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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fresno thief stabs himself with screwdriver

From the Fresno Bee

A man who robbed an Alberto's restaurant armed with a screwdriver early this morning died when his get-away bike crashed and he accidentally stabbed himself with the hold-up weapon, Fresno police reported.

The screwdriver severed an artery in his thigh, and he was found in his own blood.

He was taken to Community Regional Medical Center at 3:45 a.m., and pronounced dead there. His name and identity were still unknown this afternoon.

Police spokesman Jeff Cardinale said the man held up the restaurant on the east side of Cedar Avenue, near Dakota Avenue, and demanded money.

He left with an undisclosed amount, but was found bleeding heavily by his crashed bicycle near Cedar and Farrin avenues. Officers concluded that his screwdriver had apparently stabbed him in a thigh during his fall.

The Fresno County Coroner's Office had not been given the case by this afternoon, and had no identity.

At the restaurant, workers said today that they knew no particulars about the robbery or how much was stolen because it happened hours before they arrived.

This is karma at it's finest. But the question remains. Was it a flathead or philips screwdriver?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fresno's own UFO encounter

With the recent news that Great Britain's National Archives is releasing over 1500 documents regarding UFO sightings over Britain, I thought I would see if I could find anything of interest in regards to Fresno. First I went to the National UFO reporting center, but there were just vague accounts of people seeing bright lights in the sky, etc. Then a bit more digging I found this story, originally found here. The account is as follows:

Location of Sighting: Near Fresno Airport, Fresno, CA.
Number of witnesses: 2
Number of objects: 1
Shape of objects: Round or Diamond Shaped.

Full Description of event/sighting: Hi Brian, my husband and I sent you our sighting report of 12 white orbs that we saw and photographed over Los Banos, CA on August 28, 2005, which you posted. You have asked for older reports so I am attaching a sighting my girlfriend and I had in 1969 which involved two jets chasing after a UFO spotted near the Fresno, CA Airport.

Clovis CA, June, 1969 It was about 10:00 P.M. on a warm clear evening mid - June of 1969. I had just graduated from High School and my best friend and I were sitting outside my home enjoying the clear dark sky and brilliantly shining stars. On a whim, we decided that we wanted to go to a late-night market in Fresno, about five miles away and buy some magazines to read. We got into my car and began to drive south to a shopping center near the Fresno Airport.

Along the way we decided to take a short cut on a small road adjacent to the airport which was flanked by an open field. We turned right onto the small two-lane road and were now driving along side the field and which was several hundred feet away from the fenced area near the end of the airport runway, which we could see clearly, including buildings and planes of the local Air National Guard. There were no street lights and the road was dark with no traffic, except for us. As we drove by we could see that most of the airport activities had stopped for the evening, which was normal, as no aircraft landed or took off from there at that time of night. 'We continued down the road talking, when I noticed my friend leaning forward in the passenger seat staring up at something in the sky. She motioned to me to look out my driver's side window saying "what is that?"

I looked out the window and saw an intense white strobing light hovering above apparently keeping pace with my car. I slowed down and it continued to follow at the same pace. As our windows were down, we most certainly would have heard an engine, was it a plane, but it made no noise at all. Not knowing what we were seeing, I pulled over, stopped the car and we both got out to take a better look. We were mesmerized by the intense white light of the object which now appeared diamond shaped and strobing quickly as it hovered above us. It was hard to estimate its altitude and size, but we guessed at arms length it would have been the size of a basketball. By now two other cars had come up behind us and had pulled off the road to look as well. Within moments the object started to move away from us, and began to pick up speed. All of a sudden we heard the roar of jet engines and looked up to see two military jets lifting off the runway in hot pursuit of this object.

The jets passed directly over us - so close that we could see the landing gear retract. We watched as the jets tried to close on the object. We were in a flat area of land and we could clearly see the object and jets streaking away from us heading due west. As the jets began to close on the object the object slowed and appeared to hover over the jets as if teasing them, and then it made an incredible 90 degree turn with several jerking, zigzag movements and shot off at tremendous speed to the South directly over downtown Fresno. The jets were left in its wake. We immediately jumped back into the car and decided to head home to tell our families what we had just witnessed.

It was about 10:45 PM when we reached the main intersection of town where we were stopped waiting the signal light to change. Suddenly all of the signal lights, and street lights started flashing on and off, including the caution lights at the train tracks which were directly in front of us beyond the intersection. A large bolt of electricity shot down a power line near the road, arcing and snapping till it got to the end and dissipated. We sat there watching these lights flashing on and off around us for about 3 - 4 minutes and then they all stopped and the signal turned green. We looked at each other and I floored it through the intersection and didn't let off the gas till we got to my friends home only a few blocks away.

When we pulled up to her house, some of the neighbors were all outside talking excitedly about what had just happened with the lights in the neighborhood. Of course they asked us if we saw it and we told them that we had witnessed that - and more. Wanting to confirm what we had seen earlier, we ran inside the house to phone the airport. Incredibly, the call was answered by a man in the control tower. I told him we had observed something in the sky close to the airport less than an hour ago and asked him if two National Guard jets had taken off to check it out. I was told point-blank that no planes had taken off at all that night. I asked him again, if he was sure, and he told me once again that no planes had taken off.

We knew we weren't going to get any further with him and we also knew he had to be lying as we saw the jets with our own eyes and had close enough to read the numbers on the planes. We told our families about what we had seen and received polite, yet insincere statements like "wow that must have been something". But we knew they didn't believe us. There was nothing in the local news the next day about a strange object in the sky or equally strange power surge and nothing was ever said about it again - except between my friend and me. We've recounted that night many times over the years, even up to this day. We know what we saw; we know what happened.

Calling the airport was fruitless, this event happened almost forty years ago. And if the National Guard denied anything then, why would the admit to anything now? Still it's an interesting story and makes me wonder how many times the National Guard jets have been scrambled. I had a friend who lived in the flight path of FYI and would sometimes see F-16's taking off at night. It could have been a training mission most likely. But being the only Air Guard base between SF and LA, they could have been scrambled for something else. Hopefully one day our government will divulge what these mysterious lights truely are.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Sandlady of Pinedale

There is a story told in the north Fresno neighborhood of Pinedale that there is a mischevious spirit wandering the streets at night. She is in the guise of an old Hispanic woman carrying with her a small tote bag. If someone approaches her she will throw sand in their eyes, blinding them. When the person clears the sand from their eyes and regaining their vision, the woman is no where to be seen.

I had some friends who lived in Pinedale for a few years, but they had never heard of this story. I wonder if this is another Hispanic folk story? Something like the lady in white, who wanders river roads mourning her drowned children and drowning anyone who dare approaches them? Or could this just be a cranky woman who enjoys a late night walk and if anyone bothers her, she tosses sand in their eyes (I'm assuming pepperspray wasn't available)?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sierra Sky Ranch

I was privelaged to be able to accompany a group of students last Saturday, Oct. 4, up to the Sierra Sky Ranch. A friend of mine, Jennifer who took the class two years ago, went with me and we arrived there around 6:30 or so. Most of the students were already there and were wandering the ground taking pictures and getting a feel for the place. I ran into the instructor, Jackie Meador, in the main room and asked her if there was any recent activity. She told me that the security cameras had been picking up balls of light ascending and descending the stairs in the main guest area. They haven't put it on tape yet, but I'm hoping to get a copy soon. Also there was a new night desk person who had a recent encounter. One night he was sighting at the desk doing some paper work when he felt a presence behind him. He called out for it to either show itself, or to "get the hell out of there". As soon as he said that the paper shredder turned on and the lights began to flicker on and off. Frightened he left his post.

After hearing the latest news, I went to the main living area where a group of students were gathered listening to one of the night workers tell some of the things that happen to her.

Phylis the head night person recounts some of her stories. The
decorations are Halloween only, not year round.

The things she has witnessed were voices, movement out of the corner of her eye, nothing extraordinary. But these occurrences are pretty constant.

Unfortunately dinner was pushed back a few hours due to a sudden dinner rush and the staff being down a person. This did allow people to investigate the grounds some more, though nothing worth noting happened. Finally at 11:00 we were ready to meet and go over things for the night.

Meador going over instructions before she sets the groups lose.

The group I was with started off on the outside. We started in the front first and I let the group investigate on their own, not wanting to taint their findings with what I had found in the past. After about ten minutes I got a call that someone's camera batteries were now dead. I noticed the person was in front of the pear tree. This tree has had a lot of weird occurences in the past trips up there. I was with one group and all four of their cameras failed at once at this tree. Three batteries were drained and one just shut off and had to be restarted. Reason I mention this, is that there is a theory that ghosts will sometimes drain batteries for energy to make their presence known. I myself didn't get anything in front of the tree that night, but hopefully someone else did. Also, for what it's worth, there was a sensitive with us and she said she was feeling some sort of energy around the tree.

The pear tree.

After we left the pear tree I took the group around the rest of the front of the grounds. When I was hear last fall there was a guest staying at the Ranch the same time we had the group up. She was interested in the subject and was allowed to tag along. She told me she was sensitive, but as always I'm a bit skeptic. We were in the front by a huge tree with a swing hanging from a branch. She said she was feeling something and to start taking pictures. Few people got some mist in their photos. And no it wasn't breath, we tried to recreate it and couldn't. So the group I was with, I told them what happened and we started taking photos. I myself didn't get anything, but wanted to post a picture of the swing. I can imagine the ghost of a child swinging on this late at night.

The swing.

After the swing, we were done in the front area and proceeded to the back part of the Ranch. The only real area of interest in the back is a tree that has been labeled "Elmer's Tree". The story has been pretty much the same over the years. When the Ranch was still an actual cattle ranch, it began to sell of it's land to pay for debts. Finally the ranch itself was sold and the story goes that a ranch hand by the name of Elmer was distraut over this and was out back by said tree one day chopping wood. Mid swing he slipped and the ax hit his leg, severing the artery. His cries for help were never heard and he died on that spot. In death though, Elmer wanders the ranch, making sure the place is still being kept and everything is in order. Some people have felt a cranky pressence, but nothing bad or ill tempered. Just like someone is wondering who they are. We took photos and did a bit of EVP but I didn't get anything.

Elmer's tree.

Before we headed back inside I took the group back around to the front where the dining room was at. One time a patron said they saw a person peek their head up from underneath the window, then moved back down to hide again. This happened several times, and each time it happened someone would go out to look but never find anything.

Outside the dining room.

Finally we were able to back inside and the group decided to head to Sarah's Room first. The story behind this room is that during the early part of the 20th century when the Ranch was a TB hospital (this was after it had been sold off as a ranch) and there was a nurse by the name of Sarah. In her charge were two children who eventually succumbed to their illness. Soon after Sarah herself passed away. Several people over the years (including my sister), who knew nothing of Sarah, would see a woman peeking out of the window. Was she looking for the children? Or is she watching over who is staying at the Ranch now? It's hard to say really.

Sarah's room, newly renovated.

Most of the spirits at the Sierra Sky Ranch don't stay in one space, and the children are no exception. Several guests have complained over the years of hearing children running up and down the hall in the middle of the night. The guests would complain the next day to the front desk to find out that there were no children staying there that night.

The hallway to most of the rooms at the Ranch.

We then decided to check out the Honeymoon Suite, which is directly under the library. The first time I was at the Ranch, there were two psychics with us and the both picked up a man in the bedroom portion of the suite. He was hiding in the corner and seemed very anxious. Not much else was discovered about him, but over the few times I've been back up there people have felt anxious in the room. When I was there with the group, the sensitive in the group didn't feel anything in the bedroom portion but did feel something in the living area. Perhaps the spirit had decided to move.

The corner where the spirit is supposed to be hiding.

After we were done with the Honeymoon Suite it was about 1:00 in the morning. It was at that time that we were asked to go back up to the front lobby area. Turns out that the kitchen, which is the main hot spot for activity at the Ranch, was still being cleaned up from the long dinner rush. They wouldn't be done until after 1:30. As neither myself nor Jen were staying the night decided to end our part of the investigation at this time. I was a bit dissapointed as I was looking forward to taking the group into the kitchen and seeing what they got.

The first time I was at the Ranch, the group I was with was resting in the dining room when we heard this banging coming from the kitchen. We rushed into the kitchen, where all the equipment had been turned off for the night, to find the deep fryer had somehow been turned on. Apparently this had happened before and the owners had the wiring checked to make sure it wasn't faulty. Even now the equipment sometimes turns itself on at night when no one is around.

The kitchen is an odd area. The first time I went in there, the air was heavy like there was a presence in there. I was soon told there were two spirits in there and it is believed they are two cooks and they do not like each other. One stays in the main kitchen area and is very territorial. The other stays mostly in the pantry area and doesn't like it when anyone goes back there. I went back there once ahead of my group and felt a pressure on my chest as well as losing my balance. It was an odd sensation, but I stayed steady. Others have felt the same there.

The Sierra Sky Ranch is definitely haunted. I didn't get much evidence, though I did get this possible mist photograph which I am posting. The only problem is that it was extremely cold that night and breath was an issue. But I make a conscious effort to hold my breath during shooting to be sure. I even did a photo where I purposely breathed to check and it was different. This shot was taken at the infamous pear tree. Honestly I think it's just breath but wanted to post anyways.

A ghost or just me breathing?

I hope to go back again, I know the next trip is in March. But honestly I would love to investigate with a group of six or so. I always seem to get better results in a small group. The nice thing about this place is they are very open to their paranormal history, and if the staff aren't busy they are more than happy to answer any questions. Plus it's a nice place to have dinner and spend the weekend.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fresno's own paranormal studies

Downtown at the Ceaser Chavez Adult Ed. Center Jackie Meador, who is the founder of Central California Paranormal Investigators, has been teaching those interested in the paranormal for almost three years now. Meador herself has been involved with the paranormal since 2001 and has traveled around the country investigating famous locations. Her decision for starting the six week course was to help those who are interested in learning how to become a paranormal investigator. The class is held twice a year. Once in the fall and once in the spring and last six weeks.

Meador explaining the difference between film and digital cameras.

Over the six weeks the twenty or so students learn the history of modern day paranormal investigators, the equipment they use, the types of incidents that are most likely to occur, and how to go about gathering evidence. They are also paired up into groups of five to six to work together. During the third week of the course, the students travel to one of the Valley's most haunted locations, the Sierra Sky Ranch up in Oakhurst, and conduct an actual investigation using the techniques they learned in class. Most, if not all the students spend the night at the Ranch, renting rooms for the night. The final three weeks the students go over any possible evidence they may have caught and then give a report based on their experiences.

I've been lucky enough to go on every class trip up there and there is always lots of activity. The next scheduled field trip is this coming Saturday, October 4. Hopefully something eventful will happen and I can report back on it next week.