It seemed like a dream come true. In May of 2001, after years of living in a cramped apartment in Union, Missouri with his three children, single father Steven LaChance was saved from a lease that was about to expire and the looming prospect of homelessness when he lucked out on renting a large house in a quiet neighborhood that was in very good shape. The 2-story home had ornate woodwork three bedrooms, and a large family kitchen with a mudroom that led to the back door, a huge yard, and a spacious basement, and considering that there had been many other people lining up to rent it, he had managed to win out. The family was incredibly excited about it, and when they moved in they had high hopes for a bright future in their new dream home, but that dream was about to turn into a nightmare of supernatural terror.
When the LaChance family moved in everything at first went as smoothly as had been hoped, but there soon appeared a few oddities that, while not completely bizarre or frightening at first, nevertheless were a bit weird. One was a car that pulled up while LaChance was out unloading things from the moving truck, with the driver simply saying “Hope you get along okay here,” before driving off. He then noticed that each of the house's interior doors had an old-fashioned hook and eye latch, but rather than on the inside of the doors the latches were on the outside of the room doors, as if to keep something in rather than out. There was also the fact that he noticed that people walking past the house would make it a point to cross the street and pass by on the other side, and the trees seemed to be shedding their leaves as if it were Fall. While this was not enough to truly unsettle him, LaChance certainly noted it as a bit off, yet he soon just shrugged it off and got on with the unpacking. At the time he did not think much of these various small oddities, but things were about to escalate into the truly bizarre.
It started the following day, as he was hanging up a picture of two angels in the living room. He managed to secure the picture to the wall, but as he walked away it suddenly crashed to the floor with a loud bang. He hung it up again, and once again it crashed to the floor as he walked away. On the third try, he turned and felt the picture smack against his legs to once again fall on the floor, as if it had been hurled at him. He hung it up once again and stared at it to see what happened and it stayed put. He backed away, fearing that it would fall if he were to turn around again, and this time it stayed put. This was all fairly innocuous, if not a little weird, but it got even stranger when he told his son to fetch the garden hose from the basement. Shortly after the boy went down there into that dank space, LaChance heard a bloodcurdling scream from his boy, and he would say of what happened next:
I asked my youngest son to go inside and bring out the garden hose from the basement so we could clean off the walkways and wash down the weathered white of the house. A few moments passed when I heard him screaming from inside the house. Running frantically into the house, I found him standing in the kitchen shaking, in the middle of a puddle of urine. “What’s wrong? What happened?” Looking at me with the scared eyes of a child, he said, “Something chased me up the basement steps.” “What chased you?” I asked, already thinking the overactive imagination of a little boy was at play here. “I don’t know daddy, but it was big.” Me and my other two children checked the basement but found nothing except for the garden hose that had been dropped during his frightened escape. “Let’s get you cleaned up,” I said. Naturally, there was teasing from my other two children about the proverbial basement monster. “Better watch out when you go into the basement because…” The glare of my eye finished my middle boy’s sentence.
After this, the next two days passed without incident, and it seemed that things were going to be normal from then on in, but from the third day each day they would leave the house and return each evening to find every light in the house inexplicably turned on. At first he thought it was just his kids messing around, but this would happen even when they were all out and the children insisted that they had not touched the lights. Fearing that there was an intruder coming into their home, he did a full inspection of the house and found no evidence of a break in or anyone else having been there. After this there were also strange cold spots throughout the house, and then he would begin to feel a presence in the home that truly unsettled him. He says of it:
"Daddy, it’s cold in here,” my daughter stated from the living room. What was she talking about? Sweat was pouring down my back and across my brow. However, when I stepped into the living room, the temperature dropped a good thirty degrees. That was the first time I felt its presence. I can’t describe it to any better than it felt like an electrical current running through my body, bringing tears to my eyes and bumps to my arms. It passed quickly. I remember thinking, “What the hell was that?” Soon, my daughter stated, “Daddy it’s getting warm in here,” and sure enough the temperature was rising as I watched the thermostat climb. That night my children slept with me – what little sleep I got.
LaChance describes himself as having been a skeptic when it comes to the paranormal at the time, so he was not quick to jump to the explanation of ghosts and the supernatural. He tried to rationalize it all, checking the house for drafts or holes that could explain it all, but he could find nothing. Although he felt there had to be a rational explanation, he was nevertheless starting to entertain the thought that something truly spooky was going on, and if he had any doubts that something paranormal was going on they were about to be completely expelled. At the time they were all sitting in the living room on an otherwise quiet evening, but it was not about to stay quiet, and LaChance describes of the strange experience that truly brought the supernatural roaring into his life:
I noticed it first out of the corner of my eye. A quick glance. Something moving, standing at the kitchen doorway that led into the family room. Not something – someone. I looked toward it again. It was a dark figure of a man, even though there was full light. He was solid in form except there was a moving, churning, dark gray, black smoke or mist that made up his form. I looked down because I was sure I wasn’t seeing this and that my eyes were playing tricks on me. One or two good rationalizations and we could go on with our lives without incident. A few moments passed and I was sure that when I looked up again that it would be gone. But, he was still there and he began to move. Moving into the family room and pausing in the center of the room, his form was still a mass of churning, turning blackness. He stood there for what seemed an eternity, but in actuality, it was only a few moments and then he melted into the air. Gone. I remember the thoughts that were racing through my head. ” I have two choices. We could run out of the house screaming into the night like those crazies you always see in the movies. You know the ones that are always based on fact. Or, the other choice, we could get up quietly, leave the house and figure all of this out.” My hands were shaking uncontrollably. “That’s what we’ll do. We will go quietly, orderly as if nothing was wrong.”
In the calmest voice he could muster, LaChance told his kids they were going to go to their grandmother’s house for a soda. At this point the kids had witnessed nothing amiss, and so they happily got up and started to head towards the car as their father continued to put up the charade that everything was OK. He shuffled them out the door and tried his best to casually start locking the front door, but then they were assailed by a loud, unearthly shriek coming from inside the house. LaChance says of what happened next:
We moved orderly out the front door and I turned to lock the door, when a loud painful scream of a man came from inside the house. It sounded as if he was screaming in pain, so loud that it could be heard throughout the neighborhood and the dogs began to bark. To hell with orderly, “Get in the car!” I screamed at my children. At a dead run, we headed to the car and to drive to my Mom’s house, which is still a blur to this day. I was in a panic and I knew that we had to get away from the old white house. But before we were away from the neighborhood, my youngest son, in a very scared voice, said, “Daddy the basement monster is standing in the upstairs window.” I looked back and sure enough, the black form was standing in the window watching us leave.
They stayed at the grandmother’s house for the next several days, but with no money and nowhere else to go LaChance knew they had no choice but to go back to that acursed house. When they arrived, they did so to a quiet house and no sign of the mysterious shadow figure. Indeed, much to their surprise the whole weekend passed without further incident, and LaChance dared to hope that perhaps the whole thing had blown over, that the phantom had perhaps left them alone. At this point he was very curious about the history of the house, which was only compounded when he was going through a shed on the property, and he explains:
On Saturday we explored the big shed at the back of the yard and in it, we found a number of personal belongings that appeared to belong to different people. My parents convinced me that maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to call the strange old landlady and ask her some straight forward questions about the house. It was to be one of most awkward and strangest phone calls of my life. Once I was able to reach her, I carefully chose my words and asked in a normal voice if any of the previous tenants had ever mentioned a ghost. Well of course, she said at first, that she could not remember. However, she went on to say that one female tenant had claimed that her dead father came to visit her, but the old woman always thought she was crazy. The landlady said that some of the stuff in the shed had been left behind by the girl, but she couldn’t get her to come pick it up. The other stuff in the shed evidently belonged to a man who had lived there but left in the middle of the night, leaving behind his things. But, no she had never heard of anyone talking about the house being haunted. I asked her how long ago did these people live there? And she said, “Not much more than a year honey, why do you ask?” The phone call wasn’t of much help. And it didn’t calm my fears much, but what else could I do?
After this, the period of tranquil quiet ended when one day the doors in the house began suddenly rattling, gradually increasing in intensity until they were practically shaking off their hinges, and after this a horrific stench permeated the whole place and the temperature sharply dropped. He then felt a sensation like an electric current flowing through him and that is when he could hear a soft moan that soon became an otherworldly scream that seemed to spew forth from the very walls. That was when all hell would break loose, of which he says:
Then the whole house began to shake and come alive. From the above, I could hear something large coming down the stairs. Boom. Boom! BOOM! The screaming of the man over and over. The screaming of my daughter, “Daddy what is happening!” Along with this came the thought that one of my two bedroom doors connected to the stairs. BOOM! BOOM! It was coming down those stairs! I had to get to my children! The whole house was alive with noise. The floor beneath me was shaking as I made my way to the bedroom door. I felt something behind me and I knew I didn’t want to turnaround to see it! BOOM! SCREAMING! A new scream mixed into the man’s scream – this one from a child. BOOM! SCREAMS! BOOM! I made it to my bedroom door but it wouldn’t open. By this time I, too, am screaming. Throwing myself against the door it still wouldn’t budge. I continued to throw myself against the door again and again until it finally slammed open.
My daughter was in shock by this point. I instructed my middle son to grab his brother and run out the front door and head for the car. BOOM! BOOM! SCREAMS! My daughter won’t move and I finally had to slap her to bring her to life. Finally responding, I grab her and head for the door as I hear the other bedroom door slam open behind us. It was on our trail and I knew I couldn’t let it reach us. The whole house still shaking and alive with noise and something big on our heels. When we reached the front door and out onto the porch, I slammed the front door behind us. As we got into the car we could still hear the noise coming from the house. I drove away and parked at the top of the street where I could still see the house and wait for my parents to arrive. We could see “it” searching through the house. Searching! Searching for us! It’s blackness moving from room to room methodically. That was our last night in the house. My children never returned.
LaChance himself would be back to the house on several occasions to collect their things, never alone and always wary of what lurked in the shadows. Sometimes these visits would pass without incident, sometimes things would happen. He has said of the aftermath of his stay at that old house:
When I returned to get a few of our things on several occasions I never went alone. Everyone I brought into that house with me would also witness something happen. A scream. Whispers. Pounding from the floor above. It was not selective anymore at who it let hear its fury. I remember what the old lady said to me as I turned over the key. Standing there, the whole side of my arm and torso still bruised from throwing myself against that bedroom door, she said, “Some people are meant to live in an old house like that. And some people aren’t. I never thought you were the old house type.” And I guess she was right.
The house was famously investigated by the famed paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, and the Roman Catholic Church, in a 156-page report, classified the “Union Screaming House Haunting” as a “demonic infestation, oppression, obsession, and possession.” Although LaChance tried to put the whole ordeal behind him, the memory of those events would not go away. He suffered years of trauma over what had transpired, the ghosts still haunting the recesses of his mind even though the house was long gone. He would author the book The Uninvited: The True Story of the Union Screaming House in September 2008 as well as a follow up titled Blessed Are the Wicked, as a sort of therapy to help him work through the issues and also to warn others of what forces lie out there. He has never truly recovered from the terrifying experience, and he says of the dark specters that still menace him:
Do you believe in ghosts? I use to be like many of you. I was a true skeptic. A true disbeliever. That was me until three years ago. Now I do believe. I wish I didn’t. It would be easier for me to sleep at night. Even now, three years later, I am still woken up in the night by the memory of the screaming man, the child in pain, and the dark ghostly image that turned my world upside down and changed my beliefs forever. I do believe in ghosts. You see I do believe in ghosts. I still drive past that house every once in a while and when I get enough nerve I look up at the upstairs window and it’s there. Watching. Waiting. Angry. Sometimes its screams still wake me from my sleep, its infectious scream creeping into my dreams, turning them into nightmares. I still don’t sleep very well. In my dreams I see a faceless man standing in that basement washing away blood from his naked blood-covered body. Grunting. Panting. Breathing. The breathing you’d hear when you were alone with it in a room. The breathing you would hear when you knew it was there. Heavy. Labored. Breathing. Yes, I do believe in ghosts. I do believe in ghosts. And maybe you should too?
LaChance and his family have tried to move on from these insidious and spooky events, to put the whole harrowing ordeal behind them, but it still haunts them in a way to this day. We are left to wonder just what was going on here. What kind of strange forces came to visit this family and why? Was this demons, ghosts, a hoax, or something else? For now it remains unexplained, and one of he most frightening and violent hauntings there is.