The dream of Steve and Beth Lee and their two sons was to live in the beautiful Black Forest region of Colorado. For four years they rented homes in the densely forested area northeast of Colorado Springs before finding a spacious, two-story log home off Swan Road in the thickest part of the woods. What they did not know was that the former tenant of the house was convinced the property was haunted but did not mention anything for fear of being ridiculed. The unsuspecting Lees signed a lease in May 1991 and moved into the picturesque house, and a year later, they decided to purchase the five-acre parcel. That was when their problems began.
Within weeks of buying their new home, the gates of hell opened up on them. “One day we came home,” said Beth, “and it was like the Fourth of July in our living room and in our bedroom. We had all kinds of lights flashing through, and it sounded like people stomping across the roof. We would lay in bed at night and hear chains rattling. One night we woke up and heard orchestra music. Strange things started happening every day.” Their sons complained of weird lights and shadows in their rooms, lights and appliances started going on and off by themselves, and untraceable chemical odors burned family members’ eyes and throats. Steve Lee, a 34-year-old professional truck driver, firmly believed that someone was trying to scare his family out of their new home. But the Louisiana-born man told me that he had “just enough redneck left” to fight back against the elusive presence no matter what it took. He installed a state-of-the-art security system with video surveillance cameras and motion detectors, though the system often sounded alarms with no one around to trigger them. Over the next four years, they would have sixty-two unexplainable “break-ins.” The El Paso County Sheriff’s Department opened an investigation in April 1993 and conducted forty-five followups but could never find any evidence of a “crime.” After the sheriff stopped responding, the Lees hired private investigators to try to figure out what was going on. In the next two years, they spent over $40,000 on security and used up most of their personal savings, college funds, and investments.
About that time, Steve noticed that photographs and videotape taken in certain locations on the property had strange light streaks running through them, and sometimes, translucent faces even appeared on the film. Film emulsion is sensitive to a wider range of the electromagnetic spectrum beyond visible light, which is why the fleeting events can be caught in photographs (see “Phantoms on Film” in the November 1994 FATE). Three parts of the Lee house seemed especially prone to these unusual photographic effects: the outside wall next to their satellite dish, the living room, and the upstairs master bedroom. Determined to document the activity, Steve borrowed or purchased every type of camera he could think to see if the bizarre images appeared, but no matter what type of camera or film he used, he captured evidence of unexplainable light phenomena that included brilliant beams, floating balls of light, and glowing outlines of humans and animals. Sometimes the mysterious lights could be seen with the naked eye, though most often, they lasted just a split second and showed up only on film. Steve and Beth finally agreed that something paranormal might be going on in their home, and in early 1995, they sent some of the pictures and videotape to the “Sightings” television show.
Hollywood special effects technician Edson Williams examined the Lee films and told the producers of the show that most of the light images would be extremely difficult to reproduce and some seemed to defy the laws of optics entirely. “Sightings” immediately dispatched a film crew to the Black Forest, and once on site, were able to document some of the weird phenomena the Lees had witnessed. “Sightings” brought along Minneapolis ghostbuster Echo Bodine, who quickly identified a threatening male spirit in the living room. A sophisticated thermal imaging camera showed the presence of the ghost, who according to Bodine, was “responsible for things happening here and considers this to be his place.” Bodine determined the presence of at least twenty more spirits and judged the level of otherworldly activity in the house as “monumental.” She felt especially uncomfortable in the upstairs bedroom, which she said was “full of spirits ¾ not a restful room.” As if to punctuate her remarks, one of “Sightings” cameras mysteriously flipped off its tripod and crashed to floor, and an odd thumping electromagnetic interference was picked up by the crew’s equipment and Steve’s scanner, which he kept on the nightstand.
Then, during the filming of a discussion between Echo Bodine and Beth Lee at the kitchen table, Beth suddenly felt like someone was holding her down and complained of difficult breathing. She asked to halt the interview and staggered from the table, obviously distraught. Then, Sherry, a member of the back-up film crew, felt “something go into her,” as her chest, arms, and legs became numb. She fell into a chair and started crying uncontrollably, in abject terror, as some unseen force seemed to possess her. She had to be escorted off the set and did not recover fully until she was off the property. To this day, she is convinced that something in the Lee house tried to take over her body. During both these emotional outbursts, the “Sightings” equipment recorded unusual electromagnetic interference in the room. After the crew returned to Los Angeles, Steve Lee got a photo back from some film he shot during that period that showed a white dagger of light pointed directly at his forehead. The next day, he awoke with a painful, golfball-sized welt on his forehead. He was rushed to an emergency room in Colorado Springs, but a CAT scan of his head could reveal no cause for the disfiguring lump, and all the doctors could do was try to treat his excruciating pain.
“Sightings” returned in six months with renowned psychic investigator Peter James, who immediately sensed the pull of a powerful psychic energy vortex on the property. Then, while touring the house, James was overwhelmed by a burning, chemical odor, and suddenly asked if the name “Howard” meant anything to the Lees. Steve and Beth were both taken back by the unexpected mentioning of the name of a dear friend, whom Beth called their “adopted granddaddy for the last ten years.” As the Lees revealed more about the old man, the connection with the overpowering chemical smell became obvious. Apparently, Howard’s son (Howard Jr.) died of a drug overdose in the 1960s. The youth’s best friend was a pharmacist, and the two stole prescription drugs and got high together. Peter James felt that Howard Jr. entered a “rift in space-time” on the Lee property because he wanted to make contact with his father to explain that he had not really died of a drug overdose — he had in fact been murdered. Steve was extremely impressed with James’ revelation and asked to stop filming so he could compose himself. “There’s no way on God’s earth he could have known about Howard,” Steve quipped.
About a year after their first visit, “Sightings” returned a third time to the Lee house. Peter James accompanied them once again, but this time he concentrated his efforts on the most active spot in the house, the master bedroom on the second floor. Many anomalous events had been recorded near the entry to a small closet in the room as well as in a hundred-year-old mirror on the Lee’s dresser. Several psychics had pinpointed the closet as the gateway to the Other Side, and the mirror was an endless source of photographs of apparitions and floating faces. James believed the mirror reflected the faces of the spirits going in and out of the room’s gateway in search of the lifeforce they had lost. Several photographs of the mirror were computer enhanced to show scores of eerie faces peering back. In summarizing the Lee haunting for viewers, James said: “There is an energy here unlike any I’ve ever experienced in all the years I’ve investigated anomalous activity. So the Black Forest is indeed a very important place that should be further investigated.”
The Black Forest Vortex
A Hopi shaman consulted on the Black Forest hauntings said that the area is a “Rainbow Vortex,” one of only a few psychic energy spots on the planet that connect our world with the next. Currently, there are only two other locations where photographic phenomena similar to those from the Black Forest are being recorded. Both are private residences ¾ one in Arizona and the other in London. Visits by psychics to each of these locations seemed to cause the paranormal activity to increase in frequency and intensity, and today at the Lee house, doors open and close by themselves, appliances turn on and off, objects disappear or are hidden away, alarms go off for no reason, shadowy figures move silently through the house, and disembodied voices can be heard. Red, yellow, and white lightforms are seen and recorded, as well as apparitions of an old lady, a little girl, a burly man dressed in 1800s clothing, and a “flying dog,” not to mention the hundreds of forlorn faces seen floating in the Lee’s bedroom mirror. When asked why they have not abandoned their haunted abode, Beth Lee replied: “Because we want it solved and we want to keep our house. Until you walk in our shoes, you won’t understand. Mainly, though, I just want a normal life again, so we can get on with our lives.”
By the beginning of 1997, the Lees had spent nearly $70,000 trying to find the source of the paranormal energy and collected over 3,000 photos and 400 videotapes showing anomalous phenomena. Steve Lee continues to try to capture the activity on film, and in October, purchased expensive infrared lenses with ultrasonic trip mechanisms to take automatic photographs of the ghostly intruders. The Lees have also called in over thirty different specialists, including some of the best paranormal researchers in the country, as well as private investigators, clergymen, psychics, and quantum physicists. Several scientists have stated that the lightforms recorded on film at the Lee house do not behave according to accepted laws of physics. Bill Gibbens, an electromagnetics expert from Denver who specializes in exposing fraudulent hauntings, was hired to sweep the house for electronic bugs but witnessed so many paranormal events that he has returned several times on his own to try to trace the source of the projected energy. Gibbens believes the energy is coming from a stationary source under the house and is planning to bring in ground sonar equipment and spectrum analyzers to track it. “I saw spectacular light shows that could be seen with the naked eye,” he admitted. “It’s an extremely active site, and there’s nothing that Steve or his wife are doing to cause this.”
The Lees even persuaded a state senator to investigate their home. Charles Duke, a Republican senator from Monument, brought his own camera and film and was able to take several photographs that showed uncanny lights and apparitions. “There are things happening that defy explanation around his house,” Duke told reporters, “but I must admit I went over there with a great deal of skepticism. It’s really bizarre. I was shocked. I’m not a believer yet, but certainly there is something going on there. I don’t believe in ghosts and neither does Mr. Lee. He’s just trying to get someone to listen.” Senator Duke asked the FBI to investigate, but they declined, explaining that they would only visit the house if there were evidence that a federal law had been violated, though one FBI agent suggested to Steve that the problem might be “poltergeists.”
In November 1996, I went to the Lee property to take infrared photographs. Three months earlier, Senator Duke had taken a picture of a cloudy image that he said was “clearly a dog” — an apparition that had been photographed repeatedly on the property and that Steve believes might be his own dog who died ten years ago. I was able to capture this “flying dog” on film, as well as the frightening face of another ghost, possibly the “old woman” or “burly man” described by witnesses. Like most researchers who visit the Lee property, I experienced the usual unexplainable equipment problems and odd physical sensations. While Steve was showing Bill Gibbens and I a corner of the cellar that had been “active” lately, we all felt an uneasy, heavy presence pulling at us, although photographs taken of the area showed nothing unusual.
Alchemy of the Paranormal
Though I try to document the physical parameters of the cases I investigate, the focus of my research is on the changes wrought by paranormal events on the people involved. I have identified a kind of paranormal alchemy that produces fundamental changes in the personalities of experiencers whether the events center around apparitions, UFOs, sacred energy vortexes, mystical states, or near-death visions. In all genuine cases, the experiencer undergoes a threefold process of transformation that begins with the fiery destruction of personal ego and material concerns. This conflagration of ego can only be quenched by surrendering to the dissolving waters of the subconscious mind and integrating the paranormal viewpoint through non-rational processes such as visualizations and dreams. Finally, the purified essences of the personality surface and the belief system of the individual is completely overhauled to accept and live with the reality of another, unexpected side to our existence. Sometimes, paranormal events can even be prompted by this loss of ego, as in the blurring of personal identity that takes place in deep meditation or with mind-altering drugs, though it can be forced on people by circumstances such as illness, isolation, or withdrawal. In many instances, the breakthrough event is perceived in negative terms because it blows away the values of everyday life and challenges our most basic happyumptions. Depending on their belief systems, experiencers want the paranormal events to have a specific explanation and end up blaming things like aliens, devils, witches, occult groups, religious cults, or secret government agencies.
In Steve Lee’s case, it was the latter. “I truly think the U.S. government has a hand in this,” he told a television reporter. “I don’t think any one individual could get away with this for this period of time without getting caught. The government does testing out here that has military implications.” Steve was convinced that the government was using his family as human guinea pigs to test laser holograms and biological weapons for psychic warfare. He saw figures in military fatigues carrying assault rifles on his property and spent hours trying to photograph them. In fact, one of his neighbors obtained a restraining order to keep him from taking any more pictures across property lines. Steve accused government agents of cutting off the electricity to his home whenever it was vacant, so they could enter it without being detected. He also accused them of spraying chemicals in his van and truck that left him deathly ill. He believed the secret agents even followed him when he visited his mother-in-law’s ranch in Gunnison, Colorado, or his father’s home in Louisiana.
My limited investigation uncovered no direct evidence of government surveillance, though it would certainly not surprise me if certain government agencies took a covert interest in this case. Actually, Steve’s explanation seemed to fit the facts as good as any other theory. However, as the unexplainable events continued to evolve, Steve eventually incorporated their reality into his own world view and is learning to live with it. The same is true of Beth and the children. What has changed most over the last five years is not the Black Forest’s mysterious vortex of otherworldly energy, but the Lees’ definition of what is “normal” for them. “It would scare other people,” notes Steve, “but it doesn’t scare us. It’s kind of a normal way of life now.”