A few years before he died, Gaither Pratt was once again called to a scene of poltergeist activity. It was 1974, and it involved a family in the small town of Powhatan, VA. The police had been contacted just as they had been in Seaford in 1958 [another poltergeist case I wrote about], and after determining that a prowler hadn’t been involved they reached out to Gaither who was working at the University of Virginia. Nothing much happened when Gaither first arrived. (More below …)
Then, on a Sunday evening, like the Reverend Schulze all those years ago [another case], Gaither found himself standing frozen while he watched a “chair tilt backward, gathering speed as it went, and slam its back against the wall.” For the next three hours it was as if the house was enchanted. A ghost-like hand was seen at a window. A closet door opened with a loud bang when Gaither walked past, and a tobacco pouch, a book of matches, and a magazine flew through the air. Members of the family ran back and forth to report other dreamlike flights of objects. Two weeks later when the family called begging for someone to come to the house immediately Gaither’s colleague John Palmer was there to take the call. The house had once again erupted. Among other things a stove was moving back and forth they told him, and doors to appliances and drawers were opening and closing by themselves. Just before Palmer arrived a stool slid across the floor, “pinning the grandmother and granddaughter into a corner.” They were able to escape and run outside. As Palmer’s car came up the drive the grandmother “felt a hard slap” and then a voice saying, “Go away. Go far away!” By the time Palmer reached her she was in tears.
Over the course of the investigation both Gaither and Palmer found evidence of intentional trickery on the part of the children, but the children said they did it to please the scientists, thinking they’d want to see even more things move unaided. In any case, their admission didn’t weaken Gaither’s confidence about the events he had witnessed directly when the children weren’t around.
When giving his opinion about the investigation Gaither spoke with greater conviction than he had in 1958. This was a genuine case of psychokinesis, he said. He later published a report saying that a large number of the disturbances happened under circumstances that made it possible for him to say, “with complete assurance that no normal explanation could be given.” John Palmer wasn’t so sure.
The next year, in the small town of Pearisburg, VA, a nine year old boy was placed into foster care with Mrs. Beulah Wilson, a widow. The two got along well, and the child was looking forward to having his first real Christmas. The disturbances began on December 19th. A neighbor ran over while everything was still happening and he was able to confirm with Mrs. Wilson that the boy was with them when things flew, fell or tipped over. It wasn’t the child acting out, not consciously at least. Mrs. Wilson said she thought the hand of the Lord was behind it, but she didn’t know why. Things erupted again on Christmas Eve and the police were called to take the boy away. Sadly, he spent Christmas Eve in a the police station and was picked up later by a social worker. “I personally have no doubt that this case was paranormal in nature,” Gaither wrote, while noting that a dozen presents for the boy remained unopened under the tree. Two days after Christmas the boy was placed in another foster home.
This story broke my heart a little. I just can’t get over the fact that this little boy thought he was going to have his first real Christmas and instead spent Christmas Eve in jail and Christmas right back wherever they put kids until another foster family took them. He never got to open those Christmas presents for him, which he must have been so excited to see.
(The house in the picture is from the Seaford poltergeist case I wrote about. I didn’t have any pictures from these stories.)