The Horror Honeys: Cielo Drive: Murder, Spirits, and Skepticism

Cielo Drive: Murder, Spirits, and Skepticism

A Monster Honey Exploration by Jennica

On August 8, 1969, residents of beautiful Benedict Canyon in star-studded Beverly Hills, California were robbed of their safety and security as it became the scene of one of America's most notoriously brutal murders. 

Come nightfall, Charlie Manson's cult family members Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, and Patricia Krenwinkel were led on a "creepy crawl" by fellow follower Charles Watson to 10050 Cielo Drive where they were met at the door by a very pregnant Sharon Tate. The Valley of the Dolls star and wife of Roman Polanski was accompanied that night by her friend and former lover Jay Sebring, screenwriter Wojciech Frykowski, and Abigail Folger, of Folger coffee fame. 
10050 Cielo Drive, the final home of Sharon Tate.
As midnight of August 9th crept upon the deranged group, the phone line was cut and Tate and Polanski's former sanctuary was invaded. Tate and Sebring were bound by their necks and violently stabbed multiple times. Folger was ordered to surrender seventy dollars in cash from her purse in one of the bedrooms before later meeting her deadly fate outside the house. Finally, as Frykowski struggled to escape the grasp of Atkins and inch his way toward the front door, Atkins repeatedly sliced his legs until Watson stepped in and assisted Atkins in taking his life with two powerful gun shots.

Over the years, the iconic Beverly Hills home had been occupied by noteworthy socialites, including indie rock musician Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails who built a recording studio within the house that he called "Pig" as tribute to the Manson family. The final resident of the home, Reznor moved out in 1993, claiming that the home's unsettling past was too overwhelming. It was only one year later that the real life Murder House was torn down and rebuilt, and the address was respectfully changed to 10066 Cielo Drive. Renamed "Villa Bella," the home is now unrecognizeable and its history has been essentially left behind. However, the house next door is believed to resonate with the ghostly presence of the murder victims as well as some less familiar spirits.

In celebration of the Poltergeist (2015) Blu-ray and DVD release on September 29th, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment called upon yours ghouly to join them for a spiritual exploration inside the home of David Oman, approximately 150 feet from the famed murder scene. Oman's house has been the subject of a number of paranormal television shows such as Ghost Hunters and Paranormal Witness, and it has been credited as the "Mount Everest of haunted houses" as well as "Disneyland for the dead." Among some of the unexplained occurrences in the house, Oman and the investigators and mediums who have visited his massive abode have claimed to hear disembodied voices, see people who disappear before their eyes, and inanimate objects moving on their own. 

"My house is haunted and it's totally awesome!"
Despite being a non-believer of most things in the religious or spiritual realm, I do believe what I can see with my own two eyes and what I can hear with my own two ears. Thus, from my own experience, I do believe in ghosts. But do I believe that there are ghosts in David Oman's house? I teamed up with the professional paranormal investigator Alejandro Dominguez and psychic medium Lilia Willis in search of solid evidence.

I ain't afraid of no ghost.
My first stop on the tour through the proclaimed spook house was a place that-- haunted or not-- gave me chills: the basement. Unlike most basements that are typically full of old boxes and Power Rangers collectibles (... or is that just me?), the basement of the Oman house contained a vast mound of dirt that spread halfway across the room. Lying in the middle of the pile was a bundle of flowers, which Lilia explained was her way of blessing the spirits of the deceased Native Americans whose remains were supposedly scattered under the dirt. So, not only does David Oman reside near the Tate murder scene, but he is also sitting atop a Native American burial ground... just like in Poltergeist. Forgive me if my skepticism is showing. 

What happened in the basement, however, might have persuaded me a little further to believe that something unusual could be stirring in the house. The first gadget that Alejandro introduced was a standard Electo-Magnetic Field (EMF) device. Anyone who has seen a televised ghost hunt has seen one of these babies, but for those not in the know, an EMF device measures measures the radiation strength within a given area. Depending on how many lights on the device light up, it could indicate the presence of an invisible visitor. 

As it was pointed out to me throughout the night, there seemed to be something about me that made these glorified TV remotes go crazy like a moth to a flame. While in the hands of the person next to me, the device remained inactive. However, the moment it was placed in my palm, it lit up like a Christmas tree. It could be that I'm more susceptible to experiencing supernatural events... or somebody was playing a sick joke on me. 

But time and time again, this seemed to be the pattern upon my entry into each room. The next room that I entered had a wide window facing the back of the house and Lilia referred to this window as the "vortex." It was explained that the vortex is like a portal or doorway for spirits to enter the realm of the living... again, just like in Poltergeist. At this point in the tour, I'm was beginning to think these paranormal experts might have seen a few too many horror films but I continued to stay alert for anything that I could not explain away.

Static Electricity Detector: Fart at your own risk...
The next room that I graced with my presence was a downstairs bedroom that was fully decorated to resemble Carol Ann's room in the movie. There were teddy bears and clowns strung about, a tea set sitting atop a short table, and the room looked like it was doused in Pepto Bismol pink. I took a seat at the foot of the twin sized bed and sure enough I found another EMF device lying right next to me, and like clockwork, the lights on the device began to dance when I sat down. Certainly, it could not have been the same exact device from before. Maybe these things were just motion sensored? But that still would not explain why they were only lighting up for me.

They're heeeeeere.

Because ghosts haven't learned how to text...
And as if the flashing lights weren't enough to leave me inquisitive, the sound of loud stomping footsteps began and they were coming from the room directly above me. A staff member went to check upstairs and returned to report that no one was in that room or anywhere up there. But she's getting paid to say stuff like that. ... Right?

It was then nearly midnight and time for the final phase of tour: the seance. While I've experienced my share of "seances" with friends at sleepovers when I was a tiny monster, I had never been to one led by a professional. The other guests and I sat in a circle with Lilia at the head of the table and nothing but the sound of silence in a dark room with a mere candle as our point of focus. Each of us took turns calling out the name of a deceased loved one with whom we wished to communicate and more often than not Lilia's responses were either conveniently vague or completely inaccurate. In the case of my own loved one, well, he didn't even make it to the party. And that guy loved to party.

Eh... close enough.
Seeing as the paranormal is about as close to spirituality as my personal non-believing belief system gets, it had been a lifelong dream of mine to visit a real life haunted house. I spent many Fall seasons making my rounds to all the mainstream Halloween attractions, but I still wanted a taste of the real thing. Perhaps my mind was not left open enough to the possibility that David Oman's house could contain some uninvited guests. Or perhaps the ghosts just weren't biting that night. Regardless, the bloody history behind the Cielo Drive home is enough to give anyone nightmares, but my skepticism remained intact as any evidence of spirits that I gathered appeared insufficient.

Have you experienced the paranormal? 
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