posttrib
PICTURESQUE 
Weather Updates

Jeff Manes: Ghost tracker connects with spirits

Jimmie Kunis  |  Provided photo

Jimmie Kunis | Provided photo

storyidforme: 38758927
tmspicid: 14263908
fileheaderid: 6530581

Updated: November 29, 2012 6:07AM



“Whenever I take up a newspaper and read it, I fancy I see ghosts creeping between the lines. There must be ghosts all over the world.”

— Henrik Ibsen

Do not read this interview if you are afraid of things that go bump in the night.

Jimmie Kunis might not live on Elm Street, but hers is the last house on the left of a dead-end country road, just a tombstone’s toss from Gypsy Graveyard in extreme northeast Lowell.

Fitting. Kunis has been known to see, hear and talk to dead people. She’s a ghost tracker.

Kunis, 50, has been married to William for 11 years. They have five children between them from previous marriages. Jimmie is the mother of former Lowell Red Devil star defensive end Jeff Barker.

***

“The first 13 years of my life were spent growing up in Whiting,” Kunis began. “But I graduated from Griffith High School.”

When did you start believing in ghosts?

“When we lived on Schrage Avenue in Whiting. My room was really small; I remember waking up in the middle of the night and seeing this black-hooded figure walking toward my bed. It had its head down.

“I was thinking, ‘What if it’s somebody who had broken into the house?’ It sat down at the side of the bed, not looking at me, its head down with that hood over it.”

Can we turn on a few more lights while you tell me the rest of this story?

“I remember lying there and saying to myself, ‘Jimmie, you’re dreaming; wake up.’ I also remember having the covers pulled up just below my eyeballs, not wanting this thing to know I was awake. Then, all of a sudden, it just vanished.

“They say if the Grim Reaper looks at you, it’s your time. But it never looked at me.”

That’s comforting.

“I know what I saw. They do say that kids see more than adults. I’m pretty much a skeptic; I try to prove false positives.

“I may be a ghost tracker, but when I walk into a place that’s supposedly haunted, I’ll keep in mind that it could be a vent that’s making a strange noise or a car headlight that’s coming through a window — things like that. I’ve debunked quite a few ghostly occurrences, but I’ve also had quite a few that were real.”

Did you eventually join some sort of ghost-tracker club?

“Yes, in 2000, I started with Indiana Ghost Trackers. It was just kind of a hobby thing, where I’d go to their meetings, then we’d go ghost hunting afterward.

“I’m part of a very small group now. It’s called Aftershock RSI — research science investigators.”

Tell me more ghost stories.

“When I was in Indiana Ghost Trackers, I would have people contact me because they had things happening in their houses.”

Details; we need details?

“I don’t want to mention any names, but I had a woman whose grandchildren — they were 3 and 4 years old — woke up in the middle of the night and were pointing at the door. They kept repeating: ‘The man! The man!’ But the mother and grandmother saw nothing but the door. It continued night after night; the kids would wake up screaming, scared to death of this man.”

Was this in Lowell?

“No, in Hammond. I brought a woman named Vera with me; I don’t know if I’d call her psychic or a medium. She believes in Mother Earth, and she does cleansings of homes.

“While sitting at these people’s kitchen table, I felt a burning at my back. I immediately lifted up my shirt and saw that I’d been scratched. The scratches were in the shape of a half moon that had a line through it.”

Yikes!

“That kind of stuff really upsets me; I mean that’s demonic. I can see a ghost, but don’t touch me. You’re not allowed to hurt me. My girlfriend was there also; she gave me a rosary and I walked out the door.”

What happened next?

“When I came back into the house, the woman who owns the place took me into the bedroom. In crayon, the little girl had drawn the half moon with a line through it on the sheet where she slept. I guess ‘the man’ didn’t like the fact I’d brought a cleanser to the house, so he decided to scratch me.”

Did Vera get rid of the poltergeist or whatever it was?

“Yes, she basically built a staircase and told the ghost: ‘There is a bright light at the top of the staircase; you need to follow it and move on. You don’t need to stay in this home.’ She did this, and miracles happened.”

Tell me one more, please?

“I don’t consider myself to be a psychic or a medium, but I do believe if a spirit wants to work with me, it can. And I’ve had them do it with me.”

Continue.

“My husband had a job in Wilmington, Ill., so I decided to take a ride with him. While in Wilmington, we decided to have lunch. I spotted a sign that read: Marina Restaurant & Bar.

“We sat down to have lunch and the bartender said: ‘If ashtrays start flying off the bar, don’t worry about it. It’s just our ghost.’ This guy didn’t know me from Adam.”

Yeah?

“I got up to use the restroom and, when I returned, my husband had this concerned look on his face. He asked me why I was in the restroom so long.

“I told him: ‘I know who their ghost is. She’s a lady who has reddish-brown hair down to her shoulders and she’s about 5-feet, 6-inches tall. She was driving a little yellow car out of here, and she hit that tree at the end of the dirt road. That’s how she died.’ ”

Mercy.

“Astonished, the bartender said: ‘You’re talking about Rose, and how do you know Rose? She was the former owner here, and that was years ago.’

“I said, ‘I don’t know Rose and I don’t know how I know this.’ ”

You’re giving me goosebumps.

“It gets better. The bartender took me into Rose’s former office, and it was ice cold. You could see your breath. Nothing happened.

“We returned to the bar and the phone rang. The bartender answered it, and there was a lot of static, but over the static, a voice asked, ‘Is Rose there?’ Then (the caller) hung up. The bartender, pale as a ghost, turned to me and asked, ‘What the hell is going on?’

“I told him to dial star-67. The call had come from the boathouse on the Kankakee River. There was two feet of snow on the ground when my husband and I walked over to the boathouse. There were no footprints anywhere; it had been closed down all winter.”

Eerie.

“When we re-entered the bar, I shouted out loud and clear: ‘Everybody in here needs to know that Rose got a phone call the night she died. The message was that her husband was cheating on her. She hung up the phone, ran out of here, got in her car, peeled out, hit the tree, and that’s how she died!’

“Excuse me, I get tears in my eyes when I tell this story. You see, that’s what Rose wanted; she wanted to use me. Why was I drawn to that little marina-restaurant-bar located on the Kankakee River?”

***

Jimmie Kunis lives about 15 minutes from my apartment. When I returned home, I received a phone call from her. Jimmie wanted to tell me that soon after I left her house, she entered her basement and, while down there, the lights flickered three times, although it was a windless evening without lightning.

Jimmie figures it was the tormented soul from Wilmington, wanting to thank her for letting us, the living, know what really happened on that tragic night.

May you finally rest in peace, Rose.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.