Haunted house appears to be in the clear
It’s a story that has all of the makings a good Stephen King novel – complete with doors that open and close on their own, whispers in the night, shamans – even a psychic manicurist.
But for part-time Truckee resident Beverly Messner, the bizarre, supernatural occurrences she claims to have been dealing with at her Donner Lake cabin for the last five years have been anything but entertaining.
Although she says things have finally quieted down around the house, she wants to share her story in efforts to find others in the area who might have had similar spooky experiences.
Messner said her problems began shortly after she and her husband Don, Sacramento-area residents, purchased the little house on Moraine Drive in 1996 with some inheritance money she had received.
“I had always wanted a cabin in the mountains,” Messner said. “My grandpa had lived the last 50 years of his life in the Sierra foothill town of Grass Valley and I had many fond memories associated with his home there. It seemed altogether fitting that I should spend my portion [of the money she had inherited from him] on mountain real estate.”
At first, Messner said she and her husband were ecstatic with their new weekend get-away on the lake.
“My husband, the contractor, saw great possibilities for future remodeling projects and I was having a ball decorating,” she said.
That initial excitement quickly morphed into one of concern after a weekend trip to the cabin ended with her father in the emergency room suffering from an unexplainable illness.
“The first weekend that my dad stayed overnight, he woke up screaming in pain and vomiting,” Messner said. “Being a nurse, I tried to help him as best I could, but it was apparent that he needed more help than I could offer, so we took him to the local emergency room.”
After thorough examination, though, physicians found absolutely nothing wrong with her father’s health.
“Each time after that, Dad would get sick at the cabin,” Messner said. “Not as bad as the first time – usually nausea and headaches, but it persisted. He finally decided that it must be the altitude, but he had lived in Reno for years, just 30 miles away, and had no problems there.”
Even after Messner’s father stopped visiting the cabin altogether, she and her husband continued to make regular jaunts to the lake.
It wasn’t long before Messner, herself, started to notice things were amiss.
“As I mentioned, my husband, being a contractor, loves to remodel,” she said. “He especially has this thing about `bad doors,’ and all of the cabin doors were badly done. Additionally, the inside of one of the closet doors was all marked up with crayon drawings done by a child.”
Shortly after all of the doors were replaced, Messner said she began hearing voices and whispers in the night.
“I tried to explain them away as wind in the trees, the dog snoring, anything, but they persisted,” she said.
According to Messner, “all hell really broke loose” one weekend, when she let her “psychic manicurist,” Lois, use the cabin.
“Lois is quite a gal,” she said. “She does pedicures and while she does, she gives you a psychic reading. It’s great fun and several of my friends have gone to her for some time now.”
When Lois returned from the cabin she called Messner to report all sorts of strange phenomena.
“She said there were voices, lights flickering, doors and windows slamming,” Messner said. “One woman reported trying to get up in the middle of the night, but was unable to because she felt as if someone was on top of her, holding her down. No one got any sleep.”
Needless to say, Lois and the other guests packed up and high tailed it out of there a day early, but not before Lois tried to “clear” the cabin of whatever spirits were inhabiting it.
“The problem is that she did an incomplete job of clearing and I think that it actually made the situation worse,” Messner said.
One thing Lois did tell Messner – that other psychics later concurred with – was the fact that there were two separate forces at work in the cabin.
“Apparently, upstairs there’s an Indian spirit, but he’s not really a problem. He’s upset that anyone is in the cabin because when it was originally built, Indian artifacts were found and disposed of in a disrespectful manner,” Messner said.
According to Messner, the real problem lies in the “bad guys downstairs,” who suffered some unknown violent death, yet don’t know that they’re dead.
“They’re pesky and they basically want us out,” Messner said. “They party all night long.”
As Lois had failed in her efforts to rid the cabin of these pesky spirits, she recommended that Messner enlist the services of a shaman.
“I thought, `Where the heck am I going to find a shaman?'”
Somehow she did, though, through a friend of a friend of a friend.
“He was this guy who lived in Bodega Bay, who also taught alternative medicine at Stanford,” she said. “At first, he was reluctant to help me, but after he realized the seriousness of the situation, he cleared his schedule to spend several days at the cabin.”
Through a series of garlic, herbs, orange candles and prayers, the shaman, Mike, “treated” the cabin, and for awhile, it seemed to have worked.
“The next time we went to use the cabin, I felt all was well,” she said. “It may have been all in my head, but I was more at peace and certainly slept much better. Also, I no longer heard voices.”
No sooner than she had said that, though, the problems returned.
Throughout this whole process, Messner kept everything from her husband, whom she describes as an extremely “logical guy.”
“He’s a civil engineer and is extremely grounded in the concrete world,” she said. “He thinks all of this stuff is crazy. I think that even if he did hear noises like I did, he would deny it.”
Regardless, the couple continued to make trips to the cabin, as well as let various family and friends make use of it, several of whom contracted strange illnesses while they were there or immediately after visiting, and one, who broke a leg.
Messner admits that all of this could have been coincidental, however, adds that these occurrences all took place in conjunction with other strange phenomena like the voices and footsteps in the night and thermostat that seemed to have a mind of its own.
“One day I was talking to a friend of mine about this whole thing and she said that maybe it was time to try a crucifix,” she said. “Not being Catholic, I thought my husband would object but he said as long as I put them in the closet out of sight it would be okay. I thought it couldn’t hurt to try, it might even help, especially after the candles and everything else we’d tried hadn’t seemed to do anything.”
Since then, Messner reports that she hasn’t seen or heard anything in the cabin and that the crucifixes seem to have done the trick.
Despite all of the trouble, Messner said she never felt physically threatened and in danger at the cabin, and she’s never once considered putting the property back on the market.
“I’ve heard that spirits have the ability to make people sick, but not physically beat you up or kill you,” she said.
Now, when she tells people about the cabin’s haunted history, she says they actually think it’s pretty cool.
“I just wanted to see if anyone in the area knows any history of the house or if anyone in that neighborhood has had similar problems or experiences,” she said. “This has all been rather interesting.”
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