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.