Mysterious Destruction in America's Heartland

On January 14, 1960, the peace of the Edgar Jones family home in Baltimore, Ohio was shattered by the destruction of a miniature pottery pitcher. The ceramic knick-knack inexplicably blew into dozens of tiny pieces and with this strange event, a series of strange happenings began that would leave an ordinary American family shaken and never quite the same again!

The family had just seated themselves to dinner when the pitcher suddenly exploded, showering Mr. Jones with small fragments of pottery. Startled, he stood up from the table and puzzled over what could have happened. His wife had also jumped to her feet, just as their married daughter, Mrs. Pauls, let out a loud exclamation of her own as she walked in from the kitchen, carrying a steaming bowl of vegetables. Her surprise quickly changed to sympathy when she noted to her mother that the broken pitcher had been one of her mother’s favorites. Visibly upset over the loss of a piece of her collection, and over the way that she had lost it, Mrs. Jones went into the kitchen for a broom and a dust pan.

Before she could leave the room though, another of the small pitchers shattered! It was followed by another and then another, each of them literally blowing apart in a series along the length of the shelf. In moments, all 15 of the prized ornaments had been broken. The Jones’ and their daughter backed away from the table in confusion, fear and perhaps even a touch of panic.

The bizarre incident with the exploding pitchers was the first in a succession of strange and otherworldly events at the Jones home between January 14 and February 8. On one occasion, with the entire family watching, a ceramic flower pot lifted from a shelf and crashed outward through a glass window. During another meal, a sugar bowl floated up to the overhead ceiling light and dumped its contents all over the table. Pictures fell from their hooks and skittered across the floor, chairs moved about and overturned, books tumbled over and a brass incense holder was seen flying six feet across a room.

One evening when Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Pauls were preparing a meal, several iced-tea glasses danced off a kitchen shelf and a case of soda bottles exploded their tops, washing down the walls with foam and sticky liquid.

A number of pottery pieces that had been left on a bed were smashed, as if struck by an unseen but heavy object. A small table that rested at a turn on the stairway suddenly “came to life” and did what witnesses referred to as a “dance”. As it did so, it rocked and tipped down the staircase and splintered into pieces when it reached the lower floor. A stack of firewood in the basement somehow shot out of its holder and flew in all directions. Pieces of wood and bark launched outward with such force that splinters were embedded in the walls. The dining room light swung back and forth violently during most of the meals and soon the Jones’ began eating in other rooms. Of course, this did not stop the eating utensils from vanishing from beside their plates, wherever they may have been.

Despite what must have seemed like genuine violence, the only injury that occurred during the outbreak was suffered by Mr. Jones. One afternoon he bent down to pick up a can of corn that had jumped from a shelf and as he did so, a can of sauerkraut smacked him on the back of the head.

Not long after the bizarre events began, the Jones’ did what so many people in similar circumstances did - they called the police. The officers who came to investigate the scene were stunned by the weird events and widened their search for a cause. The crime lab came to search the house for both explanations and trickery and reported that they could find no trace of explosives being used to make items jump into the air and explode. City street workers were brought in to test for tremors with a seismograph, by they found nothing out of the ordinary. A radio repairman blamed the trouble on high frequency radio waves, but his test equipment couldn’t find any of them. A local plumber tested the pipes, looked for unusual water pressures and even checked the furnace but he could find nothing to explain what was going on.

In what seems to be a natural progression in such cases, the media got involved in the events next. Soon, reporters and journalists descended on the house and their accounts brought onlookers and curiosity-seekers to the scene. Many of them milled around on the street outside, hoping for a glimpse of the weird activity. The Jones’ were flooded with requests to investigate the house by paranormal investigators and psychics and they rarely turned anyone away. Each visitor seemed to have his own theories about “laying” the ghost, but nothing seemed to work. The majority of those who came to investigate were crackpots and kooks but even most of the seasoned investigators were as puzzled as the Jones family.

Then, the phenomena ceased, just as suddenly as it had started, leaving the family just as baffled as they had been when it all began. Not everyone involved in the case was surprised though. The late psychoanalyst and psychic investigator Nandor Fodor personally investigated the Jones case and was of the theory that the majority of all poltergeist cases only lasted for a few weeks at most. He stated that poltergeists were not “ghosts” but were bundles of “projected repressions” and because of this, quickly wore themselves out.

Fodor was a groundbreaking researcher in that he held that poltergeist activity is usually associated with a teen-aged member of the family, usually a girl. Thanks to exhaustive research that had been carried out by eminent investigator Harry Price, most outbreaks were noted to fall around the time of puberty for the youth in question. When Fodor investigated the Jones case, he concentrated on the presence of the Jones’ 17 year-old grandson, Ted Pauls, who was rarely mentioned in the newspaper coverage of the case, but was essential to Fodor’s theory.

Dr. Fodor found Ted to be a shy, brooding young man who had left school at the legal age because, according to his family, he was so brilliant that his classes bored him. According to Fodor, Ted had likely been the cause of the outbreaks as his desperate need for attention for his mental abilities had created a “psychic disassociation”. This meant (according to Fodor) that “the human body is capable of releasing energy in a matter similar to atomic bombardments as this force was apparently able to enter soda bottles that had not been uncapped and to burst them from within.”

Was this the answer in the Jones case? Dr. Fodor believed it to be but regardless, there were no outbreaks and the case was soon all but forgotten. Today it remains merely a footnote in the paranormal annals of Ohio.

(C) Copyright 2002 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.

Return to the Ghosts of the Prairie Home Page