Ghost Hunters International Team Finds Evidence of Fictional Character’s Ghost!

February 24, 2010

The ghost hunting team of Ghost Hunters International traveled to Montego Bay, Jamaica, to investigate “one of the world’s most haunted places”: Rose Hall, said to be haunted by the ghost of an evil woman named Annie Palmer, “The White Witch of Rose Hall.”

The episode (“The Legend of Rose Hall,” Season 2, episode 13) aired last week. It’s a shame that the Ghost Hunters didn’t do any actual research on the White Witch of Rose Hall, because I could have saved them some effort (and embarrassment).

Had they read my thorough 2007 investigation into the place, they would have discovered that the ghost of Annie Palmer cannot possibly haunt Rose Hall, because Annie Palmer was never a real person. But I’m getting ahead of the story. According to reports:

Annie was “beautiful beyond compare; she had a rich throaty voice with black penetrating eyes… Her complexion was smooth, and she could shift from a gentle smiling creature to a haughty, cruel, sensual, cat-like woman, gracefully exuding both anger and sensuality… Annie had strength besides her cruelty. She had the power of a mind trained in sorcery. She believed in spirits and had the ability to project death fears in her slaves.” As a young girl living in Haiti she had become the favorite of a high voodoo priestess: “It was this woman who taught Annie to believe in spirits, to regard the air as charged with the supernatural, over which she could gain control. She attended forbidden voodoo orgies, summoned by eerie drumbeats in the dead of night.”

She moved from Haiti to Jamaica, and soon met and married Rose Hall master John Palmer. According to one account, “John Palmer lived for three years after their marriage. Annie claimed he drank, that the second husband went mad and the third married her for money. The slaves said poison, stabbing, and strangulation did them in one by one.” Jeff Belanger, in his book The World’s Most Haunted Places, states “Annie killed John Palmer with poison, and then she closed off his bedroom and would not allow anyone to enter it.” Another account adds that Annie brought in her paramour to make love to her next to her dying husband. She then hid her husband’s corpse, “most effectively, it seems, since it has never been found.” As for Annie’s fourth husband, he also died under murky circumstances. His fate was apparently sanguineous, for “the room in which he died received no visitors, as the blood stains could not be removed from the floors.” Annie not only left a trail of dead husbands, she also delighted in acts of unspeakable cruelty and perversion. Annie’s sadism was legendary, her wrath feared by all. She was said to enjoy watching the slaves being whipped from her balcony. Once, when a servant displeased her, Annie had the poor fellow’s head cut off and placed on a bamboo stake, left to rot in the tropical sun, the bloated flesh and horrible stench a warning to others.

It’s all very dramatic—and completely fictional. Annie Palmer is in fact the title character in a famous Jamaican novel, The White Witch of Rose Hal l, published in 1929 by Herbert G. de Lisser. There was no real Annie Palmer even remotely resembling that of the White Witch. Thus Annie Palmer never existed, thus they presumably could not have found any evidence of her ghost. Rose Hall, “the most haunted house in the Western Hemisphere” and indeed one of “the world’s most haunted places” is in reality merely myth passed off by careless writers as fact.

Apparently the Ghost Hunters crew believe that fictional characters can have ghosts! It’s one thing to say that a human being has a spirit that can survive in the afterlife and haunt a location. It’s quite another to say that a person who is created by another person’s thoughts or words also has a ghost.

I wonder what they’ll say when they look at the proof that their ghost never existed. That’s gotta be awkward. Will the Ghost Hunter crew head to London and claim to find evidence of the ghost of Sherlock Holmes? Or maybe they will head to a city called Metropolis and discover Superman’s ghost...

The original piece appeared in Fortean Times magazine, and will be included as a case study in my upcoming book Scientific Paranormal Investigation .


#1 Kathy Orlinsky on Thursday February 25, 2010 at 9:08am

How are they going to find out that Annie Palmer was fictitious?  They obviously didn’t do any research before they shot the episode, why would they do any now?  Even if they do find out, I bet they won’t say anything about it.

Besides, I disagree with your conclusion.  IMO, it’s equally likely for a fictional character to haunt a house as for a dead person.

#2 Dominique Bulgin (Guest) on Friday February 26, 2010 at 5:21pm

It seems someone else skipped the researching part. I’m getting ready to write a 4000 word research paper on this piece of Jamaican folklore.
This story is not just from the imagination of Herbert G. de Lisser, but the imagination of generations of Jamaican. Annie Palmer actually lived but there is no proof she murdered her husbands, practiced voodoo, or even remarried after John Palmer. How this satanic image and gruelsome legend became associated with her? No one knows?

#3 tim dugan (Guest) on Monday March 01, 2010 at 8:14am

WAIT!  I would not condone Ghost Hunters but this contradiction is also wrong.  According to Amazon’s description of that Jamaican novel, The White Witch of Rose Hall, it is “A very striking and curious story, FOUNDED ON FACT, of the West Indies of the earlty nineteenth century” That’s not proof the lady existed, but I think that she was a character in a book is NOT proof that she did not.

#4 Skippy Two Shoes (Guest) on Monday March 01, 2010 at 8:48am

Superman is dead?

#5 Hayley (Guest) on Monday March 01, 2010 at 8:49am

This is a really interesting story. I research local paranormal stories and had a very similar encounter with one of the supposedly most haunted buildings in England.

I wrote about it here:

#6 Vincent Truman (Guest) on Monday March 01, 2010 at 9:27am

Oh how brilliant is that!

I confess that I thoroughly enjoy the whole genre of shaky-camera spooky-music night-visioned did-you-hear-that shows that have cropped up.  I have never and will never take them seriously, mind you, so them tracking Anne Frank is just as entertaining as if they were trying to track Johnny Tremain.

#7 Cape Cod Guy (Guest) on Monday March 01, 2010 at 10:00am

I am NOT surprised to here this coming from any paranormal “reality” show. The facts and processes of finding anything paranormal on a television show is pure entertainment, to feed the blind and numb. The white witch story has been passed down through generations of Jamaicans, show however DID NOT live in a nice, plush building..she was banished to the shores of the island to live in a cave with some provisions…..They should check the facts ..Happy ghost hunting.

#8 DLR (Guest) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 at 6:12am

Just wanted to note that there is some evidence that fictional characters CAN become “ghosts” (though they’re probably more akin to tulpas); John Keel mentions that the apartment building where Walter Gibson wrote most of the Shadow pulps is host to an apparition seen with a cloaked face and slouch hat and I’ve heard of other instances.

#9 Philip A. Centaur (Guest) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 at 9:12am

This is hilarious, and not at all surprising. 

People have intentionally produced “fictional ghosts” in the past: cf. “Some Experiments in Psychokinesis”, “Report on a Case of Table Levitation and Associated Phenomena”, “Philip, The Imaginary Ghost”, “The Skippy Experiment”, etc.

Of course, these are all differing types of deception with various intents.

#10 Charlotte (Guest) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 at 5:38am

Just because she didn’t exist under that name does by no means mean she never existed. This article really was a waste of your time and energy.

#11 Fayth Lorinda S on Thursday March 04, 2010 at 3:40pm

I’m not surprised at the shoddy research for a show like this. But then again why should they bother.  They can make millions just saying “did you hear that?”  “What was that”? 
Kind of wish I had thought of the whole concept first and go from Roto-Rooter men to very wealthy silly celebrities.

#12 Benjamin Radford on Monday March 08, 2010 at 4:11pm

“Just because she didn’t exist under that name does by no means mean she never existed. This article really was a waste of your time and energy.”

Charlotte, I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying: There is no evidence that ANY person under ANY name was the White Witch of Rose Hall… And I’d say solving the mystery of “one of the world’s most haunted places” was definitely worth my time.

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