INTERVIEW — TAPE #6, SIDE #1
Q: Mark Gordon Russell (interviewer)M: Maxine Mc Wethy (the mother)W: Bill Mc Wethy (Maxine's husband)T: Twyla Eller (daughter)B: Brenda Bell (daughter)F: Marla Ward (nicknamed Fae; daughter)S: Steve Eller (Twyla's husband)Y: Megan Eller (Twyla's daughter)D: Desireé Bell (Twyla's daughter, age 7)E: Eric Carrell (one of Kim's sons)
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: I BEGAN TAPE RECORDING AGAIN AFTER MICHAEL SUDDENLY SPOKE. THIS NINETY MINUTE CASSETTE WAS USED AT THE SLOWER SPEED AT MAXINE’S HOUSE FOLLOWING THE FUNERAL AS WE HAD LUNCH. BILL, WITH HIS ENFEEBLED VOICE, IS ESPECIALLY DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND AT TIMES WITH THE CLAMOR OF THE GATHERED FAMILY GOING ON AROUND US. ONLY SEVERAL UNATTRIBUTED SOUNDS ARE NOTED FOR THIS TAPE.)
T: You heard that, didn’t you?
Q: I wasn’t listening. (“I’M BORED”) I was just thinking.
T: Oh my Gosh.
F: He said that he was sorry about Ray and he was there.
M: Michael, were you there? (“I WAS”) Did you come to the funeral? (“UH-HUH”) Michael, were you there? (“YES”) You know he was now.
T: That was funny.
F: Golly, his voice was so plain.
Q: What did he say?
M: He said he (“UH-HUH”) was sorry about Carlton.
T: “I’M SORRY ABOUT CARLTON.” (“THANK YOU MICHAEL”)
F: Thank you, Michael. That was sweet.
M: Michael, were you there at the funeral?
S: He was.
M: Who brought all the food?
T: The church women.
M: They did?
T: Lettuce and bread.
M: And fruit salad?
Q: (to Megan) Hi.
T: Say hi, Mark.
Q: Hi. You behaved pretty good, Megan.
T: Yeah, she was pretty good. Except she wanted her nanny. (“HEE HEE” “UM-HUH” “HURRY HURRY” “YOU KNOW I’M GOING TO TAKE OUT THE TRASH”)
M: She was good when she sat up there. She kept grabbing Aunt Nellie’s umbrella.
T: Jesus, Mother.
( . . . )
M: What’d you do? You only laugh when you do something naughty.
Q: The bird’s laughing too. (laughs)
T: I knew I’d get over here and think about murder . . . There’ll be pop when Steve gets back soon. Water.
Q: Let me have — well, I’ll have a little bit of tap water before.
T: Yeah. That’s what I’m going to drink.
F: Where’s Kim?
T: They’re still out there.
M: They’re out there talking.
T: Desireé will tell me if they —
M: Yeah, they will.
T: Ooh, that’s good with ham in it.
F: You suppose there’s any more of them potato chips?
T: I don’t dare take them away from Megan.
M: He can help himself.
F: I gave him one first. Company first. (laughs)
Q: Thank you.
T: Bill worries himself to death.
M: (to me) He’s family now. You’re part of our family.
Q: It’s a nice family. I would love to be part of the family.
T: We went to pass Whitey Marlin after you passed him and he got in our lane. That old man. He was going to back up. He got in our lane when we went to pass him. We got run off the road and went into the ditch.
Q: I thought he was going back and forth.
T: He don’t need to be driving.
Q: He was scary. He started going into us as we were passing him too.
T: Was that when you swerved over into the ditch?
Q: Just a little. Did you see that? He started coming toward us when we were passing.
T: When we passed him, oh man. We’ve been living on sandwiches, haven’t we? It’s too hot to cook.
Q: It’s so funny. My mom says to me, “Don’t eat. Don’t eat.” She’s so weight conscious. I’m not that weight conscious.
T: We aren’t either.
Q: She isn’t one to talk. The standards she puts on other people she doesn’t hold for herself. The tomatoes are home-grown, aren’t they? (to MEGAN) You’re cute.
Q: I’ll have one. Thank you. Ummm. Very good. That’s okay. One’s enough. You keep it. You have it. That’s okay. No, thank you. You want a tomato? Tomato?
T: A chip.
F: You want some of that?
Q: She wants to share.
M: I can’t even find any forks.
F: Kim called down here crying.
T: Well, that’s about the same.
Q: How did Michael’s voice sound in terms of the timbre of it?
W: Real high-pitched.
Q: Did it sound the same as the mewing?
( . . . )
Q: So Twyla’s other daughter was here when this first started?
M: Carlton lived here too until he got sick.
Q: And what children over the years have lived here? Just Desireé?
M: Bill, me, Twyla, Desireé, Brenda and Carlton —
Q: And that was 1990? When did the family situation change in terms of who was here?
M: Oh dear.
Q: It’s sort of tricky — constantly evolving probably.
M: I think Kim moved in for a little while.
Q: Yeah, and then she moved pretty quickly. When was that? About six months after it started?
T: No, she was already gone.
Q: She moved out soon after it started? But she worked here — she would come here a lot then?
M: She wasn’t living here.
T: She wasn’t living here, though.
M: And Kim was here when it started.
T: No. She wasn’t even here when any of it started.
F: I was in France when it started.
Q: So do you see any specific periods in terms of the evolution of it? It’s easy to put some of these elements together in terms of the local mythology and everything but some aspects are very complex. I can ask you some questions over the telephone and I can always come back out here again.
T: Oh really?
Q: I think this probably would be better as a script than actually as a book — in terms of the details being not nearly as expansive enough for an entire book at this point. Plus, there’s more money usually in a screenplay.
T: Cool. So do we write to each other or what?
Q: Well, yeah.
M: That’s going to be kind of hard to do.
Q: Not really. I’m just trying to figure out how to work with you because until I see the contracts I can’t figure out how we’ll be able to work together.
T: You have to find it. You need to try and look for it. I’ll look for it in my house too when I get home.
Q: When Michael comes, do you usually have to call him first? Like yesterday he started throwing things after you called him. Do you have to do something like that usually?
T: Not every time. Most of the time I can’t do that.
M: Well, I don’t think this is the contract, is it?
W: This is the only contract they gave us.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: BILL IS REFERRING TO A COPY OF THE LMNO PRODUCTIONS, INC. PARTICIPANT AGREEMENT FOR “PUT IT TO THE TEST” THAT MAXINE FOUND. A FEW MINUTES LATER, DESIREÉ COMES OVER TO THE TABLE AND SHOWS US THAT HER EAR HAS BEEN PIERCED FOR AN EARRING.)
D: Mama, I got a tiny, teenie hole in myself. See right here. See, Mama?
Q: Ouch. Did you put alcohol on it?
D: No. I — uh-uh!
Q: You should.
T: That’s what you ought to do.
D: No way.
Q: (laughs) It will only hurt for a moment. I definitely see both screenplay and book potential for your case. And it will be easy to include this in my history book of the talking poltergeist. (“NO”) I don’t know what the legalities involved are. I might add six or seven pages about your experiences to the book — like an article. That would get people interested in your story.
T: (to Desireé) We are talking and I said “No.”
Q: Eventually, I definitely could be able to do a script and a book. There is enough material. I wasn’t sure at first if there would be but with the history of the area and everything. This really needs someone like me who can put it all together.
M: (about the LMNO participant agreement) This is just an affidavit.
Q: Is that all it is?
M: That’s all it is.
T: That’s my copy.
M: Is it?
T: That’s it. That’s what they gave me. Is that what you’re looking for or what?
Q: This is all you signed?
T: No, well — yep — that’s all it is.
Q: Didn’t you sign something that said why you were paid for some money up front? Like for $500?
Q: What is that?
S: It said how they’ll pay you $500 up-front and so much more if they were to make a movie.
Q: Well, where — is this it?
S: No. That isn’t it.
Q: This is just a release for the appearance on the special. This doesn’t pertain to a book or screenplay.
S: I don’t remember seeing that.
Q: Is this all you signed?
T: I signed the other one but this is the only one they gave me a copy of.
M: I hear Michael laughing in the back.
Q: Can I borrow this? I’ll send this to the attorney just in case. It’s not signed so it doesn’t really mean anything. I can fax it to my attorney from the hotel so he’ll have it on record.
T: We signed one of those and another thing.
S: That was the release you signed. And then we all signed the other. The other one technically paid $500 up-front, $1,000 if they were to make a deal and $6,000 . . .
Q: I need to see that.
S: I don’t know if they gave them a copy of that.
Q: Legally, I think they have to. That’s all you’re going to get is $7,000?
T: Oh gosh.
Q: Is $7,000 the full amount or is there also a percentage on top of that?
S: No, they never put anything about a percentage in that.
F: Michael’s got my glasses.
Q: I would love to talk to him.
W: It was $500 up front.
Q: Well, the contract might not pertain to all areas. If it does, I maybe can still work with the producers but I would probably want to restructure the deal because you really should be getting a percentage.
S: You keep hearing him?
Q: I just heard it.
F: He’s got my glasses.
M: He’s got her glasses.
S: He sounds like he’s over here somewhere.
T: He’s yelling.
Q: I heard a high-pitched “MEWMEWMEWMEWMEW.”
F: Where’s my glasses? Michael, I need them. I can’t see.
M: . . . that’s why he was laughing.
Q: But what is he? (laughs)
M: He hid an egg in one of these one time.
F: Where’s my glasses? I can’t see.
S: He’s real good about hitting people in the back of the head with an egg. Did you tell him about the time he hit me in the back of the head with an egg?
T: I guess.
S: We were up there in the hallway at the bedroom doorway.
Q: Yeah, that was one of the incidents I can see as a scene in the film. I also think the screenplay should include his talk about the other spirits.
Q: The evil spirits. You named some of them. How many were there exactly?
T: Evil spirits? Just one or two.
Q: Did he name them?
T: John Hathaway.
Q: John Hathaway the child killer.
T: I don’t think he ever named the other ones.
Q: He just described them as “THE BAD SPIRITS.”
Q: You gave me a few names too that came to the house that day you saw the hand prints on the window.
T: Did I?
Q: Well, what are the names of some of the others?
T: Tammy, Sarah, Leader, Katie, Ricky, Nicky.
Q: You said that there were always five letter words — six-letter names or five-letter names you were saying.
T: No, the guy that was here said those. He said five five-letter words and got rid of the spirits. The second word was “opera.”
Q: Oh right.
T: The third was “sator” and I can’t remember the other ones.
Q: Who was he? Was he like an exorcist or something?
T: No, he was just a stupid guy but he knew what he was doing. He had some witchcraft book.
Q: Well, that would be a funny scene in a film.
T: Oh, it was hilarious. Josh —
Q: A witch doctor-type character.
M: He had a book on it and everything.
T: He wanted to be in the show. Josh did — because he’s gone through a lot of this with us. But then when it come down to it he said he didn’t want to be known as a kook for the rest of his life.
S: He’s a kook anyway.
Q: (laughs) Yeah.
S: He thinks he’s Jesus.
Q: At one point, I did a screenplay version of the Bell Witch story and showed it to a few producers. The fact that it wasn’t contemporary was the most uncommercial aspect of it. Since this is a contemporary story it’s much more commercial. It’s considered commercial.
( . . . )
T: I am the glue that holds this family together.
Q: You are.
T: At that funeral, Megan — I was holding Megan and she took and pulled my shirt down and I bet my boob flew out and everything. I was so embarrassed. (“LOVE YOUR THROAT KID YEAH”)
T: One of them kids, either Kim’s or mine, threw a bottle and hit Aunt Milly in the back.
S: Megan did. Heather had a bottle and Megan grabbed a hold of it and threw it.
T: Oh God. I didn’t know if it was mine or hers.
F: I didn’t take my glasses off in the car, did I? No, I had them on when I came into the house.
Q: Well, Maxine, what I might do then — when I have an opportunity — is put you in touch with my attorney. Maybe you could call him collect or something. The fact that you don’t have a copy of what you signed makes it very difficult. I can probably work with these producers if I have to but I don’t think it’s fair that you’re only getting $7,000.
M: That’s what everybody’s told me.
Q: Maybe this is just a deal memo saying that the full terms will be negotiated later. It might be possible that you can still get a decent deal out of the contract you’ve signed; however, these producers aren’t film producers. They’re television producers. In selling scripts the big money can be made with features and not television.
W: What’s funny is two of the main people involved in this no longer work for LMNO. Paul and Jonathan. And they told us everything verbally.
Q: If they didn’t give you a copy of what you signed, it might not be binding. Basically, what I have to be able to do is work out questions and get answers from you in specific areas, which will take at least a few weeks. But first we need to have a contract signed. What it will entail basically is I’ll be giving you 50% of the net grosses that I get so if I get $3,000,000 you’ll get a million and a half.
W: And if you get $100 we get $50 of it.
Q: Right. Of the net. It will be after my expenses because attorneys and agents are expensive too. I have enough contacts in the film industry that there are opportunities. The thing I would want to do is auction the script once there is a script. Even now I have enough information to do a script based on the burned-down orphanage and some of the other things that happened. It wouldn’t be a documentary account, which would also be fascinating, but it would be a mixture of dramatized incidents from yours and other poltergeist cases. However, I want the end result to be more factual so I would want to spend more time getting anecdotes. I also want to research Indian lore and the mythical background — the folklore of the county because we have UFOs, bigfoot and so many other things.
T: We’ve got it all.
B: We have deer and wildcats and kangaroos. (laughing)
M: Even kangaroos.
Q: There are a lot of fascinating things that have happened around here.
W: I didn’t realize that the story for Fortean Times had happened until I —
Q: Until you saw the magazine. You’re always stuck back there in the bedroom. (laughs)
W: I never signed nothing.
Q: There was a lot of good information in that.
W: She didn’t sign nothing.
Q: For the Fortean Times magazine?
Q: Well, you don’t have to. You don’t have to sign anything when you deal with journalists and reporters. You can’t copyright factual information. You just need to know what you signed. You need to obtain a copy because the time when I can go out and get a big money deal would be around the time the special airs. Also, I have contacts that could get you interview bookings with national evening news shows —
T: Oh gosh.
Q: — as opposed to the morning news shows. I think the Fortean Times article was great. The magazine doesn’t have a big readership. Only people interested in the occult and the unexplained are probably aware of it.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: DESIREÉ BRINGS FAE HER GLASSES.)
F: Everything Michael takes something of mine — she finds it every time.
Q: Where was it?
T: She’s good at finding stuff.
F: I know she is. I told her, “He took my glasses.” She said, “I can find them.” She went back there and came back out here with them. Remember when it hid my purse at their house and she knew it was under the bed?
T: Mom’s good at finding stuff too.
Q: Yesterday he took this business card off the wall and put it outside.
M: The kids found it outside.
T: (softly to me) I can hear him again. Anybody but Mark.
W: When do you need the forms signed?
M: He doesn’t have anything started yet.
Q: I have to see the other contract first. Eventually my attorney will send you a contract. It will be long because it would specify percentages and be very detailed.
W: Right. It’s still readable for our attorney.
Q: Obviously, the story isn’t finished yet. Maybe it never really will be over. Twyla, do you have much activity going on where you live now? Is it pretty much this house where it happens? That’s what I would think from other cases. It’s usually the weather-boarded houses.
S: We hear him a lot more since we moved — a lot more now than we did in Paden. He talks down there. She talks with him. Not me.
T: Desireé, were you all out back in Brenda’s room?
T: Mama. Where did they get the bubbles?
M: Out in the yard from that woman who dropped by. I heard Michael laughing just then. Hear that? “HEE HEE HEE.” I can’t do that. The words bubble out of his throat pretty fast.
Q: I understand he actually converses very clearly with various people. Do you have affidavits from people? She said that she was collecting affidavits from people.
S: People who came out here and saw something?
S: There are too many.
M: They interviewed some of the people that came out here.
Q: Are you still working on getting affidavits? You have so much to deal with around here.
M: I know it.
Q: You don’t have much time to go out and get affidavits.
M: I don’t have any left, anyway.
W: . . . the two producers . . . (“PRODUCERS”) . . . lacks originality because this . . . (“SHHHHHH” “THEY’LL LIKE THE SHOW”)
Q: These producers aren’t writers so they don’t understand how to deal with the information. They don’t have enough information yet. I think they’re waiting for something else to happen —
Q: — which may or may not happen.
S: He told Twyla that. I remember he said, “We’d probably have to have something really big happen.”
Q: That’s not true. Something big has already happened.
S: Like the time when they thought they got it on camera.
Q: They’ve overlooked the comedic elements involving the people who have come out here. Right now I could write a fictionalized version of your case in the tradition of The Exorcist.
M: So much has happened that people have seen.
Q: A documentary account would take more time. I certainly have enough information to do a screenplay but at this point it would be fictionalized. I want to get more information about family interaction. There could be a humorous element in terms of what happens to a family when they encounter the media. The horror element in some of the anecdotes is another popular element.
T: (frantic) Desireé!
T: Those are new clothes. Man.
W: It’s gotten so bad here the last three or four months I couldn’t sleep in that bedroom any longer.
Q: You can’t?
M: Well, Bill, he thinks —
Q: No, I don’t. Not anymore.
M: You don’t?
Q: Um-uh. No.
F: Did you change your mind about it?
T: Did you? Because I was wondering about that yesterday.
Q: In the other case that was true but I don’t know if the same thing is happening here — at least, from what I’ve seen.
F: Could something be happening, though?
Q: It’s possible. That’s what happened in the other case.
T: (to Megan) Don’t take it off or I’ll spank your butt.
( . . . )
Q: I recommend you stay away from reporters and shows who specialize in the area of the unexplained such as “Encounters.” Even Barry Taff. He’s still a producer.
S: He’s not with the other producers. He’s just more of a researcher.
Q: I think you need somebody who’s not affiliated in the industry.
S: That’d be hard.
( . . . )
F: I told you she’d be at the house.
M: I asked her what she was looking for. She was looking for something. I don’t know. This stuff stays in that room. I don’t care.
W: I asked them, “Now when do we get the big money?” And they wouldn’t answer. But that’s not much up-front money at all. They wouldn’t even give a loan.
Q: But the people that you were dealing with haven’t made films before.
W: I know that.
( . . . )
Q: What did you say?
F: They had this little boy spirit and she didn’t know if it was Michael who’s doing all this. She said that he told one of her little girls to catch the house on fire. And she did.
F: The little girl lit a match.
Q: Which house was this, though?
M: One in back of this one. On the hill.
T: If it’s true.
F: Yeah. Sometimes people hear about something and they want to get in on it too.
Q: Yesterday, I saw a lot of what was going on.
F: He seen some stuff?
M: He got hit with a nail.
F: I remember he was here when this table went crazy.
W: I still want him to go to the cemetery at night. Twyla and Steve went there last night at 9:30.
M: He should’ve done that. Can he do it tonight?
T: I don’t think I can go over there tonight. I can’t put up with this stuff that goes on around here. I’m going to end up fighting somebody.
T: It’s ridiculous.
Q: If a screenplay evolves, the family will be the main sources for the characters. There’s no reason to change how many people were living and things like that.
T: Kim said she was living here at the time but she was not.
Q: She was just visiting or something.
T: They were not living here when this first started. Were they?
Q: This is what I need to find out.
T: She told him she was living here but she wasn’t.
F: I know I wasn’t because I was living in Stratford where I was —
T: It was in Tupelo.
Q: But Kim has always been close to the family in terms of visiting.
T: Oh gosh yes. (laughs) Every day.
M: In fact, they come over here and wake me up in the morning.
T: That’s right. And she gave us all the once over and everything. That’s why I don’t see her even being in on it.
Q: It’s almost like a “Crimes of the Heart”-type situation. Did you ever see that movie with the three sisters?
F: It seems like I have.
Q: Wasn’t Sissy Spacek in that?
B: (to Fae) There’s elephants all over your top.
T: And they’re on your purse.
F: Both of them are a novelty. I’ll get you one like it, though.
T: Where’d you get it?
F: At this church.
B: I’m going to go out there and have some bottle of booze somewhere.
Q: Just remember (“NO”) this participant agreement is just a form. I’ll go ahead and show this to my lawyer but I don’t think you have to worry about this.
M: Remember that last time when you got hit with that white button?
W: That was the day you were late for school.
F: He threw a button?
Q: Well, I got hit in the head with a nail. It didn’t hurt or anything.
F: But did it kind of shock you or something? Did you go “Aaaahhh”?
Q: I’d been seeing things flying all day so I wasn’t too surprised. We went to look in the attic.
M: He heard Rachel talking last night.
F: Oh my God.
Q: In the back of the car. I was taping at the time too. I don’t know if it will show up on the tape.
F: Unless Michael gets a hold of that tape and destroys it like he did one of Mom’s.
Q: No, he didn’t. I checked them last night when I got home and they were all fine. When I played the tape back yesterday, you said that you heard the meow sound on the tape but I don’t know if I can hear it or not. They do have the technology now where they can enhance recorded sounds. They can even take tapes that have been recorded over and get the original recording.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: BILL MUMBLES SOMETHING ABOUT THE ATTIC AS OVERLAPPING SPIRIT WHISPERING IS HEARD ON THE TAPE HERE.)
Q: I’m sure there’s a lot going on in that attic.
M: That’s not nice, Megan. Hey. Don’t you tell me say “Shhhh.” Or I’ll spank you.
Q: (small laugh)
F: She’s getting ornery, isn’t she?
T: Shut up, Megan.
Q: I thought I just heard him. I never know. I’m probably imagining things now.
M: I wish Kim would pay me back my $20 that she owes me.
T: If you don’t say nothing, you won’t get it back.
M: I ain’t doing it no more.
T: Yeah. Right.
W: They did it to me needing gas.
M: No. You volunteered that. They didn’t ask for it.
T: You don’t volunteer me one.
M: He’s trying to get them settled over there but they’re not going to stay over there. LMNO sent them $350 to get moved out of here so there wouldn’t be any kids out here while they were here.
Q: They do that. If your neighbors start making noise, they pay the neighbors off to be quiet. I don’t think Michael does things when he’s asked to do things. I think he’ll only do things —
T: That’s right.
F: There’ve been people here who’ve sat down right here at this table and something disappeared off this table. It would happen so quick that you wouldn’t even see it happen.
Q: I told you about what happened when I called my brother. Do you think that’s possible?
T: Yes, it’s possible.
M: Did you hear about that?
Q: When I went home last night I didn’t think Michael was listening. I called my brother in L.A.
T: Twin brother.
Q: He was half asleep at the time. All of a sudden he says, “My bed is shaking.” He sounded very upset. The bed is an old antique. It doesn’t even move during the earthquakes.
F: Oh my gosh.
Q: I know. Do you think it’s possible?
M: Oh yeah.
W: He likes to do things like that.
Q: Yeah but — yeah. Okay. Yeah.
T: He’s really bizarre.
M: I’m just about convinced he can do anything he wants to do. When I had a telephone and I was talking to Twyla, he cut in and we asked him where he was. He said, “I’M STUCK BETWEEN OKLAHOMA AND ILLINOIS.”
T: So was I.
F: It’s just like that night he got my purse. I found my purse behind the deep freeze and it was empty. I went out there and he was burning everything in my purse.
F: Even a $20 with my electric bill in my purse. He burned it, my bills, everything.
Q: What did he say about that?
F: He didn’t say anything. I asked him why he did it and started crying.
T: He’s yelling too.
Q: I heard him. It was like whispering. (“NO NOT WHISPERING”)
F: Michael, what are you whispering about? Speak up. Oops. I forgot — you can make him mad.
Q: It sounded very guttural. It was like a very hoarse “URRRRRRRRRRRRRR.”
M: That’s Rachel.
Q: But it was different from what I heard last night. Does Rachel come here?
M: I think she’s starting to.
Q: But I don’t think it ever would be picked up by a tape recorder. It sounds like it’s there and not there at the same time.
F: Yeah, it’s weird. Very weird.
Q: Did you hear that?
F: I heard it. Chills, chills, chills. How long does it take you to write a book like that?
T: Years and years.
Q: No, it doesn’t. It won’t take years and years.
T: It would me.
Q: No. Because what you do is work from the information you get. Some people write books very quickly. Stephen King writes his books in about three weeks.
T: Good grief. I didn’t know that.
Q: I write press kits for Paramount. There are times when I’ve averaged a hundred pages a week of editing.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: BILL SUDDENLY BEGINS CRYING.)
Q: Oh, dear. You know, the family story is just as interesting as the poltergeist story.
Q: That’s what a lot of these New Age producers don’t understand.
T: Fae and I were talking about that.
Q: The human story.
T: The ‘people that are alive’ story.
M: (to Bill) I know you did.
T: (about some mail) I get one of these about every month. Ed McMahon’s really popular around here now.
Q: The odds are so astronomical, though.
Y: Little Papa.
W: Little Papa and Big Papa.
M: That’s what the grandkids called them. Carlton was Little Papa and Bill was Big Papa.
Q: Oh really? I think that’s great.
M: That’s what they’re going to put on that tombstone.
F: He died in spirit . . . a long time ago . . .
Q: (to Bill) So you were friends with him too?
W: We were just so close.
M: They would sit out here in the yard and just yack all day long together. (laughs)
T: That’s great too — being close to your wife’s ex-husband . . . The shame was that he didn’t have any family left. He didn’t have anywhere else to go.
Q: Was Carlton here too when the poltergeist activity started?
W: Oh yeah.
F: Things happened to him, too.
M: Something of his was gone one time and he got a ladder to go up in the attic and get it. Michael hollered, “YOU BETTER NOT.” Carlton was going up there anyway, though.
T: “I’LL KNOCK YOUR HEAD OFF.”
M: “Carlton,” I said, “you better get down. He’ll knock your head off.” Carlton got down but the ladder went up. (laughs) Michael meant business.
Q: What’s interesting is how casual you are about it too — like when he spoke to you today, you said, ‘Oh he just said this.’
F: We’re used to it. Five years.
M: He’s just part of everyday.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: THE OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS ALL SAY “YEAH” SIMULTANEOUSLY ON THE TAPE HERE.)
F: He’s part of the family. Little faker.
M: Can you throw us something, Michael? Throw us an egg.
Q: I think Twyla has to say it. (laughs) I think he only listens to Twyla.
W: . . . $100 bill.
F: Yeah, change this $20 into $100.
T: Oh my God. That would be weird.
W: He did something like that.
Q: Oh yeah. I’m sure he did.
M: He could.
Q: Sure he could. He could do anything he wanted.
F: I want my $10, Michael. I’m broke. I need some cigarettes. Please.
Q: I think that, also, my being here would probably stop him from —
E: No, it wouldn’t.
F: I don’t think so. Because there’s been other people here that he’s —
M: Brenda, you remember when Michael said that Paramount was going to make a movie?
F: He said he was going to make you all rich.
Q: I do work for Paramount but I wouldn’t necessarily sell the film rights to them. That’s an agent’s decision.
T: Yeah, that’s true.
F: Michael said he was going to make Mom and them rich.
M: Now make that film. Film!
Q: Couldn’t hurt. There is enough story material here. It might not be a documentary account. Especially in the context of every case that I’ve researched. Again, it doesn’t have to be literal. I mean, I would hope to do a literal rendition at some point. To tell a story that has a beginning, middle and end at this point you’d have to formulate some of it and I would borrow some things from the other cases. At the moment. We’ll have to wait and see what happens. Certainly, we understand the overall picture. So what do you think is the most remarkable thing that he’s done so far? If you were to say the one most remarkable thing. What do you think it was?
M: That perfume he got me one time.
T: Remember the girl named Trouble we were talking about?
M: After Frieda and Twyla came back from the Wal-Mart in Copan one time and Frieda went home, Michael said, “MAXINE, I GOT YOU SOMETHING.” And I said, “Where’s it at?” And he said, “THE ICE BOX.” I looked in there and there was a bottle in a box. And it was Trouble perfume.
Q: And what about —
M: (to me about Megan) She wants a hug.
M: Give him a hug. Give her a full hug.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: I HUG MEGAN.)
Q: I noticed the bridge that’s called Leader Bridge. Do you think that ties-in with the name Leader?
M: That’s what the kids in Ada say.
Q: Why was it called Leader Bridge in the first place?
M: That’s Leader Creek.
Q: I wonder why it was called Leader Creek in the first place. I’ll maybe research that. So what time should I stop by tomorrow? Maybe around 2:30?
Q: Okay. I’ll try to call my attorney later.
W: Whatever’s handy for you.
Q: I’ll try to do some other research too. I don’t know if the Chickasaw Nation Building is open on Sunday.
W: It won’t be open.
M: There won’t be nothing open.
Q: Maybe Monday I can stop by too because it’s right near my hotel. I probably won’t have time to come by here on Monday because it’s a little bit of a drive to Oklahoma City.
M: What time does your plane leave?
Q: I think it’s like 11:30.
M: In the morning?
Q: Yeah. Well, it’s a long flight. You’ve got to go to Dallas and then to L.A. I definitely will be writing to you. When I get home I’m going to do some more things — continue working. But I have to figure out if I need a contract with the other producer and what’s the best course of action. The main consideration is not money. It’s integrity and quality.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: THE COCKATEEL BEGINS TO SING IN THE BACKGROUND ON THE TAPE HERE.)
Q: If I go to this producer and structure a deal with him where I work with him, the frustrating part of it could be that even if I get a good deal with him, you still will only be getting $7,000.
M: Golly, do you hear him holler?
B: Call the bird center.
F: Can’t you cover up the cage? That bird’s about to get on my nerves too.
M: Don’t you hurt him, Michael.
Q: You know when he said that was he here or was he in the other room? Should I go in and see if he says anything?
M: I heard him holler.
W: . . . there’s a good story here.
Q: There is. And I really want to do it.
M: He knows it. That’s why he’s here.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: THE FAMILY GIVES ME DIRECTIONS TO THE CHURCH I HAD PASSED WHEN I WAS WITH TWYLA FOR TOMORROW AND ALSO TELL ME ABOUT ANOTHER INDIAN BURIAL GROUND NEAR TUPELO. I DECIDED TO VISIT ROUND LAKE BUT HAD TROUBLE FINDING IT AND ENDED UP JUST DRIVING AROUND ON SUNDAY BEFORE RETURNING TO THE HOUSE.)
Q: I’ve got a feeling this whole area has got a lot going on.
T: If he wants to go right now, he can go out there.
W: Yeah. I’ll take him.
Q: Do you really want to do that? Sure. I’ll do that.
M: Bill needs to go for a ride before —
Q: Okay. Okay.
M: Put that in your pocket. He might still get it.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: I HAD PLACED A $20 BILL ON THE TABLE TO SEE IF MICHAEL WOULD TAKE IT.)
F: Naah. If he ain’t going to get it by now he probably won’t. Michael probably appreciates it, anyway.
Q: Dare I ask you to keep it for all your hospitality — you’ve done a lot. Why don’t I just leave it here for you? You’ve been very good to me.
M: Well, you’re the best. Thank you. Can you get out there by yourself?
Q: Let me make sure I have my camera. Okay, great. Thank you.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: BILL AND I GO TO THE CAR.)
Q: Doggies — little doggies!
W: See that little Chihuahua there. That’s the one that bird tries to imitate all the time — its barking.
( . . . )
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: THIS TIME IT IS BILL WHO TAKES ME ON AN EXCURSION IN THE VICINITY.)
Q: . . . what the reason was. I said, “Well, you know, it might be related to the spirit” because of another famous case where that was true. But after seeing you and everything I don’t think that’s going on at all. Because there just would be no reason for it to do that.
W: No. The biggest reason that my health is ailing, I guess, is water, the coolers, the draft. When you sleep down here at night you hear air conditioners. I intend to correct that problem.
Q: Well, I think attitude has a lot to do with things.
W: But I’ve had a stroke.
Q: Right. But I mean you’ve —
W: I lost one side.
Q: Right. But, see, sometimes — I mean I know other stroke people who are totally paralyzed on one side.
W: And I didn’t lose all the use of —
Q: Right. Exactly. But some — you should —
W: They took my vital signs. This side is 100% This one over here is no better than 40%. And sometimes it’s even past 60%.
Q: What else is ironic too is that the other famous Bell poltergeist case involved the funeral of the father of the family and Carlton, whose funeral was today, is a Bell and he was Twyla’s father.
W: He was Twyla’s father.
Q: And there might be some family link somewhere down the line. Maybe there isn’t, though. Who knows?
W: They really couldn’t even say they’d be surprised if there was anything pertaining to that being a haunted house.
Q: Well, I would say — (laughing) — I would say so after yesterday.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: AT THE TIME I THOUGHT HE MEANT HIS AND MAXINE’S HOUSE BUT ON THIS EXCURSION HE WAS TAKING ME TO SEE A HOUSE THAT HE THOUGHT LOOKED LIKE IT COULD BE HAUNTED. HE HAD MENTIONED IT TO ME ONCE BEFORE.)
W: I lived in California many a year. I lived in Orange County. I lived in Anaheim.
Q: When did you live there?
W: In the ’60s and the ’70s.
Q: That was a nice time to live there.
W: I worked in downtown L.A. for the city at 1660 Washington Boulevard . . . It’s a ways out here but it’s a pretty drive.
Q: I’m totally enthralled. I love every minute of this. I live near downtown L.A. so I never see anything like this. This is great. Today Twyla seemed a little bit exhausted with everything.
W: They’ve all been through a turmoil. It’s been a long, slow death for Carlton.
Q: So now its finally —
W: He’s been approximately three years going through the final stages of this. It took a lot out of them. Right before that, I lost my brother, Jimmy, and he was his provider also. It wasn’t too long after that he was diagnosed with cancer but they found out it was too far gone to do anything more so we didn’t even know just how long we were going to have him. It got to the point where he had to be put into an institutionalized home.
Q: Plus those funerals can be expensive too. The family probably can use the money right now.
W: Oh yeah. Everything that we signed — in one way it was lucky we hadn’t been paid the full amount.
Q: So things have gotten pretty tight for a while?
Q: I like the family. Everyone seems to be good. There’s no one that really seems like they’re really mean in that way — no one’s perfect.
W: Well, God made our body from a bone in his right side.
Q: We stopped here yesterday. Twyla and I did. I even walked over there and took a picture.
W: All right.
Q: I even crossed over the barbed wire.
W: I keep seeing the bushes there move.
Q: Oh, well, listen, there’s — I — just — I mean — I haven’t — but — I mean it — you know — it’s when I want to speak to him that I ask you a question so you can in turn remember certain events — and the events that they remember like that — the cellar — I mean, that’s so — that’s pretty evocative. And I know then that I can definitely see the elements are all beginning to come together so I’m really going to try my hardest to work this out.
W: Well, I was in their car the day he was telling us all those things about —
Q: What was he telling you?
W: — being the old home site.
W: And that cellar he played in when he was a kid. We went on way up there to —
Q: Is that where he died?
W: — that old Indian church. He showed us where he used to swing on the swing.
Q: Did he die at that house that we just passed? It burnt down or something?
W: It’s the old cellar — roundhouse cellar. It’s by this little Indian church.
Q: And his mother killed him?
W: His mother supposedly killed him when he came back — chopped his head off with a knife. But then he lies so —
Q: Another time he said he was from Saturn. But a child would say that he is from Saturn. It’s sort of a childlike lie, isn’t it?
W: Yeah. And he would make the Saturn signs on the doors and so forth. We looked this up in the dictionary and saw what it was.
Q: Twyla drew a little face that she said he had drawn and I’ve seen that exact drawing before.
W: With little hairs.
Q: When I go home I’m going to go look through my books and try to find the source.
W: He claims this is what he looks like.
Q: I think it was another famous haunting. It’s sort of creepy. Now yesterday when I was driving with Twyla all of a sudden a rock came flying from behind us and hit the window. You must have seen that like a hundred or a thousand times. That’s pretty convincing.
W: If you can get Frieda to talk, she can tell you a lot of true things that happened to her. A lot of different incidents going on with Michael. Her husband kind of shuns that kind of thing.
Q: It’s ungodly. I can just hear him. Would you like some water? I have some water here.
W: I’m fine. Why don’t you stop beside there and back to the right. I just wanted to show you a spot that if I was a ghost I would be in this old house.
Q: If I was a ghost I would choose this area to live in. It’s so secluded and quiet.
W: This particular place just makes you want to take a fishing pole out of the back of your car and start fishing. It’s that cabin over there. This is Rock Creek and right up there is an old house with some old cars. An old mansion and some old Fords that go back to the ’40s and ’50s. An old Chevrolet too — just laying around in the yard. A little farther to the back left.
Q: So he said that was the house where he used to play? Is that where he lived?
W: That’s where he lived. The cellar. Right over here and back to the left. Just hang to the side. Go this way around here.
Q: Through here you mean?
Q: Oh I see. To the left again.
W: Now in just a little bit stop on this foot bridge and look at the water. You might want to get out and look at it right here.
Q: I’ll take a picture. So now what is this place called?
W: This is Rock Creek.
Q: And what did Michael say happened to him here?
W: To my knowledge nothing ever happened here.
Q: But it’s an Indian burial ground or something?
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: AFTER I TAKE A PHOTOGRAPH WE CONTINUE ON.)
W: Go on up a ways and I’ll show you that old house when we come back.
Q: It’s lovely out here.
W: Pretty soon you’re going to see the old house. See the old house? See the old car?
Q: I see a cow too.
W: An old man lives here.
Q: It looks pretty spooky, doesn’t it?
W: You’ll have to turn around right up here.
Q: Oh, okay.
W: Right in here. It looks like a haunted house would look.
Q: I’ll get over here and take a picture. Or should I stand here. What will be the best place?
W: You can do it wherever you feel like doing it.
Q: Is that a good picture? Let me go up and take a picture up close.
( . . . )
Q: So now what did you say about this place? Why do you like it?
W: If I was a ghost this is where I’d haunt.
Q: This is where’d you be. Yeah.
W: There’s something about that old place that just sets it off.
Q: But what I found in my research it’s always —
W: Look down here at the bottom of that hill now. That’s where you stopped.
Q: All the famous poltergeist cases have always occurred in weather-boarded houses.
W: Right there.
Q: Oh my God. That’s beautiful.
W: You’ll want to come to a stop now. In normal weather conditions . . .
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: WE GET OUT AND I TAKE ANOTHER PHOTO, LEAVING THE TAPE RECORDER IN THE CAR.)
W: We’ll go back a different way and I’ll show you another old house that I would use if I was to haunt.
Q: Has anything bad ever happened over here?
W: They’ve heard noises in there — that bridge. We go down this road here. This is back country you don’t normally get to see.
( . . . )
W: It’s privately owned by various people within Indian territory ground. These are county roads we’re on so you’re not trespassing —
Q: That’s good.
W: — on anybody’s rights by taking shots while driving through the area. Isn’t it pretty, though? Michael has never bothered us . . . he hasn’t been real busy.
Q: Yeah. He seems to be a very good-natured ghost or whatever he is. Poltergeist.
W: Whatever. Now isn’t that a pretty sight? See that old house sitting over there?
Q: Yes, I do.
W: Wouldn’t you use that as a ghost house if you were a ghost?
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: LATER WE BEGAN TALKING ABOUT WHERE I SHOULD STAY THE NEXT TIME I VISIT THEM AND BILL RECOMMENDS A PLACE.)
W: Coalgate bed and breakfast.
Q: There’s only one of them in the city?
Q: I’ll do that. Thank you.
W: They only have about twenty-two rooms to it but —
Q: I know how to get there now so that’d be easy.
W: — they can charge you like $29, $24 a night.
Q: That’s all? Wow. I’m paying double that where I’m staying now.
W: They give you free breakfast out of it.
Q: Wow. One of my friends is going to the Venice film festival and said I could stay for free if I pay for my plane ticket but I don’t know yet if I’m going to go or not. I like (“NO”) Venice but I don’t know. I don’t like film festivals.
W: That’s Bob Cody’s lot. Cattle. We’re getting almost back to the house now.
( . . . )
W: . . . he just moved this TV aside like he knocked my pop off the mower and stuff like that . . . but I knew who he was and what was going on.
Q: It’s almost like another country around here — without any buildings.
W: This place is for sale, by the way. They want $35,000 for that.
W: Twenty lots to it.
Q: That’s all? Amazing.
W: This is the old Centrahoma school house right here. It’s closed up now.
Q: It looks old-fashioned.
W: When we come out at the stop sign down here, turn left there.
Q: Great water tower. On the way back I’m going to take a picture of that. It’s very picturesque.
W: It stands out.
Q: It really does.
W: Just like that cemetery sign.
Q: By the way, we stopped by the church briefly last night but we didn’t take a picture because it was dark and there were people there. They were having services. Can you imagine what would happen if they saw Twyla stopping to take pictures of them? They would probably think she was performing some kind of ritual. Black magic.
W: That brown house up there — they called it the Centrahoma ghost house. Kids from Coalgate were coming out and giving them a hard time about it.
Q: Why? Was this after —
W: This was during LMNO’s visit.
Q: What made it first have that reputation? Did somebody see something or was it just spooky-looking?
W: Some kids came out there to do vandalism. They pulled in there. There would have to be a guard on hand with a shotgun and he blew one of the windshields out. This didn’t go over very big with the public for a while but they were within their rights because they were defending their property. The kids who were there that stayed and participated were between sixteen and twenty.
Q: The rebel period.
W: The rebel period.
Q: And then ten years later they don’t like it when kids do it to them.
W: When the table turns around it’s a different story. This is all Indian burial grounds. Did you take any pictures of the cellar last time?
Q: Yes, I did. I took photos at both the places where the concrete still remains. Has anyone ever researched —
W: There hasn’t been any physical research done.
Q: In terms of looking up what he said was his last name?
Q: I’ll do it. I mean you have to know what you’re doing. If you know what you’re doing you can research that.
W: And, like I said, go to the Chickasaw Nation Building for Indian background information. Also go to the city library in Coalgate.
Q: If I have time I’ll do that on Monday.
W: Now right here’s that little Roundtree Church. It’s still having services there today so —
Q: They are?
W: — maybe we’ll drive further. Turn around in their driveway. We’ll pull on up here and turn around.
Q: So they’re having services right now?
W: I’m sure they won’t see that. They won’t see us on a day like today.
Q: I guess I can take a picture right here real quick. Although I didn’t plan on here.
W: Sure. There’s the Roundtree Church sign.
Q: I can even get that in.
W: Right in back of that building there are some old drawings that Michael claimed to do . . . he claims to have played on them old swings as a kid.
Q: He probably did.
W: See, that’s their little church there. See it in the background? And right back to the side of it there are some old swings.
Q: So everyone waves at other people around here. That’s what they do?
W: That’s standard procedure.
Q: Isn’t that nice? No one ever would — people would think (laughs) — no one waves in L.A. Oh God.
W: If someone doesn’t wave back then they think, “Oh, hey, that’s a foreigner in there.”