Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hate is strong and mocks the song…

 It was the Christmas season when family togetherness and joy should be filling our hearts.  Unfortunately this night jealousy and assault with a deadly weapon would be the offerings for the holiday season.

I was working the graveyard shift and pulled the short straw for an undesirable assignment.  I was assigned to guard a home in the lower southeast side of town that had been quarantined by the County Health Officer because the residents were all highly contagious with the very communicable disease of hepatitis.
When I arrived, I found out the entire family had been quarantined and on their large wraparound porch there were huge piles of dirty clothing and diapers.  Charitable organizations had given this family clothing and diapers and they never washed the clothing or disposed of the diapers properly; they would just throw them outside onto one of the piles.  Rats infested the property and the County Health Officer had placed multiple traps around the home to catch some of them.  The rats were likely infected with disease.
My responsibility was to make sure no one came onto the property or left the home.  Midway through my shift, I was relieved by the district patrol officer so I could have a lunch break.  It was about 2:30 AM and I was driving down a major avenue looking for a hamburger joint to buy a heart attack in a sack.
I got to a major intersection with the following establishments on the corners: a church, a battery repair shop, a fast food place (my destination), and a tavern. As I approached this intersection the traffic signal turned red.  Stopping at the light, I could see several patrons from the tavern standing around a female body lying on the pavement.  When they saw me, two of them ran towards me and told me the lady had just been shot by someone resting a rifle over the hood of a pickup truck that was across the street in the church parking lot.
I called for backup and a code three ambulance to respond.  As I was pulling into the tavern parking lot to offer first aid to the victim, several more patrons yelled to me the assailant was just now leaving the church, heading westbound without his truck headlights on.  I could see the victim was shot just above the elbow and her arm bone was severely shattered.  One of the patrons said she was a nurse and would render first aid if I wanted to go after the bad guy.

I took off, running code three after the suspect, that I could now barely see driving down the street in his truck as fast as he could go.  It was an old truck and was geared really low so I knew I could catch him.  He too knew I could catch him so he started making quick turns into a dark neighborhood while trying to lose me.
I was staying back far enough from the truck so the suspect would not stop,  jump out, and start running through yards or turn his rifle on me.  By holding back some distance it would allow covering officers time to arrive to assist me in making a felony car stop.  All of a sudden without warning the driver braked the truck very hard and pulled to the curb. 
Occasionally a fleeing operator of a van or pickup will stop quickly for one of four reasons.
1. When an officer pulls up behind the suspect he can back up, ramming his trailer hitch through the patrol cars’ radiator.  He knows the officer won’t be able to follow him for very long before the patrol car overheats and the engine freezes.
2. The fleeing suspect might get out to shoot at the officer.  Being shot at was my biggest concern in this chase.  
3. The suspect tries to escape on foot.
4. The fleeing suspect wants to surrender
I stopped several car lengths behind the suspect and jumped out of my car with a loaded shotgun.  I got behind a large tree that offered great cover.  I then yelled for the suspect to turn off his vehicle, drop the keys on the pavement and put his hands on his head.  He didn’t follow any of these commands.  He just fell over in the seat towards the passenger side like he had been shot.  I didn’t shoot him so I couldn’t figure out why he as behaving this way.
I again ordered him to get out of the truck on the passenger side and keep his hands where I could see them.  Again he didn’t follow my commands, but I could see him moving around like he was trying to hide something under the truck seat.  Next I went to the passenger side of my patrol car and used the bull horn to order him out of the truck because I thought maybe he couldn’t hear my commands.  This time he complied and followed my commands by exiting the passenger door, lying on the ground, putting his arms out to his sides (spread eagle) and crossing his legs and feet as directed.
I waited for a cover officer to arrive to search the suspect and handcuff him while I held him at gunpoint.  When he exited the passenger side of the truck he left the door open and I could see the barrel of a high powered rifle poking out from under the seat.  Witnesses at the tavern had told me they heard a high powered rifle shot just as the victim fell to the ground. 

Once I had the suspect secured in the back seat of my patrol car I recovered the rifle carefully so as not to disturb fingerprints.  The chamber was still radiating heat that could be felt in the cold night air.  It was a bolt action 30.06 rifle.  Opening the chamber I carefully removed the cartridge with a pencil so it could be dusted for fingerprints.  I could also smell the fresh burnt power.
I advised the suspect of his Miranda rights and then called for detectives to come process the crime scene as an attempted murder.  I radioed the dispatcher to inquire where the victim was being taken for treatment and when the bad guy heard the dispatcher say they were taking “HER” to a nearby hospital he went berserk.
In a voice filled with shock and panic he asked me why they were taking “her” to the hospital.  I told him because “you shot her”.  As he realized he shot his girlfriend instead of his intended target, her date, he started to scream and cry.  He gave me several spontaneous statements about what a cheating despicable person the new boyfriend was, especially since he used to be his trusted friend and now he was trying to steal his girlfriend.  In order to get his girlfriend back he intended to kill his former friend as they came out of the tavern.

After detectives relieved me of this guy, to take him to the interrogation room for questioning, I decided to return to the scene of the shooting to look for additional evidence.  To my amazement I didn’t have to search very long or hard to find the slug that had passed through her arm.  I had the crime scene photographer take a picture of the location then I collected the slug as evidence.  Later lab tests would verify that the rifling marks on the slug matched the riflings from the weapon and the tissue embedded in the slug matched the victim’s, so the slug became a valuable piece of evidence. After the judicial process this man spent the next 25 years in the state penitentiary for attempted murder.

When we feel others are taking advantage of us by taking something from us, our natural reaction is to take it back.  But if we will allow the Lord to guide us to a higher level of existence, He will bless us with wanted relationships and things of this world that we may need.  He is the giver of all good gifts, possessions, and relationships that are righteous.  He teaches us the correct way to respond when someone is trying to take advantage of us in, Matthew 5:44  
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

This can be hard counsel to follow, but I know that if we will trust the Lord to give us all good gifts He will guide along the path of happiness. 

As I drove home that night I felt I had experienced the sad message from one of the verses of the Christmas song, I heard the Bells on Christmas Day
And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
 Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Yet the Gospel of Jesus Christ does give us peace and hope, as the author of the song realized when he penned another verse:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor does he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”
Text: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Music: John Baptiste Calkin

I look forward with each passing year for that great day when the Lord will return to earth to restore lasting peace. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Glory- Campfire Scene (Morgan Freeman's prayer)

In the movie, GLORY, Morgan Freeman admonishes his men to fight, and if necessary, die standing up while facing the enemy.  These Civil War soldiers are the first African Americans to fight in the Civil War for their own freedom and the freedom of all American citizens in the future.  These soldiers of the 54thRegiment were ready to step up and do their part even if it meant giving their life for the cause of freedom.

I worked with a brave female police officer that adopted this same approach to enforcing the laws and keeping peace in her community. Colleen was respected and esteemed by her fellow officers.  She wanted to make a difference in her community and was willing to put her life on the line and face the enemy every day.  She never avoided conflict and was willing to pay whatever price was necessary to maintain peace and order in the community, which was a rare quality.  She too would be called upon to contribute the ultimate sacrifice. 

Some days I would visit with her while sitting in our patrol cars waiting for a 911 dispatch and marvel at her commitment to her family, her church and her work.  She wasn’t a tough guy and didn’t approach the job that way.  She stood for peace and diplomacy and tried to settle conflict at the lowest level of force.  She was a pioneer in a male dominated occupation.  She didn’t want to be coddled and she didn’t want to let someone else do her job to protect her.  She always stepped up and did her part. 

On Tuesday January 11, 1998 we were working adjoining patrol districts when a request for cover came over the radio to help a Marijuana Task Force Drug Team arrest a suspect who was believed to be destroying evidence while the drug enforcement officers were waiting for a search warrant to enter his house. This incident was occurring in an adjoining patrol district to hers, so she volunteered to assist. 

When she and other cover officers arrived, the incident supervisor made the decision to kick in the door to prevent further destruction of evidence.  Colleen was the first one through the door followed by three other officers.  As they reached a second locked door the drug dealer fired a high powered semi-automatic weapon, using armor piercing ammunition, through the door killing Coleen, seriously injuring another officer, and wounding the supervisor.  The supervisor fired multiple rounds at the suspect to give other cover officers time to remove the wounded officers outside the house and behind some cover.  The drug dealer was seriously wounded, but still in possession of his weapon. 

The officers at the scene called a code zero indicating a critical life threatening incident was occurring. As I arrived, I took up a position one house away to observe the north side and front of the drug dealer’s house.  Ambulances arrived and the wounded officers were taken to the hospital.  The suspect’s house was surrounded until a special weapons and extraction team could arrive with an armored vehicle. 

It took a couple of hours but the suspect was arrested and taken to a nearby hospital for medical care.  I then was given the assignment to guard the front of the residence to protect evidence, which I did for the next 7-8 hours.  It was a sobering assignment as I protected the carnage of this scene. 

Colleen was the first female police officer to die in the line of duty for our police department.  I attended Colleen’s funeral at the Catholic Church and during mass thought to myself, “She truly was a pioneer and one ready to sacrifice to maintain and improve the quality of life for everyone.  She faced the enemy standing up and was willing to enforce the laws so all could live in more peaceful neighborhoods.”

 I thought of the parallels of the men of the 54th Regiment and their willingness to sacrifice their lives for the greater purposes of a free society.  I felt Colleen gave her life for the greater cause of keeping our communities more livable and drug free.  She will always be one of my heroes because she was willing to step up and give her life when called upon to do so.
The ultimate sacrifice given for others is the great sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  He not only showed us and taught us how to live; he also died so that when we die, we will live again.  I know that He lives and that He was resurrected, and because of His sacrifice, Colleen and all of our Father’s children on this earth will live again.  This knowledge gives me comfort.

The Savior teaches us in John 15: 13 - Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. We also can lay down our life one moment and one act at a time each day as we serve others.  The love we share by giving service to others will bring peace into our lives and the lives of those we serve. 

To learn more about how Christ’s dying and resurrection blesses us see

Friday, October 22, 2010

Halloween Chase

At the last General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Elder Arnold spoke about staying within boundaries of the commandments.  He related an experience his wife had. “One day she found one of her father’s cows outside their fenced pasture eating wheat instead of grass.  She thought,  You stupid cow!  That fence was there to protect you, yet you broke through it and you have eaten so much wheat that your life is in danger.’ She raced back to the farmhouse to get her dad. However, when they returned, they found the cow lying dead on the ground. She was saddened by the loss of that cow. They had provided her with a beautiful mountain pasture to graze in and a fence to keep her away from the dangerous wheat, yet she foolishly broke through the fence and caused her own death.”   

This police story is about a motorcycle rider that pushed his boundaries, got outside of the traffic laws then had to pay a big price, fortunately it was not his life.  It was the day before Halloween and the twilight hours had passed into the night when Satan’s minions would be loose and wreaking havoc as he rules the darkest of the night. 

I was working the 6 PM to 4 AM shift. This was the busiest shift in the city and considered a fast paced hard working cop’s shift.  Working a lower Southeast neighborhood I would usually arrest someone and be on my way to jail within the first couple of hours. 

About 10 PM I was approaching a four way stop that had a business on each corner.  One corner had a convenience store that specialized in selling junk food and vices like junk liquor and tobacco products.  Racing out of this parking lot was a young man on a Ninja motorcycle with a female passenger that was not wearing a helmet.  The law states operators and passengers must wear helmets.  The young man operating this bike had just offered the young woman a thrill ride around the block.  She took him up on his offer and had hopped on the bike.  This was the first time she had met this young man.

He was showing off for her by burning rubber in an exhibition of power as he raced out of the parking lot onto the public street.  It was just then he made a quick glance over his shoulder to look for oncoming traffic and he saw me watching him.  He hesitated by decelerating briefly but then took off at break neck speed.  There is no way a patrol car can keep up with a Ninja bike unless the operator doesn’t know how to control the power he is sitting on, which this young man didn’t.   Additionally, I noticed his passenger lacked the skill to lean into turns so I knew I might have a chance of keeping up with them. 

He quickly outpaced me as I turned on my emergency equipment and raced after him.  We went several blocks before he turned onto a major street and it was then I knew the passenger was a real liability for this motorcycle operator.  The motorcycle danced back and forth in the traffic lane several times as he wrestled with the bike to maintain control.  He now realized he was not going to be able to out maneuver me with his new found passenger so he took off as fast as he could accelerate.  He reached very dangerous speeds in this residential neighborhood.  As he made a turn he could see I was falling behind.
By the time I made the turn, he had made another turn and shut off his lights so he was ghosting in the dark down a residential street.  I couldn’t see him but I knew he had turned on one of three streets.   I quickly had to estimate how far ahead of me he would have been and then made a calculated guess that he had gone down the middle of the three streets.  As I turned the corner, I could barely see his outline in the glare of porch lights as he raced ahead of me without his lights.
When he saw I was still following him, he tried again to outfox me by making two more quick turns with his lights still off.  He shut off his engine and was coasting down a sidewalk.  I had shut off my siren and rolled down my windows to listen for his motor whining in an effort to locate him.  I could barely see something moving on the sidewalk about ¾ of a block ahead of me.  It was the Ninja rider and when he saw me he quickly turned into a driveway to try to and hide behind a van.  He was going too fast as he made the turn into the driveway, hit the garage door and threw himself and his passenger off the bike.  He didn’t want to brake because he knew I would see his taillight come on. 

I pulled into the driveway to block any attempt to escape and when I got out of my patrol car I could see him lying on the ground just under a house window while he was trying to shake off the effects of the impact.  He was disoriented, so I quickly took advantage of his confusion and handcuffed him.

In the process of handcuffing him the homeowner opened a double hung window just above us.  The window was decorated with a cut out colored paper pumpkin and other Halloween decorations.  I looked up, smiled, and said, “Trick or Treat”.  The home owner opened the window and said, “Wow that was some kind of trick!”  He then offered me a treat and I took it saying thanks.  I put the small candy bar in my shirt pocket to eat on the drive to jail.

The young woman was on the ground moaning from her minor injuries.  I knew this wasn’t her idea of a thrill ride. She was furious with this young man.  When she got herself somewhat composed she called him several vulgar names.
I called her parents and her father arrived quickly. He inquired if the young man could be charged for endangering his daughter’s life.  I assured him he could be and that I would write my report allowing the father to sign a complaint.  This case was sent to the District Attorney. The father signed the complaint and the young man lost his driver license, lost his motorcycle endorsement (license), had to perform many hours of community service, had to pay for all of the young woman’s medical bills, and had to pay for her ruined clothing.   He also had to pay a court fine and replace the homeowner’s garage door.  Additionally, he was placed on criminal probation. 

A person may get away if running from the police, then again, that person may pay big time if caught, and this young man got caught.

Elder Arnold tells us that we all need to stay within the boundaries the Lord has set and one of those boundaries is obeying and sustaining the laws of the land. (12th Article of Faith)  

I know we will all find safety within the fenced boundaries of the Lord’s commandments and the laws of the land.    To learn more about living with the Lord’s boundaries see Elder Arnold’s talk.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Things That Matter Most

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf is a former airline pilot and now an Apostle and member of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  During this past General Conference he spoke on the importance of focusing on life’s fundamentals. He urged everyone to put the things that matter most first as he related his message to his flying experiences. 
This police episode points out how being distracted by peripheral issues can hurt not only yourself but those that depend on you for their temporal well being.  It was Christmas time and I had a few days off during the holidays. I was relaxing at home watching the evening news when the newscaster said a United Airlines plane was having trouble landing.

 The plane’s right landing gear had thumped down into position jolting the plane, frightening the passengers, and alerting the captain there was a problem. The evening news followed the story and I began to gather my police equipment that I had brought home for the holidays to clean. If this plane crashed I knew I would be called to help at the scene. 

As a family we continued to watch updates and then at 6:15 PM the plane crashed in a neighborhood just five miles from the airport runway.  I was almost ready to leave the house when the phone rang; it was the incident commander ordering all available personnel to immediately report for duty.
The airplane captain had spent too much time evaluating peripheral problems associated with the landing gear and preparing for a crash landing while failing to monitor the fuel level of the aircraft. Fortunately, when he ran out of fuel he looked for an area with only a few residential lights and crash landed the plane there.  He hit one unoccupied house and leveled another home. The wreckage path was about 1,554 ft long and about 130 ft wide. Thankfully no one was home so nobody was killed on the ground.  There were 189 passengers and crew members. Those killed included 8 passengers and 2 crew members and another 24 passengers were seriously injured.

I arrived on the scene to an amazing site; a DC 8 sitting in a neighborhood, on top of what used to be a house! I will never forget what I witnessed.  The front of the airplane was torn off, luggage and airline seats were scattered about and injured passengers and crew members were being given first aid.  
I helped move some of the injured to waiting ambulances for transport to a field triage center for evaluation then on to a nearby hospital.  The last of the ten deceased persons were being moved to a nearby church that served as a temporary morgue. 

By now several hundreds if not a thousand people were pouring into the area to see the crash.  All national and local TV news reporters were there trying to cover the story and obtain a unique story or picture.  A perimeter was established and I took my place to control the crowd and protect crash site evidence.  Several trees had pieces of the aircraft wings imbedded in them and folks were picking up any bit of aircraft they could find for a souvenir. 

A Federal Marshall was handing out a flyer showing a picture of a prisoner that was being transported on the airplane and had escaped after the crash.  When it became obvious the plane was going to crash he was unhandcuffed. He was hailed by some passengers as a hero for his brave acts of helping others by going back into the plane numerous times to escort injured people out, all the while fearful that the plane would explode.  Once the last person was out, the prisoner made his escape, disappearing in the confusion.

Later, prosecutors publicly pleaded for him to turn himself in and promised that he would not be prosecuted for escape. As I recall, that's exactly what the prisoner did after enjoying several days of freedom and as promised the prosecutors did not file escape charges.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigation revealed that while the decision to abort the landing was correct, the accident occurred because the captain and flight crew became so absorbed with diagnosing the problem that they ran out of fuel.

For the next ten days I worked 12 hours on duty and then was off for 12 hours.  It was bitter cold.  I remember freezing the first night and after that wearing long woolen underwear, wool socks, and two pairs of gloves to try to keep warm.  As police officers securing the perimeter day after day in the freezing cold, we also got permission to burn shattered pieces of the destroyed houses in barrels to try and stay warm.   
Here I am standing around a burn barrel.  We also took hundreds of pictures for spectators to break up the routine of just standing stationary on the crash scene perimeter.

 We will probably never know just how many lives are affect by our personal decision making.  When we do not pay attention to the fundamentals and over schedule ourselves our temporal and spiritual well beings may be in jeopardy. To learn more about this important principle go to and listen to Elder Uchtdorf’s talk.  

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dangling Baby

There was a time during my police career when prisoner rights seemed to exceed citizen rights.  Judges were forcing federal, state and local government agencies that were operating prisons and jails to provide inmates with at least 80 square feet of living space.  They also had to provide access to fully paid legal advice, medical services, education and library services in the jail, three square meals per day, all approved clothing, personal hygiene items, counseling, etc, etc, etc, .

When housing space “rights” were being violated judges would order jail doors opened and all inmates that did not have at least 80 square feet of living space were turned loose.  Sometimes dozens of criminals would be released to re-victimize innocent citizens again, knowing there was no room in jail to hold them.  It was in this environment that this episode occurred. 

I was working the 4 PM to 2 AM shift and it was about 10 PM and I was just getting ready to eat my sandwich and a few celery sticks when 911 dispatched me to an apartment complex in the lower southeast area of town.  This was a rough neighborhood where crime was a way of live.  Its criminals and victims all knew how to avoid the police and use the police to their advantage.
A young female had delivered a baby just a few days earlier and her boyfriend was the father of the baby. I will call him goofball and he was over for a visit and a disagreement ensued.  Goofball became aggressive and started to threaten the young mother with violence. The argument escalated until goofball grabbed the baby by one of his legs and opened a bedroom window then dangled the child out the window with one hand.  Goofball threatened to drop the child two stories to the asphalt pavement in the parking lot below if he didn’t get his selfish way.
A neighbor arriving home witnessed this extremely reckless behavior and immediately called 911 to seek help for the baby.  As I arrived goofball was still dangling the baby out the window so I too became a witness.  I called for fire rescue to put a catch net under the window to catch the child if goofball wasn’t willing to comply with my directions and decided to drop the child.  I then stayed under the baby to try and catch him if dropped.
Goofball was half drunk and ranting and ravening while holding the child out of the window. He wanted to know why the police always took the woman’s side in an argument.  I continued to engage him in conversation until fire rescue arrived and set up the net.  I then yelled to the mother to open her apartment door and despite her boyfriend’s objections she opened the door.  Cover officers had arrived to assist me, so if he decided to jump out a window he would be detained.
Once inside I directed goofball to bring the child back inside and give him to his mother.  Realizing through his drunken, stupid stupor, that he didn’t have many options he complied and I arrested him for reckless endangering.
At jail Corrections Officers would often make Police Officers wait for 45 minutes to an hour to book a prisoner to discourage officers from bring prisoners to jail so they didn’t have to deal with jail overcrowding.  Police Officers did become discouraged and often did not bring prisoner to jail because they did not want to wait for an hour to book a prisoner.  Instead officers would just issue them a summons and released them on the spot.
I did take this prisoner to jail and waited while he was booked.  After he was accepted I drove to a nearby parking lot to finish my report and eat my lunch.  As I was just finishing my cold sandwich dispatch called me to break away from my lunch. They dispatched me to see a man dangling a baby out of a second story apartment window.  I informed the dispatcher I was just finishing my reports for that call and had booked this person into jail. 

Dispatch assured me this was an active incident, at the same address and that this time the mother had called the police.  I was sure this was a mistake but I ran code three back to the apartment house only to find goofball dangling the baby out of the window again threatening to drop the child if he didn’t get his selfish way in the argument with the child’s mother.
The jail had released him as quickly as they had booked him because of overcrowding.  I repeated the rescue scenario again and this time I called a judge, in the middle of the night, to request a detainer be placed on this person to protect the child.  The detainer was issued and the jail had to release someone else back into the community.
“The United States … has the highest total documented prison and jail population in the world.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS): In 2008, over 7.3 million people were on probation, in jail or prison, or on parole at year-end — 3.2% of all U.S. adult residents or 1 in every 31 adults."

The Lord’s solution to the bulging criminal population is for us to love each other as the Lord loves us. Jesus tells us in  John 13: 34  new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one anotherTo learn how to help stop crime by loving one another - click here    

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Abbie sees a ghost

Shortly before I retired from the Police Bureau I was working in the Personnel Division and had a college intern helping me complete personnel background investigations while earning college credits.  She was 19 years old and studying criminal justice.  I will call her Abbie.

Abbie came to work on Monday morning looking ashen white and ill.  I inquired how she was feeling and her response was the socially acceptable; “OK, fine, thank you.”  I could tell she wasn’t fine so about 30 minutes later I inquired again how she was feeling and let her know that if she needed to go home that was OK.  She started to cry softly.  We sat down and while I was trying to find out what was wrong I noticed she was trembling and speaking with a shaky voice.
Abbie told me a young couple from her church was going to Europe for two weeks and offered to pay her to live in their home while they were gone and feed their pet cat and dog.  Needing some extra money, like most college kids, she accepted their offer. Also, there was free food, a hot tub, and a big home to live in.

These friends were leaving on Friday evening so Abbie went to their home just prior to their departure to receive final instructions on how to care for their pets and home.  After saying goodbye to her friends, they departed for the airport and Abbie settled in, ate dinner, watched TV for a couple of hours, then played the piano.  It was now time to feed the cat in the kitchen.
As Abbie was walking from the piano room through the front room to the kitchen she passed by a large picture window.  In the reflection of the window she saw a man and a woman standing behind her on a staircase.
Abbie was startled and very frightened as she now realized she was looking at a man in a military uniform and a young woman next to him.  Abbie whirled around to confront them and all she saw was a bare wall with a couple of small pictures on it.  She looked back into the window and again saw their reflection but this time they smiled at her.  She was so scared she could barely speak to ask them, “May I help you?” When they didn’t answer she again looked behind her only to see a bare wall and no staircase.

Too frightened to stay in the house she went outside and the pet dog began to howl.  While she was outside she looked around to see if some of her college friends were trying to scare her.  There was no one outside nor was there any evidence of someone trying to trick her.
Abbie went directly home too afraid to return inside the house.  After sharing this ghost story with her parents they assured her she had just spooked herself and then became too scared to stay alone in a strange house.  They told her she had just imagined these ghosts in her mind, so they became real to her.

On Saturday, Abbie invited a friend to spend the night with her and warned her about what she had seen the night before.  The friend thought this was great adventure.  When it was time to feed the cat they both walked through the front room together and were shocked and startled to see the same reflections in the window of a man in a military uniform with the young woman standing next to him on a staircase.  It only took one sighting to end this sleepover for her friend. The friend was “out of there,” never to return. 

Again, Abbie left and went home, being too afraid to stay in the house.  On Sunday, she took her mother with her and they went in the back door to avoid the front room, fed the cat then immediately left the house.  Her mother was not going to have anything to do with ghosts.

By Monday morning, Abbie was an emotional wreck when she came to work. She was worried because she wasn’t keeping her commitment to care for her vacationing friend’s home and pets.
I inquired about the soldier’s uniform to try and determine what war he was affiliated with and what type of dress the young woman was wearing.  Abbie didn’t know uniforms of different wars so I did a Google search and found pictures and showed them to her.  She immediately picked the Confederate uniform of the Civil War.  Next, I showed her a picture of a Southern Bell dress and Abbie told me the dress worn by the young woman was the same style but different colors.  She also told me the woman looked like she young, maybe in her late 20’s.
Obtaining the address of the residence I next went to the Property Tax Division of the county and looked up the property’s ownership history.  I was shocked at what I found so I made copies of the records to show Abbie.  The first owners of this house had moved into it in 1880 about 15 years after the Civil War ended in 1865, and the soldier was a veteran of the Confederate Army.
Abbie ask me to go with her to feed the cat and dog that evening, so I called my wife to see if she would go with us since I didn’t think it would be appropriate to go alone with a young college coed to a haunted house.  My wife thought about it for a few minutes, then said she didn’t want to see any ghosts or get involved with someone else’s property without their knowledge or consent.
I was disappointed but it was getting late and the cat and dog needed fed so Abbie called her mother to meet her at the house.  They avoided going into the front room and for the rest of the two weeks they just fed the pets and left.
When the vacationing home owners got home Abbie told them what happened.  They dismissed her story because they had not experienced any similar events and suggested she had used this ghost sighting as an excuse not to stay in their home.  They only paid her for feeding the pets since she didn’t stay in their home as agreed.
Those hearing this story may rationalize this as an imagined event for Abbie and her girlfriend but it will always be a real ghost encounter for Abbie.  A year later, my wife and I attended Abbie’s wedding and we all had a good laugh together recalling this event that had frightened Abbie so badly.
Ghosts are people like you and me, but in spirit form without a body, like the Holy Ghost.  After Christ’s resurrection his disciples thought they had seen a ghost when He appeared to them.   Luke24: 37 “But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. 

As long as there has been recorded history there have been sightings of good and evil spirits. Many evil spirits never received a body and now desire to be a tenant in our body. We must be careful not to invite or allow them to share our body. One man allowed a legion of evil spirits to occupy his body and eventually he no longer had control of his body, they did.

Luke 8: 
27 And when he (Jesus) went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs.

28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesusthou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. (note: the spirits that possessed this man did not have a veil put over their minds like we did when we were born.  We are to live by faith but they knew Jesus was the Son of God because they do not have a veil over their minds.)  
29 For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.
30 And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him.
31 And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. (Outer darkness where bad guys live)
32 And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them. (These spirits wanted a body so bad they would live in the body of a pig.)
  33 Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked.
(The pigs would rather give up their body than share it with an evil spirit so they drown themselves in the lake)

It’s fun to tell ghost stories, but remember ghosts are real.  They may invite themselves to the party.