My name is Shan Iwanicki and this is my true ghost story. I wanted to move from the city of Philadelphia to Downingtown, a suburb of Philadelphia, as it was an easier commute for me to my job. After careful hunting, I found the most beautiful loft apartment and for an amazing price.
Prior to moving, I had toured the loft I wanted to live in for obvious reasons. However, I had a choice of third floor loft or second floor, one story with less room. I opted for the third floor loft for a few hundred bucks more per month and felt it would be safer for me to be away from the lower levels.
Upon signing the lease and completing formalities for paperwork, I was told that the loft I had toured originally was suddenly not available. I was told there was only one loft left and this is the one I moved into that June summer day. I did not mind as they promised it had been repainted and freshly carpeted. So, for me, this option was a bonus and with a great view of the pool. I was excited to move in to my new place and be closer to my busy job.
All was quiet in this old historical town when I moved in, or so I thought. The building I lived in was only five or so years old and I liked the idea of living in a place that was fairly new; new appliances, new carpet and no history; fresh start.
The first year I lived there, I was working long hours at my job and often came home late. During this time, I had no encounters in my loft. However, I did not spend a lot of time there either to notice anything unusual.
About a year and a half or so later my boyfriend, who commuted from New York City to see me every weekend, was there on a Friday night and arrived early. He asked me what there was to do around the Halloween season. Steve, my boyfriend, enjoys ghostly stories of any kind, although he is somewhat of a skeptic. He wanted to do some scary activities for Halloween; I began to research what was in the area of my town. I discovered on the internet a house about four miles away, allegedly known to be the Witch House, located in Exton Pa. This house's origin was from the late 1700s. Apparently, legend has it that four family members practiced witchcraft. Allegedly, they were buried there and now the graves are missing. I did not read too much more about the house as it made me scared a bit. I shared this with Steve and he wanted to check it out.
We found the location of the house, but you needed to walk through a bit of woods, over a billy goat bridge and over a tiny stream to get there. I decided to stay in the car while he explored. It was a cold evening and he was gone a while; I became nervous. Finally, he came back to the car and was elated by the house and the story of it. He told me how creepy the house was and the graffiti, wood covered windows where life once took place made everything feel so creepy. I actually nick-named the house Creepy House. He seemed to like the mystery of the place, and I normally like scary stuff, but I was not too interested in being part of this creepy house.
Later that week, I shared with my sister the story of the house. She was due to stay with us, and told me she wanted to see it too. I was still undecided!
A few days after Steve visited the Witch House some very odd things began to happen in my loft. Due to Steve's commute, I was alone during the week and I began to feel really uneasy. I could not describe the events to Steve because I felt embarrassed. I just felt like I was being watched from the loft above the living room. I had 24 foot ceilings and would look up after feeling a cold draft or a flash out of the corner of my eye or shadows crossing the kitchen wall to the stairs. My guest room and office were located in the loft and I developed a fear of going up there. The air felt heavy up there, and I seemed to get the cold prickly feelings on my arms and the back of my neck when I did go up there. My visits to the upstairs loft declined rapidly once this nightmare began.
The first real event I experienced was one Sunday afternoon, late October, I was watching football alone and I heard a scraping sound coming from the kitchen, directly under the loft. I dismissed it at first and kept watching football. The sounds became louder from the kitchen, enough for me to get up and investigate the annoying sound. I looked at the corner in between two cupboards and saw the vinyl wood strip slowly being peeled away from the cupboard. I gasped because it was still moving slowly down the corner right in front of me. I freaked a bit and ran back to the couch and just stared out of the window to shake it off.
I went to bed that night with normal routine, but I laid in bed with curious thoughts as to what happened earlier that day. I was trying to debunk what I had witnessed. I rested on the notion that it was a strange incident and not to worry about it. Self-talk! From that Sunday forward, things were about to take a very deranged road.
A few days after this incident another strange thing happened and from there, my nightmare was unfolding. I had no idea that the paranormal was knocking inside my house and within the confines of my loft and what I thought safety should have been when I signed my lease the year before. Why now?
A few nights later, after the self-talk, I came home from work late and all I wanted to do was take a hot shower and go to bed. I was exhausted from the day and the fear that was keeping me awake many nights in a row. I took the hot shower and then proceeded to do what people do when they are in the bathroom. All of a sudden, the bathroom door just started moving slowly and with a creaking sound. It was as if the door had control in its movements. I was watching it slowly move and with such steady conviction. On one side of the coin, I was mesmerized by the motion and on the other side of the coin, I was scared straight while I was sitting. The door moved slowly into the complete open position and then stopped. I said out loud, "HELLO, can you give me some privacy?" I was trying to be funny in a very frightful moment.
All of a sudden, the door began to move slowly the other direction and with the same momentum, creaks and all. I think I stayed on the sitter for a while until I was numb. While sitting there for a long while, frozen with fear, I smelled cigar smoke. Heavy-heavy, old school, cigar or pipe tobacco-smoke. I know this smell as my Dad used to smoke a pipe and cigars. I remember the heavy scent that was left to linger behind; old cheap tobacco.
I finished my business and washed my hands. I stared in the mirror. I splashed water in my face, even though I had showered thirty minutes before, and tried to collect my strength and logic. I rationalized the smoke smell with the thought that the neighbors must be smoking, even though we lived in a non-smoking building. I then moved on to the rationale of the door. I began to justify the door moving with wind or a draft. I knew deep down this was not the reason. None of the windows were open and it was a cold November evening and one does not leave windows open at night, especially when you live alone. I finally made it to bed, shivers and a bit of the crazy shakes. I began to tell Steve much more with all of these incidences occurring, but he was not shocked and not too concerned. He is of the school of thought that he needs to experience it to believe it fully.
The following weekend Steve arrived on schedule Friday night and what to do? I was tired from the week and much happening on the work front, loads of stress. I retired to bed early that Friday night and Steve stayed up to watch his programs on TV. I fell fast asleep because I felt safe with him there and I felt I did not need to worry about these strange things occurring on his watch.
The following morning, we had breakfast and I joked with him about seeing or witnessing any sightings of my ghost. He looked at me so seriously and said, "Actually, I heard heavy footsteps back and forth along your long hallway late in the night." He said he was calling for me and wondering if I needed anything. In other words, he thought I was up to use the bathroom. He got up to look and no one was there. He peaked in the bedroom and there I was, fast asleep. I looked at him and said, "SEE?" He shrugged his shoulders and that was that. I am actually surprised he said anything at all. Steve is a sensitive man, gentle man, but he needs proof. Anything that can be debunked, will be! I said to him that it is odd that he heard such loud steps; my apartment had thick new carpeting.
Steve left that Sunday evening and I always got a bit sad when he would leave. I knew I would see him in four days, but I always felt a bit empty and scared when he would go. That night, I went to bed around 10, normal time I guess, and I laid in bed with a bit of anxiety. I was thinking about all of the events that had occurred so far and why. I was trying to figure out why and why now? I am a proponent to always find logic, usually. In this crazy period of time, I seemed to not find success with any sort of logic. I decided to throw logic out the door and go for the unknown explanations, even if it made me scared. Thus far, I had only discussed this time period of fear with Steve and my sister. How does one discuss this at the water cooler for a break and chatter while at work? The answer is, one does not!
Hours after Steve had left, I finally fell asleep. During the night, I thought I had heard some strange loud noises in the living room. I was so tired of it all, I willed myself to sleep.
When I woke up in the am for work (I always made coffee first thing), I was staring into the living room waiting for the coffee to finish brewing and I noticed all of my DVDs were strewn about the floor. A real mess! I said out loud, "What the f##k." I walked over to the mess and was dismayed once again. I carefully put all of the DVDs back on its shelf. I thought to myself, how does this happen? I conducted an experiment. I randomly scooted the DVDs onto the floor to see how they would land and found that there was some order. I GOT SCARED!
As I walked away from the mess I now just made with the DVDs, I turned to the patio and noticed the Angel statue was facing the wall. I had a very tall Angel that my sister bought me and I have had it in every place I have lived. I saw the Angel facing the wall, and I knew then, I have an entity or evil something living here. What do I do?
I scrambled to get ready for work haphazardly and left with smoke behind my tires. All day at work, I could not concentrate. I was researching ghostly encounters, ghost busters, blessings, and strange phenomenon. All this research did for me was FREAK ME OUT MORE! I calmed down and began to research my area. All I could find was the old history of the town. The town was sitting on the Brandywine River. A river that was pretty active during the Civil War. This River was once a haven for drinking water and movement of canoes and troops. Additionally, the path I lived was on the way to Gettysburg, only about an hour away. Yet I could not help but to think that this was not the reason for the haunting. My mind kept creeping back to the Witch House. I slipped out of denial and realized that maybe, just maybe, the Witch Ghosts attached to Steve when he visited there a month before and he brought them home to the loft. This is the only thing that made sense. I had not experienced anything up until he visited the house for over a year. AND NOW, POW! I think I solved the mystery. OR DID I?
There never seemed to be any particular pattern with some of these unexplained happenings. This was even more upsetting because I never knew what or when to expect an oddity of circumstances. My mind would wander while I was working, and I would explain things to Steve, yet I felt really alone in what was happening. Who do I talk to about these freaky and unexplained events? Did I even consider calling a professional to check things out? I did not!
At this stage, I would dread coming home to a place I once loved so much. It was a beautiful loft and well decorated. It was perfect for me and my lifestyle, but at this point it was scary and I felt uneasy being there. I began to feel like I was being watched all of the time. The smell of cigar smoke seemed to be fluid through the house to the point where I had to accept it. I did not like that I was succumbing to this paranormal activity and potential being that may be habituating my house and my life.
One night I came home from work and it was very dark outside. I placed my key in the door and turned it up to unlock; pulled my key out because this is how it unlocks. When my key left the door lock, I heard the inside latch lock again. I placed my key in the lock again, and turned the key up and pulled the key out, and heard it latch another time. I tried to open the door, but it was still locked. In other words, my key was not unlocking the door and it was as if someone was on the other side of the door trying to prevent me from getting in. I was so frustrated and scared that I started back down the stairs. I was headed to the manager's office; halfway down the stairs, I heard it unlock. WHAT? So, up the stairs I go! I turned the doorknob with the key and it was UNLOCKED!
Looking back, I can't believe I actually went inside. I guess, at the time, it was my home and where would I go? I was not from Philadelphia. I was from New York and Minnesota. I was just there for a job contract. Where would I go? Do I tell the management office that I think my loft apartment is haunted?
When I went inside, to the immediate left were the stairs to the loft. Suddenly it dawned on me. The reason I took the more expensive place was for the loft. I am not going to let this, whatever it is, take my house. I dropped my purse and walked up the stairs to the loft; heart pounding and sweat on the forehead. As I rounded the stairs, I felt nauseous. The air felt heavy up there and unsettling, but everything was in order. I quickly came down the stairs and parked myself on the sofa and watched comedy to get my mind off of what was happening around me. I was afraid to be up there!
I would speak to Steve every night, and began to share more and more every day with him. Knowing more about him as I do now, he would have been more receptive to all of this had I given him the chance.
*It is now getting closer to Thanksgiving and soon my sister would arrive. At this point, I had only told her a few things. I was joking with her and said, "You get to stay in the loft guest room with the ghost." She laughed and said, "Cool." Some more events occurred before my sister was due to arrive; believe me it only seemed to get malicious.
Another evening, I was watching TV and the lights in my kitchen started randomly fluttering; just non-sensible flickering. I tried to debunk this event to an electrical issue. I knew this was not the case deep down, but I guess one turns right on Denial Road when things happen that can't be explained and ashamed of the happenings. I knew at this point, that I absolutely had paranormal activity in my house and I needed to deal with IT. Unfortunately, I never really dealt with IT! Between denial and acceptance battling each other constantly, one tends to feel like they are going mad. I know I did.
After this last event, nothing much happened for a few weeks. I was so relieved for the break. This is the time that I began to feel like I was paranoid and that I had only imagined everything that had happened so far. Again, I was trying to debunk all of it which is why I did not really speak to anyone but Steve and my sister regarding the events.
Finally my sister arrived for Thanksgiving. Steve, Terry and I sat down for turkey and the fixings. We had an amazing time. I had explained to Terry thus far what all had occurred. She had no issues staying up in the loft in the guest room; she is not afraid of ghosts.
Later that evening she was cleaning the dinner dishes and I decided to take out the trash. When I came back and opened the door, I saw Terry looking at something on the counter. A glass slid slowly across the counter and smashed into to Terry's hand. She was holding a glass as well, and the two collided. She looked at me and said, "I GET IT!" I asked her if she was scared and she said, "NO." I decided to go with her attitude and thought I would carry on with the same attitude, that I did not care and maybe this was all my imagination and it would go away. Will it stop? I had hoped so.
My sister wanted to see the Witch House/Creepy House! All three of us, Steve, Terry and me, went for a walk through the woods, over the bridge and to the property. I felt so uneasy being there. It was dark, and there were abandoned buildings all over the property. We walked everywhere. We even viewed where the graves were supposed to be. Another legend, the witches were hanged and buried standing up. We peeked in a few cracks in the wood that covered the windows. It was hard to see anything inside. I think my sister was scared now. We left, finally! Although my sister was scared after the tour of the creepy Witch House, surprisingly she did not experience anything upstairs in the loft. Once again, this made me feel paranoid. I know she believed me regardless.
After my sister had left, I decided to get some maintenance work done on my apartment loft. I placed a work order to management to have the cupboard strip replaced and for the electricians to look at the lighting in my kitchen. I left the work order with the management office which gives the maintenance team permission to enter the apartment while I am not home. All the while, I am at work and thinking positive that everything that had been happening was a figment of my mind and took solace that the maintenance team would fix the electrical outlets, etc. I convinced myself that all of the events were random coincidences and moving forward there would be no further activity. Why would there be? I was paranoid!
I came home late that evening, about 8:00 or so, and as I was driving into the parking lot, I looked up to my apartment balcony and noticed all of the lights were on in my apartment and the balcony door was opened; wide open. I was stumped. I thought this was strange because I had received a text from the management office when maintenance was about to enter my place at around 1pm. I headed up the three story walk up and as I landed on the last step, I noticed the maintenance keys were still in my door and the door was ajar an inch. My door was the first door on the right, at the top of the stairs; it was pretty easy to see the huge key ring dangling from the door. The maintenance keys looked like a janitor key ring with 100s of keys on a ring. In hindsight, I should have never entered the apartment because of the unknown of the other side. I assumed maintenance was still inside with the keys dangling from the door knob.
I opened the door and said, "Hello." I was fully in the apartment with the maintenance key ring in my hand and I said again, "Hello, I am home and you left the keys in the door." No one answered, no one!
As I proceeded through the apartment, every light was on. Every light. The patio door was wide open, and the loft lights upstairs were on too. My house was lit up like a city. Then, I really took notice of the apartment, confused by the keys and no one being there, all of the cupboards and drawers were wide open too. Every cupboard and every drawer and every light was on. Now I am scared, but already committed to being inside and no turning back now. It never occurred to me that it was burglary. I was more worried about paranormal. This seems funny to me even now.
I went into the bedroom, checked under the bed, checked the walk-in closets, and checked all of the closets, bathroom and... The loft. No one was there! I quickly ran down the staircase into the kitchen to see where the work order sheet was and note of completion. The maintenance team would always leave a note of completion or to be continued. There was no note, no one, and no explanation of the scene I had found. I left quickly with the ring of keys in my hand and ran to the management office as I know they close at 9pm. I felt that I needed to get to the bottom of this Colombo situation.
Marilyn was working the desk. I must have looked frightened because she asked me if I was all right. I said, "No, actually." I sat down and told her what had happened. She looked to become white as a ghost. I am presuming here, she looked to be, NOT SURPRISED and almost expecting an eventual complaint regarding the loft. I asked a series of questions: why would they leave keys in my door and the door unlocked placing my security in jeopardy? She did not have an answer. I asked why they would leave all of the lights on and kitchen cupboards, etc open? She told me that they had been working on the lights and the cupboards so perhaps this is why. I said, "OK." I was not satisfied with the conversation. I told her they never finished the completion order or anything. I also told her that every light was on and every drawer was opened.
In hindsight to this, she never offered to call the police. I received no explanation. Never did! I did not follow up either because I was frustrated. I called Steve that evening and he said he would be on his way from New York. Steve was a detective for NYPD. I convinced him that he did not need to and knew that by the time he would reach me it would be midnight.
I went home and turned off most of the lights, closed the drawers, cupboards, etc. I poured a big fat glass of wine and asked myself what the he## happened here?
Later that evening, after I had calmed down, I heard a noise in the hallway. I walked over to the hallway and noticed footprints on the rug. The rug was flipped over halfway as if someone had tripped over it. I pulled the rug back and there were footprints on it. Of course, I tried to debunk this too. I thought for sure it was the maintenance footprints, but how did the rug flip over like that?
Why am I still here? I am stubborn! Most people would have fled the scene. NOT ME! Stubborn Irish I guess...
Things continued to happen in the apartment. I had never received an apology from the management or any explanation as to why the maintenance team fled that day. I know why. Something scared the daylights out of them. I began to wonder if this is why they switched my apartment last minute. Perhaps the people before me left suddenly too. I guess I will never know.
Things at my job were growing grim. Our company was in big financial trouble. We all were told we would be laid off in a few months. I actually felt relieved. I knew I could get out of my lease and move back to New York with my boyfriend and get the heck out of this ghostly loft. This is what kept me from leaving sooner. I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel and around the corner; I would not enjoy living like this any longer. Suddenly, I did not feel afraid anymore. In fact, this was my new attitude again, NO FEAR!
It was now getting close to Christmas time and work hours calmed down for me. I was getting home earlier and was able to do more cool things after work without being stressed for time. I had accepted the lay off and that I would be moving. I think IT was not very happy with the notion of my upcoming move. I began to slowly pack up things. I had until January to move out, but I wanted to get ahead of time. I went to bed one night and I was drifting off to sleep. Suddenly, I awakened with the sound of heavy breathing in my ear. Heavy, heavy breathing that did not seem human. Heavy breathing in my ear like the sound of an animal that is on defense mode. Aggressive, heavy and winded breathing.
I was frozen with fear. I laid there as still as I could and did not move. I think I even stopped breathing for a minute. My heart was pounding so hard, and tears were streaming down my face. I actually cried myself to sleep, fear and tears. A few hours into my sleep, I woke up to feeling very cold around my neck and the back of my head. VERY COLD! I fully woke up to shivering, my teeth were chattering as well as my body. I could not move, I don't know why, but I could not move a muscle. I looked up at the ceiling and saw a black blob mist float across my ceiling and out the window. I could not believe what I had just seen. I still could not move, not a muscle. After a few minutes, the room became warm again. I checked the clock and it read 3:15am. I got up to go the bathroom and get a drink of water and shake this off.
I eventually fell back to sleep. A few hours later, I woke up to the bed shaking violently. VIOLENTLY. My legs were running fast in bed. I sat straight up and said, "STOP IT, STOP IT NOW, I AM NOT AFRAID OF YOU AT ALL, LEAVE ME ALONE." I laid back down, and said out loud, "YES." I recreated the running in bed with my legs to see if the bed would shake violently like I had just experienced, and it did not. I KNEW! I guess a part of me is that I if I continued to debunk these events all along, then no one can dismiss my story.
After this night, I began packing like a maniac and with due attentiveness. I knew I was leaving and I could not wait to get out of there. A part of me felt like toying with this thing that shared residence with me. The more, I actually felt unafraid, the more it seemed to toy with me. I equally feel that it knew I was not afraid of it. I had two more weeks in the place, and I experienced a few more things.
I researched a Ouija Board on the internet, but then decided this was not a good idea. I closed the page and shut down my computer. I woke up in the morning and made coffee. I picked up my computer to pack it for work and the Ouija Board appeared there. Holy sh##.
Over the course of the two weeks, I felt cold spots everywhere in the apartment, my TV in my room would just turn on full volume by itself, the TV in the living room would do the same, the towels in my bathroom would land on the floor almost every day, shadowy figures floating on the far wall by the kitchen and under the loft, the pictures leading up the stairs to the loft would be hanging upside down, the hammer in my laundry room would fall on the floor more than a few times, my purse would crash to the floor often, the smell of pipe or cigar smoke became thick in scent, the creeks in the hallway were part of the normal sounds of the loft and the nauseous feeling I had become constant. I refused to let it know I cared or feared it.
I slept in bed from this point forward with a dresser in front of my bedroom door. How dumb? I was desperate to find comfort in sleeping and not sharing my dreams with IT. I even went as far as placing ribbons in the doorframes to see if they were disturbed at night or if they had moved. Again, how dumb?
I moved January 1st that year. I moved due to the layoff, but it was perfect timing. I never looked back until now. I do believe that something from the witch house followed Steve to my loft. It stayed with me at the loft, it lived with me, it watched me, it toyed with me and it hated me. I often wonder if it is still there. I can never forget the happenings, never!
I don't believe the haunting had anything to do with the Civil War and/or any past events. I could not find anything that may have been the reason for the haunting through my research. I am not a paranormal expert, but I am pretty good at logic. I laugh as I say that because looking back at all of this, I had no logic while it all was happening. I was wise enough to document the events long back. I will never forget the loft and the IT that moved in with me.
My final thoughts are: do these things follow you? I have my reasons for saying this.