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Professor describes paranormal activities
October 28, 2016Tweet
Ghost stories are more than just campfire legends for Gary Truce — they’re a component of his academic work.
The health and wellness studies professor didn’t seek out the world of spirits and demons. But he was led down that path after receiving his doctorate in psychology relating to human behavior and functional capacities from West Virginia University.
“When I was reading about hypnosis I couldn’t help but run across studies that were done with strange phenomena and paranormal experiences,” Truce told a group of students during a talk in Bingham Hall on Oct. 26.
What began as an interest in hypnosis as it relates to sports psychology spawned his passion for parapsychology — what he calls “the study of strange and unusual things.”
“A lot of people are afraid to talk about these things because they’re afraid people will think they’re crazy,” Truce said. “I know when I was teaching parapsychology here, one of the chemistry professors on campus at the time said: ‘Oh, I heard about that weirdo.’”
Truce’s role in the parapsychology world doesn’t end in the classroom. After he stopped teaching the course due to time constraints, he began receiving calls from families seeking his advice on strange situations happening in their homes.
He told the group about one of his most chilling cases — one he’s written about in his book Shelly and Rhoda: A Most Extraordinary Spirit Encounter.
“Almost every other house, I never really experienced anything. I just heard the stories,” Truce said.
But in the summer of 1985, Truce experienced the happenings first-hand.
What started as furniture moving around the room with nobody in it escalated to 11-year-old Shelly floating. Although Truce dismissed the case as nonsense at first, he visited the house when the family members told him they thought they made contact with the spirit.
“The first night I walked into the house,” Truce said. “As I go down to the den, a paper airplane flies into the room from the corner. There’s absolutely nobody there in the corner. We picked up the paper airplane and there’s a note that says ‘Hi Gary.’”
Truce said that Shelly figured out how to communicate with the spirit through the computer. The spirit, who called herself Rhoda, claimed to have the same birthdate as Shelly. When asked when she died, Rhoda said: “Seven weeks, 21 minutes; cut by a doctor.”
Shelly’s mother had been pregnant with twins, but after a surgery that was highly risky for the fetuses and mother, only one survived, the one she named Shelly. According to Truce, Rhoda was the name the mother had picked out for her other twin.
Truce said that Rhoda didn’t view herself as a ghost. She would say that she was from “limbo,” not heaven, and that she was “a person just like you.”
The story became even stranger when Rhoda would possess Shelly’s body. Truce said that the spirit was playing tricks on them, just as an 11-year-old might. The true danger was in Rhoda’s potential to take Shelly away and occupy her body without bringing her back, as Truce said she once threatened to do. Rhoda said she wanted to send Shelly away for a couple of years so that it could be her turn to be loved.
“There’s a total difference between demons and spirits,” Truce said. “Spirits don’t seem to know that they’re really gone. And they still seem to think that they belong here.”
Rhoda often warned Shelly’s father, Bob, that if he didn’t quit smoking, drinking and eating poorly, he would die in a few years. Truce said she would mock him by calling him “Blubberboat Bob.”
Ultimately, Bob died of a heart attack on the day of his liver transplant.
“Some spirits might be almost like angels, looking out for people in the house,” he said. “But they can be mischievous, too.”
Truce is unsure if Rhoda’s spirit was that of the unborn twin, or a guardian trying to warn Bob to change his ways.