A couple of months ago we ran Part 1 of our interview with Elaine Mercado, author of Grave’s End, which details her family’s experiences while living in a haunted house. Part 2 picks up just after we had a somewhat unsettling experience of our own during the course of the interview – unrecognizable popping noises coming through the phone from an unknown source. Be sure to check out Part 1 to refresh your memory of that moment along with all the strange happenings Mrs. Mercado and her family lived through at Grave’s End.
Scott Johnson: Okay, I guess it’s up to me to get things rolling again. Elaine, you said that your ex-husband absolutely did not believe the house was haunted.
Elaine Mercado: Right. He thought we were nuts.
SJ: What does he think now?
EM: Well, we don’t talk that much about it, but toward the last few years that he was there, he did have some experiences. He saw a very dark presence coming and enveloping him in bed. He saw a skeletal woman sitting at the end of his bed. He had a few really nasty experiences.
SJ: Does he tend to rationalize those as dreams now?
EM: Yes. Yes, he does.
SJ: So we’re still listing him as the non-believing type.
EM: Yeah. I don’t think he wants to believe. That’s okay.
Uncle Creepy: Now what about your neighbors? What was going on with them? Had you given them any indication of what was happening?
EM: That’s where I was going with the conversation before we had that interruption. So, we’re back to my mother finding that little dress and Lorraine seeing the lady in the little dress. Right?
EM: Now, at some point – and this was after I was writing the book – I got a lot more confident as the years went by in that something was in our house. I wasn’t crazy; my kids weren’t nuts; something was in my house. So I decided to ask my neighbor about it. I had already asked my neighbor on the left, and he just laughed at me so I didn’t bother him anymore. But the one on my right . . . we were closer. I asked him, “Tony, did anything strange that you know of ever happen here?” He said, “What took you so long to ask me?” He said that he used to baby-sit there when he was a teenager, and he heard the footsteps and all the noises. Then he refused to baby-sit there anymore. Not just that, but he said a little lady died upstairs in my daughter’s bedroom.
I asked him what he meant, and he said that the old couple’s son married a very, very petite woman. She was 18 or 20 at the time, and Tony was a young boy. He remembers how “wonderfully tiny” her waist was. She was standing on our stoop posing for pictures when they got married. Then she moved in upstairs on the third floor, which eventually was Karen’s room. So apparently a few years later this woman died. Some people said it was a heart attack; some people said she hit her head on the night table and had an aneurysm. He never really got the story straight.
So, that’s three objective corroborations of this lady in the little dress. Then, after hearing the story, how sad was I about it. Oh my God, there was pain here. And sadness. And Tony also said that at some point the son also died. Someone said drowning; someone else said heart attack. So now I zoom back in my head to the old woman who lived here before who was very sad. Well, why shouldn’t she be sad? Look at what happened in her life. So she wasn’t just a little old lady anymore. She was that sadness that I felt looking at her that day.
SJ: Do you find that people who find out about your book or people that know who you are in one way or another come up to you with their own paranormal stories?
EM: Yes. I get letters all the time. I think as I told you, Steve, the other day, a lot of them are thank you letters. 99% of them are thank you letters. You get an occasional . . . you know . . person who thinks they were evil or say I should have cleaned them earlier.
UC: What was the after reaction of the book? I’m guessing you wrote it as sort of an exercise for yourself. Just to get everything down on paper.
EM: I sat down with my brother one night, and Karen and Christine were there and my now husband Matthew, and we were talking about all the different things that happened. My brother got out index cards and started writing. We had about 145 different things happen. He said, “Why don’t you write a book?” And I said, “Because I never wrote one!”
UC: Drastically different.
EM: Exactly. But the way it evolved is I wrote a 50-page synopsis, and then he said, “What about this? What about that?” So I wrote a little bit more and a little bit more, and then after a while had a book. It’s funny. When I sent it out, I didn’t get an agent. I got the Writer’s Digest and picked five publishing houses. I mailed it out, and I got two contracts back, which I thought was interesting. I had no idea that there was that sort of interest. The first person, by the way, I told “no.” They wanted to publish the book, but they didn’t ask me anything about myself. How did they know I wasn’t just making it all up?
UC: A kook?
EM: Right! A kook. I think they took care before they actually said they’d publish the book.
SJ: From what I understand, they have a very good reputation.
EM: They do. I think they’re a good publishing house, and I liked the way they handled it. Of course, when I said “no” to the first people, the kids were like, “Ma, no!”
SJ: Has there been any backlash to writing Grave’s End? Have you gotten any negative responses to it?
EM: I recently met someone at a party who just looked at me and said, “You wrote a book, right? That’s all bullshit, right?” I told him it wasn’t, but the way this person looked at me . . . I don’t really like being looked at like that. Like I’m a liar. But most people, that’s not their reaction to it. The great majority of people really seem to have enjoyed it. They want to talk about it. They want to talk about their experiences. Mostly they want to share with me something that happened to them. And what’s been a learning experience for me is the amount of people who have had suffocating dreams, the amount of people who have seen balls of light. I thought this was much more odd, that these things only happened to us, but there are many people out there these things have happened to. They just don’t say anything. They think people will think they’re crazy. And I think that’s why most of the communication I have had is in the form of thank yous. I think that’s great.
SJ: I actually have that question written down.
SJ: Do you think that phenomena such as the ones you have encountered are more common than believed?
EM: Yes, much more common. From the letters I’ve gotten, from when I’ve done some radio interviews with call-ins, yes – people have had these experiences. A lot of them are very quiet about it. A lot of people tell me I’m the first person they’re telling about this kind of experience. It happened when they were a child, or it happened in a particular room of their house, or something like that.
UC: What about curiosity seekers? Have you gotten people who were actually ballsy enough to look you up in the phone book and come to the house?
EM: People have arrived at our door. They would knock on the door and ask for a tour. I’d say, “We’re in the middle of dinner. We live here. And there’s nothing here anymore!”
UC: That’s nuts.
EM: Yeah. They’d say, “We came all the way from . . . “ and I’d say, “I’m sorry, but I don’t give tours of our home.” And then a lot of people called on the phone. Some would ask if I was telling the truth. Some of them just wanted to say “hi” very nicely. Some of them want me to go to their house and help them.
UC: And some of them contact you for website interviews.
SJ: You have your own private life.
UC: Okay. So you had the cleansing done. For those who aren’t familiar with the term “cleansing,” you may want to explain it a little bit.
EM: Well, Hans Holzer came to the house with the medium. Her name was Marissa Anderson. They walked in, and she proceeded to just go right to the rooms that were the most troublesome.
UC: What were her impressions of the cellar in particular?
EM: She went right down there. She said there was a vortex. Now, this is the way it was described to me. There was a vortex, and it was a well worn path. A spirits’ path that’s somehow an “in and out” from this world to the next. If you read the last pages of the book, you know I accept some of the stuff, but some of the stuff I don’t. But then, after going through every room in the house, after sensing different entities in the house, she did go up to Karen’s room and said that a young person had died there. She felt by that person’s own hands. I had never heard that before, but who knows? She felt that there were definite entities trapped there in the house who had passed on, and she went to every room and kind of felt it out. That’s the best way to describe it. She had gone to the basement initially because she said that was the trouble spot. She sat in the dirt room!
SJ: I remember reading about that.
EM: If you said, “Here’s $20,000; go sit in the dirt room,” I’d have said no way!
UC: That would be like a Fear Factor thing for me.
EM: Right. It’s equivalent to eating a roach!
SJ: I can imagine the look on your face.
EM: You know we got this all on tape. My brother’s a photographer, so we got it all on tape. He set up lights, and we filmed the whole cleansing. We have five hours on tape. She propped herself up and sat in the dirt room, and Hans stood next to her with his camera. She was talking in there. She put her head all the way in it. She started taking the dirt and running it through her fingers. She was asking them questions like “Who are you? And who are you?” What she was reporting back to Hans were words that she said sounded like German. But when Hans heard them, he said they were Dutch. The interesting thing is that where the house is, the neighborhood used to be called “Dutchtown.” She was saying she felt there were entities there that had been trapped there by some intentional or negligent means.
SJ: These would be the three that were trapped in the cave-in?
EM: Three men and two women. They were trapped in some sort of a cave-in. She was ushering them to the . . . to the light. She kept saying, “It’s okay. You’ve passed on. You don’t know you’ve passed on. This is where you need to go.” And Hans would say something like, “Call your mother or father. Call to someone that you love.” Obviously, everyone they knew would have to be dead by this time. “Call to someone that you know and ask them to help you.” They did this for maybe two hours.
Like I said when you asked me about Hans, this was done very reverently. This was a very serious thing. I’m in the basement having this personalization experience going, “What the hell am I doing down here? There’s a psychic in my dirt room. Hans Holzer is here.” You know? I had five or six people around me, and I look out. It’s a bright day. It was in February, it was snowing, so it was very bright. And I’m thinking, “This is so strange that we’re having this experience!”
SJ: Now you said at the end of Grave’s End, and I’m quoting here, the house is “for the most part free from paranormal activity . . . “ What qualifies as “for the most part”?
EM: No suffocating dreams. Have not had one since the night before Marissa did this. Marissa and Hans. Not one. Neither I nor my child.
SJ: What did happen?
EM: Really not much. I didn’t feel watched anymore. We had . . . the best way to describe it would be something from the corner of our eye. Thinking we see something. Thinking perhaps we’d smell something like roses. We’d smell farts.
SJ: What about the person in the uniform that rang your doorbell?
EM: That was after. Yeah. It’s about six o’clock in the morning, and I hear the doorbell ring. The first thing I think is, “Where’s my kids? Where’s my husband? I just spoke to my brother this evening, so everything’s fine.” I look through the peephole, and I see someone standing by the tree by the gate, the tree I described in the book. I see his feet, I see his legs, I see his sweater – one of the blue sweaters a policeman would wear – but I don’t see his face. I wasn’t afraid, though. I don’t know why either, but just honestly, I wasn’t afraid. I said, “What is this? Who are you?” Right while I was watching him, he just disappeared. So I went back to bed and said to Matthew, “I just had a very strange experience.”
SJ: How did you manage to go back to bed after that?
EM: He was outside. So I didn’t worry.
SJ: I wouldn’t have been able to sleep.
UC: I wouldn’t have slept for about 13 years.
UC: He saw him too?
EM: He felt the presence of a policeman or some sort of law enforcement something upstairs on the second floor. So Matthew lit some sage, and we did our own “go to the light” thing.
And my daughter also saw someone coming downstairs. I forgot about that. That was shortly before we left.
You know what else happened?
UC: There’s more?
EM: You know. You read the book. I’ve touched on . . . what . . . maybe 10% of the stuff? Remember the sheets on Karen’s bed and that whole deal?
Anyway, my brother’s friend, who’s not psychic or ever had these experiences, was helping us with moving. He was unhooking our TV. He’s the only one in the house. He says that something came up behind him and was very upset that we were leaving. He told himself he was imagining it and continued with what he was doing. He said he felt his whole back get that creepy feeling, and this thing – whatever it was – was getting very upset. So he turned around and said, “I’ve got nothing to do with this!” And he left. He told us later, and I said, “I’m sorry you had that experience.” But that was something that didn’t happen to any of us; it just happened to him.
UC: What an amazing story! How are you and your daughters doing now?
EM: Interestingly enough, Karen is getting married shortly. She and her fiancé made a horror film that just got accepted in the Independent Film Project in New York.
UC: What’s the name of the movie?
EM: The Forgotten Road. It’s a wonderful little film, and I’m very proud.
We all felt very badly to leave the house, I must say. But my mom passed, and we needed to stay with my father. It was an interesting house, but you know something? After being out of there for six months, it was a heavy house. Even though there weren’t overt things happening anymore, it was a heavy house. A sad house I think.
UC: What are you feeling personally now? It must be new to live without all that heaviness.
EM: It is new. If someone told me I was going to feel this way, I would have said, “No. What do you mean? Everything’s fine over here.” Especially after the cleansing. But it really wasn’t 100% fine, and now that I’m out of there . . . One night I was down in this basement, and it was about four in the morning. We had just moved in, all the boxes were around and all that, and I was trying to find a blouse. I’m climbing on these boxes, and I have a flashlight with me. It dawned on me. I turned around and said, “Wow! I feel really fine here.” I didn’t realize it at first. The longer that I’m not there, the longer I’m saying that it didn’t get all okay [after the cleansing]. I think the haunting was dealt with very well by the psychics; it’s just that there was something wrong there. Not evil or anything – just wrong.
UC: Something imprinted maybe?
EM: Something imprinted that was very sad.
SJ: Have you spoken to the people who moved into the house after you?
EM: No. They are kind of breaking it down, so nobody’s there yet.
UC: They’re gutting it?
EM: I think they are.
SJ: I wonder what that’s going to stir up.
EM: They’ll come knocking on the door that they found bones.
I keep thinking about the old man and the old woman. They lived there for 40 years. They’re not alive for me to ask them, but I did call the nephew and the niece. I called them up at some point and wanted to ask them if they experienced anything like this. I said, “Hi. I just have a question. There are some strange experiences.” She hung up on me.
UC: To me, that says yes.
EM: I didn’t owe her any money for the mortgage or anything. That was all paid. I just wanted to ask her, and she just hung up. And remember my ex-husband had his office up there. He had about five people working for him. Nobody experienced anything. I asked them all.
UC: Maybe they didn’t feel comfortable. Maybe they were afraid of ridicule.
SJ: Or maybe it was the same defense mechanism your ex-husband had.
EM: It’s possible. Also, don’t forget about the ghost down the block, the little boy.
SJ: The one who fell in a well?
EM: Yeah! He was kind of like a mean little ghost.
UC: This is going to come out of left field to our readers who haven’t read your book. Can you explain what you’re referring to?
EM: Sure. Karen knew the son of my neighbors from a few doors down. One night they were talking, and she told him her mother had written a book about the house and so forth. He said, “Oh my God! Don’t you know about what’s going on in my house?” He started telling us that ever since he was a little kid, there would be this other little boy that looked so solid his father used to think it was him.
SJ: And he’d get blamed for the stuff this little kid did.
EM: The little boy would do all these mischievous things, and Mike would go, “I didn’t do it!” He would get blamed. My friend, the wife there, would just sit on the stoop because sometimes it was very active, and she didn’t want to go in the house. I told her I was getting the house cleaned and all that, but they didn’t want to do that. The husband felt that this is where the little boy died – they heard somewhere that a little boy drowned in a well – so he belonged there. The whole area of Grave’s End used to be farms. They didn’t have a well on their property, but they always put their Christmas decorations out in this particular space for him. One time one of them sunk, and when they were digging it, they discovered a . . . well. Look at this! So that’s another little coincidence. But the husband wouldn’t even consider it. Recently a daughter-in-law moved in, and the little ghost is not happy. According to my friend it ripped off a “welcome home” sign and that sort of thing.
UC: Which leads one to wonder. I actually grew up near Grave’s End, and Elaine lived very close to us. I experienced some really weird stuff of my own. It could be that entire section is haunted. Maybe there are just a lot of families there dealing with things they don’t know too much about.
EM: I’m sure there are.
UC: Have you or the girls re-read the book recently?
EM: What happened is that we were moving and packing everything, and Karen had some time off, so she said she was going to read it. They didn’t even read it when it came out in 2001; they read the drafts, right?
I’ll share something with you. There’s a certain point in the book where Karen thinks she’s talking to Christine. They’re on the bunk-bed. This is one of the first things that happened. So, she’s talking to Christine, and then she sees Christine come in! So she looks toward this . . . thing that she thinks is Christine. That night when we’re talking she tells me, “Mom, I forgot about this. I never told you the expression on the face. The only way to describe that expression was ‘Ooh, you caught me’ and ‘Ha ha! I can frighten you!’”
UC: Oh wow!
SJ: Welcome to the family!
Our thanks to Elaine Mercado for providing us with this fascinating look into her family and their experiences in Grave’s End.
–Uncle Creepy and Scott A. Johnson
Original Concept Art by Bill “Splat” Johnson
Order the book Grave’s End here!
Check out our review of Grave’s End here!