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The haunting of Jackie Hernandez
By Javier Ortega, GhostTheory

The following case is one of the most infamous and well-documented case in the annals of paranormal research.
     Taking place in the seedy harbor town of San Pedro, California, it is destined to become one of the most frightening paranormal encounters ever recorded.
     In 1989, Dr. Barry Taff and cameraman Barry Conrad (pictured above) along with other associates, embarked on an adventure that turned into something that none expected.
     As the story goes, the residence of Jackie Hernandez at 593 West 11th Street was the site of a very volatile haunting. Much like Doris Bither of The Entity case, Jackie's haunting was filled with psychokinetic energy that manifested into visual, auditory and olfactory paranormal phenomenon.
     Jackie's neighbor, Susan Castenada, had made the call to Dr. Barry Taff in the late summer of 1989. She reported the poltergeist activity and asked if he could come down and investigate. Jackie was distraught and did not trust Dr. Taff and his associates. Fearing she would be ridiculed, she did not speak with them. It was not until late August of that year that Jackie herself called and asked for help.
     According to Taff, Jackie fit the bill of the quintessential poltergeist victim. The product of a volatile background, she suffered from severe mental distress and her background had a uncanny resemblance to that of Doris Bither. Abused by men, she lived a violent lifestyle and suffered from mental anguish and depression. Like most poltergeist victims, Jackie lived in an unhealthy environment, which one can argue was conducive to psychokinetic violence.
     Upon starting their investigation, Taff and his team heard loud scuffling coming from the attic. In what he recalls sounded like "a 200 pound rat running around the attic," the noises were loud enough for everyone to hear them. According to Jackie, it was the ghost of the disembodied head she had seen earlier in the attic. When Joe and I interviewed Barry Conrad, the cameraman, he mentioned several documentary crews had gone through the house and even when outside, could hear the loud, heavy scuffling in the attic. There was a report of such activity as recently as September 2008.
     Then there were the reports of some form of ectoplasmic ooze that seemed to drip from various places in the home and manifested while the team was investigating and Barry Conrad caught it on tape. The ooze was studied and taken to a forensics lab at UCLA and the report was that it was human blood plasma with high levels of iodine and copper. It is important to note the team reported smelling something like rust or oxidation upon entering the home.  There was also the overwhelming stench of decomposing matter, which is a often an indicator of a haunting.
     Jackie reported the poltergeist activity seemed to target her. She related how the television would turn itself on, appliances would malfunction and objects would be hurled at her. More frightening was when she reported seeing two apparitions in her home – actually three if you count the disembodied head in the attic.
     Jackie claimed that while pregnant, she got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and when she passed one of the bedrooms, saw the apparition of an old man sitting on the kids' bunk beds – he was staring at her. The other apparition she saw was that of another old man sitting at her diningroom table. She described him as "corpse like" with a sunken face and wearing old-fashioned overalls.
     Now, here is where it gets dangerous. Ghost-hunting can be dangerous, something many people do not consider when investigating a haunted location. When the team was getting ready to leave, Jeff Wheatcraft and Larry Brooks decided to go up to the attic and have a look round, as well as take some shots for reference.
     Not long after they got up there, Jeff reported he heard a noise behind him in the dark attic and without first looking, swung his camera around and snapped a picture. Seconds after he took that photo, something snatched the camera from his hand and threw it several feet.
     So Jeff's camera was snatched from his own hands and as a hardcore skeptical journalist, he could not explain it. Jeff and Larry both reported the lens had been removed from the camera and placed on a rafter while the camera itself was at the back of the attic in an old crate.
     Shaken by the ordeal, the two reported what happened to the crew downstairs. Conrad immediately hooked up his equipment and went up to the attic to record whatever was going on. However, as soon as he passed through the tiny opening leading to the attic, his equipment malfunctioned. He could not get the camera to turn on while in the attic, but as soon as came down, his camera worked fine. This happened a few times before he finally gave up.
A week or so later, Jackie called Barry complaining about heavy activity around the house.  When the team (except for Taff) arrived, Jeff and Larry quickly went up to the attic. Within a few minutes, Jeff reported hearing strange snapping sounds behind him before he was suddenly strung up by a rope that had been tightened around his neck. This all happened in a split second and Jeff was hanging from a large nail protruding from a rafter. Without hesitation, Larry snapped a few photos (above).
     In what many have described as one of the eeriest photographs ever taken, Larry managed to capture Jeff hanging by his neck from the nail. Somehow whatever was up there had gotten fed up and decided to wrap a cord around Jeff's neck and literally lift him up off the floor and hang him from the nail. Luckily, Larry quickly helped him down and they both hurriedly left the attic.
     In the video that was shot, we see Jeff and Larry making their way down from the attic. Jeff's face is visibly pale and he appears shaken.
     If Larry had not been there with Jeff, this could have easily been a much more severe assault and Jeff's neck could have been broken. After his incident, and without any surprise, Jeff refused to enter the house.
     When we interviewed Conrad, he mentioned they all had witnessed lights, or three-dimensional globes that floated about. In one instance, Barry said a bright light went through him and he felt the electrical charge which he described as a warm and strong feeling. He was knocked out from the charge.


What follows brings a whole new element to a case that is said to have resulted from psychokinetic energy. PK cases usually result from an individual who is highly unstable and revolve around that person. In such cases, manifestations occur only when a particular person is present, but this wasn't true in the haunting of Jackie Hernandez (shown above looking toward house).
     When Jackie called Barry Conrad to drop something off at his house, Barry met her outside, talked a moment, then went back inside his condo. Within days of this brief contact, Barry claimed the ghost, or ghosts, had begun harassing him as well. Strange things began to happen in his condo – chairs rearranged themselves to the middle of the room, burning flashlights were found in another room, and worst of all, Barry found several bullets on his stove.
     Those of us who have studied poltergeist and paranormal phenomena know it is rare, almost unheard of, for activity to target a second person. Psychokinetic energy emanates from an individual and effects the area in their immediate vicinity. But in the Jackie Hernandez case, the activity seemed to target her as well as others, leading most of us to believe this haunting was different.
     I recall Barry telling us that in one instance, when they were about to be interviewed on a popular television talk show, upon arrival, he believed Jackie's presence caused the production equipment to fail. Cameras and tele-prompters were inoperable for quite some time, something no one in the studio had witnessed before. So if this was the case, could the ghost have followed them to the studio and caused the equipment to fail? Or was it Jackie?  And if it was Jackie who caused the failure, why did it not affect Barry's cameras the other times he had interviewed her?
     Then there is the second time Jeff Wheatcraft was attacked. Shortly after the San Pedro incident, Jackie moved to Kern County, which is a small rural area about 380 miles north of Los Angeles. When she reported to the team that the activity had followed her, Jeff and Barry made their way up there because they wanted to capture additional activity on film. Jeff, feeling he was safe far from the San Pedro house, did not have any qualms about visiting Jackie. While there, Jackie's neighbors, who had helped her move in, reported that while doing so, a ghostly face manifested on the television screen and the TV wasn't even plugged in.
     Barry and Jeff noticed poltergeist activity immediately. They saw spheres of light and a heavy camera mounted on a tripod swung around by itself.
     One of Jackie's neighbors decided to use a Ouija board to contact the spirit. During the Ouija session, they managed to ask the ghost(s) a few key questions. Barry and Jeff had their hands on the planchette and when they asked , "Are you a ghost?" the planchette moved toward YES.
     Before they actually started the Ouija session, Barry reported the temperature dropped in that particular room making it feel as though it were freezing. There were three candles burning, which the spirit blew out in succession several times.
     When I mentioned earlier that the Jackie Hernandez case may not have been a PK incident, I based it on a few facts, such as during the Ouija session, the ghost would reply to in old English, of which Jackie knew nothing. One example was the use of the word "Phantoms" instead of ghosts. When Barry asked something along the lines of "How many ghosts are there?" the answer was: "Phantoms fill the skies around you," Another example was when the sun was rising, the planchette spelled out: "I must go now, the sun cometh."
     Again, something not necessarily Shakespearean, but certainly language that someone like Jackie would never use. Does this rule out PK influence? No. But it is strong evidence to the contrary.
     While asking the spirit questions, they inquired why it had targeted Jeff and the ghost replied that he
"resembled his killer."
     According to Jackie, she had participated in a few seancés before and gotten two names that could be that of the ghost: Herman Hendrickson and John Damon, who had been murdered.  Barry said the ghost targeted Jeff because he resembled Damon's killer, whom Barry believed was a man named Charles Pearson. Barry did some digging and found that Charles Pearson was a seaman who had a bad reputation in San Pedro, however, attempts to locate him proved futile as he was dead.
     It is important to note the noose that was tied around Jeff's neck was from an old cord tied in a "sailors knot." Goosebumps, yet?
     According to the spirit during the questioning, he never resided in the house at 593 West 11th Street, but his killer had lived there.
     When asked why the spirit targeted Jackie, the response was: "Energy." So they asked "What kind of energy?" "Dead," it responded. The assumption is that Jackie had negative dead energy.
     While they were asking questions, Jeff was once again attacked. Witnesses all claimed that while Jeff was sitting down, something lifted him and threw him across the room and he hit a point high on the wall. Unfortunately, the cameras weren't working so this assault was not captured on film.
     So what do we make of this case? It seems that as much as we would like to think it resembles the Doris Bither case, it differs in many respects. This spirit target not only an individual, but also those around her and even traveled from one geographical location to another.
     Barry said a cleaning woman overheard him talking about the case and mentioned that she lived a few blocks from Jackie and that she had seen an old man ghost on the street. Like Jackie, she described him as wearing overalls and a flannel shirt and that the apparition seemed to follow her.
     I don't know if we should consider this as evidence because there is always the possibility the woman overheard the details before coming forward. Then again, who knows?
     Jackie Hernandez has since moved back to San Pedro and has not reported any new disturbances. The house, however still now, is reported to be haunted and according to the owner, no tenant remains there longer than six months.
     Production crews attempting to obtain new stock footage report loud bangs emanating from the attic.
     I must warn that any ghost-hunting group wanting to go the house be careful because this ghost has been known to follow people home.

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