Thursday, February 6, 2014

My Shadow

I was standing in my living room, and the sun, which we have not seen in quite some time, was out. This was my shadow. I love how it looks.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013

House of Judah, Lee Township

The House of Judah camp was located in Lee Township. It was a savage religious cult of supposed black Israelites that lived under the villainous command of self proclaimed prophet William Lewis.  

This cult was the outcome of intense craziness and paranoia, guided by evil and a literal translation of the Old Testament.

Almost 31 years ago, many of the suspicions became a horrible reality, after the battered, bruised and beaten body of 12 year old John Yarbrough showed up in the back of a pick up truck at the local hospital. He died shortly after arriving.

It was common for members to be beaten in public, and to be disfigured as punishment. This would be your fate if you went against Lewis' fury of insanity.

This camp was compared to that of Nazi concentration camps.

Public records state that 12 year old John Yarbrough was tortured for many days with burning coals and beaten with a wooden ax handle as punishment for watching TV, instead of doing chores.

Eventually, Lewis and his lieutenants were convicted of slavery. Yarbrough's mother, Ethel Yarbrough, was convicted of manslaughter in 1983.

In November, 2013, my husband, Todd and fellow investigator found the remains of what was the guard house, and possibly the punishment/isolation room, which was connected to the guard house.

There is a two track road that goes along the side of the guard house. This leads to the remains of the compound.

This was a very heavy & dark place. The surrounding area of the ruins is not a very welcoming area either, and I mean from the living. 
We are, however planning on a Spring trip back to the site, and taking along investigating equipment.

Below are photographs I took in and around the remains of the guard house, and possible punishment/isolation room.

The last photograph is from the Kalamazoo Gazette archives.

 Some of the solitary confinement structure can be seen
through the wood ruins. (SEE PHOTO BELOW).
 Behind this wooden door, was a metal structure. Todd
and I believe it to be a solitary confinement unit. It was cleverly
 I was really surprised to find this Bible.
 Sad remains of stuffed animals. Possibly from the children
of the House of Judah, or perhaps gifts left over the past
30 years, to maybe comfort those who were tortured.
 From the front/side.
 As we approached side of what was possibly
the children's punishment area, which was attached to the
guard house, and accessed by a single door.
 Approaching buildings from where Todd & I
had to park.

 Front of guard house from the road.
 Outside view of guard house and possible
children's punishment room. All of the House of Judah's
dwellings were painted blue & white.
Approaching the buildings. 
 Standing inside what could possibly have been
the children's punishment area. Through the
doorway in corner, was the guard house.

Ethel Yarbrough convicted of manslaughter
in 1983. Allegan County.
(Photograph from the Kalamazoo Gazette Archives).

All photographs and text copyrighted by Crystal Johnson Overhuel, *except for the photograph of Ethel Yarbrough, which is from the Kalamazoo Gazette archives).

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Yellow Motel

The Yellow Motel, located in now part of the Allegan County Forest, was reportedly once owned by the infamous Al Capone. It is no secret that Capone had many "hide-a-ways" throughout southwest Michigan. It is said that when things got "too hot" in Chi-town, Capone and his men made tracks to the Yellow Motel.

I have heard that Capone and his henchmen would conduct meetings in the tunnels beneath the structure. Legend also has it that there is quicksand in the way back of the property, where stool pigeons and back talkers ended up.

Another story surrounding the Yellow Motel is that it was once painted blue, and the very next day, was yellow once again.

While the Yellow Motel was still a structure, (it caught fire and burned in 1997. The local fire department arrived, and the decision was made to let it burn to the ground), locals would see a phantom woman, gazing out the window.

The Yellow Motel remains fresh in the surrounding community. It was once a meeting place for a coven of witches, including influential people in Allegan.

All that remains on the property is the original tennis court, some of the foundation, the circular driveway and a great ravine that runs along the back of the property. There have been recent stories of adventure seekers being chased by a ghostly white dog that disappears before an eminent attack. Tales of a phantom 1930's car speeding down the dirt road, headlights bright and disappearing as quick as it had appeared.

My husband and fellow investigator, Todd, and I went to the site of the Yellow Motel in November 2013. We located the tennis courts, parts of the foundation, some of which were still very much intact, the circular drive, part of what we believe to be a flag pole, and the long ravine. 

We could not locate any evidence of the tunnels, or quicksand. We did however, notice that although it was a sunny day, it was eerily darker in the surrounding areas of the Yellow Motel. (Although this is part of the Allegan Co. Forest, it is not dense or thick in this area, and there is still quite a bit of evidence of the fire, as the trees show the signs). There were no birds. No other animals (squirrels, etc) anywhere in this area.

It was not a windy nor breezy day, yet as we stood on the tennis court, we could hear a creaking, as if someone were rocking back and forth, or walking on a creaky porch.

As we wondered the grounds, we felt as though we were being watched, and quite frankly, not welcomed. 

Below are some of the photographs I took. We plan on going back in the Spring, and using Paranormal Investigating equipment.

 Looking to where we believe the original structure was.
 As I mentioned in article, the Yellow Motel burned 
down in 1997. As I was walking, I kicked up this
piece of the original Yellow Motel
 The ravine at back of property. There are two
drainage tunnels at each end.
 Looking at the tennis court.
 Coming to the ravine.
 From the tennis court.
 By the driveway.
 Possible well? Or tunnel entrance?
 A close up of the piece of the Yellow Motel I found.
 Part of the circular driveway.
 Another view of where we believe the original structure was.
 On the tennis court.
 Another view of the tennis court.
My husband  Todd, heading to the back of property.

All images and text are copyrighted by Crystal Johnson Overhuel.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Spirits or Dust?

Orbs. The highly controversial subject of paranormal investigation. On one 
hand, some (including Paranormal Investigators/Researchers) believe that some orbs are real. True evidence of spirit activity. On the other hand, there is a growing number of Paranormal Investigators/Researchers who believe orbs are nothing more than dust. Little airborne particles of dust. And, you also have those who are right in the middle. Orbs are also referred to as plasmoids, light spots, spheres, balls of light, and Basic Life Forms.

The orb phenomenon is really a modern day puzzle. If we look back to the late 1990's, many people have been capturing strange anomalies on their cameras, and not surprisingly, many orbs were captured using consumer digital cameras. Digital cameras did not really hit the mass market until the late nineties. 

Before the big " I have GOT to get a digital camera" phase, 35mm cameras, (still my camera of choice!) 126 and the 110 pocket camera, and let us not forget the Polaroids, were the norm. And orbs were certainly not a common phenomenon! Even today 35mm cameras yield almost zero orbs, and digital SLR's greatly minimize them. As consumer compact digital cameras get smaller, the reports of orb phenomenon increases due to the short distance of the flash to the lens.

So which direction to go? Believer? Skeptic? Or somewhere in the middle? As a serious Paranormal Investigator/Researcher, think for yourself
Is it possible that spirit orbs do exist? It is as possible as anything else in this field.
My opinion? Orbs are paranormally irrelevant, and should be looked at as an annoyance.

The scientific explanation of orbs is to think about your basic knowledge of photography. Camera out of focus? Your image will be. When an orb is captured on a photograph, you probably have your camera set on auto-focus and have clicked a shot of a room. Everything is in focus, except you had a dust particle floating close to your lens, or far from your lens. Either way, you will see a reflection of the camera's flash from that particle! Same is true with moisture in the air. Keep this in mind, too, no room is dust free! Dust is everywhere and can show up randomly, especially in digital photos. So, the weight of evidence in explaining orbs is overwhelmingly natural and scientific.

Many orbs can appear to be paranormal, but turn out to have a natural source/explanation as you continue to examine. This is considered a false - positive. This is a term used in reviewing evidence that describes a natural occurrence misidentified as a paranormal phenomenon. For example: there is sporadic banging sounds that seem to have a paranormal source, but upon investigating, it is the furnace. The vast majority of orbs are false - positives. Always approach and review investigation evidence such as photos and videos from the initial standpoint that they contain false - positives.

As a serious Paranormal Investigator/Researcher, I can't fall into the dubious beliefs just because they are popular. At the very least we have to discover some kind of evidence that will lead to a rational conclusion regarding the validity of spirit orbs. We do have this on other areas, like EVP's, but with orbs, who can prove that they are spirit generated? Nobody. So for all intent purposes, orbs are paranormally meaningless and insignificant. If spirit orbs exist, they are rare and only subjective evidence can link them to spirit activity.

These three photographs were taken in the old Plainwell Paper Mill during renovation. Although the obs look cool and I would like to think I captured spirits, they are debunked as dust and airborne particles. (Circa 2011).

All images and text copyrighted by Crystal Johnson Overhuel.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Kalamazoo, MI

Growing up in downtown Kalamazoo, Michigan, in the mid 1960's & 1970's, we had bicycle and exploration freedom. I was raised in a 3 story house, on West North Street. This is where  I became aware of the paranormal.

 Although I did not know it as "paranormal," I knew there were ghosts, spirits & haunted places. I was probably 7 or 8 years old, when I observed one of our rocking chairs beginning to rock, back and forth, steadily rocking. Rocking comfortably and peacefully... with no one in the chair. No one that I could see. This was the first of many paranormal incidents that I had the pleasure of being a part of.

As I grew, I was always aware of these incidents, yet as I moved through life, my paranormal interest was put on the back burner. Now, at the age of 54, my interest is off that back burner, and in my present. I just completed and received a certificate in Paranormal Investigation 101. I am currently working on my certification to become a certified Paranormal Investigator.

I will be writing and posting photographs as I go along. There may be no rhyme nor reason to the order in which I write, or the photographs I post, but it is my  hope to generate interest among other people who are interested in Paranormal Investigations/Research and the history behind the locations, events, etc.

TB Hospital circa 2010. WMU purchased property and recently had it demolished. I was one of the lucky ones who adventured and explored it many years ago before vandals and druggies spoiled it. There are townhouses on the property now.
You can GOOGLE TB Hospital, Kalamazoo and find some pretty cool You Tube videos.

The grounds of this place were heavy & dark. This swing set still remained in 2010. 

All images are copyrighted by Crystal Johnson Overhuel. Please do not use images without written permission from author.
The front east side of the building. 2010

*All images and writings are copyrighted by Crystal Johnson Overhuel.