The Indianapolis Poltergeist: Part I

By Rick Hinton

They say there’s more than corn in Indiana. I find that to be true. There’s diversity everywhere you look, city or statewide: whether it be industry, civic developments, sports or just plain promoting to those visiting. And the paranormal? Yes, there’s that, too.

Locked into the past, there are the stories. Indianapolis has its share. Some received local and national media attention. One, in particular, also garnered the attention of the local police department. It was known as The Indianapolis Poltergeist. Fact, fake, folklore or just good old urban myth? You decide.

The house as it looked in 1962. (Submitted photos.)

The definition of a poltergeist: German, for noisy ghost or spirit on the physical plane. Disturbances can include noises, objects (even heavy furniture) being moved, levitation, pinching, biting and hitting. To describe them as troublesome spirits might just be an understatement! Steven Spielberg’s movie of the same name in 1982 brought the subject into recognition. It would seem however, they’ve been around for longer than that.

An old Northside stretch of Delaware Street in Indianapolis is an avenue of stately homes that retain their own history. Once a venue of single-family residences separated from downtown Indianapolis, yet still a part of, they’ve compiled their own personal histories of families coming and going and lives lived. Over the years, these homes were converted into apartments. It would seem to be a sign of the times — and not a pretty one! Yet currently, these very houses are in a reversal stage of conversion back to their original intent — single family residences. In 1962, at 2910 N. Delaware St. however, it was one such family residence. And one that surfaced quickly into the public’s eye.

Present day view of the home on North Delaware Street. Are the folks inside aware of what went on there?

Renate Beck, 32, a local restaurant operator who was born in Vienna, moved into the then four-bedroom, two-bathroom home, built in 1900 in the Mapleton/Fall Creek area. The house is less than two blocks from the current Indianapolis Children’s Museum She was not alone. Her elderly German diabetic mother, Lina Gemmecke, 61, and daughter Linda, 13, joined her. Renate was recently divorced, and this was a new beginning. It was a stable place to raise her daughter, care for her mother, and get on with her life. That was the plan anyway, but sometimes life is what happens while you’re making other plans.

On a Sunday in March of 1962, a few minutes after 10 p.m., it started. A heavy German beer stein lifted from the kitchen sink, sailed through the air, and exploded upon the floor. Shortly after, the family heard a loud crash from upstairs. Upon investigation they found that some of Renate’s mother’s crystal glass, moving on its own accord, had met its destruction upon the floor. The family fled to a nearby hotel, not returning until the next day.

Was that the extent of the occurrences? Could they put a period on the strange oddity? No. It was just a prelude for what was to come. Was it a poltergeist? Some have varying opinions. Regardless, this wild ride of Renate Beck and family had just begun.