Halloween is a season stuffed with goblins and ghouls, most of which are born in the dark recesses of our imagination. Not this one. As unbelievable as this story may seem, the following events occurred exactly as described.
Our story begins two Halloweens ago, back when office kitchens were stuffed with homemade baked goods and overcrowded with chatty coworkers. We were gathered around a table in our North Scottsdale office, sharing spooky stories over a barbeque lunch. As a recently hired receptionist, I quickly learned that no one knows haunted houses quite like Realtors.
Some of us in the circle, myself included, had a penchant for the petrifying. Many of us did not; Greg Remmers, our managing broker, sat on a barstool with his arms crossed, clearly indifferent to all the mumbo-jumbo. But it was Tina Williams, a then-recent addition to the Walt Danley family, who proved the least affected. As it turned out, Tina was a seasoned ghost hunter, something none of us knew till that afternoon. “It started as research for one of my books, but I ended up loving it.”
Tina writes dark stuff, paranormal things mostly; haunted mansions stopped spooking her a very long time ago. “I don’t know why, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve liked scary things. I read my first Stephen King novel when I was eight years old, and it just sort of stuck.” Tina assured us that her involvement with ghost hunting had nothing to do with belief. “I’m a true skeptic, the one they send into rooms alone. But it’s a great hobby — you get to see cool parts of the country and some truly beautiful architecture, plus there’s a fascination with the very human stories behind all of the paranormal stuff. It makes you think about why people do the things they do and feel the things they feel.” It all sounded very level-headed.
“You’ve really never been scared by any of it?”
She paused. “Well, there was this one time. But it wasn’t during a hunt.”
“It was five or six years ago. I was at the beginning of my real estate career and had offered to hold an open house on behalf of a more established agent. It wasn’t my listing, so I was surprised when I pulled into the driveway. The entire neighborhood was beautiful, with high-end properties and manicured lawns. But this one — this one struck me as different. It was gorgeous, a massive Tudor-style mansion, sort of out of place in Paradise Valley. It was broad daylight when I stepped out of my car, but the feeling was instantaneous. I looked up at the big palladian window and immediately felt someone watching me. Not in a ghostly way. It felt like a person. I looked around and there was absolutely no one around, not even a landscaper. So I shrugged it off and unlocked the front door.
From the moment I entered, I was on edge. I walked into the foyer — complete with high, wood-paneled ceilings and a large chandelier — and tried to brush it off. I was a young professional and eager to prove myself, so I locked the front door and went about opening the house, which was a massive undertaking as the place was huge. I went from room to room turning on the lights before getting to the study. The room was pitch black, with heavy wood panelling and several tall bookshelves. That’s when I notice that one of the bookcases was actually a door. That’s apparently normal, to have a storage room hidden, like some Scooby Doo episode, but I couldn’t understand why it was open. The place had been vacant for years. I decided not to go into the room to close it, opting to turn on the lights in the master suite instead.
I walked into the room, turned the lights on, and the feeling of being watched became more intense. I was supposed to turn the lights on upstairs, but I couldn’t get myself to do it. I knew it was unprofessional, but the second I looked up the staircase, I felt an intense wave of dread. ‘I’ll just let the guests do it.’
I don’t think I was in the house for more than thirty minutes. And I’d spent the first fifteen just turning on lights. I had settled in the kitchen with my iPad when the noises started. ‘Don’t be crazy, the place is vacant, the agent told you herself.’ So I took a deep breath and walked back towards the master suite, where the sounds were coming from. I entered the room, thinking that maybe it was old pipes or an air conditioner, something logical. But the second I walked through the door, the noises stopped. I stood there for a couple of seconds, the feeling of eyes on me growing more and more intense. That’s when I heard what sounded like a vase hitting the ceiling above me, a loud thud followed by a slow roll over uneven wood flooring.
I was embarrassed to contact the agent, thinking that I would sound like a total rube, but I buckled and texted her.
Hey, is this house haunted?
She wrote back immediately.
Why do you ask?
Great, now I’d ruined my reputation before I could get my foot through the door.
Just keep hearing noises.
Where are the noises?
This wasn’t good.
Above the master.
She called me immediately. “So I don’t want you to freak out,” — it was far too late for that — “but a girl killed herself in the room above the master.” I looked up at the second floor, but I didn’t see a door. All I saw was a hallway, ending abruptly, covered with a large mirror. “If you want to leave, Tina, that’s okay.” At that point I was having trouble breathing. “Tina, I think you should leave.”
That’s when my phone started to cut out. I was having trouble hearing the other agent, so I grabbed my bag and started walking. When the foyer finally came into view, I had this sudden and unmistakable feeling that I was never going to reach the front door. It was indescribable, unlike anything I’d ever experienced. There was no logic to it, just fear. I was having trouble breathing. The phone was still breaking up. And I couldn’t stop thinking ‘I am never going to leave this house.’ I had never felt so terrified in my entire life.
Obviously, I did end up making it to the door. The second I was outside, I got my reception back. The agent could hear my breathing and helped me calm down. When I finally pulled myself together, she said the scariest thing I could think of in that moment. ‘Tina, I want you to look back at the house.’ I really didn’t want to, but I did. ‘Look up, on the second floor, on the far left.” I saw two little touret-like windows. ‘The furthest window, that’s where the girl killed herself. And, um, well, they blocked the room off. They sealed the doorway. No one has been in there in years.’” And I swear to God, the curtain moved.
Tina broke the trance. “It’s a pretty crazy story.” We stood stunned. “You have to understand,” she continued, “I sell luxury real estate, I have spent many hours alone in big houses. I have been alone in cemeteries at midnight. I have called to spirits in Tombstone. But nothing, absolutely nothing compares to the way this place made me feel.” The entire kitchen was bubbling with questions. Did you ever go back? Do you know anything about the girl? Tina assured us that she had been back many times, with everyone from her stoic, ex-military husband to her ghost hunting friends. “Everyone says the same thing. It feels like you’re being watched. It’s the house. The house is watching you.”
It was to our dismay that Tina left us hanging on that thread. She wrapped up a piece of cornbread and headed off to her open-house. The rest of us just sat there. Some were still unimpressed — Greg had not moved from his blasé perch on the barstool — but most of us couldn’t stop talking about our various experiences with hauntings. Fifteen minutes passed, and Allison Cahill was unsettling the team with a story from her haunted childhood home in Philadelphia. That’s when the second round of lunchers arrived, ready for their turn at the brisket. The fresh bout of people had missed Tina’s terrifying tale, so we didn’t bother trying to replicate it. A few more people offered their experiences with the occult before Dub Dellis unexpectedly chimed in. “You know, I really don’t buy into all this stuff, but there was this one time…”
“So this is back in the spring of 1996, when I had just started doing marketing for a local agency. The agent I was working with at the time had this huge estate listed, so when a potential buyer asked to stop by the property one evening, I drove over to open the house for him. It was twilight when I got there. When the buyer finally left, it was my job to walk through and turn off all of the lights in this vacant house. It was big, made of brick and dark wood, and always looked really out of place to me; it was a Tudor style, more suited to the midwest than the Valley. I’d never found it super creepy before. I’d never really found anywhere creepy. But that night it did.
Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t really get scared. It’s just not how I’m wired. I don’t care about scary movies or anything. But I do think that when it comes to these paranormal things, certain people are more sensitive to it. I am not one of those people. No one has ever accused me of being perceptive. But that night, it just felt like something was off, like something else was there. It wasn’t that I thought it was haunted, but I knew I needed to get out.
I remember– maybe not running — but walking at a very brisk pace through the house to turn off all the lights and lock all the doors. I finally got outside and sat inside my car for a second, trying to shake the heebie-jeebies I’d suddenly felt. But when I looked up at the house, the second floor window on the far left side still had a light on.
For a second I thought ‘it’s one light, nobody’s gonna notice. I could just leave.’ But I knew I couldn’t do that.
Quit being a wimp.
I took a breath and went back inside. That’s when it hit me: I’d been inside that house five or six times and I’d never noticed a room down there. I couldn’t find the light switch because I couldn’t find the room. I jumped to something logical — ‘maybe the architect put that window there for balance or something.’ But the longer I looked, the stranger it seemed. ‘Why is there a corridor leading nowhere?’
This time I was running. The front door felt further than it had before. When I got to my car, I was ready to fling myself behind the wheel and peel out of there. I really didn’t want to look at the house, but this disquieting feeling told me I had to. When I looked up, all of the lights were off, including the light in the room I couldn’t find. I ripped out of that driveway, and the second I got out of the neighborhood, I just started laughing. I’d never been so scared in my life.”
The silence in the room lasted but a few moments before disintegrating into chaos. Were you here for Tina’s story? Is it the same house? Dub was as flabbergasted as the rest of us. This time, Greg felt compelled to do some research. The MLS could not lie. We got Tina on the phone, and it was beyond a doubt — it was the same house. The same house, the same window, the same presence… twenty years apart.