Two modern cases are the 'Enfield Poltergeist' and the 'Mackenzie Poltergeist'. The former took place in 1977 in a north London council house, and the phenomena included furniture moving by itself, knockings on the walls, spontaneous fires, pools of water appearing on the floor, cold breezes, physical assaults, the appearance of graffiti, equipment malfunction and failure, and various items being thrown around the house.
The family the heard four loud knocks on the partitioning wall of the house. Peggy then saw a heavy chest of drawers moving about 18 inches across the floor, well beyond the reach of her children. When it stopped Peggy pushed it back against the wall but when she turned her back it moved back to it’s former position. This time she found it impossible to move the chest. This caused her to shake with fear, yelling at the children to get out of their beds and to go downstairs – she was convinced something unexplainable was taking place. Seeing the neighbor’s lights were on, the Harpers, still in their pajamas, ran next door for help. The neighbors searched the house and garden, but found no one. Soon the entire group heard the knocks on the walls that continued at spaced out intervals. At 11:00 p.m. they called the police, who also witnessed the knocks. One officer saw a chair move across the floor and later signed a written statement to confirm the events.
The following day, the events continued with small plastic bricks and marbles being hurled around the house – when picked up they were found to be hot. This “attack” continued for three days by which time they sought help again, not only from the police, but a local vicar and a medium. But no one seemed to be able to explain or stop the escalating events. The Harpers eventually turned to the press and the Daily Mirror. A reporter, Douglas Bence and a photographer, Graham Morris, were assigned to stay in the house for several hours. The activity came to a halt and the men decided to leave – they were almost in their car when a disembodied voice wished them both “Bye, Bye!’ and the blocks promptly resumed flying about the house. The men immediately re-entered the house and a toy Lego block flew across the room hitting the photographer in the forehead as he attempted to take a picture. Later, as the photographer developed his negatives he noticed they had an inexplicable hole in it and that the flying block could not be seen. Senior reporter at the Daily Mail, George Fallows, was so impressed with his colleague’s experience that he followed up the story himself. He suggested that the Harpers call in the SPR, (Society for Psychical Research), who in turn contacted Maurice Grosse, a member and resident of North London.
Grosse arrived at the Harpers on September 5, a week after the disturbances had begun. For the next few days nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. Then, on September 8, while Grosse and journalists were keeping vigil, between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., they heard a crash in Janet’s room. They discovered that her bedside chair had been thrown about four feet across the room where it was lying on it’s side, Janet was asleep at the time and no one saw the chair move. It happened again about an hour later and photographer Morris was there to document it on film. Grosse claims that then he experienced the strange happenings- first a marble was thrown at him from what he described as “an unseen hand”, he saw doors open and close by themselves and claimed to feel a sudden breeze that seemed to move up from his feet to his head. On September 10, the Enfield case made the front page of the Daily Marror , then the story was picked up by LBC (a London based station) and that evening Grosse, Peggy Harper and her neighbor took part in a two and half hour NIGHT LINE program.
The phenomena continued. There was interference with electrical systems in the house, electrical faults and mechanical failure. As soon as camera flashes were recharged they were quickly drained of power. An infra-red sensitive television camera was brought in to do remote monitoring of the bedroom but as soon as it began recording the tape would jam or break. The same thing happened to the BBC Radio reporter’s tapes when tape cassettes were found to be damaged, often the recordings erased, the metal inside some of the equipment would be found bent and even some of the tape decks would dematerialize reappearing several hours later in another location. The knocking on walls and floors became an almost nightly occurrence. Furniture slid across the floor and was thrown down the staircase. Drawers were wrenched out of dressing tables. Toys and other objects would fly around the room. Bedclothes were pulled off family members in the dark of night. Water was found in mysterious puddles on the floor. There were several outbreaks of fire followed by their inexplicable extinguishing. Curtains blowing and twisting in the wind when all windows and doors were tightly closed. There were even accounts of human levitation.
Janet claimed to have been picked up and thrown about the room by an unseen entity ( witnessed by neighbors passing by and looking up into the girl’s bedroom ). One of the girls claimed that the curtain beside her bed twisted several times into a tight spiral and attempted to wrap itself around her neck trying to strangle her. This was substantiated by her mother who had witnessed this on more than one occasion. Soon a gravelly, guttural male voice could be heard- coming from Janet’s throat. Janet claimed to have no control over the voice and would even appear to be in a trance-like state when the voice manifested. The voice claimed to be several identities, often speaking in obscene language. One character who did keep reappearing, identified himself as ” Bill” who claimed to have died in the house. Out of all the voices this was the only one that could be verified. ” Bill” identified himself as a man who had allegedly died in the house, an event that none of the Harpers were aware of. Naturally, this did not verify that this voice was, in fact, the ghost or spirit of the actual Bill who died. It merely represented itself as being this individual.
Psychiatrists and local doctors were brought in to see whether this was, indeed, Janet being mischievous, a second personality developing, or if perhaps there was a paranormal ” entity” present. Maurice Grosse consulted speech therapists that suspected that the voice was not coming from Janet’s normal vocal chords but by a second set of chords that all people possess but few realize exist. Actors can be trained to speak using these “false chords” to produce a deep gravelly voice, however it becomes a painful process if sustained. A recording of the ” voice” soon backed up this theory on a larynograph.
This machine registers patterns made by frequency waves as they pass through the larynx. However, to keep up this voice for hours on end would, naturally, have consequences on Janet’s normal voice. Janet’s voice did not appear to be affected in the least. Grosse deemed that the source of the poltergeist activity seemed to have intelligence of some kind, since it would rap out answers to simple questions- one rap for no and three raps for yes. During a session, Grosse asked how many years ago the supposed entity had lived in the house – there followed 53 raps. Mediums were brought in to help and Janest spent six weeks in Maudsley Hospital in South London under-going extensive tests for any signs of physical or mental abnormality-but none were found and during this time the poltergeist activity ceased.
Professor Hasted, head of psychics at Birkbeck College, University of London, assigned his assistant to help identify the problems in the house, especially the spontaneous metal bending and snapping which had begun to take place around Janet.
Not everyone was as willing to believe this was an entirely paranormal activity as Grosse and Playfair seemed to. Other researchers were convinced that all the activity stemmed from Janet’s trickery, they claimed they were excluded from the children’s bedroom when the phenomena was said to have occurred. During her visit Anita Gregory from the Society for Psychical Research caught Janet cheating – a video camera had been set up in a room nest door to Janet’s that recorded her bending spoons and bouncing up and down on her bed.
Janet admits to having done this claiming “she wanted to see if the investigators would catch her – they always did”. Gregory also claims that Janet’s uncle, John Burcombe, had told her that he believed that Janet had taught herself to talk in a deep voice and she had always been a mischievous child, who enjoyed misleading strangers. Janet was also athletic which would help her jump from her bed to the floor when she claimed she was being thrown by the “entity”.
After two years of activity, the events subsided and the Harper family continued their lives.