18-Jul-87 20:33 MST
Sb: APtx 07/04 1105 House Graveyard
HOUSTON (AP) -- Jurors serving in the case of a house built on old cemetery
property heard claims about such ghostly happenings as a televison set turning
itself on in the middle of the night.
The testimony came in a $2 million damage suit Sam and Judy Haney of Crosby
filed against the Purcell Corp., which sold the couple their custom-built home
six years ago.
The Haneys contended that the developers had deceived them by not informing
them about the location of the old burial ground and that disturbing the graves
agitated the ghosts of those buried there.
On Thursday, the jury decided the couple suffered $142,600 in damage --
mostly for mental anguish. However, the jury found that the developers didn't
intentionally mislead the Haneys.
The story told in court sounded like the script for a remake of the movie
"Poltergeist," which concerned a family's struggle to cope with ghosts who
revolted because the family's home had been built over their graves.
The issues raised in the trial lie far from those customarily litigated in a
court of law, but they touch on matters of abiding fascination. Few subjects
rival ghost stories in seizing public attention.
Psychologist Karlis Osis, who spent more than 30 years investigating reports
of encounters with ghosts and other alleged paranormal incidents, says he is
convinced the vast majority of Americans believe in the existence of ghosts.
Says Dr. Anthony Barrand, professor of psychology and anthropology at Boston
University, "I don't think there is a culture in the world that doesn't believe
in them (ghosts). There is no culture that acknowledges life to be something
that begins at birth and ends with death, with nothing going before and nothing
Literature, like Gothic novels set in creepy castles, also helped transform
ghosts into scary and often dangerous entities, Barrand said.
Professor Warren S. Walker of Texas Tech University is not a proponent of
belief in ghosts, but he recalls that folklore provides what is said to be a
protection agaisnt ghosts.
According to this tradition, Walker says, "If you meet a ghost, you should
say, `In the name of God, what do you want?' If you do that, a ghost can't harm
Copyright 1987 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.