A woman who moved her family into what they thought was their dream home soon had her
And as if living amongst the dark spirits weren’t enough, the ghost of the slave owner who lived on the land has been haunting the family, forcing them to move out as their dream quickly turned into a ‘nightmare’.
Chris O’Toole moved in with her wife Vicky and their son Granger to a property that had once belonged to American writer J R Abernathy.
‘Something drew me to the house – and I don’t know what it was, I just felt compelled to purchase it,’ she explains,.
Vicky adds: ‘We thought great things were going to come with this purchase.’
‘Little did I know those memories weren’t going to be the best,’ Chris warns.
At first, they thought nothing of the fact that there were numerous crosses and Bibles scattered around the house, and one room in particular was locked that the previous owner had ‘refused’ to open.
However, Chris witnessed the first strange occurrence after cutting open the padlock to the ‘eerie’ room, as shortly afterwards, she saw wet footprints on the floor, assuming them to be her son Granger’s after he mischievously went to the pond outside their house, though forbidden to do so.
‘That was the first paranormal experience in the house – the first day I moved in,’ Vicky says.
Over the following days, Chris removed the crosses from the walls in an attempt to make their new house their home – but in fact, by doing so, she was unknowingly tampering with the dark forces already living in the house.
As a result, more strange happenings occurred: she heard knocks at night, her son crying for help, and when breaking into his room to check on him, found his hand being ‘lifted’ into the air by a mysterious force.
Chris later explains in a confessional: ‘I saw that his hand was in the air while he was asleep. It looked like someone was holding his hand, and I put his hand down – it was kind of odd.’
But in the recreation, when Chris turns her back, Granger’s arm is lifted into the air again.
The first time Chris witnessed the ghost of Abernathy was when she went to investigate where a second set of wet footprints had come from, only to find a sinister man looking back at her through the reflection in a cabinet.
Later that night, Chris saw more footprints, and when she went to investigate where they came from, she saw a man in the reflection of a cabinet.
‘There was a man, and he looked straight at me, and I’m thinking to myself, where did this come from. Looked there again, and he was gone.’
She continued: ‘Right there I should have known that it was a sign that maybe I shouldn’t have bought the house.’
After more mysterious things occurred, including seeing a little girl playing with Granger who quickly ‘vanished’ into apparently thin air, Chris grew to be ‘scared’, and more and more strange things began to occur.
‘I hear footsteps and I was in the house by myself,’ she says, recalling one terrifying incident.
‘I could see a shadow of boots walking and I could feel the floor flexing and I felt this anxiety come on, and I felt that there was something on top of my shoulders, and it wasn’t heavy but I could feel that there was something there, I told it to get off, it would not get off, I said the name of Jesus Christ, I even cussed at it.’
At that moment, Vicky made a sign of a cross on Chris’ forehead with olive oil, in the hope that it would help, ‘but that’s when things started to get crazy,’ Chris warned.
‘A lot of things happened that changed my life,’ she continues, after the recreation shows one evening when Chris drove home from work and saw Abernathy’s ghost peering around the back of her house.
Another ‘secret’ she discovered was when she saw what appeared to be a ‘slave woman’ that disappeared moments after Chris saw her.
Researching more into the property, Chris discovered that Abernathy was not only a slave owner, but a murderer and rapist too, and many of the slaves he owned died from ‘accidental drownings’.
‘A lot of bad things happened here, a lot of deaths,’ Chris says. ‘The house was haunted, the land was haunted.’
She adds: ‘These spirits communicate, they want peace, they want their stories to be heard.’
At one point during the interview, Chris says Abernathy was ‘in her head’, preventing her from talking and telling her: ‘No.’
Chris also reveals she was in a trance once, and drew Abernathy’s portrait, unaware of what she was doing.
In another terrifying clip, Chris is shown to be in another trance – walking into the water before a hand grabs her and drags her down.
She eventually fights the figure off, and is released out of the pond, gasping.
Eventually, Chris and Vicky seek the help of a medium, but not before Chris realises Abernathy thinks she, as a biracial woman, is one of his children that he tried to drown after he raped enslaved women he owned.
‘What I found out wasn’t going to be part of a happy ending,’ she says.
After the medium’s help, things actually turned worse, and one night, the ghost of Abernathy threatened to kill Granger, surrounding him with knives that there was no explanation for.
‘J R did not like the fact that we knew about his secrets – he wants to kill me,’ Chris tells the camera.
Eventually, Chris and Vicky decided to leave the home and move away, but not before trying to reveal who Abernathy really was.
Chris says: ‘The voices still need to be heard, everyone needs to find peace.
‘If I could give that to those souls, then so be it.’
Despite moving on, Chris can still hear Abernathy’s voice.
‘It is surreal to know this energy exists around me,’ she says.
‘He’s still with me and keeps an eye on me.’
Eli Roth Presents: A Ghost Ruined My Life is available to watch from July 14 on discovery+.