The San Francisco Zodiac and a Witch Named Raven: Lake Berryessa, California
By Paul Dale Roberts, HPI Ghostwriter
Today is a hot crisp day and there is a lot of things going on with H.P.I. (Haunted and Paranormal Investigations) of Northern California this day. Shannon 'Ms. Macabre' McCabe - President of HPI and two seasoned investigators Tim Hawkins & Cherie Vincent would take about 30 new HPI investigators on the Guided Tour of Haunted Placerville, which includes seeing and touring: Hangman's Tree Bar; The Hillsider Saloon; Historic Cary House Hotel; The Cozmic Cafe- or Pearson's Soda Works w/their underground mining caves; Hidden Passages Bookstore; Tomei's Restaurant; The Druid Monument; The Sequoia House Restaurant and The Placerville Union Cemetery. I speak to Shannon more often on my cell phone, than I do with my own father. If you ever watched X-Files, Mulder and Scully were always in constant communication with each other on their cell phones and today would be a day that Shannon and I would talk a lot, for briefings on two separate investigations. Since I am HPI's Ghostwriter, I needed to know what was occurring on the Placerville investigation and keep Shannon abreast with my Lake Berryessa investigation. On this day, Saturday - August 4, 2007, the day started normal. I started grooming my Chow T-Rex, while my Jack Russell Terrier named Pika jumps into his small pool, rolls around in the dirt and tracks mud all over the kitchen floor. I yell in mock anger..."The next time Pika, you're going to the dog pound!" Pika actually knows what the dog pound is. When he was younger, he ran away and got lost and was actually taken to the dog pound. When I found him at the dog pound, he was so excited to see me, he urinated all over me. I said to him..."you didn't like the dog pound?" The word 'dog pound' stuck. Of course now, I tease him and would have no intention of ever taking him to the dog pound, but it's comical to see his reaction. I know, I'm a meanie.
Let's get rolling on the investigations; I quickly meet up at a Starbucks off Watt Avenue to talk with Lyudmila Bernik, a Ukrainian native that now lives in Sacramento. We discussed a possible trip that I might be making to the Ukraine and Romania. Lyudmila has Romanian blood in her and I have always had a desire to visit Transylvania, the home of Vlad Tepes aka Dracula. We sat there and had a lengthy discussion about Dracula. I still have no idea where I am going on my vacation next year, but if the air flight is priced right, I might be headed for the Ukraine and Romania. Thanks for the tips Lyudmila. Now to my investigation at Lake Berryessa. I went and picked up a Wicca named Raven. Raven does not want to be fully identified in this article, but she is a unique individual. She looks superb in her all black outfit. She has a tattoo of a Raven on her arm and a skull/Wicca pentagram necklace draping her neck. Raven briefs me about Lake Berryessa. I know most of the story, but in case, you the reader doesn't know, here's what happened.
In September 27, 1969, college students Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepherd had a picnic along the shore of Lake Berryessa. It was a relaxing afternoon. Cecelia noticed a man lingering in the shade of some trees nearby. Suddenly he appeared wearing an odd hooded costume that had a white crossed-circle stitched onto the front. The Zodiac held the frightened coeds at gunpoint as he explained that he intended to rob them and make his escape. Bryan and Cecilia were bound with clothesline. The victims hoped that the ordeal was about to end, when all of a sudden the Zodiac attacked them with a foot-long knife. When the vicious attack was over, the Zodiac walked away and left his victims in agony.
The Zodiac used a black marker to draw a large crossed-circle on the door of Bryan's car. Below his symbol, the killer listed the dates of the two shootings and added the notation, "Sept 27 69 6:30 by knife." At 7:40 pm, the Napa County Police Department received a call that had been placed from a telephone booth located a few blocks away. Officer David Slaight listened as the caller said in a low, monotone voice, "I want to report a murder - no, a double murder. They are two miles north of park headquarters. They were in a white Volkswagen Karman Ghia." Slaight asked the man to provide his location, but the voice only faded away and the caller replied, "I'm the one who did it." When dusk arrived a local fisherman found the couple writhing in agony.
Cecilia died. Bryan survived to give his account on the attack.
Raven took me to the area of the attack. The ghost of Cecilia is supposed to haunt this area and some witnesses have claimed there is residual haunting activity in which the murder plays out over and over again. As Raven and I waited for night to fall, I listened to Raven's involvement with the Wicca culture and how Wiccans respect all nature, plants and animals. They seek to live their lives in harmony with the Earth. Raven also explained to me how Wiccans have gotten a bad rap and many people misconstrue their activities as something evil. Raven embraces the night and she couldn't wait until the sun set. I made a call to Shannon. Shannon explains to me, that they are capturing some great digital photographs on their Placerville Haunted Tours. She relates to me that one of the investigators felt cold chills from the Pearson's Soda Works, near the mines. They caught many orbs in their photographs at Pearsons. More orbs photographs were taken at Empire Antiques. The orbs seem to be near the investigators as if they were watching them. Shannon gave a nice briefing about each haunted locale and told them the legend of Stan the Ghost that haunts the Cary House. In one photo, Shannon explains to me that an orb is captured at the stairwell. Could this be Stan the Ghost? All in all, Shannon said the tour was a success and she was pleased at all of the orb activity during this investigation. Shannon tells me to check out the HPI meetup site, to see all of the orb photos from this investigation. The next thing Shannon asks me is how I was doing. I explain this later to Shannon as night falls.
As I get off the phone with Shannon, I think of the orb photos she is referring to. I know my house is not haunted and I have taken over a 1000 digital photos at my home and have never captured an orb picture. When I go on an investigation to a haunted location, most of the time I get an orb picture by my 4th or 5th shot. Why is that? Sometimes people explain the orb photos as dust orbs...well, my house is dusty, I have two dogs for criminy sakes. How come I can't get dust orb photos with my camera in my own dusty house? There has got to be some kind of explanation for orb photos, I just don't know the answer. As night falls, it's extremely dark. At some point of time, I have a feeling of dread. I look for strange cars that may pull up to my car. Raven is not afraid of anything and embraces the night. She tells me that people say that they see orbs floating around this area at night, with their own eyes. As I look around I see a strange blurry light. I go to investigate and it's a rock. What I don't understand is why is this rock glowing from a distance? When I approach the rock, it stops glowing, as I walk away from the rock, it glows. Raven notices the glow from the rock too. This is not an orb, but it is strange for this rock to glow this way and from a distance it looks like an orb.
No EVPs were detected at this location, I did have the feeling of dread that came about me that lasted for about 5 minutes and went away. No orb photos were taken. The glowing rock did not come out in my photo, but it could be seen with the naked eye. This investigation was inconclusive as I later related the information back to Shannon. The place is extremely creepy and every star in the night sky could be seen. If continued reports come in, in regard to a residual haunting, another investigation will be conducted.
As I drove Raven home, we talked about how she got her nickname Raven. Of course, she adores Ravens, she's a witch for crying out loud! She asked if I had any nicknames. I told her that I had many nicknames in the past, but recently noticed that some of my friends now call me 'Paranormal Paul', but that can't be any worse than when I was called 'Fresno County Paul' by employees of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services. Raven looks at me confused and asks...'why did they call you Fresno County Paul?' I told her that when I worked the Northridge Earthquake disaster, I met up with my ex-wife in Fresno. She came down from Sacramento, as I came up from Los Angeles, we met up half way. My colleagues at the time teased me and said..."why don't you meet her at some place that is more fun, like Monterey... why Fresno?" They could not fathom the idea I would meet up with my ex at Fresno and before I knew it, I was being called 'Fresno County Paul'.
Raven looks at me and says...'you definitely have a crazy life!'
Paul Dale Roberts,
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