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  • Bryan Williams

Revisiting the Johnson Haunt Case

Throughout his extensive career, the late William G. Roll (the PRF's first research director) had carried out a number of field investigations at various locations which were alleged to be haunted. By his own account, one of the most extreme haunt cases that he came across was the well-known Johnson case (also known early on as the King case), involving a family who reportedly experienced a range of haunt-related phenomena occurring in the home and small vacant motel property that they'd purchased and moved into in 1987. Among the phenomena being reported were slamming doors, phantom sounds mimicking human activity, pleasant and foul smells, cold spots, apparitions, and objects seeming to mysteriously move around in proximity to one particular member of the family. The case received wide attention early on when it was profiled in a segment on the popular television documentary show Sightings in the early 1990s, and a digitized video copy of the particular Sightings episode containing that segment can be found on YouTube at the following link (the segment on the case is the first one that appears in the episode):

Apart from its level of intensity (relative to that found in many other reported haunt cases), the Johnson case is interesting for a few reasons:

  1. The investigation conducted by Roll had uncovered unusual physical factors present on the Johnson's property which might account for some of the anomalous experiences that they reported having there; and

  2. The case may provide some preliminary insight into the ways in which haunt phenomena and recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis (RSPK, or "poltergeist" phenomena) may sometimes intersect with each other. Although they appear similar on the surface and may often be confused with one another, parapsychologists have managed to identify certain distinct characteristics between haunts and RSPK that allow them to be classified as separate phenomena. But occasionally, one does come across cases where the two phenomena seemingly occur in tandem. The Johnson case appears to be one of those cases.

An article which takes a look back at this particular case and discusses its possible implications is available to view at this link (the article is in Adobe PDF format). The PRF would like to wish everyone a very happy and safe Halloween!

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