Forests have a way of drawing to them stories of the paranormal and hauntings. There is something about these darkened remote places with their trees raising their skeletal branches to the heavens and their spooky sounds that invite such tales. Add to this stories of an intensely haunted old house out in the woods and you have a perfect recipe for a creepy case. Lying out in the thick woods of a rural area of the state of Colorado is just such a mysterious house, which has gone on to be considered one of the most haunted places in the United States.
The place known as Black Forest is in an unincorporated town that lies in El Paso County, Colorado, near Colorado Springs, within an region traditionally known as the "Pineries," which once sprawled over a 1,000 square mile area and is so named due to the high concentration of Ponderosa Pines found here. The sparsely populated area is well-known for its slow-paced lifestyle, crisp, clean air, beautiful nature, and breathtaking picturesque vistas. It was for these reasons that in 1991 a couple by the name of Steven and Beth Lee moved to the area from Louisiana along with their two sons in order to purchase a secluded two-story log home off Swan Road and surrounded by untouched wilderness that was to be their dream home. What they didn’t know at the time was that it was all to become anything but a dream.
Unbeknownst to the family at the time, the property had previously been owned by a man who allegedly had experienced intense paranormal activity there, yet he did not inform the Lees at the time because he apparently did not think anyone would believe him, or worse yet that he would be laughed at. The family moved in without having any awareness of this previous strangeness, and had not heard any rumors of the supposed haunting either, which made it all the more surprising when an escalating series of very bizarre phenomena began to plague them in their new home soon after moving in.
By all accounts the phenomena started within barely a week of moving in, and began somewhat innocuously enough. The couple’s two young sons began to complain of strange lights in their rooms, as well as what appeared to be shadows moving about, and this could’ve been chalked up to the children’s overactive imaginations if it weren’t for the fact that Steven and Beth also started experiencing the same thing. In addition to this, flashes of light would be seen in the forest, doors in the home closed on their own, lights or electrical appliances would turn on or off by themselves, and there were sometimes heard thumps, bangs, and knocks on the roof or walls, as well as footsteps and even anomalous music that seemed to come from nowhere. More ominously was an odd chemical odor that would spring up out of nowhere to pervade the house, sometimes so strong and overpowering that it stung the nostrils and eyes. All of this phenomena quickly grew in intensity, culminating in frightening experiences that Beth Lee would describe in the book Haunted Places: The National Directory, thus:
One day we came home and it was like the Fourth of July in our living room and bedroom. We had all kinds of lights flashing through, and it sounded like people stomping across the roof. We would lay in bed at night and hear chains rattling. One night we woke up and heard orchestra music. Strange things started happening every day.
As scary as all of this was, Steven did not at first believe this to be anything paranormal at all, and suspected it was all the work of trespassers trying to scare them of the land. In order to combat this threat, he spent a great deal of time and money installing a state-of-the-art video surveillance system, and it was soon found that video and photographs taken would more often than not display all manner of strange images, including orbs, streaks of light, and, more ominously, glowing, undefined outlines of human figures, faces, and even spectral images of animals out in the woods and near the home, several of the images of which were published in Fate Magazine in November of 1994. Thinking this was a technical malfunction, he tried several different types of cameras and film, but got the same results every time no matter what he did. On top of this, the motion detector alarms that they had installed were prone to going off without any evidence of anyone being there.
Steven Lee began contacting the El Paso County Sheriff’s department and even hired a private investigator, still convince that pranksters or burglars were behind it all. Authorities would make 45 separate trips to the home, yet never found any evidence of a break-in or any criminal activity. The only somewhat unusual evidence offered up was a cloth saturated with that sour chemical odor, but it was found to not be any sort of dangerous substance. After a while, the constant calls coming in from the Lee home caused them to believe he was perhaps delusional and paranoid, and they started to more or less ignore the complaints. By this time the Lees were becoming more and more aware that just maybe there was actually something paranormal at work, and they reached out to a TV program called Sightings in 1995, who would eventually do a whole series on the home and show it to be far stranger than anyone knew.
When the crew arrived they did so with a well-known psychic, Echo Bodine, who was immediately humbled by the sheer concentration of spiritual energy in the house, and she stated that there were at least 20 entities residing there, with one in particular described as being very powerful and malevolent. The whole production was plagued with mechanical malfunctions, inexplicable electromagnetic interference, and cameras and tripods knocked over by unseen hands. More sinister still, at one point in the investigation one of the crew members was reportedly attacked by something unseen, which jumped into her and supposedly left her whole body numb, with feeling in her limbs only regained after being physically escorted out of the house as she cried uncontrollably in terror. She would later describe it as feeling as if something had been trying to possess her body.
So intense was this weird activity while the crew was there that they returned 6 months later to investigate more. This time they brought another psychic named Peter James, who also immediately claimed that he had never felt psychic energy of the magnitude he felt there. As he walked through the home James claimed that much of this energy seemed to be focused on an upstairs closet and from a 100-year-old mirror kept in the master bedroom, both of which he speculated were some sort of vortex connecting the physical world to the spiritual. Adding weight to these claims were photographs then taken of the mirror, with many of them showing ghostly faces staring back or strange streaks of light. Indeed, so much anomalous footage was taken over the course of these visits by Sightings to the Lee home that it is considered one of the most well-documented hauntings ever. James would say of it:
There is an energy here unlike any I’ve ever experienced in all the years I’ve investigated anomalous activity. So the Black Forest is indeed a very important place that should be further investigated.
Spookily, not long after filming wrapped, James woke one day to find a painful welt on his forehead for no apparent reason. A visit to the doctor and a CAT scan later and the welt was still unexplainable. However, when going through photographs taken at the Lee house, among the many images of the myriad paranormal activity was a picture of James standing in a room with what appears to be a bright “dagger of light” pointed directly at his forehead, something he had not seen at the time. It was a very odd experience in a case already dripping with the odd.
With the TV program and the rumors raging about the “haunted” Lee home out there in the woods, it got to the point that even State Senator Charles Duke went to visit the home in 1996 to check it out. Duke was highly skeptical at the time, but his mind was soon changed when he experienced strange phenomena himself and even managed to capture on film the ghostly, smoke-like form of what looked like a dog, forcing him to concede: “There are certainly some anomalies that don't belong there I don't as yet know what they are. I was shocked. I’m not a believer yet, but certainly there is something going on there. There's certainly something unusual, there's no doubt about it.” Eerily, the image taken by Duke supposedly resembles a dog the Lees had had which had died 10 years prior, and this same phantom dog would go on to be routinely sighted and photographed in the area, sometimes atually hovering off the ground.
Another skeptic who was surprised by the location was electromagnetics expert Bill Gibbens, who went in planning to debunk the whole thing and came away convinced something strange was going on, saying “I saw spectacular light shows that could be seen with the naked eye. It’s an extremely active site, and there’s nothing that Steve or his wife are doing to cause this.” In the following years countless psychics and paranormal investigators, as well as other skeptics, have been to the Lee home, many coming away utterly perplexed by the startling intensity of the activity there, earning it a reputation as being one of the most haunted locations in the United States, if not the world.
What is going on here and why should this particular house draw to it so much paranormal activity and such an enormous concentration of spiritual energy? One local Hopi shaman has explained that the reason is because it is located on the site of what he refers to as a “Rainbow Vortex,” a doorway between the worlds of the living and the dead. Other psychics and investigators have similarly come to the same conclusion, that the house, for whatever reasons, holds a mysterious vortex or gateway that allows entities to pass back and forth between worlds unhindered. In this theory these wraiths and specters are not necessarily haunting this location, but rather this is one of the few places on our plane of reality through which they can arrive here, sort of like an interdimensional train station.
Interestingly, despite all of this, one of the biggest skeptics of the paranormal explanation has been Steven Lee himself. Even in the face of all of this unexplained phenomena he would go on to become more and more convinced that rather than ghosts he was being stalked by some shady government organization for nefarious purposes. The idea that there were trespassers on his property went on evolve to become a web of conspiracy of government agents and secret experiments, and Lee has said he believes that they are interested in the family for the purpose of testing out biological weapons, psychic warfare, mind-control, and “laser holograms.” He would claim that he had seen black-clad armed men prowling around outside the home, and blamed these enigmatic individuals for cutting power to the home and spraying them with unknown noxious chemicals, as well as following him around all over town. He has said of these ideas:
I truly think the U.S. government has a hand in this. I don’t think any one individual could get away with this for this period of time without getting caught. The government does testing out here that has military implications.
Lee even has even gone so far as to try to bring in the FBI to investigate his claims, but they have responded that there is not much they can do in the absence of any evidence of a federal crime being committed. Whether this is all caused by supernatural forces or secretive government agents, the Lee house has nevertheless managed to continue over the years to prove itself as a wellspring for the bizarre, with countless reports of apparitions, strange lights, and other varied phenomena from the premises. Whatever is going on here, it has managed to go on to become one of the most intense paranormal hotspots in the country, and will likely remain an unexplained conundrum for some time to come.