The Birmingham Mail broke the news and the Daily Star followed up with a front page story: The Black-Eyed child ghost has returned to Cannock’s Chase, taking up residence once again with the Hell Hounds, a Werewolf, a Pig-man (human-pig hybrid), Bigfoot, Alien Big Cats, Aliens, and the plethora of phantoms and ghosts said to roam the area. Excessive, don’t you think?
Lee Brickley is the investigator at the centre of this story because of a report he received from a member of the public who sighted what has been described as a black-eyed child. The woman wrote to Brickley
‘… I turned round and saw a girl stood behind me, no more than 10 years old, with her hands over her eyes, like she was waiting for a birthday cake. I asked if she was okay and if she had been the one screaming, she then put her arms down by her side and opened her eyes, which is when I saw they were completely black, no iris, no white, nothing. I jumped back and grabbed my daughter, when I looked again, the child was gone.’
The report of the sighting was received by Brickley prior to July 17th 2013. Why the current coverage of it is appearing over a year later I don’t know. I’m sure it’s nothing to do with Halloween being around the corner and having a book about the weird side of Cannock’s Chase to sell. I’m sure that’s purely a coincidence.
The image at the top of the report on Brickley’s website reads ‘I Want Your Soul’ accompanied by an eerie picture of a little girl with black eyes and there is no critical evaluation of what he has been told. For me, this is an indication of just how seriously we should take Brickley as an investigator. In the ten-or-so years that I’ve been researching paranormal sightings I have come into contact with many people who somehow blur the line between fiction and reality and allow what they see in horror storeis to come off of the page and influence what conclusions they find in real life. It’s hearing cats fighting and claiming “it’s Pipes the poltergeist” when it’s just cats, it’s receiving word of a sighting of this nature and claiming “they’re heeeee-re” when they’re not…
The acceptance of one eye-witness testimony as evidence of something paranormal is another indicator of just how seriously we should take Brickley as an investigator. Eye-witness testimony counts for nothing when it comes to alleged paranormal activity. As a paranormal researcher myself I turn down case after case because there isn’t enough to go on – just word of mouth.
In the case of the Black-eyed child ghost there is the testimony from just one person and who knows what may have happened there. The most obvious explanation for what they reported is that they’re making it up, but it would be unfair of me to say that was definitely what happened here. If this case had been reported to me I would have chalked it up as interesting and would have left it at that. We could speculate until the cows come home, but there’s little point because there’s hardly anything to go on…
…that didn’t stop Brickley though, and I’m not surprised. I reviewed his book when it first came out after he sent me a request asking that I do so and I found it a bitterly disappointing read. In the review that I wrote I noted that ‘as soon as I began to read the book any excitement I’d held before turned into slight disappointment because throughout, the quality of the book is often let down by Brickley’s biased narrative and irrational leaps of logic.’
The leaps of logic in the book are infuriating and so I wasn’t surprised to discover Brickley once again waving around an eye-witness report as evidence that Cannock’s Chase is paranormally interesting. I am disappointed though, especially considering the fact that The Daily Star have tried to link up this eye-witness account with the murders of three children in the area that took place in the 1960’s.
Their report states
‘In the late 1960’s, the remains of three young girls were found buried in woodland at Cannock Chase. Motor engineer Raymond Leslie Morris was found guilty of murdering Christina Ann Darby, seven, in 1969 and jailed for life. There was not enough evidence to convict him of the murder of Margaret Reynolds, six, and Diana Joy Tift, five.’
I like a good ghost story as much as the next person, but casually linking a sighting of this nature with the murders of children is crossing a line. It needlessly exploits a tragedy for the sake of making a story spookier and it creates the narrative that the souls of these children are not at rest which can be very distressing for surviving relates.
If anyone who knew the children that were killed should somehow discover this blog post I want to assure you that there is no good evidence that the supposed child ghost reported to Lee Brickley in the Cannock’s Chase area is anything to do with the girls. It is very unlikely that their spirits are wandering the area screaming, and I am sorry that people have suggested so. If you want to discuss this you can contact me and I am more than happy to talk.
There is little doubt that this news coverage will shift some books and attract legend-trippers to the Cannock’s Chase area, and good for them I say. Yet, there’s a tackiness about the stories that come out of the area that reek of a desperation to stay interesting. “Experts Baffled” cried the Daily Star, but I’m not quite sure they understand who qualifies as an expert in this subject. Perhaps if they’d actually read Brickley’s book they’d have reconsidered going to print?