By Bob Bielk/Asbury Park Press
A New Jersey couple is suing the landlord of their three-bedroom ranch house in Toms River, claiming it's haunted
, theAsbury Park Press
Josue Chinchilla, 37, and Michele Callan, 36, fled the house in March after staying only one week and want their $2,250 security deposit back.
They claim they had to endure a series of "paranormal activity" at the house, including lights that switch on and off by themselves, clothes and towels mysteriously ejected from closets, unintelligible whispering, footsteps in the kitchen and a mysterious force tugging at bedsheets during the night.
A hearing before Judge Steven F. Nemeth is expected at the end of April, Press reporter Erik Larsen writes.
Backing up their claim is Marianne Brigando, co-founder of NJ Paranormal Investigators of Old Bridge, who tells the newspaper that their investigation show that the house is the site of an active or intelligent haunting, one level above a residual (!) haunting.
A pastor, Terence Sullivan of the Element Church in North Brunswick, who has counseled the family through the ordeal and even blessed the house, has concluded that the house has been subjected to a "demonic possession," the Press reports.
In response, orthodonist Dr. Richard Lopez, who owns the house, has filed a countersuit charging that the couple is using the specter of paranormal activity as a cover for personal financial troubles. In short, he claims they can't afford the place and want their money back.
Moreover, his attorney says no one has ever claimed before that the house is spooked.
Callan counters by saying she would not have plunked down $4,000 for the deposit and rent just to pick up and leave seven days later unless something serious was going on.
"I would not have hired a moving truck, packed and unpacked, had my mother take off time from work to watch the kids," she tells the newspaper. "The whole idea was to get a nice, big home for the kids ... But there's no way I'm going back there."
The couple claim their lives would be in mortal danger if they attempted to move back into the house. The ordeal also has taken a toll on Chinchilla's health, they say. He was briefly hospitalized for panic attacks associated with his experiences inside the home, the newspaper reports.
In 1976, George and Kathy Lutz stirred up similar skepticism over their motives when they claimed that supernatural forces drove them from their new home in Amityville, N.Y., after 28 days.
A book about their experiences entitled, The Amityville Horror,was later turned into a 1979 movie starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder.
Where was that movie filmed? In Toms River, N.J.