The ranch in small-town Texas stretches over 1,200 acres, and has been in Xiania’s family for more than 150 years. Her family runs Texas longhorn cattle and trains quarter horses on that ranch, and as they go about their daily routine, Xiania’s family doesn’t go it alone.
Xiania, now 24, grew up on the ranch with her parents, grandmother, and four older brothers, but those aren’t the only family members on the ranch. “There have been many deaths (there) over the years,” she said. “Great-great grandparents, aunts and uncles that died as children, and other family members.”
Many are buried at a far corner of the land in a cemetery littered with headstones; some that date back to the 1700s. “My grandmother and I have both seen the spirits of some of the deceased family members,” she said. “My grandmother has always said that they are only here to keep an eye on us and to make sure we are well. I personally don’t think that.”
She has reason to believe the dead aren’t friendly. “We would see shadows walking down the hall on the upstairs landing and my grandmother and I saw a woman who wears a long black Victorian-style dress with a high collar, long sleeves with short puff sleeves,” Xiania said. “Her hair is in a bun on top of her head and she always has a mean look on her face.”
Nothing frightened Xiania until something came into her room. “One evening I was in my bedroom doing homework,” she said. “I got a strange feeling that I was not alone in the room, and it had turned very cold.”
She looked up from her schoolwork and scanned the room. “I watched as a doll that was sitting on my bed went off onto the floor all by itself,” she said. “It did not fall off because it was in the middle of the bed and there was no way it could have just fallen off. I saw that doll lift up a little before it went off the bed.”
These increasingly ominous experiences escalated. Doors opened and closed throughout the house at night, items disappeared, and sinks would turn on by themselves.
Then one night while Xiania lay in bed, surrounded by the suffocating darkness of night, the presence grew personal. “Someone would whisper my name in my ear,” she said. “But there would be no one there. My name is not an easy one to say for someone who has never met me or spoken my name, but whoever it was that whispered in my ear spoke my name perfectly.”
Xiania is convinced the whisperer lingered in her room and hid in her closet. One of her cats, Jasper, began to grow nervous near the closet door. “Jasper would not go anywhere near my bedroom closet, and he always seemed cautious and scared when he was in my bedroom,” she said. “One day he disappeared and was never found.”
Other pets feared the closet. Her ferret Pierre, that was “into absolutely everything” refused to go near the closet when the door was open. One day it disappeared as well.
Visitations began to occur outside the ranch house. Riding alone searching for a lost calf, Xiania’s horse froze. “I saw a Native American man from about the 1800s or somewhere around there,” she said. The man wore only a breechcloth, his hair ran down to his waist; his legs disappeared below the knees.
“The Native American spirit stood there watching me for a few seconds and then he suddenly just disappeared,” Xiania said. “My horse is what they call bomb proof because it doesn’t matter what goes on around him he doesn’t get upset or afraid, but this day he was afraid and no matter what I did he refused to go near the area where the Indian was standing, and even after the Indian disappeared.”
Things became quiet at the ranch until 2011 when her brother’s then-girlfriend claimed she could talk with the dead. “(She) fancied herself a ghost hunter, and she wanted to do an investigation of our house and the surrounding area,” Xiania said. “I was very opposed to it, and so was my other brother.”
That didn’t seem to matter. One weekend when Xiania’s parents and grandmother were out of town, her brother’s girlfriend brought a ghost-hunting group to the ranch, equipped with digital cameras, a video camera, and audio recorders. After claiming to pick up scratchy EVPs, the girl produced a Ouija board and set it up in Xiania’s bedroom.
“This woman convinced my brother to let her and her crew use a Ouija board to talk to the spirits that are in the house,” Xiania said. “He reluctantly agreed but this I opposed completely. Our grandmother had told us stories about using what she called a door to the devil.”
As the girl asked questions, the planchette immediately began to move. “The first spirit they contacted was supposedly my great-great grandmother,” Xiania said. “They began speaking to another spirit or entity that was not related to the house in any way.”
Then the air in the room grew cold. “So cold we could see our breath in front of us, and it had been stifling hot in the room just minutes before,” Xiania said. “Then there was a very bad odor like rotten eggs or rotten meat.”
“What’s your name?” the girlfriend asked the board. The planchette skittered across the board, spelling out, ‘cannot tell you that.’
“What are you doing here?” she asked. The board spelled, ‘you called for me.’
“That started making everyone nervous,” Xiania said. “I was especially nervous as we were in my bedroom playing with this board and now strange things were really starting to happen.”
Frightened, Xiania sat on her bed, away from the small circle of people on the floor hovering over the board. “They had candles burning all over the place and it was spooky,” she said. “Every shadow was creepy, and it felt as though there was someone or something very bad in the room. The air seemed to get thick. That is the only way I can describe it.”
She looked away from the scene on the floor and stared out the window. She wished she hadn’t. A dead tree stands between the ranch house and an old barn nearby. The stooped shadow of a man stood beneath that tree, the light of the full moon casting no doubt on what she saw. “Then it turned into a dark almost black mist,” Xiania said. And it disappeared. She kept silent about what she’d seen.
“What do you want here?” her brother’s girlfriend asked the Ouija board, oblivious to what Xiania had witnessed. The planchette spelled ‘harm.’
“As soon as it spelled out that answer every candle in the room suddenly went out,” Xiania said. “There was no breeze or anything that could have blown the candles out.”
Frightened, the group packed up the equipment and the board and went home. Xiania soon discovered they’d left something in her room. “Not long after the night of the investigation things began happening that had not happened before,” she said. The smell of death permeated her bedroom, the family’s always-friendly housedogs became mean, and horses grew skittish.
“I was on my horse who had always been so gentle,” Xiania said. “Out of the blue my horse started bucking.” Xiania flew over the horse’s head and landed hard, air shooting her lungs. Still spooked, the jumping horse struck her helpless body. Xiania was rushed to the hospital where she stayed two months, regaining the use of her legs. While there, doctors diagnosed her with Fibromyalgia, a painful syndrome sometimes brought on by physical trauma.
During her hospital stay, the family gave their now-growling, biting dogs to a friend. Away from the ranch house, the pets immediately returned to their placid selves.
At home, Xiania’s health began to decline; she lost weight and had trouble sleeping. “My disease, the Fibromyalgia, was getting worse and it would be so bad at times that I could not get out of bed,” she said. “I had also started having some horrible nightmares of demons chasing me and doing terrible things to my parents and my brothers.”
She woke one night to find the shadow she’d seen by the tree standing at the foot of her bed. “At first he just stood there as though he was watching me sleep, but then it was like he noticed that I had seen him and he floated into the wall and was gone.”
Another night she woke from a fitful sleep to a burning pain on the back of her neck. “It was like my neck was on fire,” she said. She painfully got out of bed and went to the bathroom. “I put cold water on my neck and when I looked in the mirror I could see three scratches.” As she stared into the bathroom mirror, she saw a shadow move in her bedroom doorway.
Whatever was in the house began to leave more physical evidence. “The next morning we woke up to the sound of my mother father and brothers yelling,” she said. “On the kitchen floor was a huge feces. It looked like an elephant had been in the kitchen. It was the worst thing I had ever seen or smelled in my life, and this was not the last time we would find it.” The family would wake to find large piles of rancid feces in the kitchen, or on Xiania’s bedroom floor. No pet in the house could have produced something that size.
“My health continued to decline and was so bad that I moved out of my bedroom and onto the sofa in the television room where I would not have to go up or down the stairs,” she said. “My mother had to care for me full-time. I had lost so much weight.” Xiania at five feet tall and 110 pounds was down to 80 pounds. “It got so bad that my doctor finally put me in the hospital,” she said. “I started feeling better by the next day and started putting on weight and getting my strength back.”
Within a week she was home, but she quickly took ill again, and the pieces began to fall into place. “My brother told me that he thought whatever his now ex-girlfriend had called in with the Ouija board was what was making me ill,” she said. “He told me about some things that he had seen and heard since that night.”
Walking past her bedroom one night, he saw the large, dark figure standing over his sister’s bed. “He said that the dark thing was bent like an old person, and it looked like the fingers were very long,” she said. “He couldn’t make out any features but it was creepy and gave him a very bad feeling.” Her brother stepped into the bedroom and said, ‘Hey.’ The shadow being turned, looked at her brother, and disappeared.
Xiania and her brother convinced her parents to allow them to move out of the house. They reluctantly agreed, and her health quickly began to improve. “My brother and I have been living in our own little house just a couple of miles from our parent’s ranch for about a month, and so far I am doing fine,” she said. “I will always have the Fibromyalgia, and at times will have flare-ups that cause me to have pain all over my body, but it is nothing like what I felt when I was ill on the ranch.”
Xiania’s parents and grandparents seem to be immune to the dark entity that moved onto the ranch, and into Xiania’s room. She thinks it’s because they weren’t present for the Ouija board session.
Out of the house her brother began to open up about his own experiences. “He told me that he awoke a few times with something lying on top of him holding him down and making it difficult to breathe,” Xiania said.
Her brother also smelled the odor of death, and was attacked by wall hangings hurling themselves at him. “He started seeing the shadow man where ever he went in the house,” she said. “But he really started getting worried the night he saw the dark creature standing over me in my bed and that is when he started thinking about getting us both out of the house.”