Life in Bolckow … never a cell phone or internet signal … landlines down constantly … electricity blinking on and off sporadically … locals are reclusive and unfriendly … stories of strange disappearances and mutilated pets … sounding like a horror movie yet?
— Tamin, Facebook post, February 3, 2011, 3:03 p.m.
A long, winding grey asphalt road splits from a rural highway thirty-some miles north of St. Joseph, Missouri, and runs between brown winter farm fields and a scattering of trees before it enters the tiny town of Bolckow, Missouri. A weathered sign welcoming visitors stands at the city limits. To some, the welcome ends there. This hilly town with its curbless streets, long dark business fronts, and many houses with grand days decades past, hides something sinister.
Tamin and Tony Morrell bought a house here in 2008; they signed the papers on Christmas Eve and moved in Christmas Day. “When we bought the house it was known as ‘the old haunted house,’” Tamin said.
The house was strange from the first day, partially because the previous owners never really moved. “They left everything,” Tony said. Furniture sat as it had for years, pictures hung from nails on the walls, dirty socks lay crumpled in the bathroom closet.
“It was spooky,” Tamin said. “The table was made. There was food in the refrigerator. Their clothes were in the drawers. They just left.”
The Morrells bought this two-story, four-bedroom house after a foreclosure. Few prospective buyers had looked at the house, Tamin would find later. “I got it really cheap,” Tamin said. “But I didn’t expect it to be like this.”
As Tony, originally from Davenport, Iowa, Tamin from nearby St. Joseph, Missouri, and her children Katheryn and Jake Hatfield, finished carrying boxes into their new home, trickles of strangeness began to fall. “The first night I slept on the couch, and I heard pots and pans rattling around,” Tamin said. “But we hadn’t unpacked. We weren’t using the kitchen.”
Tony heard something, too, but not pots and pans. It was a voice. “It sounded like a kid crying,” he said.
Last night I was awakened by my son’s voice calling “Mom” … yet he was sound asleep.
— Tamin, Facebook post, April 21, 2011, 8:42 a.m.
The first morning in the house, the smell of breakfast cooking greeted the waking family, but there was no breakfast cooking in the small kitchen. “It was weird,” Tamin said. “But there’s always weird smells.” Like death. The family began to notice the smell of rotting flesh throughout the house, but the smell never lingered. This scent of decay would appear in some parts of the house, then move to others and disappear, only to come back weeks later. The smell continues to plague them, but they have never found a cause.
During the first month the family lived in Bolckow strange occurrences in the house slowly escalated. The smells, children’s voices, doors slamming, cabinets opening, and the sound of footsteps were their constant companions. The worst thing about the house, however, was the feeling. “A lot of people say in a room upstairs they feel it,” Tony said. “A depressing feeling.”
Tamin added, “If I’m the only person here at night I feel really depressed. Almost frozen, like I can’t breathe.”
The atmosphere on the ground floor of the house is thick, heavy. But, Tony said, so is the atmosphere of the town. “I’m the biggest skeptic in the house and I’ve felt things here,” Tony said. “This house is weird anyway. The whole town is weird. The first month we lived here we only saw kids. No adults. Yeah, this town is weird.”
Driving down the road in to town, heard rain drops hit the car, stuck our arms out and felt the cold stinging raindrops hit our hands and arms, smelled the rain … yet our hands and arms were dry when we pulled them back in the windows, there were no visible rain drops on the car … weird place Bolckow is!
— Tamin, Facebook post, March 20, 2011, 8:16 p.m.
Strange things in the house continued. Thousands of flies appeared in an upstairs room, and the day after the family cleared them out, a thick mass of flies lighted on the porch. A sound like a bowling ball rolling down the upstairs hallway has woken Katheryn in the night. The dogs refuse to go into the basement. And Tamin has seen shadow figures wandering through the house. The occurrences became commonplace to the family, then the house grew violent. “I got thrown down the stairs,” Tamin said. “It was morning time. I was not scared or anything. I was standing on the landing with my dog Chewie, and the next thing I knew I was halfway down the stairs bouncing down and wondered what happened.”
They decided to move back to St. Joseph. Although Tamin said the main reason was financial, Tony said another was their now bizarre life. “We didn’t like being in this house.” The move culminated at Halloween.
The previous family who owned the house was pre-occupied with Christmas … ironically they moved in on Halloween (OUR favorite holiday) … btw … we moved in on Christmas day … coincidence?
— Tamin, Facebook post, April 10, 2010, 2:55 p.m.
Neighbors in Bolckow didn’t seem to take kindly to Halloween, and given the fact that the town’s population is 234, everyone is a neighbor. “We volunteered to donate Halloween decorations to the park,” Tony said. “People said, ‘we don’t celebrate Halloween. We celebrate the fall harvest.’”
The family decided to celebrate anyway; with a haunted open house. They didn’t realize their house was well known outside of Bolckow. “When we handed out fliers in St. Joseph,” Tamin said. “This guy said, ‘I know that house. It’s in Bolckow. It is evil.”
The event didn’t get any easier. Although many locals shunned the event, some came. “When they were drunk,” Katheryn said. “Some kids went through but their parents weren’t supposed to know about it.”
Most of the guests came from out of town to tour Bolckow’s haunted house, and the house performed, the audio system in the attic behaved of its own free will, and ornaments spun from strings in the dead still attic. The activity soon grew intense. “There was a girl in my room and the window imploded,” Tamin said.
Katheryn was there. “She stepped back and it blew on her.”
“It was a mistake, I think,” Tamin said, “to do the haunted house.”
Today I was upstairs sorting clothes in the closet and came out with scratches on my hands and arms!
— Tamin, Facebook post, April 12, 2010, 5:51 p.m.
In November, the family moved back to St. Joseph, leaving the strange house behind. They rented the house to Jim, a long-time friend of Tony’s, but the house hit the renters with everything it had.
“They changed so much,” Tamin said. “They changed when they lived here.”
Jim, his girlfriend, two teenage boys and a ten-year-old girl moved into the house and immediately felt the weight of the house upon them. “The little girl said she came to our house to talk to ghosts,” Katheryn said.
One day the renters were just gone. “They left their clothes here,” Tamin said. “They left their cell phone.”
“There was food in the fridge,” Katheryn said.
And worse. Buckets of grease and urine were scattered throughout the house. Tamin and Tony didn’t know what had happened to the people who lived in their house, but they knew the house had done something to them. “We didn’t know where they were and they never came back for their stuff,” Tamin said.
Reluctantly, Tamin and Tony moved their family back into the Bolckow house soon after.
This house has not lost its depressing, suffocating, oppressive feel. It’s like the house sucks every bit of hope and happiness out of a person when they walk through the door.
— Tamin, Facebook post, February 13, 2010, 5:01 p.m.
“Since we’ve moved back, I have not been able to sleep well, and I can always sleep,” Tony said
“We all don’t,” Tamin said.
Katheryn sat in a kitchen chair, holding her hands. “I feel like someone is shaking me.”
They moved back into the “hell house,” as Tamin calls it, because of personal finances, and crime rates in St. Joseph. “I thought, ‘let’s go back to Bolckow and everything will be fine.’”
It wasn’t. The haunting continues. Katheryn told Tamin of a dream about a little girl who lives in the house. The girl told her “the grey kitty is my favorite.” That morning Tamin found the grey cat had been inexplicably locked in the parlor all night.
“My life has been nothing but insane since I moved to Bolckow,” Tony said.
Tamin nodded. “I feel like I’m in a movie.”