By Rick Hinton
When Renate Beck moved her mother and daughter into a house on North Delaware Street in 1962, I’m sure she anticipated a few glitches along the way. There’s always painting, plumbing or electrical issues to deal with. What she didn’t anticipate, however, was a poltergeist. How does one deal with that?
When the family returned from an overnight hotel stay around 1:30 p.m. the next day, they hoped the previous night’s events were behind them. They weren’t! Again, crystal glass objects started exploding and a cup of hot coffee shot through the air toward Renate’s mother, narrowly missing her. On that second night they notified the Indianapolis Police Dept. (their second call).
The first call was to a family friend, Emil Nosedo, a respected Indianapolis businessman who operated the city’s Sheffield Inn. He would be over the next day. Sgt. John Mullin arrived at the house. He surmised it was the result of pranks. His theory: a pellet gun or a hi-fi stereo either in the home or area, emitting sound waves shattering the glass. The Becks scratched their heads over that summation. And relatively soon, the newspapers caught wind and the house quickly became a sightseeing tour. Nightly events began to add up, often experienced by the police department, who now scratched their heads:
- Rapping from upstairs when the family was downstairs.
- One officer hearing a crash from upstairs, and when investigated found a crystal swan lying shattered below a shelf in daughter Linda’s bedroom.
- Phantom bites, punctures and bruising appearing on all three of the women, but especially the youngest daughter. Renate’s mother, Lina, claimed she had been choked.
- Renate’s purse, with $125 inside, disappeared. It eventually reappeared on March 25 at the feet of her elderly mother, and with $80 missing. Hmm?
Private investigations from Emil Nosedo and his wife cataloged a variety of poltergeist phenomena, including feathers being ripped from pillows and heavy furniture moved of its own accord. They also reported sitting in the dark of the kitchen (sounds like a seance to me… bad, bad move!) when noises from the dining room brought them to discover silverware ( knives) arranged on the floor in the shape of a cross. At least, that’s the story…
Theories: It could have been a result of human agents, grandmother Lina or daughter Linda? Renate had recently divorced, with stressful implications focused not only upon her daughter Linda, but also her mother. Poltergeists according to lore tend to envelop emotionally disturbed individuals —especially adolescent girls! The Delaware Street house was not an example of a typical haunting in the traditional sense, but rather a repressed manifestation of psychokinetic energy exploding from someone unconsciously manipulating physical objects. And… the Beck family was certainly not Ozzie & Harriet, even before the strange stuff started. Friends and neighbors told investigators the family didn’t get along well, and that noisy and unpleasant fights could often be heard coming from the house.
Grandmother Lina was offered a deal to drop all charges on the condition she return to her homeland of Germany. She accepted. The activity in the home subsided by March 22, 1962, ending as suddenly as it started.