A Ghostly House in Kansas
Inteview with SUZANNE and JEFFERY DIEHL and their children JOURDANNE DIEHL, age
4, and PAUL ROATH age 13. June, 1999. Interview by SuzAnne's aunt Linda Kangas and
Gene Kangas, Concord OHIO.
The subject concerns spiritual occurrences at an early 20th century Victorian
style house on North Plum, Hutchinson, KS. The Diehls purchased the house and
moved into it during the Fall of 1993 and later sold the house in 1998 before
moving to Ohio.
SuzAnne: I don't even remember when things started occurring. Frequently we would
hear footsteps moving up and down the basement stairs. Regularly, almost every
night after I went to bed, footsteps would come down the upstairs hallway usually
around ten o'clock. They always stopped at our closed bedroom door. There was a
time shortly after we moved in when I went to bed early by myself. I was awakened
by whatever this thing was. I had a feeling of having someone just
"right down" in
my face...being that close to me! I remember waking up and yelling, and then it
was gone! Another time, Jeffery got up to get a drink at night and left the room.
I could feel someone in the bed with me and I rolled over thinking it was Jeff.
But it wasn't him at all!! From that point on I did not shut the bedroom door,
because both of those occurrences happened when the door was shut. So I always
left it open from then on thinking I wouldn't be followed or scared. But the
footsteps would still come from the end of the hall even with the door open; and
they would stop near the door like it was checking to see if anyone was in bed.
Linda: Who was this entity, did you know?
SuzAnne: Not at first.
Jeffery: Didn't you smell the smoke?
SuzAnne: Yes, several times I smelled smoke.
I thought it might be the lady who
had lived in the house just before us, or someone before her.
Jeffery: Well, I knew Lila. Lila Dimmick. She and her husband owned the house
before us. I first met her when I lived next door. She used to talk to me from
her front porch. She had medical problems and later ended up in a nursing home. I
visited her there several times. I also asked to rent or buy her house then. She
adamantly refused saying, "It would be like renting out my husband." She was a
BIG smoker. The whole house had been saturated with smoke when we bought it.
We remodeled the whole house, every floor, every wall, every ceiling, new carpet
and linoleum before we moved in. We sealed up everything. And, we could still
sometimes walk around and smell cigarette smoke every once in a while. It wasn't
from the wood in the house; but lingering in the air...like spirit smoke. Also, I'd
go down to storage in the basement and the light would be on. I'd turn it off. Next
day I'd go down again and the light would be back on. Who was down there? Nobody
in the family.
SuzAnne: When my brother Kevin came to live with us, he had some strange things
happen to him in the basement bedroom.
Jeffery: When Kevin stayed with us and slept in the basement, he used to get
wakened by his bedroom door opening and closing. One night the door opened while
he was lying in bed. Immediately he felt something sit on him. "I know I was wide
awake." Kevin told us later. "I could actually see the depression on my gut
because of whatever was sitting on me!" He finally got so scared he yelled, "Hey!
I'm trying to sleep in here." And he felt hands as some "one" or some "thing"
raised itself up off his body and the bed; then "Wham!" his door slammed shut.
After that he slept with the lights on. As long as the lights were on, Kevin said
nothing would happen. If he shut the lights off, he would hear walking around and
whistling…some old tune.
Linda: You mean Kevin didn't really have any problem sleeping in the basement
SuzAnne: Oh, yeah. He was scared shitless!
Linda: You made it sound like he took it in stride.
Jeffery: Hardly. Our electric bill went up because he started leaving every light
on all the time.
SuzAnne: There was one scary time Kevin and I were in the kitchen together. I
started walking from the stove to the sink, and I stopped quickly because I felt
something approaching in front of me. When I looked, it was like this white filmy
thing; and I remember looking over at Kevin saying "Holy shit, did you see that?"
He was sitting at the kitchen table saying, "Yeah, I saw it! I saw it!" That was
the only time we ever actually "saw" a physical presence in the house.
Jeffery: But there were plenty of other kinds of manifestations.
Gene. What was the smell with the smoke?
Jeffery: That was Lila. Once we started having things going on, I emailed Lila's
daughter, Terry in California. She emailed back and told us some interesting
things. Her mom was from Irish descent and a firm believer in ghosts and spirits.
She told us that an old couple had lived in the house before her mom, and they had
died in the house before Lila and her husband bought it. Lila's husband also died
in our bedroom.
Terry remembers times visiting the house after growing up. She said she'd be
sleeping on the couch and hear the refrigerator door opening and closing in the
middle of the night. Terry stayed there when Lila, her mother, was in the hospital
once. She said the house went crazy. She finally got up and told them, "Look,
she's in the hospital!" And it went dead quiet right then and stayed quiet for the
next two days until she left.
SuzAnne: Terry also wrote us a long letter once about how Lila had once rented out
the basement to two guys. Something happened down there, but Lila refused to talk
about it. Lila told her daughter she would never, ever rent that basement to
anyone else again because "They didn't need strangers in the house."
Jeffery: Yes. Now Lila swore she would never, ever give her house up.
Our dog Spike, the first sharpei we had, used to go ballistic around 2:00 in the
morning. He would wake us up. We would close the dog in the stairwell between the
top and bottom basement doors where there was also a small landing for him to sleep
on. In the middle of the night, Spike would start running up and down the
basement stairs just going crazy. As soon as we opened the door into from dining
room, he'd be shaking like he was spooked. He didn't like going in the basement.
He didn't want any part of it.
SuzAnne's sister Becky came to visit one time. That night she was sleeping in the
living room on the floor, and wakened to someone tucking her in. That is how we
figured out how to tie that old blanket into the happenings. The blanket Becky was
using we had found in a cupboard in the house when we moved in. It was a silk
crazy quilt pattern that Lila had made. So, Becky's sleeping on the floor in the
middle of the night, and she wakes suddenly to feel someone tucking her in. She
thinks it is Kevin or one of us. When she looks up, nobody's around but she's
still getting tucked in.
SuzAnne: She came to me as asked, "Are they (the ghosts) messin' with me?" I said, "No." She didn't want to mention what happened to Jeff and Kevin.
Jeffery: The time Kevin got sat on in bed by the little old man...
Linda: How do you know it was a little old man?
Jeffery: Well, we knew about him from Jourdanne. There was a time when
Jourdanne wouldn't sleep in her bed because she said, "An old man keeps crawling
in bed with me." She couldn't be consoled. She didn't want to go to bed night
after night; she wanted to sleep under her bed or in her closet.
Linda: So you know the one in the basement was an old man, too?
Jeffery: Yes, because he was always whistling. According to Terry, Lila's
daughter, the little old man wandered around the house whistling. His wife was
always fussing around making noise in the kitchen at night.
Linda: So, you think this was the man and woman who owned the house before Lila
SuzAnne: I didn't put it together for a long time. I just thought she got upset
and didn't want to sleep in her bed or sometimes even in her room…the whole kid
scenario. I didn't have any idea then that it wasn't her imagination.
Jeffery: We finally told JourdAnne, "If he gets in bed with you, tell him
"'This is my bed, go get your own!'"
Linda: She was how old then?
Jeffery: This was when she was about eighteen months to two years old. She was
hysterical. She finally did say, "This is my bed! Get out!" You'd hear her in
the bedroom shouting, "Get out of my bed!"
Linda: You're a very brave girl, JourdAnne.
Jeffery: Then it just stopped! But that was when Kevin came to stay with us. I
guess the guy found somebody else to badger.
Linda: Jourdanne, I thought that you told me you had seen a "lady" in your room.
Jeffery: Remember, JourdAnne, that was later in your other room. The pink room.
Remember you woke up one night when Mama was at camp? And you told me the lady
kept patting your head and told you to go to sleep? And you described her with big
red hair? That was Lila.
Linda: You mean Lila came back, too?
Jeffery: That's who she described. She was a great big, red-headed woman, smelled
like smoke, wore glasses and had wrinkles all over her face. Lila died probably
three to four years before JourdAnne was born.
Linda: And that's Terry's mother?
Jeffery: Right. And Terry looks just like her Mom. Kevin thought I was making
this up. As I was walking into JourdAnne's room, I walked through a cold area
right in the middle of the room. You could walk all around that room except for
that one cold spot. I finally said, "Look, Lila, she's scared of you. I know you
mean well. I know you but she never met you." And, all of a sudden nothing ever
SuzAnne: We still heard the footsteps right up until we moved. On the wall in
our upstair's bathroom was hung an angel with little bells. One day while I was
alone in the house packing up the living room to move, I hear these little bells
ringing. I was "out of there!" In fact, I waited in the rain in the driveway
until Jeff got home.
Linda: Paul did you have any experiences…hear or see anything at all?
Paul: Not much. I heard doors opening and closing. That's what the little old
lady did when we were in bed. She'd open and close the refrigerator door. Or open
the silverware drawer and arrange the silverware.
Linda: You mentioned some research you thought to do at the Hutchinson library or
in the country records. Did you ever get around to that?
Jeffery: You can go do a history of home ownership: when a house was built, who
built it, who were the owners. Our house was built in the 1920s. We didn't
research when the first old couple bought the house, before Lila and her husband.
But there were some strange things that happened across the street from us. One
house had an small old fishing pond. It was a little bity pond about two feet
deep. A three-year old girl drowned in it in the 1940s.. I didn't know about the
drowning until I saw Mike, our neighbor, filling it in the pond one day. He had
always taken care of it and made it nice. However, something happened over one day
there that stirred him up. He filled in the pond immediately…overnight. But he
wouldn't tell me what happened to make him react that way.
Linda: He had lived with it a long time?
Jeffery: Yes, he and his wife had been there for years and years. Then all of a
sudden he got rid of the pond; he wanted it filled in right then!
Linda: Does he still live there?
SuzAnne: He sold the house.
Jeffery: That couple never said a word to us about anything.
Linda: What about that old blanket you found in your house. You say Becky has it
Jeffery: Yes, she wanted to see if the ghost would go to where she is.
Linda: Did anything happened at Becky's house with Lila's blanket there?
SuzAnne: She has not reported anything. So I'll have to do a followup with her.
Linda: Paul, you slept in the basement bedroom with Kevin sometimes? And did you
turn out the lights then?
Paul: Yes, and nothing happened then.
Linda: Then later on, you brave soul, you moved down there after Kevin left. Did
you think twice about this?
Paul: No big deal. I forgot. I was just happy to get a bigger room to myself.
And, Jourdanne got my old room.
Jeffery: I don't know what it was about Kevin that he got all that action down
SuzAnne: Well, he was a new body was in the house.
Jeffery: Yeah, whenever a new body would come and stay there might be some
activity. But often when I would come home late from work, the lights would be on
all over the place.
Suzanne: I was keeping the spirits at bay with the bedroom door OPEN and lights
Gene: Linda, remember the old Victorian house on North Street going into
Garrettsville (Ohio) where we went to that auction a few years ago? Our friend
Michael Kortan who lives across the street said somebody had died in the top
turrett of that house years ago. The house was abandoned for a long time. But,
Michael said, they would every once in a while at night see light on in that turret
room and shadows moving. There was nobody in there. And there wasn't even
electricity. But there was light. How would a ghost manifest "light?"
If Kevin could "feel" the spirit on his lap in bed, there is a weight to it. That
SuzAnne: I know when I ran into this "filmy thing" in the kitchen, it was like
bumping up against somebody as it passed in front of me.
Gene: Spirits...they are there, but not there. For a spirit to be able to make the
electricity come on or open a door…does there have to be something physical to
allow that to happen? Are they "willing" it open or physically able to? If a
spirit can "whistle," does that mean it has some kind of breath? Is it a psychic
Jeffery: With JourdAnne, she could describe how the old man looked. She said he
always had overalls on. Is that a "physical" presence?
Linda: JourdAnne, do you remember when you were really little and you thought
somebody was getting in bed with you and you got out of bed and told him to go
away. You'd climb under your bed or go in your closet?
SuzAnne: Do you remember banging your head on your bedroom floor?
SuzAnne: Well, that was the time period.
JourdAnne: That hurt, too!
Linda: Do you remember why you banged your head on the floor?
Linda: Do you remember making a tent in your room so you wouldn't have to sleep in
Jeffery: She called it "camping out."
Linda: Was this bed in the house when you moved there?
SuzAnne: No. We bought it. She had a little bed before. But nothing ever
happened. The little bed wouldn't have been big enough for anyone to climb in.
Gene: Well, why does a ghost need to sleep?
Jeffery: I know a guy who used to talk about his house. An old man died in his
room before they bought the house. He told me he'd wake up and the old guy would
be sitting in his rocking chair which had remained with the house and in that room
when they bought it. Or he would roll over in bed and the guy would be laying in
bed just grinning at him.
Jeffery: Things really happened when Kevin was with us. For instance, SuzAnne
would look over and Kevin would be ducked down in the kitchen. Because something
would fly over his head and go through the wall...the mirrored glass wall.
SuzAnne shakes her head, "Yes."
Jeffery: That's the odd part, whatever they saw could go through walls, but doors
were always opening and closing.
Linda: Well, one day we'll have to capture Kevin and ask him about all this.
Jeffery: You'll have to ask him during the day because he won't talk about it
during the night. He didn't like it at all.
SuzAnne: He was not real thrilled.
Jeffery: Shortly after all that he was ready to move.
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