Miami's Deering Estate: A Real Haunted House?

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A glimpse of the allegedly haunted Deering Estate in Miami during the daytime. i

A glimpse of the allegedly haunted Deering Estate in Miami during the daytime. Courtesy The League of Paranormal Investigators hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy The League of Paranormal Investigators
A glimpse of the allegedly haunted Deering Estate in Miami during the daytime.

A glimpse of the allegedly haunted Deering Estate in Miami during the daytime.

Courtesy The League of Paranormal Investigators

Miami's Deering Estate is a 1920s mansion built on tribal burial grounds. On dark and windy nights, it displays all the staples of a haunted house: rustling bushes, grinding doors, creaking floors — and "ghost" voices?

Well, that's what a team of ghost hunters who investigated the estate says they found.

The Deering Estate expected about 75 visitors to come hear the first presentation of that evidence. Almost 400 people showed up.

The big turnout is in line with a national uptick in ghost-hunting TV shows — at least four new ones have popped up in the past few years.

Like the crowd at the Deering Estate, people seem willing to admit they kind of believe in ghosts.

A Nation Of Believers?

"I don't want to say I believe in ghosts. I believe in spirits," says Janet Olavera, a Deering Estate visitor.

When another, Derrick Levine, is asked whether he believes in ghosts, he says, "That's a hard decision. Yes and no. There has to be something out there."

Chris Bader studies believers like Olavera and Levine. When asked if he believes in ghosts, Bader answers, "I'm not studying the ghosts. I'm studying [the believers]."

Bader, a sociologist at Baylor University, has tracked America's paranormal beliefs for 20 years. His 2007 study found almost half of Americans believe ghosts definitely exist or think they probably do.

"People tend to think that somebody who thinks that they've seen a ghost or been abducted by aliens is going to be a very marginalized person," Bader says. "Perhaps that was true in the past, but it's not anymore. I've been on a Bigfoot hunt with a brain surgeon, a computer programmer and a bank manager."

Looking For Evidence

Colleen Kelley is an artist by day, ghost hunter by night. She's a member of the team that investigated the Deering Estate.

Kelley and her investigators say the evidence they collected shows Deering Estate is very haunted. Kelley says they recorded 60 ghost voices while trudging around the mansion. She plays some of those recordings for the tour groups at Deering.

"We have one that says, 'Come home.' We have one that says, 'Send me. I'll go,' " says Kelley. "I have a female voice that says, 'I want some of you.' "

When asked why the ghosts speak so abruptly, Kelley attributes it to our inability to hear all they are saying.

"A lot of the times they might even be speaking in full paragraphs," said Kelley. "But we may able to only be able to pick up on a very small amount of what they're saying because it takes so much energy for them to actually speak."

For the tour groups, Kelley plays the clearest recordings, which are still difficult to understand. In one, several female investigators are walking on the grounds of the estate when a mysterious man exhales. The wind and rain make it pretty tough to hear.

A different recording has a female voice saying, "Right." But Kelley says there were no women in the room at the time.

While it's clear to Kelley and the League of Paranormal Investigators that the Deering Estate is as haunted as they come, she also says her job is to present the evidence and let people make up their own minds.

And if the crowds coming to see the Deering Estate are any indicator, a lot of people are looking to do just that.



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