Does it Matter if Black Moon Manor was a Fake?

Yesterday, Mysterious Heartland posted an excerpt of the book Echoes from the Grave by Larry Wilson featuring Black Moon Manor near Greenfield, Indiana. Shortly thereafter, a friend messaged me and alerted me to the fact that allegations of fraud had come out about the location and its proprietor, Matt Speck. The farmhouse was torn down in early December 2012. This may seem like old news to some of you, but I think it raises important questions about paranormal investigation and places that market to paranormal investigators.

I did a Google search and this article (“Black Moon Manor CONFIRMED as a fraud by the REAL OWNER!”) was one of the first to pop up. The article allegedly reprints a conversation between Dan Scheider from Ohio Gothic Paranormal and Walter Eastes, who owns the property. I use the word “allegedly” because I have no idea who the author of the post is, or who Dan Scheider is. For all I know, Dan Scheider has an axe to grind against Black Moon Manor’s proprietor Matt Speck and fabricated the entire conversation in order to discredit him. But for the purposes of this article, we’ll assume everything in this internet post is true.

In his email, Dan Scheider presents research that disproves many (if not all) the history related by Matt Speck about the farmhouse he called “Black Moon Manor.” Scheider goes on to accuse Speck of “spreading fraudulent information” about the owner’s family and “trying to make a buck by making up stories about your family.” (On a side note, if someone was doing that about my family, I would be rather annoyed.)

So according to Scheider, he spoke with Walter Eastes over the phone. Eastes told him (again, allegedly) that he rented the dilapidated house to Matt Speck for $100 a month (that’s incredibly cheap!). Speck told him he wanted to turn it into a haunted attraction, but he could not get the proper permits, so he started charging paranormal teams to investigate the place. The owner said the home had no sentimental value for him and he just wanted to tear it down (which he eventually did).

OK, so now that we know what the allegations are, let’s get into the meat of this article. As far as I’m concerned, any of the following possibilities still exist:

  • Black Moon Manor was not haunted and Matt Speck intentionally fabricated its history, as well as claims of paranormal activity.
  • Black Moon Manor was actually haunted and Matt Speck unintentionally related false historical information (that is the opinion of Amy Hansford who wrote this article and said “I do not hold Matt Speck responsible for the miss information. He seems to be just going by what others had told him.”)
  • Black Moon Manor was actually haunted, but Matt Speck intentionally fabricated its history.

Given that Mr. Speck leased the house with the sole intention of using it as a haunted attraction, I think it’s highly likely that he made up a creepy-sounding history for the property in order to enhance its appeal. That’s not fraud — it’s marketing. I also think it’s possible that the home just happened to be genuinely haunted.

However, if the whole thing was a fraud, and the house was not haunted, what does that say about all the “evidence” collected there by paranormal investigators? Wouldn’t that mean the techniques used to investigate Black Moon Manor were flawed because they produced false results? Or were the expectations of the investigators themselves producing the false results? If so, how can any evidence gathered on a paranormal investigation ever be accepted? In other words, if Black Moon Manor was a fraud, why didn’t every paranormal investigation team leave the place empty handed?

But there’s an even bigger question. Let’s say Matt Speck fabricated Black Moon Manor’s history and made up claims of paranormal activity. So what? Does that completely invalidate everything that was experienced there? And by “experience” I don’t mean just experiences of the paranormal variety. I mean all the time spent exploring, reading about, and participating in the experience of “Black Moon Manor.” A different way of asking this question is, does the fact that the 1993 film Gettysburg inaccurately portrayed the battle of Gettysburg mean you wasted 4.3 hours of your life watching it? (Gettysburg is one of my favorite movies, by the way.)

Calling something a “fraud” implies that everything about it is tainted and that it should be thrown in the wastebasket and forgotten. But what if it turns out that there never was any such thing as “ghosts” or “paranormal activity” — a fact that skeptics already believe. In that case, every place that ever laid claim to being haunted is “fraudulent.” That is something I believe everyone interested in this subject needs to take a long, hard look at. Because if your interest in the paranormal rests solely on proving its reality, you may be setting yourself up for a great deal of disappointment. There are many, many Black Moon Manors out there.

Finally, I would like to ask why we should be outraged when it’s discovered that a place like Black Moon Manor isn’t really haunted. Again, let’s say Matt Speck fabricated Black Moon Manor’s history and made up claims of paranormal activity. Who was harmed? You could say that the paranormal investigation teams who paid to investigate the place were defrauded out of their money. But don’t most paranormal investigation teams consider it good practice to assume a place isn’t haunted before they investigate, or to try and disprove claims of paranormal activity? So if the stories were fake and the results of their investigations were negative, they accomplished their goal.

Or, on the other hand, the team expected to find paranormal activity and did not, so they’re disappointed. But is there ever any guarantee that paranormal activity will take place? Of course not. Matt Speck can claim anything he wants to about strange things that happen there, but even if they really did happen, he can’t make them materialize on command. In my opinion, then, paranormal investigation teams got what they paid for — a chance to prove or disprove the alleged paranormal activity in the house. No one did (or ever could) guarantee they would find something.

As I mentioned earlier, I am more concerned that Matt Speck may have improperly used the property owner’s family while weaving his tales. If he had told Walter Eastes what he planned to do, and Eastes was on board with the plan, that would be one thing. But I have a problem with Speck incorporating Eastes’ family into the history of his (fictional) haunted house without getting Walter’s permission (if that is what happened). While unscrupulous and possibly unethical, however, I’m not sure it rises to the level of a criminal offense.

What do you think? Vote in our poll.


  1. HI, I’m the Dan Schneider mentioned in the article.
    It does matter that Black Moon Manor was a fake. Actually it probably was not a fake, but some of the history perpetuated was very, very fake. It matters for many reasons. There were possible safety and liability issues (the proprietor was allowing people in the house without the owner’s consent), historical & genealogical issues with falsehoods billed as actual fact and the entire purpose and reasoning of allowing paranormal investigations at sites.
    The accounts of fraudulent history came to light as a result of investigating the actual history of the place dubbed Black Moon Manor AKA The Eastes Estate. Speck willfully and knowingly misled paranormal investigators just to make money of investigations. Making money from paranormal investigations is fine and usually great for the site because the money goes back into restoring and preserving the history and educating people about the site’s history, architecture, culture and people. It does not help preserve these things if the money is not used partially for basic upkeep, and the culture, people and history is fabricated. He was also doing it without the approval or knowledge of the actual owner. This could lead to serious liability questions if someone were to be injured. Other paranormal groups told him that the house needed some repairs before it became dangerous. Nothing was done to the house and the actual owner an elderly man that lived in another state wasn’t aware of the condition the house was degrading into the past couple years. The local historical society was constantly fielding calls about the false history that was perpetuated. Local folks that were related to the Estes family were not happy about their family history being drug through the muck. I had a long conversation with the local newspaper and was contacted by many folks that had issues with Speck at the Eastes house and other venues he tried to run in town. The local newspaper wrote a great article on the events which Speck refused to talk to them about.
    In my opinion the house probably WAS haunted. We actually had some unexplained things happen that we could not debunk. He would have had no need to embellish the history with a bunch of falsehoods. When actual history is conflicting with the purported history he was spinning, and then he would not answer questions, it makes you wonder what exactly is going on. Then you want to question your personal experiences. We did find a speaker in the attic, but it was not connected to anything. Had it been connected to something in the past on someone else’s investigation? He had originally tried to do a haunted attraction in the woods at the site (remnants were still in the woods), and he was currently supposedly running a haunted attraction at a different location at this time. When he tried his haunted forest attraction at the Eastes property (I refuse to call it Black Moon Manor, that was a name he made up) there was some issues (I can’t recall the specifics, getting insurance or something) and then he told the owner he just wanted to rent the place for storage, then actually started renting it out for investigations. He got it cheap because he was doing Mr. Eastes a favor by keeping an eye on the property. The land was leased out for farming, the house and garage were just sitting vacant becoming targets of vandals. So Mr. Eastes thought having Speck there would be a good thing. Mr. Eastes knew a TV show had filmed there. I believe 2 had filmed there. My Ghost Story and Ghost Adventures. At this time the Ghost Adventures show had not aired. He didn’t know people were going in on a fairly consistent basis. I had heard that after being announced on GA it became booked solid through the end of 2012. We investigated the week before the Ghost Adventures episode aired in October of 2012. That following week, after contacting Mr. Eastes, I contacted Jeff Belanger, the GA head researcher. He said they were going to address some (not all) of the same things I found.
    This entire event didn’t come about because I had an ax to grind. It came about pretty much by uncovering what was happening over the course of an investigation. I admit wasn’t very happy with how the night was handled. Speck never showed up to get the rest of his money from us, deliver our firewood or give a tour the house. This was after we drove a couple hours, then had to wait by the gates. Realized he wasn’t showing and called multiple times. He just gave me the combination to the lock over the phone to get in and said he’d be out later with our firewood. He never ever showed up, or answered\returned our phone calls that night or the next couple days. I tried to be civil and just wanted some answers and clarification. Since wasn’t returning calls, I posted on the Manor Facebook page. He became irrational and defensive and began the name calling. Still totally ignoring the questions of his version of the history. The historical society got involved, distant Eastes family members and locals got involved. I believe I still have transcripts of it all, it’s a quite entertaining read. As a paranormal investigator we went in wanting to find evidence of a haunting. This process involves doing background research on the property and previous occupants. I found things that made no sense, I could not get any answers from him, except about what genitalia and other body parts my head resembled. So I contacted the real owner, Mr. Eastes, to get answers and through that phone call I unknowingly let him in on what was really going on at his property. I didn’t search him out to rat out Speck’s shenanigans. I found his name as owner, and also found his email address. I contacted Mr. Eastes for answers that Speck wouldn’t give me. I emailed Mr. Eastes asking questions about the alleged history of the house and the finding I had that did not match up. I included my phone number and he called me. I didn’t know the actual owner (and the one who probably would have been sued if anything happened in the house) was not privy to what was happening on his rented property that was 100+miles away. I got my answers that what was reported on the website and (I believe) My Ghost Story were “100% baloney”. Mr. Eastes got answers to questions he didn’t know he even had. During this phone call, Mr. Eastes said he should just tear the house down after all this. He was not happy that his family heritage was becoming a twisted urban legend. He somewhat relented on this after talking with some fine folks that wanted to preserve the house, but after an inspection, it was determined the costs were too much and it was razed.
    There are places billed as historic sites that are haunted and places billed as haunted attractions, some places are historically haunted sites 11 months of the year and a fun haunted Halloween attraction in October (such as Ohio State Reformatory, Moundsville Prison, Waverly Hills Sanatorium) they don’t have a problem promoting the Halloween frights and fun for one month with the actual history the rest of the year. They don’t mix and match to meet market demand. We don’t pay to investigate people dressed in monster and zombie masks roaming the prison because of the leaking radiation (a story line a few years back from the haunted attraction at the Reformatory), we go there in an attempt to find something to correlate with the known history. So luring people in with a false history, and allowing them to pay to investigate, then getting upset because the investigation proves things are false, defeats the purpose of allowing investigations in the first place. If you plan to sell a “Haunted Experience” you bill it as that. If the history is being falsified by the people running a site, how do we know other things taken as evidence isn’t also faked? As I mentioned, we did find a speaker in the attic. It makes the paranormal field in general look phony and untrustworthy. Speck was not promoting it as a haunted attraction (like your typical October haunted house, although he did do some sort of “Lock-in” event that I’m sure violated a lot of health and safety laws. Apparently people would pay to get locked in the house and have to find clues to the keys to unlock the locks to get out. I’m sure that is in violation of multiple safety & fire codes). Black Moon Manor (his fictitious name) was promoted as a historical site that was haunted, and invited people in to investigate for a fee. He did not like the outcome of what our investigation uncovered. There was no TB ward, no cemetery behind the house with hundreds of TB victims buried. The doctor in question that actually had ties to the house was actually one of the founders of a prominent Indiana medical association. He would not admit he made it all up to drum up interest. I wanted real facts, and I eventually got them from Mr. Eastes. If Speck would have answered my questions initially and not ignored and avoided them and then resort to calling me many, many colorful things. I would not have had to track down Mr. Eastes to get the real information for my investigation, in turn exposing him. I was doing my “job” as a paranormal investigator\amateur historian and simply investigated to the best of my abilities. I like to say I was Scooby-doo to his Old Man Speck under the mask. He would have got away with it, if not for us meddling kids.
    Are ghosts real? Who knows, there is centuries of circumstantial evidence, that is why people like myself chose to sit in abandoned purportedly haunted buildings in the hope we may capture some sort of undeniable evidence of paranormal phenomena. When you discover a person willfully altering the site history for entertainment reasons you wonder what else is false. I will say that was a very different and ultimately a great learning experience for me.


  2. Through the magic of the internet I purchased the Echoes from the Grave book mentioned in the article for my Kindle. There are pages of the false Black Moon history. So if the author didn’t do good research for this investigation, how can the rest of the book be taken with anything less than a whole shaker of salt?


  3. Some it seems, will never be convinced… even when recent advancements in technology further the evidence beyond doubt. But as I see it, “The Manor”, due its former incarnation as the Eastes Estate, does, in fact, has a far better chance of being haunted, than not. Even if a history was fabricated for commercial gain, I do not see how that negates any evidence amassed by the Ghost Adventures team; let me tell you why. Most do not realize that MOST EVERY HOME older than say 1930, has a long history of death inside its doors… and therefore, a far greater chance of being haunted. Plus, not known to many who continually cry FAKE or CGI (just as they do the mounting evidence for the existence of Hairyman and UFOs despite the evidence in the form of eyewitnesses, video, photos or FOI documents, even DNA), Zak Bagans, Aaron and Nick, are award-winning documentary filmmakers; a title they are not only proud of, but continually strive to further.
    The GA team’s credibility aside, 40yrs of my own research has shown me that very few homes this old are void of paranormal phenomenon. You see, up until @1879, death from disease was rampant, then in late 1800s came a spate of vaccines; followed by the first antibiotic: Penicillin in 1928. Up until that period there had been only death, and prior to @1930, wakes and funerals were held right in the home. Most don’t realize that modern Funeral services did not become the norm until the 1930s. But then there is also the fact that prior to that period, many rural families also buried their dead right on the property… practices that seem to result in paranormal activity… and if the soul is the origin of such occurrences, then one can see why such things might occur. Although here I admit, I too offer no direct proof other than my word; and the fact that I have spent 40 plus years bearing witness to such phenomena, even landing on the cover of a world famous magazine. Today the world is witnessing a whole new crop of paranormal researchers, and their evidence, for those paying attention, broadcast to the world over television and the net. The case they make for the reality of such phenomena has collectively served as a basis t0 rewrite rewritten what many understand as reality..It was only in the later 1800s, that science began to battle epidemic diseases with vaccines. teamed with the discovery of antibiotics, the use of vaccines and far more stringent health laws, saw the Grim Reapers visits, removed from the home.
    In fact, until the mid 20th century, death was quite common both in the home and… at any age; often tragically, taking the very young time and time again. Many families lost several children or close loved ones to the resulting fever from infection, accidents and disease; including heart disease. Cholera, Flu, Typhus, Tetanus, Meningitis, Measles, Plague, Scarlet Fever, Small Pox, TB, Polio, Measles, Malaria, Chicken Pox, Yellow Fever, even Botulism, Beaver Fever and Syphilis – to name a few. In fact, polluted water played a big part in sanitizing our way of life; as outhouses and cesspools often polluted the clean water we needed to survive.
    During such contagious epidemics, the sick were often ushered away to “pest houses” (from the word pestilence) or “Fever Sheds’ to simply get better (which was unlikely) or, die. Many towns and cities had one or more Pest House that was accompanied by a cemetery or waste pond where the dead were submerged for quick disposal; numbers often in the hundreds, many were simply disposed of in nearby rivers. Sadly, most millennials. even many baby boomers, have no clue that that the National Funeral Director’s Association was only established in 1882.
    But again, don’t be misled… for all those who avoided death in such poorly run death houses (as we must remember, medicine was in the dark ages), they died in the home.; often, without embalming. Only 90 years ago, the dead were handled, washed, viewed and as quickly as possible, interred, either by immediate family, friends or neighbors, right from the home. It wasn’t until the mid 1800s that embalming, mostly thanks to the interest in King Tut and Egyptian mummies, began to be employed among the greater populace. Today, thanks to institutions like hospitals, hospices and nursing homes, most all dead pass outside the home, and immediately see a coroner. T Next the bodies are embalmed, and interred properly in cemeteries. But… if your home dates around the turn of the last century, well, there’s a pretty good chance at least one, if not far more depending on how old it is, died and were viewed in the house… and in rural areas, interred on the property.
    The “modernization” and sanitization of funeral services contributed to dramatic changes in the last century. Polluted groundwater from rotting bodies, disease, the chemicals like formaldehyde used in the embalming process, were becoming a serious health problems. anyone who took biology knows Formaldehyde is a dangerous chemical, and as such, can be can be leached into groundwater. In fact, it’s only been relatively recently that we removed death, preparation and viewing of the body, as well as burial, out of the living room!
    Only in the late 1880s did the popularity of embalming take off and towns started to practice better sanitation at burials, and bought designated areas on the outskirts of towns to inter the dead. This led to funeral services, as it necessitated someone to organize and ‘direct” the funeral proceedings; and to ensure the proper new laws were followed. It was only then the group decided to use the term “Funeral Directors,” rather than “Undertakers”, to portray a more professional image and literal message.
    personally, I’ve been researching “paranormal” phenomenon of well over 40yrs. and it “kills me” (see what i did there) how many still don’t believe in a subject that has shadowed man’s existence since his record-keeping began. It’s amazing how many HAVE NO CLUE that Science (with the exception of one scientist) has NEVER examined the existence of the soul! Instead, it simply chooses superstitious belief over science, and denies the possibility! I guess the argument goes like this: “This is what my mommy told me (as well as their fellow academics) and so, I staunchly support this position.” How does this happen, despite the assertion of churches worldwide. Does this not equate to the very same “pseudoscience” academics so quickly accuse others of; those who research Ghosts, UFOs and Bigfoot? How can one who takes their own self worth so seriously; break their very own tenets of proof or denial through experimentation? In a complete anathema, they dismiss such subjects out of hand without employing theory, test results or treatise??
    Lastly, the internet is overflowing with “debunkings or catches”; most that would never hold up in a court of law. FAKE, CGI and Suit and the usual suspects… and most expose such explanations with no without background or explanation. Lastly, few homeowners are willing to decrease their real estate values by reporting such claims legally or publically; and in a small rural town, are again, in no hurry to wear such labels or loose tens of thousands of dollars – if not more. Therefore, with all that considered, hiding in plains site under a public banner of haunted attraction, does not seem such a bad option. Lastly, although many contemporary Paranormal Investigators have lived with the subject of hauntings in the sunlight for the last decade, let me assure you, it is ONLY THAT LAST DECADE THAT HAS SEEN THE SUBJECT EXPOSED TO PUBLIC ATTENTION! Again though, even with the recent dramatic advancement in the conversation over the last decade, still, a rather large segment of the populace, knows nothing of either the subject, or the weight of its’ scientific proof.
    Lastly, just like the academics many emulate, many would rather ignore the dramatic advance in evidence from technology both new and old, than ever admit to such a disclosure publically. Surely, some would rather leave the whole subject where it was… hidden in oblivion… and as such, could gladly deny it’s existence; because… in case no one had noticed, sadly, many rural religious congregations are not exactly “open minded.”
    Brett Allen – Cover UFO Magazine 2009



  1. […] note: Dan Schneider of Ohio Gothic Paranormal wrote the following in response my post: “Does it Matter if Black Moon Manor was a Fake?” He explains, in detail, how he came to uncover the real history of the Indiana farmhouse […]


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