We sat down with Ed and Marsha Becker, who shared their terrifying story of their apartment's haunting in "The Tenants," the Season 2 finale of Paranormal Witness.
Did you believe in the paranormal?
Ed: I didn't at all, so I was a total non-believer. I believed everything had a logical reason for happening. And when we first moved there it created some tension between Marsha and I because she had some belief but I didn’t.
Marsha: I won't say that I had past experiences other than I had feelings and felt there was something more. And especially when my grandmother passed away, she was in Texas - we were very close and I knew she'd passed away before I heard. So it's just little things like that.
So Ed, what finally made you believe that what you were seeing was paranormal?
E: I guess it was just a combination of things. One of the things I don't know if I never made clear - my background was bad, I was an abused child, and I lived in an orphanage. I'd never lived in a home, so I didn't know what a home felt like. So when things out of the ordinary happened, I blamed Marsha, that she was seeing things. But it was finally the old lady on the stairs -- she was at the bottom of the stairs and I said to Marsha. "Can you see her?" And she said, "Yeah." Everything else I was entertained by - big deal that they can move a lamp. Could they move a refrigerator? I antagonized them.
Do you still see the supernatural?
Ed: We're sensitive to it. Once you live with the presence you know all the signs, you'll get chills. I don't need any of those gauges.
Marsha: You just become extremely sensitive to it and that never goes away.
Ed: I think 90% of ghosts are benign, and they're not trying to get attention, they just want to be left alone.
So what about that other 10%? Do you think they're not at rest?
Marsha: I think it's a whole slew of reasons.
Ed: I get hundreds of emails on my website. But I don't have an answer and having known a psychic and an exorcist - suicide seems to be a common denominator. But there is no definite answer.
Marsha: And sometimes it's just pure evil. The frightening part is not knowing what they're going to do next, but knowing they are going to do something.
Ed: As a writer I'd love to interview a ghost. Is there temperature? Is there time? Are there other ghosts?
Are you glad you went through this experience? Or do you wish it had never happened?
Marsha: I think everything happens for a reason. I'm a big believer in that. And I would not say I'd want anyone to ever live through something like that.
Ed: Marsha believes in karma. And what gave us such despair in our youth has helped us help people all over the Earth. So it's worked out real well karma-wise, but myself as a man, I wish it never happened. It put me at a place of despair that I've never seen since and it almost tore our marriage apart.
Marsha: But that was 46 years ago.
Ed: But I'd like to erase the whole thing. I was writing my book just for the family, and my daughter had me update it and she actually published it. Now I spend a couple days a week doing emails that come in from the Philippines to the U.K. It's really something.
Marsha: I think a lot of that is that people see the honesty in it. It's not Hollywood with blood on the walls.
Ed: Twenty years ago I had an agent that wanted me to write a book, and I sent him the manuscript that he passed along to a publishing house. They wanted more spooky. Which I refused. I could write fiction but this was a recounting.
Marsha: But I do have to say, I always felt bad that he really didn't tell my story, so there is going to be book two.
Ed: Dan White [the tenant] surfaced and he told me a story that I don't want to tell because I don't know if he'll allow me. But if he allows me to tell the story of how this led to his divorce, it's definitely a good couple chapters. And I've the book from a selfish perspective so there will be a book two.
Is there a kind of group therapy for people who've lived through paranormal experiences?
Marsha: I wish we there were.
Ed: On my website is a link to paranormal societies. I emailed a girl last night who thought she had activity and I said she may - you can go to that site and go to the state and you can choose paranormal investigators from there.
Marsha: If someone approaches us we can tell they just want to talk.
Ed: Some people are just traumatized.
Marsha: I make prayer beads and rosaries and I send them all the time, if people would like. I don't force religion on anyone. But people get comfort out of them.
Ed: Our house has a lot of crucifixes.
Marsha: It's just something I can do. Ed can do other things and I just get a feeling that people need comfort.
Ed: I do email therapy but that's about it. I have talked to people over the phone quite a bit and I've helped them through their problems. I helped a fellow in Florida whose mother was in a nursing home and who told me about a series of horrendous events. I told him how to clean out her room [or spirits]. I tell people to go to Wal-mart and get a sensor light - if you plug it in at night and the light turns on its own ...
Marsha: You've got something. Sometimes it's a relative, or it's just a visit.
Ed: When this happened to Marsha and I, we ran for the hills. Paranormal was not a subject for discussion back then - I don't know if it was even a word. This was pre-Amityville Horror and pre-Exorcist, but we didn't talk to anybody. So when I talk to people today, even though the subject is more popular, there are still people who are reluctant to talk about it.
Marsha: We personally, NBC Universal and an Illinois psychic research investigated us to make sure we weren't drug takers, and we were normal, boringly normal. A young couple that just had a baby, just wanted to get on with our lives. It was investigated very thoroughly and they came to the same conclusion that it's real.
Ed: I spoke to Carole Simpson [the news anchor who covered the Beckers' story] who wrote us back a very kind letter, but she said she would never forget that piece and she's so happy we're still together.
Do you know the status of the house today?
Marsha: It's for sale again, as far as we know.
Ed: We never looked back. I only visited once, two or three years after we sold it. The house was unkempt and that's the last I'd seen of it for forty years. But with people asking about it, I've seen how it looks; there's a new face on the house and for some reason a new garage, which had me curious. But it pretty much is the same. It's got a history of being for sale. Since we sold it, I wonder how many years has it not been for sale?
So it's safe to say this still affects you today?
Ed: When you see a solid apparition as we did, it affects you your entire life. We're going out for Halloween this year and I'll tell you - if I see 500 people out, I'm wondering, are there 500 there, or 498?
Marsha: You don't trust your eyes.
Ed: If I see someone walking along the road at night by himself, I'm checking the rear view mirror to see if he's still there.
What advice would you have for someone interested in the paranormal?
Ed: Don't buy these gauges, study something else.
Marsha: It's not romantic, it's not fun, it's something you can get entangled in. And there's not much you can do about it. You can exorcise a person but not a house.
Ed: Unless you solve the ghost's problems - there are castles that have been haunted for hundreds of years because people can't solve a ghost's problems. They're not game players - I live for the day that there's a human who has the talent to communicate with a ghost. Is it pleasant? Is it not pleasant? When someone can answer those questions - that will interest me.
Marsha: The two worlds cannot co-exist, it's like two positives or two negatives. You can't help them and they can't help you, all you can do is create tension. I don't care if it's the friendliest ghost in the world, it's unknown. Their reactions are different because they're not alive anymore, and they have no fear because you can't hurt them. Spirits don't know time. The malevolent ones will torment you - they want you to go away and they win most of the time. They have patience. They have all the time in the world.
Ed: A medium contacted me. She'd read the book - and she saw the thread that Myra was nuts and then Dan's wife became tormented and then my sister, and the woman after, Mrs., Scott. And the medium said "you named them and addressed them but you couldn't see them." She thinks the spirits [were] of the people who originally owned the land and drove everyone nuts.
Marsha: I came out of it very sane.
Ed: I ain't saying nothing.
Where are the others now?
Ed: Tom Valentine is still writing books. My real estate man, Ron Benson, disappeared. My sister never recovered so she lives as a recluse. She's been diagnosed with schizophrenia and epilepsy. She's been a mess and spiraled down to a bad place. She divorced her husband, and he passed away a few years ago. My brother lives near us.
As for William Derl-Davis, I saw the notice of him being killed in the late '70s. George, my blind friend, lives with his wife.
Dan White and his wife divorced soon after moving out, but what he went through is one of the things I'm anxious about - I held him at arm's length when he lived with us, just as landlords do. I didn't want to have a friend relationship. So I didn't know his story. And his story blew me away. He's remarried with children and has a happy life, but his story was just amazing. We only lived 20 miles apart and I'd searched all over the US and Canada for him. You try finding someone named Dan White!
As for Marsha and I, she's stuck with me. We're very blessed with two wonderful daughters and four wonderful granddaughters.
Marsha: Being a grandparent is our reward. And our grandkids love spending time with us, and there's just nothing better than that.
Ed: Now after being on Syfy, Nana and Pop Pop rock.
Witnessing is Believing. Season premiere of Paranormal Witness June 5 at 9/8c
A malevolent entity follows a woman and her daughter as they move from one apartment to the next.
Season 3 of Paranormal Witness is coming in 2013!