May 11, 2023 I Brent Swancer

A Spooky Case of an Imaginary Friend That Maybe Wasn't So Imaginary After All

A lot of kids have imaginary friends. It seems to be a rite of childhood for many. Although it might at times seem to be a bit creepy, it is  usually a passing feature of childhood that is harmless and fleeting.Yet sometimes there are cases in which these "imaginary friends" prove to be something altogether spookier, and here we will look at a bizarre and at times downright harrowing instance of this. 

Three-year old Madison was just a normal girl with a normal family living in Macon, Georgia, in the United States. Up until then she had been an ordinary little girl doing the ordinary things children do, like playing with dolls and blocks, and although she was shy she seemed to get along with other people just fine. There was no reason to think there was anything particularly unusual about her, but then one day this would change when she started telling her mother, Kellie, that a friend had started coming to play with her. She told her mother that her new friend was named “Kellum,” and that he was a shadowy tall man perhaps in his forties who would come into her room and talk with her. Years later Madison would recall this stranger on the radio show Endless Thread:

I don't remember seeing him for the first time. All I can remember is just him being there. I remember one time, I had a little table and chair sitting in my room and I would make playdough sandwiches for me and him or I would build towers and knock them down because he thought it was funny. I remember him being tall. He kind of felt like a father figure to me. Kinda, he felt like my dad. He had like a beard. He wasn't that old. He was like in his forties. He was always wearing work clothes, like outside clothes.

At first hearing that her daughter had a new male, middle-aged friend deeply alarmed Kellie, and she thought perhaps this was a molester or trespasser sneaking into their house to play with her daughter, but she could find no sign of “Kellum” and nobody in the neighborhood had seen anyone like that or anyone entering their house. Then one day Madison said that Kellum was there in the room with them, but when her startled mother asked where, the girl just pointed to an empty corner. It was then that Kellie realized that Kellum was not a real man, but rather an imaginary friend like many kids had. It was not really any less creepy, because Kellum was some bearded middle-aged guy and not what one would normally think a 3-year-old girl would conjure up for her imaginary playmate, but Kellie was nevertheless put at ease that there wasn’t some flesh and blood creep lurking around their home. 

Kellie decided to just let it be at the time, confident that it was doing no harm and her little girl would grow out of it, but things would only get stranger from there. It all started when Madison began singing an old-fashioned sounding song that Kellie had never heard before. Kellie asked Madison what the song was called, but she didn’t know. Kellie then asked where she had learned it and Madison matter-of-factly said that Kellum had. Kellie would say of it:

I had never heard the song before.This thing apparently dates back to the turn of the century. And one day she just started to sing it. And she was so little that I couldn't make out like a melody to it. It was just words. And so as she would sing it I tried to catch on to what she was saying but she really couldn't talk all that well, she was barely three years old. And so she had a babysitter. And I asked the babysitter one day I was like, “Hey can you give me the words to the song?” You know, “Is it on a C.D. or how is she hearing this so that I can help her sing it? And we can sing it together.” She's like, “No, I thought you guys taught her that song. I've never taught her that song. I don't know what she's saying either.” And so I went home later on that night and she started it again and I said, “Maddie, you know, where are you hearing that song from? Where did you hear it?” She's like, “Oh, Kellum taught it to me. He sings it to his baby.” It's called Daisy Bell and I found it, years and years later, when a coworker told me about it. 

It was definitely eerie that Madison was singing a song that her mother had never heard or taught to her, which she was claiming was taught to her by her imaginary friend to sing to his imaginary baby. Although Madison rarely played with Kellum in front of anyone, she was spending more and more time in her room with him, and when Kellie decided to listen in it was quite a bit creepy. She says of it:

I still had her baby monitor and I decided I would get it out and put it in her room just so I could hear when she was up so I could make sure that she went back to bed. And I could hear her having conversations. And they were definite conversations. She would speak for a while and then she'd be quiet. And then she'd speak again, she would answer somebody. Somebody was talking to her. But you could only hear her voice.

Occasionally she would hear things tip over or loud knocks or bangs and Madison would tell Kellum to stop it, which made it all even eerier. Kellie was now starting to think there was something perhaps stranger going on here, and she began reflecting on some paranormal experiences that she herself had had as a child that were hauntingly similar. She remembered as a child having a presence come into her room at night and make strange noises or shuffle about. She took to keeping her light on at night every night until it burned out. When that happened things had gotten stranger still, of which she says:

So my mom took the globe off of my light to change the light and she didn't put it back up. And that was when I started noticing the tapping — I could hear something tapping on the light bulb at night in the room, just tap tap tap tap tap. Just over and over and over and over again. And then there was the TV. One of the old-school ones that had a button you had to pull out to turn on. And the TV would literally turn on in the middle of the night. The power button would be pulled out. It would be engaged. It was either static or it was the star spangled banner. It is very Poltergeist-y. It really is. It wasn't until I was older and saw that movie that I was like, “Oh gosh, I know what's about to happen.” I remember trying to explain it to my mom and she she just kept dismissing it. She was like you're just you're sleepwalking, you don't know what you're talking about. Stop making up stories, you're scaring your cousins. Nobody's gonna wanna come play with you because you're weird.

Thinking back on this, Kellie decided to keep a close eye on her daughter and her “imaginary friend,” thinking things were perhaps even stranger than they already seemed. As the days went on, Madison’s general demeanor began to change. She seemed to be annoyed or angry all of the time and started throwing regular temper tantrums, something she had never done before and which was really out of character for her. Kellie recalls:

I started to notice that she was really really irritable all day. And I finally asked her one day. I was like, “What’s the matter? What's wrong?” I mean, it was just throwing temper tantrums, just tired all the time. And she said that Kellum was keeping her up at night when she wanted to sleep.

Madison explained that Kellum, who had up until then been a mostly kind and comforting presence, had gradually become meaner and more demanding. According to her he never wanted her to go to bed and that he always wanted to talk at all hours, as if he was afraid of being alone, and when she did go to sleep she said that he would push her, throw things, or tap her window to wake her up. She started to tell her mother that Kellum’s face had changed, and that he looked meaner, gaunter, and almost skeletal. The girl would get more and more afraid of Kellum until one night it all came to a head when Kellie woke to her daughter screaming in terror. She says of what happened:

I heard her screaming. And not like a bad dream scream or I need you to come here scream. This was a terrified scream. I jumped up. I opened my bedroom door. She is hanging over the baby gate trying to get over it as fast as she could, screaming for me, “Mommy help me. Mommy come help me!” I run through the house. I go to pick her up. I pick her up over the baby gate and she's just, she's inconsolable, she's screaming. I'm scared. I look and the curtains in her room are blowing. And when I say blowing I don't mean like they're just kind of like drifting in the breeze from maybe the heater or the A/C. They were blowing as if the window were open and a big gust of wind were blowing through the window, but the window wasn’t open. She was scared. I was scared. This is not okay. This is wrong. We need to get out of here. So I grabbed her, I'm in my pajamas. I have bare feet. She's in a nightgown. We leave the house. It was freezing cold outside and we had no coats. We had no shoes. It was just that scary.

Madison would claim that Kellum had gotten very upset with her and attacked her, that he had grabbed her wrist and yanked her hair, and Kellie decided that they could not go back that night. She made arrangements to go to her best friend’s house, but she was not sure what to do from there. At the time they lived in a very religious area in the Bible Belt of the American south and she was worried that people might stigmatize them if she were to admit that there was something paranormal going on at their house, but in the end she had no choice but to reach out for help. She explains of what happened next:

My father-in-law at the time was a pastor of the church. This goes back to me not really wanting to say very much because I was in the Pentecostal church, my father-in-law was the pastor. He didn't agree with any of that kind of stuff. They preached against it at church. It was just one of those things. So I finally just broke down and called him and I said I don't know what to do. I need your help. He told me he was on his way to my house. "Don’t go back there," he said. "Not until you hear from me." So it’s probably about an hour, maybe two hours later. He calls me he says, “You can go home now. You don’t have to worry about anything else. It’s taken care of. But we need to talk tomorrow.” And I was like, “Oh man I'm in trouble.” You know he's probably going to read me the Riot Act tomorrow. Well, I get home and over the front door, he was very big into anointing things with oil. Down here in the South, they will actually make crosses with oil: they'll anoint people's foreheads, they'll anoint cars if you get a new car, anything. They love to anoint things with oil down here. So I come home and over my front door is a cross in oil. He's oiled a cross over my front door. And then we go inside and over the windows, the walls, bathroom mirrors, all through the house, are these crosses in oil, which is a little freaky. It kind of unnerved me still coming home but it almost felt peaceful. When I walked back in, I could tell that the house was, it felt peaceful, the way it always felt before things went crazy with “Bad Kellum,” I guess you could call him. We never had another issue with Kellum. As a matter of fact, after that happened, I don't recall her ever telling me that Kellum came to play with her again.

Convinced that they had been dealing with a spirit or ghost, Kellie was curious about who Kellum was or where he had come from, and began doing some research into the area to see if she could come up with any answers to her many questions. She looked through the site and what she found was chilling, indeed. She explains:

I only thought you could look up like family names on but you can actually do property searches on that thing too. And so we put in my property and we also put in property around, probably within I would say a good half a mile of my home. And what we found out was that the property that was adjacent to ours in 1941, it was bought by the Beasley family. And the thing that just absolutely made my blood run cold was when we pulled up the property history and we found out that the man who bought the property in 1941, his name was Callum Beasley, C-A-L-L-U-M. I just got chill bumps. His name was Callum Beasley. Callum... sounds a lot like Kellum. Probably even more so to a 3 year-old.

I just thought it was an odd name. So then when I saw that actual name come up on the search for the property, I'd swear I felt every bit of the blood drain out of my face. But there’s something even more chilling about Callum Beasley. He had 5 children. The youngest was named Madeline. She died when she was 3 years old. The same age Madison was when Kellum showed up. And it almost makes me wonder, was this his way of connecting to something? Did he think this was his kid? It just, there was just too much of a coincidence for us to not sit up and take notice as like, OK, this is this is a little more than a coincidence at this point.

Kellie then went about trying to contact any surviving relatives of Callum Beasley to find out more, but none of them were willing to talk to her about it. She would finally get fed up and just try to put it beind her, saying of it:

I did reach out to one of the women in the family. At the time she was a little older than I was. And she just seemed really hesitant about wanting to give me any information. And I would try to explain to her, you know, my daughter had this imaginary friend and he seemed to be about the same age as your uncle was. I understand that he might have had a daughter. And she was like you know, "You guys are crazy, you make up stories." And it almost made me feel almost ashamed of even asking the question like that like why are you talking such nonsense that that doesn't happen you're crazy. I was like, okay, alright, if nobody wants to talk about it if nobody wants to acknowledge it we won't. We'll just act like it didn't happen. Okay, we'll just we'll just pretend it didn't happen and I'll go about my business knowing that it did. You know you can't make believers out of skeptics you just absolutely can't.

It is hard to know what to make of this case. Was there really anything paranormal happening here or not? There is no real physical evidence to that effect, but it certainly seems rather eerie and infused with odd details. There is no way to know just what is really going on here, but it is all certainly a weird case that makes us wonder just what forces might have been orbiting this young girl. 

Brent Swancer

Brent Swancer is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Brent Swancer’s first intellectual loves. He's written articles for MU and Daily Grail and has been a guest on Coast to Coast AM and Binnal of America.

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