johnny Depp/Jack Sparrow look-alike, Captain “Larry” Sparrows, will kick off the festivities at noon on Friday at Sugarcreek Plaza, located at 6124 Wilmington Pike in Bellbrook. There are a ton of guest speakers, including Keith Age (a paranormal investigator who founded the Louisville Ghost Hunter’s Society and is the star of Spooked TV), Patrick Burns (star of TruTV’s Haunting Evidence), author Marley Harbuck-Gibson, international medium Robyn Marie, radio personality and comedian Scotty Rorek, paranormal mediums Deborah and Nicholas Lantz, John Brightman (founder of New England Paranormal Research), cryptozoologist Joedy Cook and paranormal filmmakers and stars of the SyFy, Chiller and Spooked TV networks, The Booth Brothers. Entertainment will come in the form of bagpiper Wulf, D.J. Tre and a special guest appearance by escape artist and magician Aron Houdini. A celebrity guided tour of all the haunted areas in Bellbrook is also on the itinerary, including the Dart Construction Building (formerly Penewit Hardware), The Shepherd House, Magee Park and others. The Joinery, which was one of the locations that Paravizionz investigated over the summer, was once a stop on the underground railroad. Their investigation revealed a slew of EVPs, which say things from a whispered voice decalring, “I’m right behind you” to the plaintive plea of a woman saying, “Hide me!”
One of the highlights of the tour has to do with one of the oldest legends of the area. Back in the 1800’s, there was an Englishman named James Buckley whose sawmill was located alongside what is now known as the Little Sugar Creek. He became very wealthy from this enterprise and, as is common as seen through the eyes of avarice, envied by many of the townspeople. One morning, his cabin was forced into and he was robbed and then brutally murdered…decapitated, in fact. His body was found, sans head, outside, covered in blood and mud, but the money…along with his head…were, by some accounts, never found. Other versions of this story state that his head was found some distance away and that the robbers never retrieved any of the money because Mr. Buckley had buried it somewhere near the creek. ParaVizionz is going to have a live, televised treasure hunt utilizing a medium to communicate with the long deceased entrepreneur to try and find the place in which the money was buried. Hopefully they find the money…and only the money. Priorities may change somewhat when a spirit is made to choose between earthly wealth and a part of themselves that was most cruelly taken from them…
We all have had experiences. We have all had that unexplainable feeling of being watched as the hairs on the nape of neck stand up. We have all felt the trickling fear, absolutely feeling alone in the dark tide of one of eternity’s moments. We have all seen the spectral movements of light and shadow that we are unable to explain, but which we rationalize when dawn arises. Regardless of how stalwartly pragmatic we feel that we may be and how we may deride the beliefs of those who embrace the spirit world, there are moments in our lives when our depths of spirit are overtaken by the icy isolation of a nameless dread. We have all had experiences. This is a time to share those experiences and to hear those who have had similar occurrences happen within their lives. This is a time to ask the questions that cannot be answered by religions or sciences. This is a time to reflect on what is beyond this realm.
Paravizionz Bellbrook On Lockdown runs from Friday, October 28th through Sunday, October 30th. There are various tiers of payment for admission, ranging from $30 to $150 for the VIP/Ghost Hunt pass. For more information, check out their website for the event at http://bellbrookonlockdown.webs.com/ and make sure to check out the group’s main website at http://www.paravizionz.net to watch video and hear EVPs from their past investigations.