Renters Flee From Haunted House in Toms River, NJ

A haunted house in Toms River is making headlines in NJ. Renters have been scared off and a reporter has a mysterious voice recorded during an interview in the home.

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Are renters spooked by ghost house?

Landlord sues family over tales of haunting

Mysterious Voice Recorded At TR Home (4/25/12): What appears to be a child’s voice is recorded by a Press reporter in the Toms River home that a family claims is haunted. STAFF VIDEO BY THOMAS P. COSTELLO
    Written by
    Erik Larsen


    Staff writer Erik Larsen interviewed the family at the house they say is haunted. When he transcribed the digital recorder, he discovered an unidentified child’s voice.

    TOMS RIVER — No one among the living may ever want to reside in the house at the corner of Lowell and Terrace avenues again.

    That is the fear of the landlord who has filed a new complaint in state Superior Court against a couple who fled the three-bedroom ranch in the middle of the night after living there for just one week, because they say the house is haunted.

    Dr. Richard Lopez, the well-known orthodontist in Ocean County who owns the property, has filed a lawsuit against the family in the amount of $15,000. Among other issues, he contends they have stigmatized the property and diminished his ability to rent or sell the house in the future. Their story has received international media attention since it was first reported in the Asbury Park Press on April 13.

    haunted_tomsriverJosue Chinchilla and Michele Callan, who are engaged to be married, moved into the home March 1 with Callan’s teenage daughter and 6-year-old son.

    After the family settled in, they said they would come home and find their clothes and towels ejected from closets and strewn over the floors. Doors would creak open and slam closed in unoccupied parts of the house.

    At night, footsteps could be heard from the kitchen after everyone was tucked in, and unintelligible whispering seemed to fade in and out of thin air, according to the couple.

    The most disturbing phenomenon, they claim, was the sound they heard through the vents to the basement — the muffled din of something being dragged through the cellar.

    The family left the house March 10 and moved to a motel room in Point Pleasant Beach, where they have been living since, after Chinchilla claimed he felt an invisible hand on his arm, and then saw sheets slide off the bed on their own. Callan also said that at the same time, she saw a dark apparition in their bedroom.

    The family has since filed a lawsuit against Lopez demanding that he return their $2,250 security deposit, claiming he had at first verbally agreed to release them from their one-year lease and refund the deposit after the couple told him about their experiences. But, on reflection, Lopez later had an office assistant call Callan to explain he had changed his mind.

    The matter is on hold while the family and Lopez consider an offer to air their case on the television program “The People’s Court,” which has offered to cover all fees and judgments regardless of who wins if the parties agree to sign a contract to settle the matter on the show, Callan said.

    David A. Semanchik, attorney for Lopez, said real estate agents acting on behalf of his client will be legally bound in the future to disclose to all prospective tenants that previous residents claimed the house is haunted.

    “Plaintiffs have made claims concerning the property which are unfounded and which have led to media attention,” Lopez’s counter-claim reads. “Upon information and belief, the value of the property has decreased as a result of plaintiff’s action and statements.”

    Callan said her family has been hurt by the attention, too. She said she understands there is a large part of the public who have either read about her family’s ordeal or have watched them on television programs such as ABC’s “Good Morning America” and have posted unflattering comments about them online.

    “Why would we make up such a story?” Callan asked. “We left a three-bedroom house for a one-room motel one week after moving in. We spent $2,000 on new furniture from Value City, we paid $4,000 on a security deposit and rent after moving in. For what, one week?”