Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Toys R Us Ghost, Sunnyvale, CA

In 1970, toy store magnate, Toys 'R' Us added a new store to its chain, located about a half hour south of San Francisco.  Soon after the store opened, employees began noticing something just wasn't right.

Management would return to unlock the store each morning and find merchandise scattered over the aisles, and flung around haphazardly on shelves.  Books, roller skates, and skateboards littered the aisles, despite the assurance that all was well the evening before. 

Employees began complaining to their manager that they felt as they were being tapped, and young women with long hair often reported the caressing stroke of an unseen hand on their locks.

In one incident, a metal loading door was lowered, and immediately, staff heard beating on the door, and someone screaming "Let me out!"  The door was opened, and no one was found.  On another night, two male staff members were sent to the rear of the store, and came back shaken because they had heard someone clomping around in heavy boots...despite the fact that no one in the store at the time was wearing such shoes.  One of the creepiest incidents involved a talking doll that wouldn't stop screaming "Momma!" when locked away in a lock box.

Although the majority of incidents happened to staff, visitors to the store would occasionally experience paranormal events as well, especially in the women's restroom.  One female customer complained to management after the faucet kept turning itself back on as she walked away.

By 1978, a reporter from San Francisco had caught wind of the hauntings, and personally set up an investigation with psychic Sylvia Browne.  Browne was joined by photographer Bill Tidwell and several assistants and together, the group attempted to contact the spirit(s) causing all the trouble.  Research on the property had led them to believe that the ghost was most likely John Murphy.  Murphy was a wealthy rancher in southern California, and his ranch had stood on the spot where the building now stood.

Browne did manage to make contact with the spirit, but to everyone's amazement...it wasn't John Murphy. 

Browne saw a young man in his 20s/30s.  He was tall and thin, and wore a short brown jacket.  He had his hands stubbornly crammed into the pockets, and looked forlornly down at the floor.  The entity spoke to Browne in a Swedish accent, telling her that his name was Johnny Johnson, and that she had better move if she didn't want to get her feet wet.

Although the only "evidence" that was gleamed from this investigation was a photo with a bright spot of light, subsequent research was able to back up what Browne had claimed of the entity.

Johnny Johnson had come to California during the Gold Rush from Pennsylvania, but for unforeseen reasons, had been working as a circuit preacher in the area.  Around this time, he had fallen deeply in love with Elizabeth Yuba Murphy (later Tafee), the daughter of John Murphy.  Johnny was devastated when his beloved Beth left the ranch to be married to a prominent, and rich, lawyer.

Johnny never got over losing his love, and shortly after, contracted encephalitis, significantly impairing his mental abilities, and earning him the nickname "Crazy Johnny".  As a result, Murphy kept him on at the ranch as a ranch hand.  Johnny lived to the age of 80, dying in 1884 after he cut his leg chopping wood and bled to death.  The team also found out that a well had once stood approximately where Browne had been standing at the time.

Two years later, the TV show "That's Incredible" decided to run a feature on the Sunnyvale Ghost, hoping that he'd make an on-air appearance.  Sylvia Browne and Bill Tidwell were once again invited to lead to the investigation, which this time, led to some VERY interesting results.

This time, Tidwell brought with him infrared film...and the result is the photo above.  A form of a young man standing, leaning against the shelves was not present to the naked eye.   A photo taken by an assistant at the same time with normal film yielded no results.

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