In 1986, the Tallmanns moved into what they thought was the ideal family home. They had just bought a house in a new development in Larabee St, Horicon, Wisconsin. The family consisted of Allen, a factory foreman, his wife Deborah, their two year old daughter, ‘Maryann’ and Deborah’s son from a previous relationship, seven year old ‘Kenny’. Deborah was expecting her third child at the time the family moved into the house. The family were natives of Wisconsin, with plenty of relatives in the area around Horicon.
Not long after they moved in, little things began to niggle. The children would frequently fall ill, while Deborah and Allen would fight over trivial things. ‘Sara’, their second daughter was born in November of 1986. Deborah had become ill during the pregnancy and was ordered to rest, meaning her mother and sister would come over to the house to help out. It soon turned out that neither liked the house and couldn’t wait to get out, Deborah’s sister actually becoming unwell when she visited.
A kitten purchased by the family shared the same feelings towards the house and would go insane, zooming across the living room and climbing up the door. This usually became marked at sunset. Allen shut the cat into the bathroom, but it would howl. One night, after Allen let the cat out of the bathroom, she went bananas again and hung from the plaster of the wall in the living room. She soon went to a new home.
And one night, an evening out for Allen and Deborah ended on a jolt when their babysitter claimed she and ‘Kenny’ witnessed a rocking chair move by itself whilst they played a game in the kitchen, something Kenny also confirmed.
When ‘Sara’ was seven months old, Allen and Deborah moved her and older daughter ‘Maryann’ into a room together, the girls sharing bunk beds. They took over ‘Kenny’s old room, he moving into a smaller bedroom. That night, ‘Kenny’ witnessed a radio alarm clock given to him by his parents behave strangely, the dial moving by itself. His parents, upon hearing this, took the alarm clock away. Afterwards, ‘Kenny’ found it difficult to sleep in his room, complaining of strangle noises.
All of the children were having difficulty sleeping by mid 1987. They would always waken when their parents went to bed and refused to sleep for a long time. ‘Maryann’ had apparently gained an imaginary friend whom she would often talk to, which soon turned to nightmares, scaring her. Things were sporadic at this point. Peace would descend for a week, before another of interrupted sleep due to the children’s problems and Deborah and Allen fighting. Allen later attributed his behaviour to the house. Deborah also began noticing things around the house, such as the garage door opening by itself and she began to suffer nightmares, which she was never prone to previously. The dreams seriously frightened her.
Allen had a strange experience of his own one day whilst painting the basement. He had left his paintbrush lying across the paint tray while he went for lunch. When he came back, he found the paint brush upside down in the paint pot. No one else had gone down to the basement while he was gone. After he cleaned the paintbrush and carried on with his work, he thought he glimpsed a shadow flit across the basement. After that he called it a day.
Another incident in the basement saw the window mysteriously being removed and left on the floor. No valuables had been taken in what appeared to be a break in, including Allen’s expensive hunting rifles. Add to that, anyone coming into the basement would have had to have used a chair to get in and out the window – but no furniture was displaced. Deborah became too scared to go down to the basement afterwards. The family bought a dog following this for security. He too acted strangely, though remained with the family, unlike the cat.
Significant was the experience Allen’s mother had when she looked after the children one night after Allen became ill with a bad sinus infection and had to be taken to hospital by his wife. The senior Mrs Tallmann shot out of the house as quickly as possible on their return. Like Deborah’s mother, she didn’t like the house much either. And also had had a strange experience the night Allen went to hospital. She later told him that she had been dozing on the living room couch that night when she looked at the window to find a pair of red eyes staring in at her. They were still there when she blinked.
Just before Christmas 1987, Kenny saw the apparition of a small, hideous old woman while he slept in the living room. He woke his mother and both were awake for the rest of the night. This led to a conversation between Allen and Deborah about what was going on in their house. They concluded that all the strange phenomena had to be a ghost and they called in their Pastor Rev. Wayne Dobatz. He told the family he believed that they were haunted by the Devil, which scared them. He asked if any of them had been playing with the Ouija board, or held a seance. He also suggested the family may have been cursed. To counter the haunting, Rev Dobratz asked the Tallmann’s to attend church regularly every Sunday, which they hadn’t been doing up to that point.
The Tallmanns couldn’t quite believe that this was the work of the Devil as Deborah didn’t think God worked in this way. However, they did as the Pastor asked. Dobratz also blessed the house, which kept everything quiet until a few days before Christmas. The family also played religious music and said prayers at Dobratz’s suggestion, ‘Kenny’ again saw the apparition of the old woman when sleeping in the living room. He had been sleeping there because her was too afraid to sleep in his own room. By this time, the children were too scared to be alone without their mother and followed her everywhere, including the bathroom. Every night was bedlam as the children were so scared. One night Allen had enough and screamed at whatever it was to leave his kids alone and pick on him.
Not necessarily a good idea.
Soon after, in January 1988, Allen came home from the night shift. He heard a strange wind and voice calling to him from the garage. He saw red eyes staring back at him, similar to what his mother had seen. Allen returned to the front door and turned again in response to the voice calling him. What he saw was this:
He flew out of the room, so terrified that his lips were blue. Deborah thought he was having a heart attack. He was too scared to tell her anything and could only weep. Deborah called Rev. Dobratz to come quickly. By time he arrived, the family were in chaos, the girls upset at the sight of their dad crying, though they hadn’t seen what had happened. The pastor urged them to leave and stay with family.
The Tallmann’s returned the next night. Their pastor came over, leading them in prayers and communion. He again told them to play religious music continuously. It was a quiet night. Not so the next however. That night, Allen was on night shift, so his teenage nephew came to stay over. Things began peacefully enough. The children played with their cousin and went to bed. The cousin lay on the floor of the girl’s room reading them stories to help them settle down. However, the same apparition that had visited Allen reappeared to his nephew. Everybody became hysterical. ‘Kenny’ said to his mother that the apparition was in the girls’ room. Deborah threw things into a bag, rounded up the family and left. They arrived outside Allen’s work, and Deborah refused to go back.
Shortly after this, the Police Chief of Horicon got wind of what was happening. Word soon spread about the haunting. The Police Chief, Doug Glaaman, decided to investigate as a haunted house wasn’t quite something he expected. He spoke to the family and became convinced by their tale. They stuck rigidly to the details everytime he questioned them about it. Glaaman also managed to liase with the press when they became interested with the story and did what he could to protect the Tallmanns. The police were also needed to deal with the crowds that descended on Larabee St to see the haunting for themselves. This was partly thanks to tales of a snow blower driving by itself and walls dripping blood.
Eventually, the Tallmans sold their house and left Horicon. The new family who took over the house haven’t experienced anything for themselves. The most in depth account of the haunting can be found in two books of the Haunted America Series by Michael Norman and Beth Scott. It was also featured in Unsolved Mysteries a TV show. This is currently available on YouTube, linked here.
Various websites, and Unsolved Mysteries, place the blame for the haunting on the bunk beds used by the girls. Whilst other sites claim it was a hoax. Either way, as stated in the Unsolved Mysteries piece, the bunk beds were apparently destroyed.
Sources: “Something Evil On Larabee St” in Haunted Heritage & Haunted America by Michael Norman and Beth Scott Tor Publishing, 2002 and 1996 respectively
“The Tallmann’s Ghost” Unsolved Mysteries (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71QbivwPuqc)
Forum post in http://www.paranormalsoup.com (http://www.paranormalsoup.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=9255)
Larabee St Haunting Paranormal Suite 101 (http://jill-stefko.suite101.com/larrabee-st-haunting-hoax-real-a33496)