A house of horrors is the real lead character in the new FX suspense drama “American Horror Story,” which, in early episodes, finds its owners trying to illegally unload their haunted house without disclosing its dark, dark past. (Reprint this story for free with limited copyright restrictions.)
Good luck with that.
“American Horror Story” revolves around the Harmons, a family of three who moved from Boston to Los Angeles in order to reconcile a dark past and end up with a home that has some baggage of its own.
There’s unfaithful Ben Harmon, a shrink; Vivien Harmon, Ben’s pregnant wife and their teens-will-be-teens, pot-smoking daughter Violet Harmon. They are joined by Constance, the Harmon’s gun-wielding, spooky neighbor; Tate Langdon, one of Ben’s patients; Larry Harvey, who doesn’t seem bothered by the spooks; the Harmon’s housekeeper, both in her past sultry mode and in her present guise as a real come-on bitch. Continue reading
How can you find out who lived – or died – on the property before you owned it or lived in it? It helps to know a friendly real estate agent or title company employee if you want to get the distant past history of your haunted land.
A title company can run a title search and get what is called the “chain of title” for you. That will tell you much more than a property profile or the county records, which often go back only about 10 years. A chain of title can go way, way back – as far as Mexican or Spanish land grants in our area.
Sometimes the chain of title will also include death certificates, so you’ll know if anyone died on the land or in the house. But don’t expect this to be absolutely perfect – no guarantees here!
The title records won’t include everyone who lived at the property address, only those who were on title, so at best it can give you a particular window. But with the owners’ names you may be able to expand your research and learn more about what took place there in days gone by. Google and other search engines can be a huge help, but so can archives from the paper (San Jose Mercury News and others). Don’t forget to just ask the neighbors – you’d be surprises at how much they might know!
I received the email, below, and have permission to share it here (edited slightly for brevity and clarity). I suggested that she talk to the neighbors as they often have input. Got any ideas for her? Please leave a comment!
We have three daughters and out youngest was 13 yrs when we moved into a two story rental home. Her room was a large room over the garage with steps down into it. During our time there the room was always cold (even in the summer). Ali (my daughter) had trouble sleeping and I would go lay in bed with her and I would become uncomfortable in the room and somewhat anxious and inevitably take her to my room.
Ali finally talked to me after we had been there two or three years that there were two children – a girl in a blue smock dress and a boy in older style clothes) that were in her room. She described them as angry at times and they would pick on her. Ali would sleep walk (hasn’t since we moved out). She said they pushed her down in the bed-she said she knew they were mad at her because, she had been gone two days. They would get mad at her when she got migraines (they thought she was ignoring them). The radio would turn on in her bathroom when she showered. One day Ali was very upset about something and went into her room and a music box in the window that needed wound up turned on, on its own, and they whispered “it’s okay”.
As we got closer to moving I would verbally tell them to leave her alone and Ali told me they didn’t like me. After we moved out – they literally broke things – it was winter and the land lord blamed us for leaving the house a mess….It was spotless when we left. I saw pictures of what the landlord claims we did. The toilet in Ali’s bathroom had black water in it that had frozen and cracked the bowl. The oven had been turned on by the landlord to warm the house and all the grease on the exterior turned black. There was a huge water stain on the wood floor that could not be removed. We ended up owing $2000.00 to the landlord for repairs of things we did not do.
I did leave a necklace of Ali’s behind hoping they would not follow her. So far so good. It has been over two years. I wondered how to find out about the land the house is on but I don’t know where to start.