The Toms River Horror: New Jersey Family Flees “Haunted” House

We ain't afraid of no rent.

Not exactly related, yet appropriate.

A haunting mystery is unfolding in Toms River, New Jersey: Did Josue Chinchilla and Michele Callan flee the 3-bedroom ranch they rented at the corner of Terrance and Lowell to get away from malevolent spirits that fly in the night? Or were they running from the more prosaic demons that haunt every empty pocket book?

Mr. Chinchilla and his fiancee, Ms. Callan, told the Asbury Park Press that they took Ms. Callan’s two children and fled the home one chill March night around 1 a.m.–just a week after moving in. The pair claim they and their children were terrified by a litany of classically vague ghostly visitations:

The family would come home and find their clothes and towels ejected from the closets and strewn over the floors. Doors would creak open and slam closed in unoccupied areas of the house. Lights switched on and off without human intervention. At night, footsteps could be heard from the kitchen after everyone was tucked in and unintelligible whispering seemed to fade in and out of thin air, according to the couple.

But none of the above was as bad as what the couple say they heard through the floor vents.

The rumbling of something down there in the dark.


To recoup their sanity Mr. Chinchilla and Ms. Callan have sought comfort in the arms of the New Jersey state Superior Court by filing suit against their landlord, Dr. Richard Lopez. The pair want Dr. Lopez to refund their $2,250 security deposit.

It is likely no surprise Dr. Lopez filed a suit of his own against the pair for breaking their lease. Dr. Lopez believes the couple’s tale of terror is nothing but a cover story masking money troubles.

Naturally Mr. Chinchilla’s and Ms. Callan’s attorney believes their story. They have the backing of a group of paranormal researchers as well–because who doesn’t have a paranormal research group available these days?

N.J. Paranormal Investigators co-founder Marianne Brigando told the A.P.P. that out of all their investigations “this is where we came up with the most concrete evidence.” Ms. Brigando also told the New Jersey paper that her group found the house was likely home to–in the words of the A.P.P. reporter–“an active or intelligent haunting.” This kind of haunting is, for those keeping score, “one level above a residual haunting.”

If any of the elements of the story sound familiar, it may be because it smacks of another haunted house tale that occurred in Amityville, New York about 35 years ago. A best-selling book came out of the harrowing story of the Amityville Horror and a slew of reasonably successful films.

That “true” tale of terror was eventually admitted to be a hoax concocted by the family who fled the house and an interested attorney “over many bottles of wine.”

The Asbury Park Press may be haunted by a rash of mysteriously missing readers after giving extended coverage to this story–various Facebook comments attached to the web version of their article indicate readers like “top commenter” Walter J. Grenci are not particularly amused: “The Asbury Park Press building on Rt. 66 in Neptune is haunted too. Haunted by bad decisions, inept reporting, gramitical (sic) errors, and useless editors.”

The Toms River Horror: New Jersey Family Flees “Haunted” House