“For god’s sake, get out!”
So goes the tagline for “The Amityville Horror,” a prototypical haunted house movie from 1979. The film, based on the namesake Jay Anson book, chronicles the experiences of the Lutz family, who claimed to have encountered extreme paranormal activity after moving into a five-bedroom, Dutch colonial-style house in the Long Island suburbs. The Lutzes did eventually “get out” — after 28 days of residence — but their story has lived on.
Local information technology professional Keith Linder alleges to have also lived in a kind of house most people might only encounter in an “Amityville Horror”-style movie: a place ostensibly teeming with disembodied voices, poltergeists and other inexplicable forces. He, too, was able to “get out” of his haunted home, which is located in Bothell. He lived there between 2012 and 2016. But Linder doesn’t want to put his experiences behind him, pretending like they never happened.
Last April, he published “The Bothell Hell House: Poltergeist of Washington State,” a 442-page book chronologically covering what he and his girlfriend at the time went through living in the home. In August, Linder released “Poltergeist of Washington State Part Two,” a sequel.
The new book takes place immediately after the events covered in its predecessor. It especially focuses on three subjects: Linder’s transition out of the house in 2016; the contents of a mysterious substance discussed in “Hell House”; and the home’s history.
Linder said that when planning the book, he wanted to incorporate feedback from readers as well as double down on which elements of the format had proven effective.
“I wanted to reinforce what I already did and it made sense to keep it in chronological order,” he explained, adding that there’s an increased amount of accessible video and audio footage accompanying the sequel.
What’s covered in book two had been discussed inconclusively in book one, and, as an effect, resulted in inquiries from readers wanting to know more. Black wall markings, which garnered questions from fans of the 2018 book, for instance, were lab-tested and found to be incinerated cow and buffalo bone, or “bone black.” As noted by Linder, the material is “not available at your local Home Depot.”
The discovery gave hints to the root of the haunting. It also fed into another question tacitly driving the books. Why was this house, built in 2005 and located in an average-sized neighborhood, so troubled?
Inside the research
The home has been investigated by a handful of teams. Notably, it was featured on “Ghost Adventures,” a Travel Channel reality show on which paranormal investigators peruse supposedly haunted properties. The show’s troupe, which stayed at the house overnight, couldn’t confirm whether the Bothell house was haunted. But separate investigations conducted by two other paranormal teams — one based in the United Kingdom, the other in the United States — did find evidence.
“My words don’t do the story justice,” Linder said. “It’s the research that does the book justice.”
The lead of the U.K. team, paranormal researcher Don Philips, spent about two weeks with his associates on the Bothell property. Enough was uncovered to inspire Philips to release “Demons in Seattle Uncovered,” a 78-minute documentary that supplements the first four chapters of book two. Karissa Hartley, one of the chief researchers on the U.S. team, said that the home is haunted “without a doubt.”
“One hundred percent of everything [Linder] has written about did happen,” she said. “I know this story is unbelievable because it’s so extreme…but this is one of the most extreme hauntings I’ve ever investigated.”
Hartley said she first got into contact with Linder after he appeared on a radio show with a handful of paranormal investigators she’d worked with previously. At the time, Hartley, who is also a practicing medium, had built a niche. She would stay on a freelance basis in purportedly haunted houses across the country for extended periods — usually with another person — and report her findings.
Hartley, who first got involved after her former collaborators expressed an interest in viewing the property, stayed in the Bothell house for three and a half weeks about three years ago. The first week, she was accompanied by Nicole Novelle, a paranormal investigator. They lived there conventionally — doing chores, going about daily routines — while their team surveilled them on video feeds elsewhere. After the seven days were up, Hartley “geared up,” setting up equipment around the house that tracked anything out of the ordinary.
Hartley described her experiences as “frightening.” She recalled sitting on a sofa in the living room and hearing charging from every direction, “like a stampede running towards me.” Every night, trip wires she’d set up in the halls would go off, then would stop if she simply asked them to. They would go off again, Hartley said, when she returned to her bedroom.
One of the eeriest things she endured happened on her last day on the property, while she was taking a nap. (“You didn’t sleep a lot at night,” she said.) Hartley said she woke up feeling like she was being suffocated; a shaggy-haired man appeared to be next to her. When she started praying out of fear — something she said she doesn’t typically do — the feeling, and presence, went away.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” Hartley said. “I could feel him, I could smell him. He was solid…It would be like if I was laying next to a person.”
Though Hartley departed the home because of predetermined scheduling, not because of that particular incident, she said that “that was my goodbye from the spirits there.”
“We’re problem solvers”
When asked why he continues digging deeper into the mysteries of the Bothell home rather than try to start his life anew, Linder emphasized that that would be out of character for him.
“I’m just one of those types of people who cannot go through life not knowing what this is that we came across,” he said. “We got the house with the best of intentions, like most people…I’ve been advised to forget about it. But my DNA makes that not possible.”
Linder added that his need to find the truth is a trait that likely got him into IT.
“We’re problem solvers,” he said.
From the outset, Linder knew he wanted to document his experiences with a trilogy of books. While parts one and two take the shape of investigative nonfiction, though, book three will be more akin to a technical book, probing evidence and attempting to find scientific explanations for them.
“What’s the science behind objects levitating, objects transferring through solid material?” Linder asked himself while planning the book.
A model he’s using for the trilogy’s conclusion is the illustrated version of Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time” — a work that uses diagrams, tables and pictures to convey information.
Although a substantial portion of Linder’s life has been taken up by the paranormal, he said that he will not continue pursuing a career in investigating once his three-part series is completed.
“I’m going to stick with IT,” he said. “That’s my bread and butter.”
Linder isn’t the only person to have written in-depth about the Bothell house. Brian Allen, the U.K. editor of Phenomena magazine, has dedicated extensive coverage to the findings. Steve Mera, a parapsychologist, co-wrote a book about the house, “House of Fire and Whispers: Investigating the Seattle Demon House,” with Jenny Ashford.
Linder said, however, that he will always respond to people who reach out to him about their own hauntings, usually with the caveat that “all cases are different.” He said that, with his books and their accompanying media, he wants people to come to their own conclusions about the goings-on at the house.
Locally, he wants residents to think more about how many stories go untold in their communities.
“Bothell, Washington is probably like any other city that has its own unique history buried underneath the concrete,” he said.
Hartley brought up that, by being so open with what he’s been through, Linder is not only shining a light on the realities of the paranormal but also helping survivors of hauntings.
“It lets people know that these experiences really do happen,” Hartley said. “They can happen to everyday people…the unknown can find you. It’s just something to be aware of. I think it’s important for survivors of a haunting to share their stories to let people experiencing the same thing know they’re not alone.”
For more information about the books visit demonsinseattle.com.