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Hpi Chronicles: The Ghosts Of San Juan Bautista


HPI gets a call from Mags. Mags is actually the lovely Margaret Clara Baker. She lives in San Juan Bautista and she lives with ghosts.

Holly DeLaughter will be the lead investigator for this case and sets a date for the HPI core members to investigate. Mags was kind enough to set us up with plenty to do on our trip, as you will read later on...

The date is June 21, 2008.

Michele Stump, Historian & Core Investigator briefs Holly and the HPI team with the following:

The San Juan Bautista Mission was built by the Spanish clergy in 1797. It was the 15th Mission in California and the largest mission. Before the Spaniards built the mission, the land of San Juan Bautista was the home of the Mutsun Tribe of Indians. The Mutsun were hunter/gatherers or (Digger) Indians. Before the arrival of the Spanish, the Mutsun lived in small mud, adobe huts in villages. Because the adobes were erected without roofs, the structures were mostly destroyed by the elements. At one time, the Mutsuns living at the mission numbered around 3000.

Unlike the dismal fate of most natives in California, the Mutsuns were able to survive due to the fact that the missions were considered sanctuary. Violence, starvation, and disease were not as prevalent as it was in other areas of the state. The spiritual practices of the Mutsuns were banished and they were taught to practice Christianity. The last surviving pure blooded Mutsun Indian died in 1930 and she is buried at the Indian cemetery next to the mission church.

Jose Castro, of the Mexican Army, (or American Army if you want to be technical, as Mexico owned California at that time) built the "Castro House" and then the Breen family bought the property in the 1840's. The Breen family were survivors of the Donner party. Their son John brought home $10,000 worth of gold dust and the family was able to buy the house and it's property in San Juan Bautista.

Because of the long and rich diversity and history of San Juan Bautista, there are several varieties of architecture there including Adobe, Spanish, Italian, English, and others. George Chalmers was an architect in the town and built several properties there. He also had a brother, Robert, who is the famous ghost of Coloma's Vineyard House.

Holly gathers her team of investigators, they are: Jen Baca, Bryan Coleman, Michele Stump, Scott Young and of course me, Paul Dale Roberts.

We all arrive at my home to make the long trek to San Juan Batista. We made the passing of time bearable as we blasted some Lynnard Skynnard. If you make a road trip to San Juan Bautista from the Northern part of California, make sure to stop at Andersen's Pea Soup at 51 E. Hwy 246 of in Buellton, CA. Check out their website at They have a great tourist shop inside their restaurant, with lots of fun peas soup trinkets. We stopped for refreshments and to stretch. After taking our roadside break, we were ready to roll.

One unusual incident happened to us on the way down to San Juan Bautista. Holly, who is quite sensitive, felt a feeling of dread as we went through the Pacheco Pass, particularly at Pacheco Creek. She had this sinking feeling for the next 5 or 6 miles that she could not over come. The HPI Investigators told Holly she had lost all the coloring in her face until we were completely out of the Pacheco Pass area. And to validate Holly's feelings when we met up with Mags, she introduced us to a native of the land named "Chief". Chief proceed to tell us that there were a lot of lives lost in that Pacheco Creek area and it was historically significant and heavily imprinted.

Shannon McCabe, HPI's president, later tells us that there is a ghost woman that haunts the Pacheco Pass and maybe Holly was picking up on her pain as well.

From what I know of Pacheco Pass is that it was on the original Butterfield Overland Mail stagecoach route which connected the American Midwest with San Francisco all the way to 1858, until the Transcontinental Railroad was built. The pass is named after Francisco Perez Pacheco. Another name for Pacheco Pass is Robber's Pass, due to the many stagecoach robberies and hold-up's.

The first person I interviewed was waitress Susanna Lopez of La Poblanita Mexican Restaurant. She tells me that in the park near her house, the swing would start swinging by itself, usually at 11pm. The swing moves when there is no wind. It seems that the swing moves by itself almost every night. In the home she lives in, her boyfriend once felt a cold spot near his body. Her boyfriend's sister has been pushed during the middle of the night. She has seen a little girl at the building near her home. She has even seen a light in the night sky that was large and as she watched it, it became smaller.

This was an interesting story and I will later learn by the end of the day, that almost everyone in this town has witnessed something that was considered paranormal. It makes sense, since this town has seen its share of tragedy. For example, a Mexican stranger came into town in 1886 and went to the Plaza Hotel. He looked ill. Later it was learned he brought in smallpox to the town. 300 people of this town died of smallpox.

As we explored this town, I learned that on 1st and Washington Street, there is a phantom stagecoach that has been seen. At the Cement Plant, people have claimed to have seen Shadow People.

On this particular day, there was lightning and a quick rain. As fast as the thunderstorm came, it went. The only thunder I could hear was from the many motorcycles that rumbled down the street. The Chicano Style Motorcycle Club made their presence known, and they looked really cool doing it.

I decided to interview another person on the street that didn't want to be identified. She told me that a certain house blows smoke from the chimney on a certain day in October and there is no one living in the house. She had me walk with her and she pointed the house to me. I only wish she would have told me the day!

It was now time for a briefing from Mags and her boyfriend Roger L. Miller.

Here is what came out from the briefing:

Doors have opened and closed by themselves. One time the door slammed shut on the owner of this home. They have seen the door move 6 or 8 inches on its own. They have heard the door knob making a clicking sound, as if someone was turning it. Roger felt like he was touched on one particular night. The children of this home feel like something is trying to go through their bedroom door and feelings of being watched. Particularly at night. The children have heard a knocking in the kitchen area, they knocked three times and heard a reply of three knocks back. They did it again and knocked only two times and got a reply of two knock back from the other side of the room. The air gets thick at times.

One time a head was peeking around the doorway. A tall black thin shadow person was seen at the doorway. The bathroom and the one bedroom seem to have the most activity.

Mags has had had an "in your face" type of feeling from a male presence where she got a partial vision of what the entity looked like. Two of the HPI Lead investigators were able to psychically pick up on what they felt was the same entity and describe that same feeling and look of what Mags had experienced. Holly was able to give Mags a message that the entity did not like Mags' current boyfriend. That totally made sense to Mags as the activity increases and the air becomes hostile when her boyfriend is around.

Holly and Mags really seemed to connect on a psychic and personal level. Holly was able to help Mags with a lot of different areas in her and her children's lives.

Holly goes on to tell me that two weeks prior to the investigation she received psychic information on Mags' youngest daughter and that she was communicating with the spirits her mother wanted us to find. She also received psychic information about a man that died by hanging. Whether he hung himself or was hung, Holly did not know.

Holly thought that it might be at Mags' house but actually found out that it happened directly next door after Mags did some research. Mags was also not aware that her daughter was speaking to any spirits and when she confronted her daughter after HPI arrived she told her mother the whole story. So Holly does it again!

I have to admit, that when I went into the bathroom by myself, there seemed to be an electrical charge in the air. Their home is 102 years old, so it has a lot of history.

Holly felt something dreadful happened on the stairwell, and one of the neighbors remembers a story about a murder that occurred, possibly on that very stairwell.

It is rumored that a butcher shop once was located downstairs and that some of the employees of this butcher shop lived in the rooms that are now part of this apartment complex. Odors have been detected in this home, like a man's body odor and later they smelled Bay Rum cologne. Below this home may be a tunnel that leads to the mission. There was a lady that died at Cutting Horse Steakhouse, she was stabbed to death and her presence may be also be in their home.

Our next stop was the Cutting Horse Steakhouse and Saloon on 307 Third Street. HPI ghost hunters get hungry and we all got our fill on some tasty cheese burgers and fries. We topped it off with a strong delicious Cappuccino shot.

If you come to San Juan Bautista, you must stop at the Cutting Horse. They serve Skirt Steak plate marinated in Jack Daniels and grilled to order. Or try their Bullrider which is an open faced prime rib sandwich covered in cheddar cheese, onions, mushrooms and a secret sauce! Other items on their menu are: Ranch Steak Sandwich, Cowboy Sloppy Joe, Cutting Horse Club, Calamari Sandwich, Cowgirl Chicken Sandwich, Chicken Caesar Wrap, Half Pound Kobe, Black Angus Cobb Salad and a zillion other delicacies.

My God, the food is delicious, plus the place is filled with history!

The Lady in White (former madam of this town) haunts their establishment. She has been seen on the stairwell and sometimes appears as a skeletal face with long blonde hair. She is known to move about from the Cutting Horse to Posada de San Juan Hotel. The Taylors that are former owners of Cutting Horse walked into their restaurant and were sprayed with water from a hose. After they got sprayed they watched the hose reattach itself to the wall!

The Cutting Horse is located over the town's former hangman's tree. Near this restaurant, during the 1800s, a drunken Mexican man with a gun, shot Manuel Butron, who was an epileptic. He shot Manuel through his chest. Manuel survived and his epileptic fits stopped. The man that shot him was taken to The Alameda's willow tree and hung.

Bryan Nohl, owner of the Cutting Horse took us into the tunnel under the restaurant. At one time this tunnel lead to the mission. The tunnel is now blocked off by a wall, due to the 1906 earthquake. San Juan Bautista sits on the San Andreas fault line. I went into the tunnel and you really feel closed in.

The Cutting Horse is a very interesting place and you feel like you are part of the Cutting Horse family, because the owners are very hospitable. Make sure to tell Christine Dreifuss and Bryan Nohl (owners) hi for me, if you decide to visit their establishment. Ask Christine and Bryan about the female skeletal face that some of their customers have seen in the mirrors. If you see this skeletal face, ask for a Cappuccino shot quickly to pump up your heart if it stops beating! They do make the best Cappuccino shot! I had one and perked me up immediately!

Everything in San Juan Bautista is in walking distance. You can see the Haunted Plaza Hotel, you can visit Mission San Juan Bautista (rumored to have residual haunting activity at this mission). There is the mission cemetery where 4300 mission Indians were buried on sacred ground in unmarked graves. At the mission is a statue of Fray Junipero Serra who was born on 1713 and died in 1784. He is the founder of all of the California missions.

Another place that is haunted is Bakery Groceries on 319 Third Street. Then there is the phantom man that walked into Mrs. B's Z-Place and vanished.

As we walked around town, the stories seemed to be focused on the Cutting Horse. I heard more stories on how water in the mop buckets started sloshing back and forth by itself. How many customers have felt a presence at the Cutting Horse. Women customers have felt something was with them as they walked into the women's bathroom. Sometimes the bathroom door is held shut as a woman customer is trying to leave the bathroom.

Back in the 1800s, Deanna the madam of a brothel, was the town celebrity. Many people believe that the skeletal mirror woman with long blonde hair is Deanna. I heard stories abound how 4 people walked into the Cutting Horse and they all saw the skeletal faced woman with long blonde hair. There is even a mural on the wall of this establishment of what looks like a skeletal faced woman. Ask Christine and Bryan to point out the mural to you.

A little girl that would come to the Cutting Horse with her mom would refuse to sit in one end of the restaurant, because she said a little girl was there. This little girl is seen all around town, they call her Diana. She looks to be about 5 years old. The little girl that I will call "Britney" saw Diana walk into a room and the lights went off, then when Diana left the room, the lights went back on again. While we did our investigation at this restaurant, Bryan Coleman was picking up a 100 reading on his EMF meter in the woman's bathroom.

Specifically where the fan is located. This could be caused by electrical currents and requires more evidence to substantiate.

Another haunted establishment is Daisy's Saloon. Heidi Perez who is a bartender of this establishment has felt presences at this saloon late at night. She has felt a presence brush up against her body. She showed Bryan Coleman and I, the storage area where employees have felt a strong presence. In the 70's, this building caught fire and they rebuilt it back to its original glory.

Adella Johnson a customer of Daisy's Saloon showed Bryan and I, La Casa Rosa, another haunted establishment. This is where a phantom prostitute smokes cigarettes. Customers of this establishment will smell the cigarette smoke for a few minutes, and then it will dissipate. The former mayor of San Juan Bautista named John Hopper, approached us and said that he has heard strange sounds that originate in the back area of this saloon. He has felt cold chills.

Another person we interviewed was Mary Lopez. Mary Lopez is the owner of many of the establishments in this town, including the Posada de San Juan, buildings of Cutting Horse, and Poblanita Cantina. Mary even owns the residence that Mags resides in. Mary has had many paranormal experiences. She has heard strange sounds, she has heard the ghostly giggles of children, and she has seen a thin man with black trench coat and black hat walking through the lobby of her hotel and then vanished.

Mary once hired an artist for Her hotel, that was painting the Virgin Mary. He smelled the odor of perfume and felt a warmth next to him, as he lay in bed. He heard church bells while lying in bed, but there were no church bells around. On another day, he saw the table move on its own into an incline. Mary explains that once a guest in Room 117, smelled smoke in the room and when he awakened from his sleep, he saw many apparitions standing around his bed. He closed his eyes and reopened them and still saw the apparitions standing around his bed. Finally the smell of smoke was gone and the apparitions disappeared. After talking with Mary Lopez, it was time to see other haunted places like the Mariposa Tea Room Restaurant. Since this place was closed, I did another interview with resident Carmen Simmons. Carmen has lived in San Juan Bautista for 3 years. She lives on Thomas Lane by the Agriculture fields.

Her home is a newly built home that was built over a school yard. She says that an older lady lives in her home. The house makes strange creaky sounds. The cabinets have opened and closed by themselves. She has seen a full body apparition of the older woman. The older woman did not try and communicate with her.

I met her husband Mike Simmons who has never experienced anything paranormal, but he believes his wife's story. Perhaps Carmen is a sensitive and can pick up on things that regular guys like Mike Simmons and I, can't? She is a native from San Jose. She is not new to the paranormal. She has had experiences at her parent's home. At this home, a blanket was thrown over a light, causing a small fire and the entities of the house seemed to warn her of the danger. Towards the end of the evening, I headed over to Daisy's Saloon at 213 3rd Street around 2am.

I interviewed the owner Dan Thomas and Linda Thomas. While I conducted my interview, I was busy taking digital photographs and using my digital audio recorder to see if I could pick up any EVPs. Dan & Linda explained to me that one morning they came back into Daisy's Saloon and found 2 martini glasses and shaker sitting on the bar. This was unusual, because they never leave anything on the bar after they clean up in the evening.

Another night the sheriff contacted Linda and told her that the alarm had been set off, because there was movement in the bar. When Linda and the Sheriff showed up to the bar, there was no one in the bar. There was no explanation on what could have caused the movement during after hours at their bar.

History on the bar states that a man was shot and killed near the entrance of the Daisy. During the weekends, this bar is packed, it's a very fun and festive bar, and as an added bonus, it's haunted! Added information from Michele Stump, HPI's Historian/ Investigator:

My most memorable paranormal experience was witnessing Shadow People running in the field next to the car I was sitting in in Covelo, CA.

When I learned about the cemetery on the grounds of the San Juan Batista mission, and the fact that over 4000 bodies of the Mutsun Indians were buried in a space half the size of a typical city lot, I was intrigued. I thought that if I were to witness Shadow People again, this would be as good a place as any.

My boyfriend Scott and I went down the steps to a trail just below the 12 foot stone wall that is literally holding in the bones of thousands of dead Mutsun Indians. Below even further are acres of farm land on top of the San Andreas Fault. We laid down a blanket and waited and listened. There were faint sounds of footsteps and the endless crackle of weeds and branches. We sat there in the dark for about 45 minutes when Scott sat up suddenly and said shaken, "What the?..." I reacted.

Also. He said that he heard a voice behind us in what sounded like someone saying "Shhhh..." I didn't hear it and when I went through my audio recordings, I was unable to find the sound. We sat there a little longer and I suddenly remembered a story that I read about sightings of a mountain lion around the Plaza area of the mission. The sightings happened for about 10 years and became a sort of a local legend. In 1971, the legend became reality when the Department of Fish and Game shot and killed a mountain lion on the property. The stuffed body of the lion is on display at the museum in the stables.

My paranoia got the better of me. We decided that hanging out in the wilderness in mountain lion country wasn't such a great idea without a campfire, so we relocated to the plaza and sat on a pew outside of the mission, near the entrance to the cemetery.

I am not afraid of ghosts and the paranormal but what I am afraid of are man- eating wild animals.

Across the Plaza was the old Zanetta house. There, on the porch, I saw several shadows in the corner of my eye. Scott saw one fairly close to us between two pillars. At one point, we heard a bang on the roof and what sounded like something large walking on the roof.

Scott walked into the plaza and started snapping pictures of the roof. What he got was a gray cat. Great debunking Scott! At another point, Scott decided to take a walk along the wall of the cemetery and see if he could get any pictures there and find a good vantage point to take pictures of the inside of the cemetery itself. About ten minutes later, he came running to where I was sitting. I asked him what was wrong and he said that he was being chased by a bat. I actually did see a small bat flying around his head but it disappeared when Scott sought shelter under the roof of the mission.

There was the occasional sound of footsteps on the wooden walkway surrounding the mission and constant shadows across the way but other than that, it seemed the souls here were for the most part, at rest and at peace.

Back to Mags' house: On Sunday, Mags asked if I would bless her home. Mags walked with me as we attempted to send any entities towards the light. At some point, Mags looks at me and says..."Do you smell that? Do you smell a fragrance?" I was stunned and said..."oh my god!" Because if you have a successful blessing, you will smell a sweet fragrance, this indicates that angels are now present in the home, protecting the family and the home. Then Mags and I looked around the corner and it was Holl putting on True Beauty Berry Blast perfume by Victoria's Secret! We all had to laugh. San Juan Bautista is rich with ghostly activity, it's a smorgasbord for ghost hunters! HPI, myself and Holly DeLaughter, would like to thank the town of San Juan Batista for being so hospitable, especially Mags!

We investigated the Cutting Horse, Daisy's and Maggs' private residence. Holly was so impressed with the energy of the town that she and Shannon are going back for round two! Now it's time for us to evaluate that information gathered and see what we discovered. Make sure to check to see if we caught any ghostly evidence!

You can see pictures from our trip at the link below:


Paul Dale Roberts, HPI Paranormal Investigative Reporter, Ghost hunter

Haunted and Paranormal Investigations International

WPRT Paranormal Radio - Content Editor


Paranormal Cellular Hotline: 916 203 7503 (for comments on this story).

If you have a possible investigation call: 1-888-709-4HPI


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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, PaulDaleRoberts, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

troyarn (5 stories) (479 posts)
16 years ago (2008-08-05)
You interview people, you tell history. Great, but where the hell is the story? Again, I am not into this guy at all. Very disappointing.
I tell you what, I can advertise just as well and tell you stuff someone told me on the street.
Again, sorry to be negative, but I really do not like this guy.
Jennifer40 (20 stories) (202 posts)
16 years ago (2008-07-18)
This is great. I have to admit that the ghost spraying folks with a hose made me laugh. How would one ever explain why they had gotten so wet?

Jennifer ❤
KimSouthO (27 stories) (1960 posts)
16 years ago (2008-07-16)
Once again, thank you for another terrific story about another one of your teams hnuts and experiences! I love to read these!

Thanks for taking the time to document your experiences and share them with all of us!

God Bless!
ChrisB (6 stories) (1515 posts)
16 years ago (2008-07-16)
Hi paul and tank you for sharring another great story with us. It is nice to hear from you again. But honeslty I thought that you would post something later. But I'm happy that you did. I like Ohmy wish I could visit as much countries like you and go ghost hunting. But I think of all the things you have seen I would go crazy. Thanks for sharring. I hope to hear from you soon and take care
ohmy (22 posts)
16 years ago (2008-07-14)
Another good read by you. Thanks. I am so envious of your trips. I like the history behind your story.

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