Utah Paranormal Exploration and Research (UPER) approached the folks at Dead Haven, an Ogden, Utah, haunted house, in October of 2001 with a theory and a goal. The theory: that energy generated from strong emotional responses -- such as fright -- can attract paranormal activity. Additionally, we wondered if the absence of such an energy source might cause activity to decrease. Our goal was to track and record, within this fluctuating environment, the rise and fall of paranormal activity.
Dead Haven has been in its current location at 159 23th St. since 2001. The building was once a farm implement store built in the early part of the twentieth century, although in the last twenty-plus years a number of smaller businesses have occupied the address, including a craft shop and a wood-working shop.
Dead Haven’s management currently utilizes most of the upstairs and almost all of the basement area -- approximately 35,000 square feet -- for its haunted attraction. In most instances, these “haunted” rooms and mazes were left standing during UPER’s investigations, being changed only as each new Halloween season approaches.
UPER decided to focus its attention on a commercial haunted house for a couple of
reasons. First, we wanted a location capable of generating intense levels of emotion, which a haunted house certainly provides, and second, we were looking for a place with an extended period of inactivity; once again, easily supplied by the off season.
Dead Haven had already been open for six weeks when UPER moved in on Halloween Night, 2001. From the beginning, we began to pick up what we believed was paranormal activity, but that activity quickly began to wane when the house shut down for the season.
By the summer of 2002, anything we felt could be of paranormal origin seemed erratic at best. Some nights were completely silent, and the loud bangs often associated with haunted places, and evident within Dead Haven in the weeks immediately following Halloween of 2001, had ceased as well.
Activity began to increase in the fall of 2002 as the Dead Haven crew began gearing up for another season. Dark, fleeting shadows were seen by cast and crew, and unexplained banging from unoccupied rooms were recorded. Perhaps the most significant event of the season occurred late one night well after closing. A distinctive, feminine moan was heard by several members of the UPER team, coming from an adjoining room where a lot of the activity that season seemed to be centered. A nightshot video recorder, as well as audio recorders, picked up not only the moan, but our reactions to it.
The Investigation Continues
Unlike 2001, when activity quickly tapered off after the haunted house shut down for the season, the fall and early winter of 2002 remained active right into the New Year, peaking on the first weekend in January 2003.
When the UPER team arrived on January third, a Friday night, it seemed like business as usual. We gathered in the former cast room, where Dead Haven’s actors would dress and apply makeup for the night’s entertainment, to ready our equipment, then descended into the basement, where our best recordings had been made so far. Spreading out, we did a quick search of the premises to make sure we were alone, as transients are known to frequent the area and we wanted to be certain none had broken into the building in search of shelter.
Once we were confident the building was secure, we set up our equipment, then returned to what was called the Orientation Room, a cold but relatively comfortable spot with sofas and chairs, centrally located in the Dead Haven basement. It was around the Orientation Room that most of the haunted house’s scenes and mazes ran. Here, we talked and asked for feedback from any entities that might be on hand. It seemed like a typical night until we split up to check our equipment. It was then that probably the most significant event of the Dead Haven investigation occurred.
Tracey was photographing the “bloody bed” area of the Bloody Mary Room -- one of Dead Haven’s attractions -- when an elderly woman appeared in her viewfinder, standing quietly on the opposite side of the bed and staring down toward the headboard. Tracey quickly snapped a photo with her digital camera, but although the room came out clearly, there was no sign of the woman. However, a bluish cast tinged the photo. When several other photographs were taken of the room, even with different cameras, the flash always seemed to bathe the area in the same faint blue light. That had never happened before, and it hasn’t happened since.
Over the following weeks, our research uncovered some interesting tidbits. That section of Ogden where Dead Haven is currently located was allegedly, in the 1960s and 1970s, a fairly rough neighborhood. Small, rundown homes and low-rent apartment buildings were a haven for alcohol and drug abuse.
While interviewing a former resident of the area, it was learned that an elderly woman had suffered a tragic and unexpected death in one of the apartments. Further research on microfilm turned up her obituary. From that same year -- 1974 -- four additional obituaries of women with similar features were copied, and the five photos -- pictures only; names and print were removed -- were placed in front of Tracey. She immediately identified the woman she’d seen in Dead Haven’s Bloody Mary Room as the woman who had died in her apartment almost thirty years before!
Despite Tracey’s identification and some EVP that appears to be of an elderly woman -- the moan we’d heard earlier that season was also speculated to belong to an elderly woman -- UPER has nothing to confirm that they are the same person. Still, the coincidences are intriguing, and for some time afterward, UPER continued its attempts to contact the source of the EVP and the woman Tracey saw. Sadly, no further activity has been recorded that can be attributed to an elderly woman.
What we didn’t know was that Tracey’s encounter with the elderly woman on Friday night would be the start of what we would later term “Super Weekend.”
After Tracey’s encounter with the elderly woman on Friday night, the entire UPER crew turned out the next night. We arrived around 8:00 P.M. and once again readied our equipment in the old cast room. Merry had invited several non-members that night who were late, and we were forced to wait upstairs until they arrived. It was here, as we waited for Merry’s guests, that the first encounter of the evening occurred, although it would be several hours later before we recognized it for what it was. Once again, it was Tracey who was at the center of the excitement.
In her own words: I guess the first that I really felt anything weird was when we were upstairs in the cast room and that is when I really started feeling cold. I was kind of in my own world and I felt like I was being drawn into myself. I felt cold just like before the little girl hit me and made me feel so incredibly sad. [Tracey is referring to another investigation when she mentions the little girl.]
Then, when we were downstairs, I was getting tired and feeling sick and kind of disinterested...I could hear people talking but wasn't really drawn into what they were saying, but I became very aware when hearing noises...like the growling [described by others who heard it as a “derisive snort”], or anything making a noise [other] than people talking. I also was drifting in and out of nausea. [At one point]it was so bad that I went upstairs for the Coke, [then] out to the truck to warm up. When I left [the basement], I would start to feel better. When I went outside I felt a lot better.
When everyone was going through the haunted house, I was feeling out of it. I was following what was going on, but I was very unstable...not dizzy but kind of weak and stumbled over things a lot.
When Kasey brought the crackers [around midnight; Kasey is a former team member who was late that night; she was asked to pick up some crackers on the way in because Tracey wasn’t feeling well, but didn’t want to abandon the investigation], my stomach began to feel better, but I still felt out of it and so extremely cold. When I finally put on my gloves and the blanket, I was cold all the way [through.] I could never really warm up after that, until I left the basement and was on my way home.
But Tracey wasn’t the only one feeling something out of the ordinary that night. Several UPER members remarked on a "heaviness" uncharacteristic for that building, and one that had not been felt there before.
Tracey was already starting to draw into herself when our guests arrived, although she didn’t mention it at the time. After moving downstairs with our equipment, we split into small groups for a walkabout -- standard procedure to make sure no one else was in the building.
Once we were satisfied the building was empty, we returned to the Orientation
Room. It was here that Tracey curled up in a chair with a blanket. There was some concern for her well-being, but she assured us she was okay, just tired after a long day at work. Shortly afterward, several members of the party thought they heard a man making a loud, derisive snorting sound [the growling from Tracey’s description] from the sheet maze in the southwest corner of the building. Spreading out to cover all exits from the maze, UPER thoroughly explored the area but found nothing.
There were several other unexplained noises in the early part of that second evening of Super Weekend, unusual to those of us who had spent considerable time there in all kinds of weather and in every season. By this time, we felt we were familiar with most of the noises the building made, but these were unidentifiable. It wasn’t until several of our guests left around midnight, however, that things really began to pick up.
We had just returned to the Orientation Room from checking the tapes in our video and audio recorders, placed throughout the lower level, and had settled down to discuss what we wanted to do next. Tracey and one of the remaining guest, Dave, were sitting next to each other near the door through which the EVP of the elderly woman had been recorded the night before. Both were starting to feel ill, but didn’t mention it until later.
At one point, Tracey went upstairs to step outside, where she began to feel better, but upon returning to the Orientation Room, her fatigue and nausea came back, this time stronger than before. She returned to her seat beside Dave and soon curled up with her blanket again.
Not long after that, Dave reported that it felt as if something or someone had grabbed his whole body in a bear hug and squeezed. His movements and facial features supported his claims. Feeling slightly panicked, Dave went upstairs, where he also said he quickly began to feel better. But when he returned to his seat in Orientation, he was once more assailed by sensations of tightness and unease -- typical symptoms of anxiety, to be sure, but we didn’t want to dismiss it too easily. Tracey later admitted that, although she appeared to be sleeping, she could hear us talking plainly at this point, she just couldn’t wake up enough to respond.
It was also at this time that UPER’s general manager, Merry, asked whoever was in the room to stop whatever it was it was doing, and to not cause any harm or discomfort to those of us there. Almost instantly, Dave said it felt as if he was grabbed and squeezed extremely tight. Jumping to his feet, he quickly went upstairs with two UPER members following him. As earlier, and as with Tracey, once he got upstairs, he said he felt fine, but as soon as he returned to the Orientation Room, the heaviness came back. Shortly afterward, he decided to abandon the investigation and go home.
With just the UPER team on hand now, it was decided that we would stay to continue the investigation. Frankly, wild horses couldn’t have pulled us away. Even Tracey was determined to stay and see what happened next.
Deciding on action, the group split into two parties, with Tracey electing to remain behind in the Orientation Room because of the extreme cold that night. Upon reflection, that was a probably a poor decision on everyone’s part. Even though she was only a shout and less than a minute away from even the most remote corner of the basement, we hadn’t taken into consideration that, with Dave gone and the rest of us moving out in different directions to do some exploring, we were leaving Tracey at the mercy of whatever it was that seemed to be hanging around that part of the building.
Of course, we still weren’t sure anything was hanging around. It wasn’t until several days later that we learned from Tracey that, as we left Orientation, she could hear our voices moving away from her, as if into the distance, until she finally couldn’t hear us at all. Then she says she heard a single person walking toward the room; the presence paused at the door where the elderly woman’s EVP had been recorded, then came on into the room and stood by the sofa where Tracey was resting. She said she wanted to talk to it, but felt so tired, cold, and nauseated, she couldn’t even look up. Then she heard the rest of us returning and kind of “came back.”
There was no one in the room with Tracey, and none of the UPER members had left their groups to return alone. Additionally, a camera that had been left running outside the room, the same room where the elderly woman’s EVP had been recorded and where the presence had paused, had been turned off, even though it had been checked when we walked out and was running fine, with more than 30 minutes of tape left. It didn’t just stop running. The switch was turned off.
We decided to do one more sweep of the basement as a group, not sure what to make of the incident with the camera. As we made our way through the mazes, we came to the “lab” of the mad scientist. Here, it felt even colder than normal, and several members reported an eerie feeling. When Michael arrived with a camcorder, the images on the screen seemed not so much out of focus, but moving in a kind of undulating pattern, as if something stood between us and the rest of the “lab.” When we moved on to the next room, the camera started to function normally again.
Returning to a central hallway that ran down the center of the basement, we checked the camcorder as thoroughly as possible under such low light conditions, meanwhile discussing the numerous events that had occurred over the past two nights -- probably more in that one weekend than we’d collected in the previous fourteen months, or since, for that matter.
As we were talking, footsteps were again heard from the sheet maze, not far away. Once more, we spread out to cover the maze’s exits, and this time we tossed the sheets over the top of the crossbeams as we passed through them, so that we were able to open up the entire area. As before, the maze was empty, and deciding that enough was enough, even for the most curious among us, we gathered our gear and called it a night.
The Weekend’s Over
Needless to say, the whole team was on hand the following weekend, but any hope for another Super Weekend was quickly dashed. As soon as we walked into the cast room upstairs, we knew the presence that we had felt so strongly the week before was gone. In fact, the place seemed even more quiet than usual.
Save for some questionable EVP, recorded close to where the sheet maze stood, Dead Haven remained quiet throughout the rest of that winter. As time passed, UPER began to move on to other investigations, returning only periodically until the 2003 Halloween season. But unlike previous seasons, this period also remained relatively quiet -- with one notable exception.
On October 8, Merry arrived at Dead Haven early in the evening, just as the haunted
house opened for the night. She was met outside by an EMT, who, with a couple of
security people, had gone upstairs to look around. The trio became unaccountably
“uncomfortable,” and hurriedly abandoned the attic. The EMT was still quite shaken when she ran into Merry and described what had happened.
Later, Merry and one of Dead Haven’s owners decided to go into the attic and just sit. Merry went first, alone, and in her own words: I sat at the top of the stairs with the lights off. I spoke out loud for a couple of minutes when I heard fairly loud footsteps coming up the stairs towards me, and on the third footstep I could feel the step my [foot] was on give way to weight. Jason came in at that time and all went quiet. He joined me at the top of the stairs and I started talking again and coaxing the guest to make itself known. Jason and I both heard the heavy bump from the right of us -- the furthermost room to the west -- but I did not hear the stair creak. Jason did. We were both looking down the stairwell and could see the light from the dock underneath [the door.] We both felt and remarked at the same time about the goose bumps and [the] chill in the stairwell[.] At that time we both noticed the stairwell seemed to have a heavy black cloud that was swirling and sometimes obscuring all or part of the light from underneath the door. We were unable to tell if it was in front of the door, filling the stairwell, or in front of our faces, but it did feel as though we were entering a part of another place and time. As we were talking about the dark cloud we felt something directly in front of us[.] The goose bumps and hair standing on end was very intense, as was the feeling of being touched. I became a little light headed and disoriented[.] Jason was just [as] disoriented. It got a little more intense as I felt that it was actually trying to enter my body and I requested loudly for it not to, several times. My chest had a cold feel, so cold it felt hot. All of the sudden it was gone, everything [--] the cloud, the cold, everything in the blink of an eye. I told Jason it was time to leave and that he needed to get a padlock on the door ASAP. As we talked about it afterward, we both agreed that the feeling of disorientation was like going under laughing gas. I did not feel threatened, [but] rather that it was trying very hard to communicate [with us.] It was clear and 65 degrees at the time, the moon near full 95%.
And that, as they say, was that. Nothing of any real significance occurred in the weeks that followed, and Dead Haven once again seems quiet -- perhaps even sleeping. What happens in the future? That’s something we’d all like to know.
UPER would like to thank Dead Haven's management for the unique opportunity it has afforded us by allowing the team almost unlimited access to a building with known paranormal activity, located in a part of town rich with a long and often bloody heritage, dating back to its days as a rowdy railroad stop in the 1860s. We plan to continue our investigations there, as well as at other sites in the Ogden, Utah area. The Dead Haven portal will be updated as events warrant. Thank you for stopping by.