The Toms River Haunting
By James Donahue
People who grow up under the umbrella of Christianity have a tendency to fear the spirit world which
exists all around them. When they encounter ghosts and other entities that cause paranormal activity, they panic. And this
The latest haunted house story involves a New Jersey couple, Josue Chinchilla and Michele Callan and
their two children, who fled a three-bedroom ranch styled rented house in Toms River after living there for one week.
The story made news because the couple took the homeowner to court, asking for their $2,250 security
deposit back. The landlord, Dr. Richard Lopez, a local orthodontist, counter sued, claiming breach of contract and claiming
the couple could not afford the rent.
A writer for the web blog Urban Legends suggested that Lopez took court action out of fear that the
story has branded his property as hunted and that he will no longer be able to rent or sell it.
Unlike most haunted structures in the world, the Lopez house is a relatively modern one-story frame
building in an upscale residential neighborhood. How could a house with little history become infected by spiritual forces
that play tricks on the occupants?
None of the news reports we found involved research into the history of the house. Was there a violent
death that occurred there? Was the house built on the site of a violent historical event, or perhaps over the unmarked grave
of someone that died unexpectedly? From personal experience with haunted buildings my wife and I have owned and occupied,
sometimes spirits just choose to move in for reasons we do not understand.
Chinchilla and Callan, who are engaged to be married, and Callan’s two children, a teenage daughter
and six-year-old son, moved into the house on March 1. They moved out on March 10, taking up residence in a motel room.
They said the paranormal activity began almost immediately after they moved in. They said they would
come home to find their clothes and towels pulled from closets and strewn on the floors. Chinchilla said he felt an invisible
hand on his arm and watched as the sheets slid off the bed on their own. Doors creaked open and then slammed shut in other
parts of the house. They heard unintelligible whispering, and there was the voice of what appeared to be a child coming through
the vents from the basement. Before they moved out Callan said she saw a dark apparition in their bedroom.
Marianne Brigando, of NJ Paranormal Investigators, said her investigation found that the house is
the site of an active or intelligent haunting. The Rev. Terence Sullivan of the Element Church in New Brunswick said he counseled
the family and reached the conclusion that the house is possessed by demons.
"Why would we make up such a story," said Callan. "We left a three-bedroom house for a one-room motel
one week after moving in. We spent $2,000 on new furniture and paid $4,000 on rent and the security deposit. For what, one
Apparently the local court had a problem with ruling without bias on a case involving spirits, which
most people in this Christian oriented society refuse to believe. So the case went on national television to be heard before
Judge Marilyn Milian of the nationally syndicated television program, The People’s Court. The show was aired in September
and a judgment was made.
Judge Milian balanced her ruling in an odd way. She ordered Chinchilla and Callan to pay Lopez three
months of rent, but since the furniture and other possessions were still in the house, they could forfeit their security deposit.
Lopez, on the other hand, was ordered by the judge to spend a night in his house, just in case it
was haunted, before being allowed to rent it to someone else. There has been no word on what occurred there since.
If Lopez or Chinchilla and Callan had simply turned to a shaman from any Native American tribe, or
asked for help from anyone involved in spiritual wellness, the problem of "ghosts in the house" could have been resolved quickly
without all the fuss.
Even though it appears that our home has always been in the spiritual realm, while we exist in these
human bodies, we seem to have dominion over the spirits that sometimes become known to us. All it takes is finding a way to
recognize them, make contact and then send them away. The best place to send them is into the light of the Creator.