By R. Patrick Murtha
I was living in Sacramento at the time in the '70s. I was a
junior in college, working full-time in the Sleep Lab, taking 16 semester hours
of classes, newly married and with a new house (actually, built in 1930s, but
it was our "first") and already getting a reputation for "ghost busting." (I
hate that term, but at the time the movie had just come out and it was
impossible to mention "ghost" without someone piping in "Who ya gonna
One evening a neighbor came by dragging another neighbor we
had yet to meet. He seemed a little hesitant and embarrassed but had been
mentioning to our other neighbor about some weird stuff that had been happening
around his house. Actually, these things would only happen once a year; on June
15th. Objects would move around. Particularly, the nice heavy "mantle clock"
just above the fireplace and, oddly, lots of tools and stuff in the garage out
back. Just as oddly all the fish in their backyard pond had died, every year
they'd lived there, all on the same day; June 15th. Well, guess what day it
After hearing the story I obligingly agreed to walk over and
just "get the feel" of the place without any commitments or bringing any of my
equipment with me. I didn't realize at the time just how upset he and his
family were because he kept apologizing for bothering me and stuff so I just
wanted to go over, take a peek, tell 'em everything was going to be ok and it
was probably all caused by their pre-teen son who was something of a
"hellraiser" in the neighborhood. Now HIM I knew. I figured the kid was jokin'
on his parents just to get a rise out of them or something..
Anyway, as soon as I entered the house I knew something was
going on BIGTIME! The hair on my arms stood straight up, my mouth went dry and
as soon as I stepped into the living room and was about to shake hands with the
lady of the house the clock on the mantle started chiming loudly. It was 8
minutes before 7 p.m. and clocks don't usually chime at that increment so we
all glanced over to it and it started to immediately turn in a circle sitting
on the hardwood recess just above the fireplace only 5 feet from me. It was an
older, heavy piece of clockwork weighing nearly 5 pounds. And it simply started
to turn in a circle on its 3 little pads supporting it. We stood there, just
staring at it, and as the back of the clock got to the outside I looked at them
both with my jaw down at my ankles and started to say
when there was a very distinct whisper that blew
through the room. It said, quite clearly..."Theee pooooond...the ponnnnd."
There was nothing subtle about it and as the whisper continued for about 20
seconds I looked around the room at the husband, the wife and the boy and there
was no way any of them were faking this sound.
"See what I mean?" the husband asked as the clock came to a
rest in perfect synch with the end of the whisper, exactly where it started. I
immediately went over to it, looked over, under and around it for some
explanation. No wires, no magnets, nothing. I picked it up carefully and set it
back down and it immediately started turning again. I jumped back 5 feet,
nearly knocking over the wife.
"GOD!" I exclaimed...my eyes bugged out, my mouth open. I
had never witnessed such an obvious event up to that time and was sorry I
hadn't brought my camera with me.
It turned out that the clock had been left by the previous
owners...those folks that had originally built and lived in the house the first
40 years it was there. "We found it out in the garage, along with a couple of
boxes of stuff like photo albums, paper clippings and the like." the husband
"And THAT." the wife finished. They were a lot more relaxed
about this than I, having now gotten used to the yearly going's on around the
Over the period of the next six months of investigation,
including bringing in one of my "sensitive" friends who'd helped me on other
investigations and doing a lot of reading through the paper clippings and
photos in the boxes, I became to realize that something very wrong was going
on. The original owner, Mr. H, was a prominent businessman in town. Partners
with his life-long friend who lived next door. The business is still
flourishing as I speak.
On June 15th, 20 years previously, there had been a backyard
party with Japanese lanterns, a hired band, 100 guests and a big barbecue. The
occasion was the opening of their 3rd store in the greater Sacramento area.
According to the accounts of the Sacramento Bee and the subsequent police files
on the case at approximately 10 minutes to 7 PM, as people were dancing and
talking and laughing, Mr. H "accidentally" fell headfirst into the pond
unnoticed by his guests and drown. I became convinced, along with my assistant,
that his partner had been the cause of his death; either accidentally or on
purpose, thereby taking full control of the business (his heirs now own it
outright and are millionaires). I was never able to prove this of course, but
there were things happening in the garage; particularly when a photo album
opened right before the two of us to the page that had a picture of he and his
partner. His photo showing a big smile for the camera, his partners' expression
was one of contempt and evil undertones and other things that really let us
know that his death was anything BUT an accident. Every once in awhile I have a
dream where I'm standing over the pond, very much like the one in the photo,
and I see Mr. H's body lying there, his partner tiptoeing away in the darkness
to join up quietly with a group of partygoers.
Both my partner and I were convinced that Mr. H's business
partner had a direct hand in the death of his partner, however, there was not
enough evidence; either to take to the police or to defend ourselves in a court
of law against slander/libel charges. Very unsettling, to be sure.