On a quiet residential street in Hartford City, Indiana, the large white house seems innocuous at first glance. But while every town has that really creepy turn of the century residence, the one at the corner of Monroe and Franklin supersedes your run of the mill haunted house. Not only is the property the most haunted house in Indiana, it’s one of the best-known haunted locations in the United States. Beginning on Thursday, February 16, the Monroe house will encounter another paranormal giant. LiveSciFi, the largest paranormal channel on YouTube, will be investigating the residence. The hundred hour investigation will be continuously live streamed on the team’s website as well as YouTube. Lead investigator Tim Wood, veteran of hundreds of previous ghost hunts which are all documented on the LiveSciFi channel dating back to 2008, has been wanting to investigate the home for some time.
“The Monroe House has intrigued me ever since I heard about it a few years ago. I heard that the home has a mysterious past, and is a paranormal hot spot for violent physical and poltergeist activity. We will be spending four days in the home, trying various experiments that can hopefully facilitate and capture paranormal activity and communication,” Wood begins. He pauses and then adds, “I do believe that there is a strong chance that there is something highly malevolent that currently inhabits the house.”
Wood is uniquely qualified to investigate this particular haunting…and to determine if the entities in the Monroe House are as malevolent as he suspects. Not only is his team renowned for the EVP responses and other communications they document at haunted locations, but their experience in dealing with different types of interactions in demonic-style hauntings like the Sallie House in Atchison, Kansas and the Villisca Axe Murder House in Villisca, Iowa gives them the perspective and knowledge to confront the entities said to be inhabiting the Monroe House. LiveSciFi’s last investigation, in fact, was at the Sallie House in January, 2017 and the evidence they captured was staggering. This site in Hartford City shares an element with both the Sallie House and the Villisca Axe Murder House – claims of child spirits that may not be what they seem.
“I do not believe that child spirits exist, nor have I ever documented any evidence of their presence. It is common however for demonic entities to assume the form of a child,” Wood says unequivocally.
And yet, the most persistent claims involving the Monroe house regard children. Many witnesses claim to have seen the apparitions of children looking out the second story windows, hearing the disembodied voices and screams of children, EVPs of children speaking, crying, and screaming – even interacting with paranormal investigators through baby monitors. These claims reach back to the 1930s and 1940s, and are reinforced by modern encounters with the same entities. Whether they are the earthbound spirits of children who lived in the house at one time or, as Wood suspects, demonic entities presenting themselves as children is impossible to determine. Regardless, the legend surrounding the Monroe House has had adequate time to percolate and the other claims of paranormal activity run the full gamut from spooky to horrifying.
In recent years, paranormal activity has escalated. Since 2012, witnesses have experienced shadow figures, full bodied apparitions, poltergeist activity, growls and snarls, bangs, footsteps, doors closing, creepy laughter, and windows slamming shut with such violence that they shatter. Pictures of apparitions, both child-sized and adult, are being taken with increasing frequency. People have been touched, pushed, punched, scratched, and been threatened by name. Now whatever is scaring visitors to the house will be confronted by Wood and his team in what is shaping up to be a seismic encounter between the living and the dead, the investigator and the entities. Their no-nonsense approach to hauntings and the completely transparent nature of their investigations makes LiveSciFi a fascinating team to cover.
When I write about investigations into haunted locations, I do a lot of research on the location first: property records and deeds, death records, censuses, and newspapers in the town. What I’m looking for are events that might corroborate the claims of witnesses to the haunting. But the Monroe house is a difficult house to dig into. Surprisingly for a haunted residence, there are no documented deaths or tragedies on the property since 1900. That’s discouraging for me as a researcher, but doesn’t mean it’s the end of the story. What I did find about the property is both fascinating and frightening.
Digging through old newspaper articles, I uncovered a bizarre string of accidents and disasters involving the families that occupied the property between 1900 and 1940, events that had disturbing elements and uncanny similarities. Beginning with a tenant’s nasty divorce that had accusations of child abuse, domestic violence, and desertion, the things that happened to other residents of the house – a prominent Belgian family by the name of Berger – were startling: the death of a daughter and her infant son in childbirth, which led to her other five children being raised by their grandmother after their father either died or disappeared; a brother whose feet were severely frostbitten, then after one foot got stepped on by a horse the man developed gangrene which resulted in the amputation of his leg; an accident where a wheel inexplicably fell off a carriage and seriously injured a daughter-in-law; and a hate crime that led to the near-fatal shooting of a son…just to name a few.
The curse, for lack of a better term, continued until 1940, when another tenant somehow drove his car into the support beam of a bridge. That beam somehow tore from the bridge and pierced the car, gruesomely impaling the driver and killing him. But 1940 was the end of the line for easy research on the property. As the Monroe house is a triplex, the complicated tangle of tenants and owners is impossible to decipher without a good starting point. The census for 1940 is the last census currently available to researchers, and the census is the starting point for learning who was living on the property.
These bizarre events and the timeline that ensued from them corroborate elements of the haunting. History and personal experiences create the core of the house’s story, which is what a writer is looking for. The combination of documented fact and witness claims are what makes the Monroe house so terrifying.
Searching for modern stories, however, is what makes the house and its story pertinent. Longtime residents of Hartford City were brought up hearing tales about the mysterious house at the corner of North Monroe and Franklin. Reports of child apparitions looking out the window are rife, as are neighbors’ claims of lights going on and off and audible conversations and screams from inside the locked and empty house. Three times in 2012, for example, neighbors called the police between March and May to report a black figure in the house, followed by a glow they thought was a fire. When the authorities arrived, the house was empty, silent, and locked up. On one website, I even found personal experiences posted online by former tenants:
I spent about six years of my childhood growing up in that house. I was always scared of the strange noises , they were not common but when it happened it sure got your attention fast. My mother would comfort me about the sounds and voices as a child but she mentioned years later about a woman she thought she had seen upstairs near my bedroom. She had always wondered if she had seen the apparition of the woman who had taken her own life decades ago. I for one never liked the old house and was happy when we relocated in the early 50s to Muncie.
There is no record of a suicide in the Monroe house. Another legend, unsubstantiated by fact. Later witnesses were equally emphatic:
I wanted to let everybody know there is something wrong with that house . A friend and I would spend a few hours peeking into the only window that’s not covered up .Finally seen and heard something. I clearly could hear talking . I can’t believe it, ghosts do exist . This crap is Not for me !!!!
Obviously, you have to take anonymous online posts with a grain of salt. There’s no way to verify the stories. However, researching a paranormal story means you’re looking for common themes…strands of lore that when woven together create a fabric of similarities too frequent to ignore. And when paranormal investigators chime in with their experiences, you have to sit up and take notice. One group’s experiences are chilling:
Once upstairs, where the smokey figure has been seen, we were unloading our equipment when something in the back bedroom clinked across the floor. We collected EVP’s upstairs telling us to GET OUT, DIE, and PRAY FOR US.
The story continues as the investigation took a turn for the worse.
Investigating the basement, where the story of the child’s death due to the fire occurred, the charred beams where the fire started were still visible. While taking pictures of this, the lights started to flicker and then went off leaving us in pitch blackness. Then suddenly my assistant screamed and ran up the stairs and out of the basement. Once outside she said it felt as though someone had touched her back, she had three deep scratches just below her neck. After this, she left and refused to go back inside.
That investigator story begins with the most well-known legend about the house – an unexplained fire that killed a small child. But the legend is just that: a legend. What makes this house’s story so frustrating is that the charred beams the investigator mentioned can still be seen in the basement, a mystery that no one has yet been able to solve…including me. I searched through fifty years of Hartford City newspaper articles, and there was never a documented fire at the Monroe house.
Another investigator, David Weatherly, contributes his own report on his blog:
During our time in the house, shadow figures darted all around inside the home. A door was slammed on us, as if something was attempting to confine us in a certain area. We experienced equipment issues, watched as a toy activated itself, and had several other strange events. We also heard disembodied voices, some of them children, or at least, what sounded like children.
Whatever is haunting the Monroe House, one thing is for certain: in the last few years, the paranormal activity has been thoroughly documented and appears not only to be escalating, but turning decidedly more violent and malicious. The Fourman Brothers of Living Dead Paranormal investigated the location in 2012 and 2013, and the evidence they uncovered was chilling.
But this week, it’s LiveSciFi’s turn to take on the Monroe House, and with their cameras live streaming the investigation twenty-four hours a day as investigators explore, investigate, and sleep in the residence, not only are the chances of documenting more paranormal activity substantially increased but the likelihood of encountering the core of the infestation in the house is elevated. And since those bone fragments were found in the Paranormal Lockdown episode (the bones were found during filming in August of 2016, but the episode aired on TLC and Destination America in December), Wood and his team will now have to confront these new and unusual elements head-on.
“Hauntings can be triggered by a variety of reasons, I believe that the bones that were discovered in the basement could tie in, as well as the numerous misfortunes that occurred to the families over the years that have lived in there.” Wood states.
Wood’s hypothesis seems logical. Without any documented deaths on the property, it makes sense that the bones were brought into the residence by a past tenant or owner for some reason – most likely occult related. Strangely enough, the area has a history of that sort of macabre activity. In 1994, in nearby Fort Wayne, two Satanists were running an unusual business – providing human remains to be used in occult rituals. They were busted by an undercover cop posing as a Satanist. The officer paid them $400 for a corpse, and the pair was subsequently arrested trying to steal a body from a mortuary.
“If the bones that were found in the house were from a human, then I find it very probable that the bones were placed in the basement for some type of ritual that was performed in the house at some time.” Wood adds, “I do believe that the bones were meant to be found, however.”
Meant to be found. Wood is not the first paranormal expert to suspect that someone deliberately brought in the bones, depositing them in the crawl space as part of a ritual. Rumors in Hartford City have long claimed that during the 1990s, tenants of the triplex were practicing occultists. The bones may be part of a curse, perhaps, like the one that seemed to infect the property in the early 1900s when an entire family was plagued by a series of bizarre and tragic events. That’s a possibility that Wood and his team must consider, as it could jeopardize the team’s safety.
But Wood is more interested in what they can find in the Monroe house, and what form the haunting will present to them this week. “Houses like this are almost begging to tell their story to investigators who are able and willing to listen. Perhaps we can unlock some the mysteries that occurred in the home that makes it haunted today.”
You have to wonder what part of the story the house will tell the LiveSciFi team this week. You can watch the story unfold yourself, from the safety of your living room and the security of your computer. Will Tim Wood and his investigators lure the entities of Monroe house into a confrontation? Or will the demon they suspect is in residence try to drive the team out? One thing’s for certain: after dozens of demonic investigations. Wood’s group won’t run screaming out of the house and refuse to return. Whatever story the ghosts of Monroe house decide to throw at LiveSciFi, the investigation – and the cameras – will roll on, while 460,000 subscribers on every continent are glued to their laptops.