In what many consider to be one of the most intriguing and paramount cases in the paranormal, many speculations and theories arose in the paranormal community (and the outside) about what really happened in that old and small Culver City home in southern California in the early 1970s.
No one knows what really happened to Doris Bither or any of her children. Did they finally escape the evil that was so present and dominate in their home? Did they come out and tell the truth and admit it was all a hoax?
We here at GhostTheory.com, having a journalistic approach to the paranormal, were lucky enough to get ahold of Brian Harris, Doris Bither’s son, to set the record straight.
In this interview, I get to the bottom of the case and give you an insight to the true day-to-day life of the Bither household, the alleged spectral rape, and behind the scenes of the investigation conducted by Dr. Barry Taff and Kerry Gaynor and the resentment it left on the children.
Note: If you are not familiar with the Doris Bither story, Read about it here.
Doris Bither had 4 children. 3 boys and one girl. Brian Harris is the middle child out of the three boys. It has been his long-time wish to speak out about the story.
Doris Mcgowan (Mcgowan is her maiden name) came from a upper middle-class family. As stable as many people might think that sounds, Doris’ parents ran a turbulent household. Both were alcoholics and were not suited to provide a well-rounded upbringing for a child.
At the age of 10, Doris and her family moved to California from the midwest. Details of Doris’ childhood are not clearly known by her relatives. In her teenage years, Doris had a major altercation with her family. Both her parents, an Aunt and Uncle had decided to disown Doris and was cut off from having contact with any of her family.
As her parents died off, her Aunt and Uncle also, it was apparent that the abhorrent feeling that they had towards her was so great, when she learned that all of the inheritance was given to her brother.
With no money and being a single mother, Doris set out to make a life of her own.
Throughout her life, Doris had a number of failed marriages and relationships. She had given birth to 4 children, all from different fathers. Being a single mother and trying to support 4 children was something more than what Doris could handle. The Bither family grew up grew up poor and under stressful environments.
Brian Harris recalls the overall feelings of growing up in the Bither home:
Brian Harris: “The overall feeling of everyday life was that of being isolated most of the time.” “..yea the house was small, but since we were so separated [physically], you felt alone and isolated.”
The small Culver City home had the living room and kitchen in the front part of the property, while the bedrooms were in a different section, in the back of the house. Mr. Harris best describes the layout as an L-shaped property.
What is not known is that as small as the house was a hundred year old home with a 2-level cellar. The bedrooms were an addition to the original house.
The Bither home, as it stands today.
Dr. Barry taff wrote about how the Bither home was twice condemned by the city, squalid conditions and always dark and closed-off to the outside world.
According to Mr. Harris, this was not the case.
Brian Harris: “…as far as the home being twice condemned by the city, that’s all bull****. The home was never condemned. It felt isolated being there, but that was because the house had built a large reputation for being haunted, that the whole neighborhood was coming by. Prowlers, curious people. Neighborhood kids would always come by, trying to see inside the haunted house”. “…at school I used to get teased a lot for living in the house…”
The home was never condemned by the city according to Mr. Harris. It makes sense that it would be closed off to the outside world, if everyone was invading their privacy.
The home was repossessed by the city and then sold. Doris was renting it at the time. It was then bought by the next door neighbor, Mr. Bob Salcedo, and then sold it when he had heard of what was going on and was frightened.
I then wanted to hear from Mr. Harris’ own mouth about the haunting. If all of it was true. Did the rape happen? were they really attacked by spirits?
I asked Mr. Harris about the claims and reports. There was a long sigh. I felt as if he was bothered by the question. Like if he had been asked to recount the events every time he mentioned his mother’s name. The phone went silent for an awkward 6 seconds or so after the sigh.
Brian Harris: “*sighs*…..What do you want to know? ……It was all true”
WOW! I thought. This is it! this is the confirmation I’ve been waiting for. I nod my head, as if I knew it all along. A sort of “Hell yea!” motion.
Brian Harris: “Well, it was all mostly true. Have you seen the movie?”
I confessed that I did not watch the 1981 film, which stars Barbara Hershey, titled “The Entity”. I told Mr. Harris that I did read and re-read Dr. Barry Taff’s report on the case.
Brian Harris: “yea, the movie did add a lot of things [A lot of the events in the film were fictionalized, in spite of Taff's and Gaynor's request].” “…Barbara Hershey did do a good job. It was exactly as I remember my mother going through. The bruises in her legs and inner thighs. The attacks.”
I then started to prod Mr. Harris about the whole haunting and the attacks that seemed to be focused on Doris and his eldest brother.
Brian Harris: ” Well everything about what was reported was true. It did happen. Living in that home was hell.”
“…We all experienced some form of attack.” “There was the pushing, biting and scratching being done to us.” “…there were about 4 entities in the home, and they made themselves known by appearing all the time….I think it took a lot of energy for them to do that.”
According to Mr. Harris, they all suffered the attacks. Himself receiving less abuse. He believes that the entities were drawn to the negative and frightened attitude the rest of the family members had. Especially Doris.
I proceeded to ask him about the physical attack brought upon the entities. I was especially interested in the rape claim of Doris Bither.
Brian Harris: “..It was as if they [the four entities] showed themselves whenever they felt like.”
I asked Mr. Harris to describe what they looked like.
Brian Harris: “It was never clear. Like I would see you Javier. When they would make themselves known, it was always like a fog. Like a human…but not quite.”
“like a silhouette of a human?” I asked.
Brian Harris: “Yes, like a silhouette. Just not clear. Translucent and foggy.”
I asked Brian about the features of the apparitions.
Brian Harris: “It was like a sculpture. Like a chiseled body. Not a full figure, but at times we could see some of it [the musculature]“
“…It’s funny, the whole incident about them being Asian; that’s not true. I don’t know where they [Taff & Gaynor] got that idea from. They did not have Asian features. They did not look Asian.”
Mr. Harris was referring to the initial description that Dr. Barry Taff had made about the spirits looking Asian. According to Mr. Harris, they did not look Asian.
Brian Harris: “At times, it would be annoying. We would be watching television and these things would walk by. Like nothing.” “…We were so used to the poltergeist, that we just got to a point were we wouldn’t even care.”
Brian Harris: “The whole rape thing was real. My room was right next door to my mother’s. I would hear the attacks happening. Things being thrown, her screaming. Then she would come out of the bedroom and have all these bruises. On her legs, her inner thighs. Just like in the movie.”
“…there were times were we would see it happen in front of us. It was like if a man was standing in front of my mother and would start to beat her. Imagine a woman being beaten. You could see her being picked up and thrown around. Sounds, slaps…but there was no one there to actually do it.” “we all felt it too. pulling, biting and scratching…we were all attacked.”
What Mr. Harris had told me was that at times, these foggy apparitions became clear and detailed. He would see musculature and facial features at times. Curious to know how he, as a child, dealt with these visions, I asked him to describe his childhood around this.
Brian Harris: “…Well it was hell. There I was, barely out of elementary school, trying to carry on and ignore it all and there was so much commotion going on. Between Barry’s team of 30 or so people crammed in a small, and I mean, small room. Cheering and yelling at this thing. I was in the next room trying to watch television. Trying to mind my own business.”
The investigations that Taff and Gaynor did lasted around two and three months. I started to sense that Mr. Harris was a bit bothered when we talked about the team of researchers that invaded his home. I wanted to know the real feelings he had about the whole ordeal. I wanted to get a perspective of a bystander, to see what it was like behind the scenes of an investigation. It was anything but helpful in this case. The feeling I had after talking to Mr. Harris, was that of a person who resented the investigative team that was supposed to be there to help them live a normal life. A sort of “we got what we wanted, good luck with the haunting” feeling.
Brian Harris: “The whole investigation lasted about 2 or 3 months. But it wasn’t like Barry was there every single day. So for him to say that this could have been some sort of telekinetic thing that my mother was creating is all bull****. She didn’t want to have this happen….it’s a possibility, but it’s not like he knew what we were really going through. He was not an “Uncle Bob” that knew the family. He was only there for three months. And from that, he would show up every thursday or so.”
“…When the team would show up, I hated it; because I knew as soon as they left, they would become so angry that the house would come alive!”
I asked him to elaborate on that last statement.
Brian Harris: “…it was as if the ghosts were upset that we went and told. Like they were throwing a temper tantrum, a hissy fit. So things would start flying, we would get attacked.”
“Can you describe the events?” I asked.
Brian Harris: “…what? I already told you Javier! it was as if the house became alive! Things flying, pots and pans. It just became alive. They were angry at us for telling.”
I proceeded to ask him about the theory that his mother could have created the poltergeist herself. I asked Mr. Harris if they did have a love/hate relationship with their mother, could that have caused it. The fact that she was drinking heavily, that could have contributed.
Brian Harris: “yea…I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the reason. You have to understand, my mother was drinking heavily because of what was going on. She wanted to escape. So she drank. Barry reported that she was always drunk. that’s not true. In fact, I wish I could talk to him in person. I have a few things I want to clear out.”
As far as the telekinetic/psychokinetic theory:
Brian Harris: “The home was unstable. We did fight a lot. My older brother was mean to us. So there was a lot of tension. My mother’s boyfriend at the time left because he could not handle it [the poltergeist and tension]. Which was a good thing. He was a bastard.”
“The telekinesis theory is possible. There was so much tension and negative energy. You have to remember that it could have been also [amplified] done by Barry’s team. There was at times, 20 or 30 people in a room. Yelling at this thing. Trying to make it come out. Camera equipment, lights. The collective energy could have made it worse.”
That was an excellent point Mr. Harris had touched upon.
I know scientific research is needed, and what in the end of an investigation all that matters is the hard data facts. But we must not overlook what we ourselves indirectly cause. A haunting or poltergeist is usually a very personal and intimate thing. From my readings over the years, it seems like it is usually targeted toward a single person. If a family is involved, then it stays in the home, almost never manifesting itself to outsiders.
Having a team of scientists and students provoke evil forces in order to capture evidence is dangerous. Once the scientists realize that no data was collected. No apparitions made, then they will soon start to doubt the claim and ultimately abandon the research. The poltergeist can wait. It can then come out once everyone has left and take it’s rage out on the residents.
Sounds like a horror novel, right?
This is what this case was. No useful evidence was ever captured. Except a few photographs that show orbs. Real orbs, not these ones that we see all over the web that are clearly dust or bugs reflecting the camera’s flash.
Doris Bither in mid paranormal activity. Notice how the orb free floating. It’s arc never bends with the back wall’s corner as would be expected if it was projected onto the wall.
Brian Harris: “That was the one we called Mr. “Whose-it”. He was always walking around the house. He was thr one who I believed to be my grandfather.”
“How did you come to that conclusion?” I asked.
Brian Harris: “Because it told me. It said that it was my grandfather. It looked like him”
Dr. Barry Taff reported only three spirits haunting the home. The children reported four. It is my believe that these four spirits were malevolent. The spirit that the kids referred as “Mr. Whose-it” was probably not their grandfather. Most likely it was an evil spirit trying to play on the feelings of non-responsive child.
Just a thought.
I asked Mr. Harris to explain about the claims of his older brother listening to satanic music as Dr. Barry Taff reported.
Brian Harris: “That’s all bull****. We never listened to “Satanic Music”. It was Black Sabbath and Uriah Heep. Any kid that grew up in the 70s and listened to Rock, that is what they listened to. It was the cool thing to do. Although, we did notice that when we would play certain songs, the spirits would become agitated. There is this song in the Uriah Heep album “Demons and Wizards” that talks about good versus evil. It’s basically about the devil getting his ass kicked. Every time we would play that, they [spirits] would become agitated.”
I mentioned that Doris was renting the house in Culver City. The owner, hearing about all the supernatural things going on, decided to sell that home. Doris and her kids were forced to move.
Brian Harris: “The new place we moved to was hell. It was in the bad part of Carson, CA. There was very little paranormal activity happening. It was hell because of the neighborhood. It was a bad neighborhood and school. The paranormal stuff was very rare at that point.”
Brian Harris and his siblings all posses some form of psychic power according to him. Although throughout the years it has become more and more faint, he still sees shadows and spirits every now and then. Throughout his life, he’s seen them. So have his siblings. It was only in the Culver City home that it became negative and physical.
The intensive psycho-kinetic energy in the Culver City home could have been extremely overwhelming. Combined with the negative attention it brought (unwanted intrusion of the research team and family tension) it could have easily been a beacon for all these evil spirits.
Dr. Barry Taff reported that eventually Doris had moved to Texas and then back to San Bernardino, CA. She had reported to him that by that time, she had gotten impregnated by one of the spirits.
I asked Brian harris about the ectopic or hysterical pregnancy claims.
Brian Harris: “It’s possible. I mean, my mother moved around a lot. She was so unstable, we would lose contact with her. She had so many boyfriends and husbands, that I lost count. So it’s a possibility that one of her boyfriends got her pregnant.”
Contrary to what may reports state, Carla Moran is not Doris’ real name. That was the fictional character from the movie “The Entity” that was based on the Doris Bither story. Doris never lived in San Bernardino, CA.
After leaving Carson, CA, she left for Texas and then came back to the Lawndale and Torrance, CA cities. a few miles south of Culver City.
Doris Bither passed away in 1995, from Pulmonary Arrest.