The year was 1983. In the laid back borough of Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, twenty one year-old Don Decker had just been sent to serve his sentence of a full year in prison for receiving stolen property. He had been quietly serving his time when Don received news of his grandfather’s death in February of that year. Given a weekend furlough, Don went back home to attend his grandfather’s funeral. When Don approached the casket, a tsunami of emotions ran through his head. Unbeknownst to many, his grandfather had abused him as a child. Years of repressed anger washed over his blank stare as he stood in front of his grandfather. Don left the funeral home soon after. It wasn’t until that night that Don’s story takes a surprise turn into the unexplained. The night of the funeral would be the beginning of a peculiar poltergeist case, The Stoudsburg Rain Man.
Police Become Witness
meaning from wall to wall. They froze in a state of sheer wonder and fear. Just then, to add to their chill, they both observe water droplets hover in mid-air and travel out of the room. Within minutes of being at the premise, the patrolmen were soaked through and through from head to toe.
“That made me more sure that I had something to do with it because it was following me. And it didn’t start raining in the house until I got there. They were living there and nothing ever happened. And that’s when I started realizing that it was me.”
All three of them soon left the pizzeria and to no one’s surprise, the rain stopped inside the pizzeria as soon as Don left. They were certain Don was the culprit, they decided to go back home.
As soon as the arrived at the house, Don walked in and the waterworks began. This time, pots and pans in the kitchen began vibrating and rattling off the countertops whenever Don approached. Tired of what was going on, Ron’s wife accused Donny of perpetrating a hoax. With fingers pointing at him, Don begins to feel cornered and pressured. Things take a dramatic turn for the worse when in front of many, Don appears to levitate inches from the ground and is thrown violently across the room.
Wet Police Chief
It had been well over 24 hours at this point when the patrolmen returned, this time with the chief of police in tow. As soon as the police chief walked into the house, he was bombarded with water drops, some traveling horizontally like before. Immediately his uniform became saturated with water from the mysterious mist cloud that now hovered inside the room. The police chief was unnerved by what he was seeing and decided to order his men out. He told them that this was a plumbing issue and to not file a standard police report. The three of them quickly left afterwards, leaving the rest to figure out the phenomenon.
Afterwards, things settled down the best they could. The very next day the officers had returned. Ignoring the straight orders of the police chief, they had also brought along some other partners of the precinct. Bill Davies was one of them:
“We’re standing there and I gave Mr. Decker this gold cross to hold. Next thing he says, ‘It’s burning my hands.’ And there’s no explanation for it. When you picked it up, when you grabbed it, it’s not hot-hot, but it’s hot and I held onto it.”
Soon after officer Bill Davies’ observation, Lt. John Rundle witnessed yet another levitation by Donny.
“All of a sudden, he lifted up off the ground and he flew across the room with the force as though a bus had hit him. There were three claw marks on the side of his neck, which drew blood. I have no answer for it whatsoever. And, I just draw a blank, even today.”
“I’ve been a cop 40 years and I’ve never seen anything like this, never. There’s always an explanation when something happens. If you gotta investigate, you come up with something. This is why it happened. For this case, there is no explanation.” – Officer Bill Davies
Ron remained adamant about helping Donny out. He had observed more and more strange phenomena inside his house and was fully convinced that Donny had no part in it, at least not willingly. Ron began calling Catholic priests around town, hoping to get an exorcism for Donny. The Catholic Church does not do them on a whim, there exists strict and meticulous criteria a case must meet before granting the exorcism. Ron and the rest had no time, they contacted a local Evangelical preacher who agreed to do the exorcism.
As they prayed, Donny began to convulse violently. He writhed and gritted his teeth while laying on the floor. The preacher continued with the ritual. Hours later things seemed to have stopped. The rain vanished and the coldness left. Don began to instantly feel better, as if whatever had taken ahold of him had released him from its demonic grip.
The next few days, things appeared to fall back into normalcy.
Don’s furlough came to an end and was admitted back into prison. While in his cell, Don thought about his ordeal during the last few days and wondered if he was able to manifest water on the whim. He concentrated lightly and to his surprise, water began seeping from all over his prison cell.
The guards quickly accused Don of throwing water from the sink and threatened disciplinary action. When Don told them that he had the ability to summon water, they scoffed at his face. One of the prison guards then dared Don to make it rain inside the prison Warden’s office. Don accepted the challenge and began to concentrate on the request.
Over at the Warden’s office, Lt. David Keenhold was the temporary Warden and had been filling out reports all day. He was unaware of the situation with Don and his unique ability. A few guards knocked on his door to check to see if Don really had the power to manifest water and much to their horror, they walked in to see a lieutenant with a completely drenched shirt. Lt. Keenhold hadn’t noticed his soaking wet shirt until they men burst into this office. They all sat mystified and unnerved.
Lt. Keenhold then called for reverend William Blackburn, a local clergy whom he had befriended. Upon arrival Rev. Blackburn listed to what had happened to Don just a few days ago and confronted Don and accused him of making it all up. Don’s demeanor instantly changed as he closed his eyes in concentration.
The room was instantly engulfed in a miasma of a strong, foul odor. Many management and administration personnel were witnesses to the events. With all the commotion happening, Don raised his hand and began rubbing his fingers together to produce a thick mist that quickly covered the room. Everyone and everything was completely drenched.
The reverend then proceeded with a ritual in which Don and him prayed for hours. Soon, things began to lift inside the cell, causing Don to breakdown in tears.
It was all over. When Rev. William Blackburn was finished, Don had a newfound sense of peace within him. It would be the last time he would be able to manifest rain.
The Don Decker case is for some reason one of the lesser known poltergeist cases. Maybe it could be that people confused Don’s poltergeist with some superpower to produce rain on a whim. More of a science fiction story than a paranormal story.
I’ve always considered Don Decker’s account one of the more poignant poltergeist cases out there. Not only do we have a great number of witnesses, but many of them were trained observers. Officers of the law.
What I find fascinating is the correlation between Don’s initial emotional outburst and the succession of the paranormal phenomenon. Meaning to say that when Don was finally confronted with his tormentor, a man who had been abusing him since childhood, his emotions got the best of him.
Don wasn’t allowed to express his feelings. He did not release the pent up anger he’d been harboring since childhood. The anger and feeling of misunderstanding that pushed him to a life of crime. Don was angry! And the person responsible for his anger was gone.
I’ve studied several cases of poltergeist phenomena and have noticed the trend in pre-adolescent and post-traumatic Stress Disorder (P.T.S.D) and the sudden outburst of kinetic energy, or psychokinetic energy. A.K.A the poltergeist phenomena. Most, but not all, cases involve sexual abuse.
What else makes this case an important one is that one must remember that Don had never gone through this again. Only when he faced his aggressor, when the years of repressed anger came to a head, only then did the strangeness begin.
The sudden appearance of water, or the ability to directly influence it was been tied to poltergeist phenomena for years. One such famous case is the Jackie Hernandez case of San Pedro California. A case in where a viscous matter began to seep out from walls and ceilings of a small duplex. The liquid was later analyzed to be human blood plasma. Another Californian case was that of Doris Bither, or They Entity.
Unknown to most, the Doris Bither case also included instances of water permeating through walls, making them appear to “sweat”.
Of course it’s not known why this happens and why it is so rare.
To many, Don Decker’s story is just that, a story. To those who were there his story is one of the most incredible things they have ever witnessed. As far as poltergeist cases, Don Decker’s case give a bit of credence to the possibility of the existence of psychokinetic energy.
Sources: Usolved / Pocono Record