Who is the Haunt Detective?
The Haunt Detective, AKA Ray Johnson, is a former criminal investigator (gang/narcotics) from the Chicagoland area who has had a life-long interest in the mysterious, the unexplained and to be honest, anything genuinely creepy. He has always been somewhat of a local Chicago history buff and upon retirement started a business conducting historical and genealogical research for clients. (You can retire the person as an investigator but you can't retire the investigator in the person). It wasn't much of a leap to take my professional experience as a criminal investigator, my love for history, and my love for the unexplained, and begin looking into the folklore, legends and hauntings in the Chicago area as a trained investigator would look at them
In July 2011, I had my first book published by Schiffer Publishing out of Atglen, PA entitled, Chicago's Haunt Detective. In the book I used my experience as a criminal investigator and as a Chicago historian to look at Chicago's Folklore, Legends and Haunts from the viewpoint of a criminal investigator. I currently write a blog on the stranger side of Chicago history for ChicagoNow and am working on my second book entitled, Chicago History - The Stranger Side to be published in fall of 2013.
I am not here to say that my life's goal is to debunk everyone's experience with a ghost, or a haunting or other paranormal experience. In fact, I myself have had a number of very vivid creepy experiences that I cannot explain. That is probably part of the reason that I became so interested in what some people call the supernatural.
I am also not here to advocate that I understand or will ever understand what a ghost, spectre, spirit or spook is or if they do or don't exist as a semi-physical presence or merely the figment of an active imagination or psychological defect. In fact, that may be something that we, as mortals, were never meant to fully understand.
I AM here to say that I have always thought it would be very interesting to approach the subject (that many people deem ridiculous or weird) as a serious investigator and maybe, just maybe get a little closer to answering the question about "what is going bump in the night". If we don't, then maybe we can just have a little fun in the process. (I like a good ghost story as much as the next guy)
A ghost of a living person? (Cicero, Illinois)
This particular experience was one that was probably the most interesting to me because it happened to both me and my younger brother. We were living in Cicero, IL and I was probably about a freshman in high school. My younger brother would have been about four years younger or approximately 10 or 11 years old. We were watching TV in our living room and I decided that I wanted to get something to drink from the kitchen (usually a glass of my mom's neighborhood famous iced tea).
I walked into the kitchen and as I was pouring myself a glass, I noticed what I assumed to be my mother making something in a pot on the stove. I didn't really think much of it. I assumed it was my mom even though I didn't see her face because she appeared (as I remember) to be wearing a housecoat similar to my mom's, had a hairdo similar to my mom's and was the same height. Let's face it, most people are pretty good at recognizing their own mothers even if their mom is not looking right at them. I finished pouring my glass, put the pitcher back into the refrigerator and proceeded back to the living room.
As I sat down to continue our program, my brother asked me for the remote. I realized that I had probably left it in the kitchen. My brother said that he would grab it because he decided that he also wanted to get a glass of iced tea. He left the living room and came back shortly with a glass of iced tea and no remote (I did say that we were brothers)
At this point it became more or less a game to see who could get the remote quickest and we both ran back into the kitchen to retrieve man's best friend. As we got to the kitchen, I grabbed the remote first (I am the older brother after all). I suddenly became aware that something just wasn't right. My mom wasn't there! There were no dirty dishes in the sink that one might expect after someone had just finished cooking something.
Just then I heard a noise coming from our upstairs, down the stairs and into our kitchen from the back door. It was both my mother and father carrying a large piece of furniture. We had tenants living upstairs and they were upstairs many times taking care of landlord type issues. I was in shock to see my mother completely dressed and a little out of breath from helping my father. I turned to my brother and could tell by the look on his face that he was just as shocked as I was.
I asked my mom if she had just been down here cooking in her housecoat and she looked at me like I was crazy. I turned to my brother and asked him if he had seen mom cooking in the kitchen just a couple of minutes ago and he just shook his head up and down. My mom said that she had been helping my father move furniture around upstairs and had been up there for some time. She sort of laughed and said that maybe it was a "ghost" My brother and I weren't laughing.
So who was the lady in our kitchen? Both my brother and I had seen who we thought to be our mother in the kitchen. Since we both say this at approximately the same time, I think one can rule out the hallucination possibility. There was definitely someone or someTHING there. But what was it? I don't think someone would have sneaked into our house posing as our mom just to borrow the use of our stove! I also think we can rule out my mother messing with us because she would have had to know when we were going to get a drink and that both of us would have forgotten the remote. If it was my mom (and both of us thought it was her) then that would rule out the disembodied spirit of the deceased theory.
I can only think of a couple possiblities;
- Could there exist a "ghost" or "memory" of a living person?
- Could it be a rip in time and we were both looking at a specific event in the past or future?
- Could there have been someone who lived in the house before us who looked very much like my mother from behind and could a memory or spirit of that person be lingering in the house?
- Could both my brother and I be out of our minds and we imagined the whole thing (many of my friends prefer this possibility)
Whatever the reason, and we never determined what that might be, it was extremely spooky at the time and even now as I am writing this.