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The Curious Case of the Ghost and the Policeman

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posted on Feb, 19 2009 @ 11:47 AM
As a teenager I read the autobiography of a retired Detective Inspector from Scotland Yard. Each chapter related grisly tales of murder, fingerprint detection, humor and even fingerprinting a mummy. The book also featured photographs.

One particular story has stayed in my mind. I've tracked it down online and will recap some of the story and link the rest.

During 1961 a house in Manchester, England was experiencing some strange occurrences. The family would hear violin music and random noises in the night. This might not be so unusual for a terraced house in Manchester with noisy neighbors. The young boy of the family had a different explanation for the events...

He described a small, elderly gentleman that would talk to him at night and liked to sit in the easy chair in the corner. Naturally, his parents were disturbed to hear this. When the lad added that the ghost used to teach the violin when alive, they called for help.

Manchester has always had an office of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR website). It was to them the family turned. David Cohen was intrigued and arranged a séance at the house as soon as possible.

To the group’s pleasure, the séances were successful. The SPR has also got an interest in promoting the spiritual world and began to invite members from other areas to a weekly séance. This continued for some weeks.

The family became less than happy. They’d been managing fine with the odd bump in the night or violin chords in empty rooms. Now they felt they had been exploited and began to suspect the SPR of faking the séances. Through a family friend they contacted the Police. A private meeting ensued and terms of investigation were agreed. All was to be conducted discreetly and informally. It was a favour, rather than official.

The Policeman that came to have a look was no ordinary Officer. He was a rising star in the UK Police Force’s forensic sciences.

Inspector (at that time) Fletcher was the man to investigate. He helped to pioneer the removal of fingerprints from long dead bodies for identification. His new technique was tested on an Egyptian mummie and worked. He also took part in the notorious Yorkshire Ripper investigation of the 1970s

Here is what Tony Fletcher (a fingerprint expert with the Manchester police) said about the Vera Millward murder scene in his book "Memories Of Murder": "A close examination of the Millward scene was made. From the position of tyre tracks, footprints, blood and the spot where the body was found it was assumed that the murderer had driven through the opening in the wire mesh at the southern end of the compound and had veered sharply to the right; he had then reversed his vehicle until the bonnet was pointing towards the exit, ready for a quick getaway. We were fortunate to find and cast the impressions made by all four tyres of the suspect vehicle. From these casts and the measurements obtained, the scientists at the North-West Forensic Science Laboratory were able to prepare a list of only eleven vehicles within the suspect range, one of which was the Ford Corsair that the murderer was eventually known to be using at the time of the attack."

Fletcher, who later recorded the tale in his memoir, thought it was an interesting question, so he sent Sergeant Rowland Mason to see what could be done. What they were told was that the ghost of a musician, an elderly man named Nicholas, had been playing a spectral violin in the room of a young boy in a south Manchester home. He was not threatening, but the parents were concerned. Under Cohen's guidance, séances had been held at the house and he reported that at times he'd seen a pair of spirit hands materialize.

So he decided to catch out the hoaxers using his fingerprint expertise.

When Fletcher went round himself, he arrived early. A tambourine was noted for flying through the air and a lampshade would move by itself. He wiped all the surfaces and objects clean and told nobody about it. When the rest arrived the séance could begin and Fletcher took part.

On cue, the table began to wobble and bang, the lights went out and then the tambourine flew past he people sitting at the table.

When everyone had left he dusted the objects and surfaces for prints and…found none where they should not be! He was interested indeed. Over the course of the following weeks, Fletcher took part in several séances. He continued to wipe and dust for prints. He recalled Nicholas the ghost being willing to touch his hand. All Fletcher felt was a dry, scratchy feeling on his hand. Another occasion he thought he could feel a starchy fabric like a lace cuff.

Fletcher couldn’t accept that it was a ghost and was running out of ideas to catch the hoaxer out. Nicholas eventually agreed to be fingerprinted! Duringg the séance, he held out his printing kit and rolled what he felt were the fingers of a dry hand across the ink pad. He then pressed them down to take the prints.

When the lights came on, the pad had no fingerprints. Just three inky scratches.



posted on Feb, 19 2009 @ 12:09 PM
Wow, that is quite a story!! Definitely had the hair on the back of my neck standing up for a bit there, lol. S&F, very that something like this has been well documented.

posted on Feb, 19 2009 @ 01:19 PM
reply to post by mpriebe81

The account remains for me, the best ghost story because of the man telling it and it used to give me the creeps too. A high ranking policeman that was also a scientist? That's pretty good credibility.

The book had one or two interesting photos regarding Nicholas the ghost. The internet links fail to do it justice which is why I wrote it out instead. The chapter was several pages long in the book

posted on Feb, 19 2009 @ 01:50 PM
I don't suppose he thought of the possibility that the person holding the seance or his assistants could have been wearing gloves?

All of these occurences seem like your standard seance tricks, I'm amazed that a policeman was taken in by this.

Try and find the Colin Fry story (the UK's John Edwards), early in his career he was holding these classic seances, strapped into a chair, lights off and then summon the spirits. At one point in the seance a trumpet floated into the air and a spirit voice spoke through it. Unfortunately for Colin it was at this point that someone turned on the lights to reveal Colin, released from his straps and holding the trumpet aloft! This man now has a tv series channelling the dead!?!

I can't believe that even in the sixties people were still falling from this Victorian mumbo-jumbo. There's even a medium in the UK who 'channelled' Freddie Mercury at a seance, who promptly started singing a Queen number, one problem though, he forgot the words!

I wish that the Lawmakers would stop these people preying on the vulnerable, at least in the UK they now have to advertise that mediumship is for entertainment purposes only.

[edit on 19-2-2009 by Molech]

posted on Feb, 19 2009 @ 02:50 PM

Originally posted by Molech
I don't suppose he thought of the possibility that the person holding the seance or his assistants could have been wearing gloves?

All of these occurences seem like your standard seance tricks, I'm amazed that a policeman was taken in by this.

You'd need to read his book. I don't set aside the possibility that he threw in a chapter as a hoax. Ordinarily, I'd be dismissive of a story like this.

The man wasn't a 'policeman', he rose through the ranks. As he approached retirement and wrote the memoirs, he was ensconced in Scotland Yard at a high rank. He'd spent his career using logic and science as a matter of course. To assume that he lacked basic critical thinking indicates a lack of judgment.

The Yorkshire Ripper case was a priority investigation in the UK and involved regional Police forces and changes in Law. In it's day, it involved Middlesborough, Tyneside, Lancashire, Yorkshire, the Met and Scotland Yard. That Fletcher was involved as a forensics expert belies any implications that he was naive to the shenanigans of hoaxers.

In his book, he leaves the case as unresolved yet memorable

posted on Feb, 19 2009 @ 04:06 PM
I'm not denying, or even questioning, the man's abilities as a scientist or policeman. However, we no nothing of the man's religious beliefs.

When people want to believe something, it's amazing how even the most intelligent and critically thinking can be fooled. I mean, Montell is an ex-naval officer, yet he sits there and takes in everything Sylvia Browne says!

These seances have been de-bunked time and time again, sorry, not buying it. Please read my signature!

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