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Home » California

Polaroids of the Dead – Los Angeles, CA

Submitted by on April 1, 2008 – 2:27 PM55 Comments | 36,341 views

 

One of the most fascinating cases I’ve read and studied was about the “polaroid writing entity” in a quaint, cozy home in the outskirts of Downtown Los Angeles.Mt. Washington is a district in the northeast of Los Angeles. About a 10-15 minute drive from where I currently reside in downtown Los Angeles.

For John Matkowsky, this was a perfect suburb of L.A. to live. He acquired a modest home on a hill side in 1985. After moving in, John would claim to have heard noises around his house that would raise an eyebrow.A friend of John, John Huckert, had recently acquired a polaroid camera. Taking snapshots around the house, they both soon started seeing anomalies in the instant photos. At first it came as odd, spectral images but soon they became words. Odd as it may seem, whatever was in his house, was able to communicate.All of John’s friends that would visit the house would describe an eerie feeling. A feeling of a presence about the rooms. John Matkowsky said that at times, he felt a strange tingling around his arms or neck.

The house was built around 1906, so chances that the house could harbor energy or spirits was great. As it seems like older homes, resonate images and feelings of the past.When both Johns learned that by snapping polaroids around the house, you could capture feather like spectral energy all over; they quickly set out to debunk it.Suspecting that the film was damaged, they bought new film and tested it. To their surprise, the images came up on the new film. A friend of theirs was in their home for a party they had thrown. When John shows his friend, Ross harpold, the images they had captured, Ross laughed and dismissed it as a joke. Unconvinced that these pictures were not doctored, Ross picked up the polaroid and asked “Are you here?” and took a snapshot. When the picture was ejected from the polaroid camera, in front of the 3 men that were standing over it, the word “YES” appeared.  When John Matkowsy asked “what is your name” and then proceeded to snap a picture, as the polaroid started to develop in front of him the name “Wright” appeared. They were hesitant about the authenticity of what they were experiencing. So they started asking Wright more questions like “Are you a good ghost?” “Are you a bad ghost?”. Wright would answer “Friend”.
Within the next few months, John Matkowsky and John Huckert were taking pictures daily and capturing what seemed like a prophetically and well versed ghost.Some of the questions they asked Wright were: “Where do you go when you are not here?”  Wright’s answer: ” FLUX”

Another question they asked Wright, was who was he. The respond still sends chills down my spine: “ Et alia corpus delicti”"Among other things, A murder victim” John Matkowsky was so intrigued by this entity that he wanted further answers as to what or who it really was. Around that time in the early 90s, there was a popular show called “Sightings” that was produced and broadcasted by FOX television. Sightings was a show about the unexplained and the supernatural. Being that John could not get an explanation as to what was causing this, he decided to contact the show’s correspondent and ask if they would be interested in investigating this phenomenon. John was not really feeling like this was the best move on his part, since it would bring in unwanted attention. Sightings put together a team of researchers and it’s production staff and headed for the small home in the hills. Kerry Gaynor was among the research team. Mr. Gaynor had previously investigated the famous “Entity” case in Culver City, CA.

Upon their arrival at the house, they setup a controlled testing experiment, were they had brought their own cameras and film that was tagged and logged to prevent tampering. After several hours, no evidence was captured. It seemed like Wright was either shy or reluctant to create a circus attraction of itself. Several hours into the investigation, Marty Elcan, a friend of John Matkowsky attempted to get some evidence. He asked Wright: “Are most spirits good spirits or bad spirits?” SNAP! a picture was taken. As the polaroid developed, in plain sight of all the researches and the TV crew a message appeared: “There are numerous remedial lemurs.” Not knowing if Wright was playing a joke on them about monkeys from Madagascar, John Huckert looked up lemur in a Latin dictionary. The definition of a lemur in Roman mythology was that they are the night-walking spirits of the dead.

The excitement in the room was palpable. Nervous laughter masked the tension. Kerry Gaynor was impressed, but wanted further controls. “You have to establish a chain of evidence. You have to be able to observe the phenomenon from the beginning to the end. So, we have to load the film from a sealed pack, show that it’s our camera. We have to fire it. We have to control the film as it comes out.” Following Kerry’s suggestions, Sightings trained one of its video cameras on a new Polaroid brought to the house by photographic expert Edson Williams. A sealed film package was opened and a new cartridge was inserted directly into the Polaroid. A member of the Sightings team posed the question “Are you here for John or for the house ?” A picture was taken. It was placed on a table in full view. After thirty seconds, a message appeared. “Genius loci.” Kerry Gaynor looked up the word in the Latin dictionary. The exact translation of genius loci is “the guardian spirit of a man or a place.” More pictures were taken in the same manner. The messages alternated between English (“Time travel,” “Anything is possible,” “John relax and learn”) and Latin (“Ad litteram”). Edson Williams had never seen anything like it in his twenty years as a photo analyst. “I actually watched them eject out of the Polaroid. There was a moment where I thought, Oh, my God, and I was in one of the Polaroids, which made it even spookier. It made me feel that there could be something in the house.” Near the conclusion of the night-long investigation, Marty Elcan asked, “Wright, will you be with them for a long time?” The Ghost Writer replied, “Sed haec prius fuere.” Translated, the phrase means “All this is over now.”

It was the last message the Ghost Writer would send. After the field investigation, Edson Williams brought many of the photographs back to the Brooks Institute for analysis. Using a digital scanner, he was able to move in on the ghost writing and noticed that there appeared to be individual fibers in the text. He concluded that the writing might have been created using pulled strands of cotton. In his laboratory, Williams attempted to duplicate the ghost writing. ”The initial step was to shoot pulled cotton with a 4 x 5 camera using E-6 film. The next step was to preexpose the Polaroid film. I removed the cover sheet of the Polaroid pack, inserted the transparency, and exposed the Polaroid to the text. I then removed the transparency, reinserted the cover sheet, and loaded the film normally.” Using this method, Edson Williams was able to duplicate the ghost writing; however, his method took over an hour to complete and required manipulation of the film, which would have been impossible to hide. Howard Worzel, a photographic analyst at Polaroid’s corporate headquarters in Waltham, Massachusetts, was also at a loss to offer a scientific explanation for the ghost writing. “We have never encountered this phenomenon and we’ve been selling film for fifty years now to billions of customers,” Worzel noted. Parapsychologist Kerry Gaynor concurred. “I personally have never come across anything like this in the twenty years that I’ve been doing research. I’m quite familiar with the literature, and Eve never seen anything like this in the literature either.” While the scientific investigation continued, Sightings contacted world-renowned psychic Peter James and asked him to visit the house and give his psychic impressions of the site. Peter has a long history of exploring and documenting cases of hauntings that are not understood by science, but he also has been involved in cases he has exposed as obvious frauds. At first, Peter was also skeptical about the Ghost Writer. ”In all my years of delving into the paranormal world, I’ve never seen an entity present itself in this fashion, but I will say that all things are possible,” Peter remarked before entering the house. Once inside, however, the feeling that he was not alone was instantaneous. His legs began to shake. He felt a vibration throughout his body that Peter claims to feel when he is in the presence of spirits. He also began to receive several names telepathically. ”I received the name of Gilbert. There is a Robert. Amelia is throughout. I am getting an essence of all three of those names vibrationally,” Peter told the assembled group.

The two Johns were awestruck. They had already researched the names of the home’s previous owners. They had not showed this list to anyone, especially Peter James, and yet Peter had correctly named Gilbert, Robert, and Amelia — three of the names on the list. Peter did not think that any of these three people were the Ghost Writer. As he walked around the house, Peter stopped in one spot he called a “spiritual vortex,” a kind of doorway through which he felt spirits were entering the house. “I feel a very strong vibration. Something is definitely coming up from the floor,” he reported. “I get a tingling sensation. It’s also very cold here. My legs are trembling. It feels like something is coming from below and it’s going through my entire body.” John Matkowsky snapped several pictures of Peter James standing in the vortex. Strange ghostly images appeared to surround him. Peter felt two distinct spirits at this time. One he described as the spirit of an Indian tribe that had once used the land surrounding the house as a kiva, or ceremonial center. The other spirit he described was that of man who had been murdered and could be buried under the house. After Peter James’s psychic reading, John Matkowsky and John Huckert decided to investigate Peter’s theories.

They began to dig small test holes through their hillside property. In one of these holes they made an amazing discovery — shards of pottery that appeared to be Native American in origin. An archaeologist from the nearby Southwest Museum examined the site and found the artifacts significant enough to warrant a larger dig on the site. It was proof to Matkowsky and Huckert that Peter James had been right about the kiva. As for the body under the house, the men have no doubt that it is there, but digging for it would be impossible without moving the house. And perhaps it is for the best. Years of living with Wright have made the two Johns philosophical. They know that when the Ghost Writer feels the time is right, he will appear again. Ghost photographs have a long and dubious history in the world of paranormal investigation. In the late 1800s understanding of camera technology was rudimentary, and something as simple as a double exposure could easily fool the general public. The first known “ghost” photograph is the famous Lincoln photograph, in which the shadowy form of Abraham Lincoln is apparently standing behind his widow, Mary Todd Lincoln. It was ruled a hoax in the early 1900s. Today, with advanced technology and computer scanners, legitimate ghost photographs are extremely rare. After the Sightings investigation, Michael Weber, one of the best close-up magicians in the world, claimed that he could duplicate the ghost-writing phenomenon. In a closed studio in the presence of Sightings host Tim White and a camera crew, Weber was able to produce a photo with the words “We are here” printed across the front. However, Weber was quick to point out that his ability to duplicate the ghost writing did not disprove that it could have been caused by supernatural forces. It only proved that the same phenomenon could be reproduced under similar conditions. Weber reviewed the videotapes shot inside the house and said he did not notice any of the trademark movements — called “tells” — that would have indicated that either Matkowsky or Huckert was a professional magician.




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I'm a writer, a runner, and a hell of a coffee drinker residing in Los Angeles. I'm currently working on a book about Doris Bither and her terrifying account of a haunting in Culver City, California. The case was dubbed "The Entity" and it stands to be one of the most controversial cases ever to be studied by parapsychologists.

  • julcase

    I seem to recall one of the messages said “try to awaken”. I am a fairly new student to The Course In Miracles, and am, myself, trying to awaken, and to understand how to do that, or if I can really even believe in this as The Course means it. It impressed me that this appeared in the ghost writing, and wondered if the homeowners are aware of this concept per the Course. I really wish to know if this is what Wright meant by it.

  • Alex Grizzle

    Why do so many people feel the need to bring religion into this? this entity need not be aligned with Heaven or Hell, for one this being exists, and heaven and hell may not.
    And another question, was he ever human? I heard that a Psychic said there was a body below the house and that the body of an animal was found in the exact area the Psychic indicated, and a Murder victim, animals are slaughtered “or Murdered” and Among other things doesn’t rule out the possibility.

  • sloinker

    Wow an animal that can spell and communicate with humans through polaroids….sounds as logical as the Jesus fable to me. I give it two thumbs up and believe it should be a cornerstone of paranormal beliefs.

  • http://www.ghosttheory.com Scott McMan

    Alex, how do you know “this being” exists? tell me, do you think psychics are real?

  • Tim

    This is BS. In the first you tube video, the guy waits until the observers state several questions, then chooses the one that will most likely match the image already stored in the camera.

    The other two, with the psychic are even more suspect, as the psychic only makes statements and clearly avoids asking a direct question. The responses are obtuse, and mean whatever the observers wish them to mean.

    Nice trick, though.

  • sjb

    he opened a new package of film. i dont see how it could be fake. i wonder if theres some crazy plan between this guy and the poloroid people to fake it! dont be stupid. they tested this in other labs, proved it could be faked but only under alot of tampering and work in a darkroom. theres no reason this has to be fake. i think it would be pretty cool if there was casper the friendly ghost hangin out in my house protecting to property or something.

  • MMO

    Fact Or Faked recently did an investigation on this case and determined it was not a hoax and was definitely unexplainable.

  • http://Yahoo Emil Lawrence

    We all have heard these kind of stories, and or variations of them. Here in San Francisco, in our family there is one, two or three or more. First, my parents bought this house on Ninth Avenue in San Francisco, in the 1970s. It was owned by a older man and a younger woman. Into the closing with the papers, the younger woman always seemed to be around, but the older man never was. When it came to the signing, she signed all the documents or records.
    My parents claimed they never saw the older man, again.

    One night, about ten years later, after my mother died, my two brothers were staying in the house, late at night, asleep. When, there was a knock on the front door, the sound of it opening and then someone dragging something down the stairs. Due to the noise of the loud movement, they both leaped out of bed, thinking it was me, their brother taking something from the house. My brother claims he heard something like chains being dragged down the staires. But, there was nothing, when they looked. They told the story to my father, and he said, “yes, we have heard the same thing, a few times before.” He told them, “Some neigbors think it is related to the house and the young woman may have killed the older man, in it, and the ghostly act is related to this. But, no one really knows. My brother claims what happened was real, because they heard people talking, while this thing was being dragged down the stairs.

  • Jae

    I just saw that episode (started watching the series on Netflix). No matter what they did, they could not replicate the ghost writing in the home.
    What gets me is the fact that they found bones under the house – but the bones were animal, not human. I really want to know why, if they dragged the whole house with that scanner (thermal energy or whatever it was), they did not find anything else.

  • Claire

    The reason for the animal bones under the house is obvious. The owners have a dog and we know this because the was a black and white dog with john during his interview with fact or faked. The dog could have easily buried these bones under the house