Couple Sues Landlord Over 'Haunted' House
Paranormal activity is fun to watch at the movies, but what happens when life (allegedly) imitates art? In the case of this New Jersey couple, a lawsuit, apparently. Michele Callan and her fiance, Josue Chinchilla (both pictured below), are suing their landlord for their $2,250 deposit on a Toms River home that they claim is haunted.
The couple says that they were victim to disturbing paranormal activity, including menacing voices, flickering lights, moving bedsheets and clothes mysteriously flying from their closets.
Chinchilla, 37, even told ABC News that despite not believing in "this stuff," he once experienced an "invisible hand" on his shoulder, and also claims that he was briefly hospitalized for panic attacks spurred by such paranormal experiences.
Consequently, on March 11, the couple and her two children fled their Lowell Avenue rental and have since been living in a single room at a motel in Point Pleasant Beach -- refusing to move back as their lives are "in mortal danger" if they return.
But their landlord, Richard Lopez, isn't buying the story. In fact, he's countersuing the couple, saying the scare is just a "hoax" to get out of paying their $1,500 monthly rent and to break their yearlong lease.
"Frankly, there is something else going on," Lopez's lawyer David Semanchik told the Asbury Park Press. "She is a single mom, she has this fiance living with her. I think she is in over her head and she can't afford the rent."
But Callan says that if this were the case, Chinchilla and her family would not have fled just one week after moving in, with the rent already paid to the end of the month.
In any case, if Lopez had consciously rented the couple a home with any shady or ghost-ridden history, he wouldn't have had to reveal it. Most states in the U.S. do not have formal renter/seller disclosure laws regarding a home's non-material facts (i.e. outside structural concerns, leaks in the foundation or walls, etc.) and do not require Realtors to tell prospective buyers about a home's grisly past or purported hauntings, though that's strongly recommended.
There was such disclosure in the case of the the Lutz family, who moved into the now-world-famous "Amityville Horror" house in New York and were supposedly haunted by the demonic images and supernatural activity of the home's murdered tenants.
But there was apparently no warning for the Callas-Chinchilla household: They reportedly were so spooked that they even hired paranormal investigators, who set up five cameras, electronic voice phenomena recorders and electromagnetic-field meters in the rental. The Asbury Park Press reported that the presence of paranormal activity appeared in the videos, including bowling pins falling over in the recreation room while the infrared cameras were recording.
"[We've heard] taps on the TV, taps on the shoulder," Chinchilla told ABC News, whose cameras also recorded purported paranormal activity during its visit (see the video below). "We're living in it."
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