Creepy Mysteries: The San Pedro Haunting

In the late 80’s single mother Jackie Hernandez was more than excited to start the next chapter in her life with both of her children. With her rocky marriage behind Jackie, the three of them moved into a new home, a fun bungalow in San Pedro, California. On the outset this was the fresh start everyone needed, little did she know this was only the beginning of a nightmare. It would not take long for Jackie to discover that her new home was haunted by an entity who had no problem making his presence known to the family. Beyond the usual paranormal activity of disembodied voices and objects moving on their own, the ghost in this San Pedro home turned the Hernandez’s life into a horror movie. Jackie’s reaching out for help throughout her time there brought force parapsychologists armed with cameras making the San Pedro haunting one of the best documented cases of a haunting in history. On a personal level, seeing the footage captured from the activity in this home as a youngling, played a massive role in my own fascination with the unexplained.

As mentioned previously Jackie Hernandez settled into her new home in 1988 following the ending of her marriage. Alongside her was her son Jamie and the little one who was on the way who she would eventually name Samantha. Though she was shouldering the responsibility of parenting, working multiple jobs, and attending school, the young woman was stressed but ultimately optimistic. However, she never could shake the feeling that something in her new home was off, like she and her family were not quite alone. It did not take long before she began to hear bumps in the night and witness things move on their own. The unexplainable activity would evolve in the first year of living at the San Pedro home, seeming to climax the following year when she entered Jamie’s room one night to see the full-bodied apparition of a decrepit old man looming over the child. After giving her a malicious glare, the ghost vanished into thin air. However this frightening encounter would only be the beginning of the nightmare to come as it would not take long for this spirit to make his violent intentions known.

In dealing with the supernatural activities in her home, Jackie found a confidant in her neighbor Susan. During one of Susan’s visits to the Hernandez house, a loud crash was heard from the kitchen. Rather than doing something pleasant like making the guest an omelet or putting away dirty dishes, the spirit had torn a painting off the wall leaned it up against the sink and pulled out the nails that had held it up. These nails were now pointed-side up on the floor for someone to step on in a clear act of aggression. The fact that others were witnessing these strange phenomena in her house as well confirmed to the young mother she was not crazy as Susan, other friends, and babysitters to Jamie and Samantha had experiences of their own in the bungalow. This led Jackie to begin documenting the paranormal events in her house from foul-smelling liquid materializing in the kitchen to strange balls of light from no known source. Throughout it all one thing was clear, the paranormal activity seemed to be centered in the attic. This was seemingly confirmed when Jackie traced the blood-like substance that had been oozing into her kitchen up there and upon opening the hatch was greeted by the sight of the disembodied head of the frightening man she had seen in her son’s room.

A small amount of aid would seem to come in the form of paranormal investigator Dr. Barry Taff. A veteran investigator and author of a number of books about the unexplained, Taff was even the Associate Director of the Parapsychology Lab at UCLA. Dr. Baff’s biggest claim to fame was investigating the case which would serve as the basis for the 1982 horror film The Entity. Along with his own expertise, Taff brought along a camera crew in the hopes of capturing footage of the supernatural. One cameraman in particular, Jeff Wheatcraff, would endure a nightmarish experience during this investigation. During the initial walkthrough of the San Pedro house, a skeptical Jeff volunteered to venture into the attic to snap some pictures. After capturing a few shots, including some of the lights Jackie had seen, the camera was snatched off of his neck by an unseen force, causing the panicked cameraman to flee the attic. Gathering his courage, as well as a flashlight, Jeff along with a fellow cameraman Barry Conrad would venture back up and find that the lens and the camera’s body had been cleanly separated and were in two entirely different corners of the room. If Jeff had seen this as the warning from the ghostly old man that it was it would have spared him in the coming months.

Taff and his team would continue communication with Jackie concerning the haunting and in September of 1989 the old man’s ghost was particularly active forcing Dr. Taff and Jeff to head back out there in the middle of the night. Jeff would once again head into the attic along with another photographer named Gary. As they were wrapping up and about to head back down where Jackie, Taff, and Susan were waiting to see what they had found, they all watched as Jeff was pulled right back into the attic by an unseen force. Gary went up to find his colleague with only the repeated flash of his camera for illumination. When he found Jeff it was in a horrifying state, as he was hanging by the neck via a clothesline wrapped around a nail high on the wall. Jeff himself seemed to be in a dazed state, leaving Barry to rush to his rescue singlehandedly and snap him back to reality. This was the final proof that this house in San Pedro, California was not safe and Jackie took her kids and fled not just the home but then city. Eventually moving into a trailer several miles outside of town. Barry Taff would continue his investigation in the home, at one point he claimed to have made contact with the malicious entity via a Ouija board. He claimed to have been a man murdered at the nearby docks, who Barry theorized was man from from the early 1900’s named Henderson but nothing was concrete. On top of being angry towards the Hernandez family, he held a particular hatred towards Jeff Wheatcraff for his resemblance to the man who murdered him and escaped justice.

Even after leaving the haunted house, Jackie Hernandez and her children were unable to find peace as it seemed the spirit attached itself to her. One event involved Jackie seeing a mysterious black mass shortly before Samantha’s bedspread burst into flames. This has led many to believe that the sinister spirit was not attached to the house in San Pedro, but rather Jackie herself. Considering the stressful and chaotic state of her life when she moved into the bungalow, perhaps this was a supernatural beacon for something to latch onto. Thankfully it seems as though the activity has tapered off in recent years and she can finally live in peace.

As mentioned previously the San Pedro haunting is one of the most documented cases of a haunted house ever. This is thanks to the photographic and film evidence captured by Hernandez and Barry Taff’s team. In 1997, much of the footage was edited into the documentary An Unknown Encounter: A True Account of the San Pedro Haunting. This even included the footage of Jeff Wheatcraff’s near death experience which has become famous throughout the paranormal community. The release of the documentary spurred Jackie Hernandez and Barry Taff to be featured on a number of talk shows and such over the decades. Surprisingly over all this time of sharing this story both together and separately, the events they shared have remained consistent. Aside from a few insignificant details, both of them have told the same stories. Considering the two of them do not get along on a personal level nowadays it speaks volume that the two parties corroborate what happened. On top of the physical evidence of the paranormal events at the San Pedro home, there were multiple witnesses who would have no reason to lie. They range from Jamie and Samantha’s babysitters to Jackie’s friends and even skeptical assistants to Dr. Taff. With so much evidence compiled about this case, the inevitable skeptics have largely resorted to personal attacks on Jackie Hernandez. These are largely rooted in classism as a single mother with very little in the way of money was merely looking for a payday. Or, if this were really happening, any reasonable woman would move out of the house to protect her children, despite Jackie not having the financial means to do so. None of these address the root of the issue however, leading many to wonder if there truly was a haunting at this little home in San Pedro, California.