Family at house of the dead call in ghostbusters

The tenants of a Christchurch home where three members of a family died have called in paranormal investigators.

The family of six moved into the house in January, and say coffee tables have moved, wardrobe doors slam by themselves, the shower turns on and off, they hear footsteps on the stairs, and the children have seen "apparitions".

In May 2010, a mother and her two teenage daughters were found dead in the two-storey Avonhead house. Four days later, the father was found dead in his car nearby.

The new tenants took over the five-bedroom house this year and were a "little nervous" when the real estate agent told them what had happened. Now they say "strange things" started happening from day one.

The 41-year-old father of the household, who did not want to be named, said he was not a strong believer in the supernatural but things were happening that they couldn't explain. "We're not drug- addicted hippies who hang wind chimes from the trees, we're an average, normal family. But all six of us, and even the dog, have been picking up weird things."

Despite trying to "keep the children out of it", he said his five- year-old daughter had been seen talking to herself in the mirror and later came downstairs and said she had been speaking to a "little girl".

The family had heard furniture moving in the lounge in the night, experienced "horrible sulphur smells that burned your eyes" in the bathroom, seen the bulbs blow continually in certain rooms, and heard the dog growling at nothing.

Not wanting to move but not knowing what to do or if "our minds were playing tricks on us", the family had the house "cleansed" by a priest, and called in Christchurch Paranormal Investigators.

After a "full investigation" in March, principal investigator Anton Heyrick said he found "compelling evidence of paranormal activity".

When the family went away for a weekend, the team set up video and sound recorders in every room, and brought in thermal and infra-red cameras and other equipment. "We are 95 per cent sure there is paranormal activity here - that means we can't explain the things that are happening or what we are hearing."

The ghost-hunting group filmed its examinations and interviews with the family, and plans to release a documentary next year.

New Zealand Skeptics spokeswoman Vicki Hyde was concerned that the documentary might resemble a "B-grade special effects horror movie".

"There have been so many ghost investigations, none of which have ever come up with anything. We should be treating these things as light entertainment, but the problem is people can be vulnerable to these stories."

Hyde said she would be interested to see the documentary, but raised concerns over whether the family would be exploited.

The father conceded bulbs blowing might be faulty wiring, bad smells could be from a burst pipe, and his five-year-old daughter might have a "wild imagination", but said he was not trying to "convert" anyone.

"The house may or may not have electrical issues, and people are going to believe what they want to. But if there is such a thing as spirits, and they happen to be here, then that's fine. We're happy for them to open wardrobe doors and run up and down the stairs - we just don't want it turning malicious. To be honest, I've started to get used to it."

A coroner's inquest into the deaths is yet to be scheduled.

Sunday Star Times