Friday, September 14, 2007

An Interesting Research Problem

Here is an email query that we recently received at our CVGS query box:

"I have tenants who are moving out due to paranormal incidents. They claim that the house is haunted and that mirrors have had "get out" written on them in strange writing and several other scary unexplained things have happened. I never heard of anyone dying or being murdered there but can't seem to find info for that [property at xxx Center St Chula Vista CA 91910]. Please guide me in the right direction for this particular info, hopefully free, cause I am broke now more than ever due to the tenants moving out hastily."

NOTE: I have edited this a bit and taken out identifying information.

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My response was:

"Newspaper articles are probably the only way to find out what you are asking - and probably the twice-weekly Chula Vista Star-News is better than the daily San Diego Union. Unfortunately, the Star-News is not indexed, at least at the Chula Vista library. There is a card file index of sorts at the National City library in the Local History Room, but I'm not sure that it will have murder stories indexed. It's worth a try.

"Another thing that could be done is to search the city directories to determine the residents of xxx Center St from 1900 to about 1975 (the approximate time that directories are available). Both the CV and NC libraries have collections of city directories. Those residents could then be checked in the CA death index (available 1905 to 1997) for a death date, and then an obituary could be sought that might shed light on your problem.

"Census records for 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930 might provide some information on the residents.

"Property records might also be checked down at the County Assessor/Recorder office - the last 20 years or so are available online. Since you are the owner of the property, do you have a Title search in your papers? There may have been one done when you purchased the property - it may be in the escrow files available at a realtor or Title company. A call to a Title company might help you determine if records like that are kept for a long time. The County Assessor/Recorder may also have something like that - you might go down there (3rd & I St in CV). You could at least ask them about it.

"How old is the house? Do you know when it was built? How long have you owned it? The problem is, of course, if it has always been a rental then there may have been hundreds of residents over the life of the house. There is no guarantee that the apparition was an owner - it could be a spouse or child or visitor in the house"

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What else would you recommend for this correspondent? Does anyone have expertise in something like this? Would a newspaper "morgue" (if one still exists) catalog items by address or even by city?

1 comment:

Greg said...

I would imagine you would have the best luck by going back through the deed records to see who each previous owner of the unit was. Then, try to find information on them rather than trying to find data on the location.

There is another option, although it may sound silly. I'm a fan of the Ghost Hunters program on the SciFi channel. They have tracked down previous owners of homes in circumstances exactly like what you are describing to try to find out if any untimely deaths occurred in a house that they are investigating. You might try posting your question on their forums. The address for their forums is: http://www.tapsmainforum.com/.