Woman at Center of 'Bridgeport Poltergeist' Haunting Dies May 7, 2015 7:16:34 GMT -5
Post by Graveyardbride on May 7, 2015 7:16:34 GMT -5
Woman at Center of ‘Bridgeport Poltergeist’ Haunting Dies
MANSFIELD, Ohio – The Richland County Coroner’s Office set out to find a deceased Shelby woman’s next of kin. In the process, investigators uncovered a chilling story of purported supernatural mayhem dating back to the 1970s.
The experiences of Marsha Godin and her family are chronicled in a book, The World’s Most Haunted House: The True Story of the Bridgeport Poltergeist on Lindley Street. The book’s author, William J. Hall, who helped local investigators track down Godin’s family, compared her case to the Stephen King novel Carrie. “It was probably the most witnessed and well-documented haunting in history, as far as the type, the amount, of credible witnesses,” Hall said, adding that the November 1974 incidents at the Goodin family’s home (above) in Bridgeport, Connecticut, had more than 77 credible witnesses. Marsha Godin – then known as Marcia Goodin – was at the center of it all. Godin, 51, was pronounced dead of apparent natural causes February 10, 2015, at MedCentral Hospital in Shelby.
In an effort to give the woman a proper burial, coroner’s investigator Bob Ball exhausted all traditional means of searching for relatives, including the Mansfield/Richland County Health Department, now known as Richland Public Health. It appears Godin hadn’t lived in Shelby long and there was no record of employment. Her neighbors knew very little about her. Her landlord knew she had a stepmother in Connecticut and a brother in Canada. “I even sent a letter to Canada, but came back with zip,” Ball said. In March, the coroner’s office requested media assistance to help locate Godin’s family. A reader sent the text of a March 21 News Journal article about the search to Hall, a resident of Plainville, Connecticut, through his website. Hall was able to provide the name of one of Godin’s cousins to the coroner’s office. “I was looking for her during the writing of the book,” Hall said Monday during a telephone interview. “I would've liked to know what happened with her and her parents afterward. She left the home mad at them. I don’t know if that was a regular teenaged reaction or something more, that was more of the dysfunction that started the poltergeist invasion.”
The book, published in August, recounts the story of Jerry and Laura Goodin, who adopted Marcie, a 4-year-old, full-blooded Five Nations Indian girl from Canada, after losing a 7-year-old son to a tragic illness. “Due to her olive skin color ... Marcie was picked on relentlessly at school,” Hall said in an article provided by email. “The bullying peaked when she was beaten up by another child and, as a result, found herself in a body brace. This incident only fueled her mother’s destructive, if well-meaning, overprotective instincts. The little girl’s frustration and loneliness boiled within her as she struggled to quietly hold it all inside.”
Strange things started happening in the family’s home; things that were attributed to a poltergeist. Hall said he believes the site of the family home was conducive to poltergeist activity – “an underground spring and oils and high water tables, things that conduct electro-magnetic energy. The match was the dysfunction in the family,” he said. “Poltergeists normally come into play with a young girl, a teenager or young teen.” Marcia Goodin was 10 when events reached their peak.
“One aspect that distinguished this phenomenon from other similar situations was that it morphed into a very public matter,” Hall said. “During November of 1974, the bizarre antics of the little house leaked to the public and attracted crowds that swelled to over 2,000 onlookers. Lindley Street was barricaded and traffic was backed up for a mile or more in all directions. Newspapers, radio and television stations throughout the U.S. and as far away as Australia and Israel told of the strange things happening there: Police officers reported seeing a 300-pound refrigerator float up off the floor and rotate; objects flying off walls; an amorphous, misty figure appearing to a house full of people; a talking cat; and even little Marcie being forced through the air until she hit the wall behind her,” according to Hall’s article.
According to several published reports, law enforcement officials eventually decided the case was a hoax perpetrated by the girl.
Godin was last seen by family members in Bridgeport when she was in her teens or early 20s, Hall said. At some point, she changed the spelling of her name from Marcia Goodin to Marsha Godin, Hall said. “Goodin was a misspelling of the family name of the adoptive father on his birth certificate and he just never changed it. So she changed it back to the actual family name of Godin,” he added. Hall said Godin, after leaving Connecticut, went at some point to Ontario in search of her real family. Her whereabouts were sketchy, he said. He said he figured she wouldn’t want to be interviewed, but when he was working on his book, he wanted to give her the opportunity. Godin had dealt with multiple sclerosis and epilepsy over the years; if possible, he wanted to tell readers if she was okay, without revealing out private details.
The author was born and brought up in Bridgeport, where the events took place. He watched the news coverage of the Lindley Street haunting on TV when he was 10 years old. “Anybody who has lived in that tri-state area as well as people interested in the paranormal around the world got wind of that story,” said Hall, who has more than 25 years experience as a performing magician. “It literally spread around the world.”
Barkdull Funeral Home in Shelby assisted the coroner’s office with Godin, who has yet to be cremated. A relative has told Hall she is not sure she wants Godin's ashes, considering the history. Hall offered to take the ashes if the relative doesn’t want them. “They’ve got to be somewhere,” he said.
The Bridgefield Poltergeist. In November 1974, after the Bridgeport Telegram (now the Connecticut Post) published a story about police and fire authorities entering a Lindley Street home where they encountered “unusual occurrences” of moving furniture, the story gained national attention. What was different about this ghost story was that it wasn’t just one person or family, but city officials used to fire and crime, describing rattling furniture and a small girl being slammed against the wall.
Thousands from across the country, spurred at the time by the recent release of the movie The Exorcist, gathered in front of the small one-story, four-room house hoping to catch a glimpse of the phenomenon, which was said to also include talking animals and strange noises. But after a Bridgeport police superintendent called the incident a hoax, the hype around the home and family died down.
“There were over 100 witnesses,” William J. Hall told a packed crowd at the Bridgeport Public Library. “This is one of the most witnessed hauntings in history." Hall used old newspaper articles and interviews to retell the story of the Goodin family, hoping to dispel a popular myth and add context to a ghost story he now believes himself.
The story began in 1960 when Gerald and Laura Goodin purchased the home at 966 Lindley Street. In 1967 their only son, who was stricken with cerebral palsy, died at the age of 6. The family then adopted an American Indian girl, Marcia. The strange occurrences started once the girl entered the home. For some reason, they got worse in 1974 and the family called police. Clergy were also called to examine and bless the home. Building officials examined the foundation, which was deemed safe. Even Ed and Lorraine Warren, the famous paranormal investigators, visited the home showing the crowd pieces of a cross that exploded. They later called the event, “one of the most famous well-documented poltergeist cases in history,” according to a 1995 Connecticut Post article.
John Kenyhercz is a lifelong Bridgeport resident and knows two cousins of Gerald Goodin. “They told me a lot of weird things would happen in that house,” said Kenyhercz. “The atmosphere in the house was bad.” Kenyhercz was one of the dozens of people who attended the event Saturday. Many, like him, had some connection to the original incident and wanted to know more. At the event, the strange happenings of 40 years ago were further dispelled as exclusive, never-before-heard interviews were played for the crowd. Over grainy, static recordings, police told interviewers how they entered the home and saw large TVs and refrigerators move. Jean Matyosovszky, 67, was in her 20s when the events occurred. Her father, Pete Mastronardi, was the Bridgeport Telegram reporter who first reported the story and entered the house as a result. “He told us things were moving in the home,” said Matyosovszky who was at the book signing. “He warned us to not go down there because too many things were going on there and he didn’t want us to get involved.”
Sources: Lou Whitmire, The News Journal, April 13, 2015, and Fausto Giovanny Pinto, The Connecticut Post, October 4, 2014.