Very recently The Sun Newspaper ran a story titled ‘Mum and baby son are forced out of their house by ghosts’. This, however, wasn’t a typical story about a family fleeing their home because of weird things happening there and asking for help. This was the story of Vanessa Mitchell who is so scared of her haunted house that she started to do ghost tours around it. The article in The Sun said:
She is still shackled with the mortgage on the £147,000 two-bed cottage — once a prison for WITCHES in St Osyth, Essex. In a desperate bid to make ends meet she is opening it up to ghost tours.
It sounded like this was a new venture of hers, but a little digging around online revealed that such events have been taking place at the house – known as The Cage because of its notorious history – for years. Olympia Paranormal charged their customers £35 a head to visit the house for a ghost hunt in August 2011 and the aptly named ‘Investigators of Paranormal Phenomena’ group charged people £25 to attend a ghost hunt there in October 2011. The Facebook group for ‘The Cage’ has posts dating back as far as mid-2010.
Mitchell told The Sun that some quite shocking activity had been witnessed at The Cage in the time she’d lived there,
Terrified Vanessa Mitchell, 37, told how weeks after moving in the spooks started: Sneakily HITTING her from behind, PULLING her hair and trying to SHOVE visitors down the stairs. They also invisibly MOVED objects around, RATTLED doorknobs and TURNED ON taps. Then they made BLOODSPOTS appear in the hall. The final straw was after she gave birth — and when son Jesse was four months old she saw a male apparition standing over his cot.
Paranormal investigators who have visited the location and conducted ghost investigations there have never turned up substantial evidence, instead just providing orb photos and EVP recordings, both of which have perfectly rational causes that cannot be ruled out. I’m not ruling out that Vanessa has encountered these strange occurrences because to do so would be naive of me, but there was little evidence to be found online other that personal testimony, which I think is poor considering people are being charged £230 to £300 to visit the location to conduct investigations.
Ciaran O’Keeffe of Most Haunted fame had been on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ show to talk about The Cage and Vanessa’s experiences. A photo had been shown during the program to demonstrate the haunting. I hadn’t seen the show because I was at work and it wasn’t made available online but I had seen Steve Parsons from Para.Science post on Facebook that he thought the photo was a possible fake made with an App for Smartphones. He posted up his own demonstration of this and I made a mental note to look into this further when I had the time.
Although I didn’t see the show I believe the photo Steve was trying to replicate is the one included below that I found today on the Facebook group for The Cage.
I do not believe that this photo was faked using an iPhone app as Steve suggested – though it certainly does resemble the ghosts available from the App and I can see the logic in Steve’s thinking. The reason I don’t think it’s from an iPhone App is because photos can be found here on the Facebook Page for ‘The Cage‘ that set alarm bells ringing in my head because of their appearance. I emailed some people whose opinion and insight I trust on such matters and they agreed that there was something extremely odd with these photos. For example, a lot of them look as though they have been created using a smudge tool in an editing program. Deborah Hyde, editor of The Skeptic magazine, pointed out that the picture below looked out of proportion which I hadn’t noticed, Deborah commented
…People who can’t draw do this. The camera is at about windowsill height, the ‘person’ is about a metre or so into the room? It’s a very wide midget.
I agree with Bob that it looks as though a piece of plastic or glass has been held in front of the camera in these photos, which was something that Karl commented upon too. Ash Pryce agreed that there was something decidedly odd about the way in which this photo, this photo, and this photo taken in 2010 are all 100% identical as he demonstrated with this:
Everything about these photos provided by ‘psychic photographer’ Rob Bowers stinks of trickery, but this is something I cannot be 100% sure of because I’ve never been present when these photos have been taken. My initial reaction was that something has been painted onto a piece of plastic or glass and held in front of the camera lens to create the images as seen above (as others also pointed out) which would explain why they are so identical in different shots. This is more likely than the idea that the same spirit is striking the same pose in every shot taken considering the leap of logic such a conclusion would require. I asked an old college friend of mine who studied Media Studies what she thought of the photos and she explained that some of them looked as though they had been edited badly in photoshop using the smudge tool to create a warped effect.
Christina Schumacher, with whom Bowers authored the book I linked to above came to his defense when people started to question the authenticity of his photos. She states:
I asked how they knew this and the response was that it was easy to tell just by looking at the photos. That’s when I began to fill them in as to who Ron Bowers was, how he takes his photos, the witnesses he has had standing behind him as he took the photos, etc. The response to what I shared was that they didn’t know me so could not believe what I was saying. Even Angie Christie, this site’s Spiritualist Medium, wrote on the forum as she was one of the witnesses to several of Ron’s photos, seeing them in the camera’s viewfinder over his shoulder as he snapped the photos. She was not accepted either as they stated they didn’t know her so could not believe her. This is when I offered them the names of other witnesses to contact for themselves to allow them to make an “informed” decision. This was not accepted either – no one wanted to actually do the leg work to determine if Ron’s photos were actual apparitions or fake.
This is totally a testable claim and so I would like to place an open invitation to Ron to get in touch and arrange for this claim to be tested. If one can stand behind Ron as he takes these photos and see the apparition appearing in the view finder of the camera then I would like to see that and be proven incorrect. If Ron and his colleagues think that having a skeptic on scene would make this impossible due to ‘negative energy’ then I would suggest that they train a camcorder on the viewfinder of the camera at all times so that they can film these amazing occurrences. This would, once and for all, prove to everyone that the photos are genuine.
I was incorrect as I was not aware of a trick that can be used to create these sorts of effects in photographs that isn’t obvious to those in the room with you. Watch the video below to see how Ron could be creating the effects in these photos while bystanders such as Christine watch on in amazement. I don’t know for sure that this is the method being used, but it would certainly explain a lot…
It seems that these photos are the best evidence that anyone can provide (other than orbs, EVP and testimony) that ‘The Cage’ house is haunted, and I’m not at all convinced. I’m quite saddened that so many paranormal investigators have been clambering over themselves to get into this house to look for its alleged ghosts, given the lack of supporting evidence there is to suggest that it is worth the money they hand over for the privilege of sitting inside and speaking to the twelve ghosts said to roam there. I know that if someone wanted me to pay for the privilege of conducting a ghost hunt in their premises I’d want some assurance that I wasn’t wasting my time.
I’ve been caught out by people who made up stories just to cash in on them before.This wouldn’t be the first time and it won’t be the last time that this sort of thing is attempted. Until evidence is provided then ‘The cage’ is just another unconvincing haunting in my eyes. I’d implore any paranormal researchers out there to think twice before handing over money to visit a location.
A big thank you to Deborah, Karl, Bob, Ash, Jess and my anonymous informant (regarding the magic trick ‘ghost vision) for their help with this. It’s always great to have another opinion on such things.