The Ghost Hunter, The Witch, and The Actress

June Havoc (1952)

June Havoc (1952)

Lucy Ryan began wandering a patch of ground on West 44th Street in New York City in 1792 when there were only farming fields and forests.  The street didn’t get built until the mid-1800s, and no one knew Lucy’s name until after the actress, June Havoc, bought the still quaint brick townhouse between Ninth and Tenth Avenues.

Gypsy Rose Lee (1956)Courtesy of The Library of Congress

Gypsy Rose Lee (1956)
Courtesy of The Library of Congress

June was the star of vaudeville, movies, and Broadway, and the sister of Gypsy Rose Lee. She bought the house in the 1960’s, rented out the top floors, and moved into the ground floor apartment.  As Lucy had done with past tenants, she harnessed her energy and began rapping on the floor of the kitchen, usually around 3 a.m. Havoc called in an architect, a plumber, and a carpenter who found nothing structurally wrong with the building to explain the noise.

 

 

June shared her sleepless nights on her television show, and a viewer put her in touch with the renowned paranormal researcher, Hans Holzer.  Holzer who had a doctorate in parapsychology published more than 100 books in his lifetime.

Hans Book

Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond

According to Holzer’s book, Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond, Holzer arranged multiple séances beginning in January of 1965 at Havoc’s home and one even aired on her television show.   He felt that productive ghost hunting could only occur with the help of a legitimate, gifted medium, and in this case he chose to work with an English woman named Sybil Leek.  Due to her upbringing and a stint traveling with Romany Gypsies, Leek became involved with witchcraft and authored many books on the occult and was called by the BBC Britain’s most famous witch.

 

 

The ghost announced its presence shortly after Holzer arrived in the apartment by tapping below the floorboards at the rear of the house.  Later when Leek dropped into trance, the spirit spoke through her lamenting how hungry she was.  She identified herself as Lucy Ryan.  She said she was 20 years old and the year was 1792.  Asking how she had gotten there she replied, “Came…people set us away…soldiers…follow them….sent me away…” [1] When asked which regiment, Lucy said “Napier”[2] which Holzer later identified as possibly being the Office George Napier who had fought for the British during the American War for Independence.   She also said he knew a solider named Alfred Bailey, that he left her, and she came to this place.  When asked why, she said, “They made me come. Picked me up.  Man brought me here. Put me down on the ground.”[3]  When asked if she had died on that spot.  She replied, “Die? Die? I’m not dead. I’m hungry.”[4]

At the end of the trance, the group, including Leek, Holzer, and Havoc, gathered around a table, which began to move and lift.  The tapping from earlier resumed, and through a lengthy communication process, they determined that the energy spelled out the word “leave”.

In later trance sessions, Hungry Lucy as she became known, revealed that her soldier, Bailey, had promised to meet her at 3:00 a.m., but he never came, and she waited for him still.  Then in March 1965 at a final séance, it appeared that Lucy had finally crossed over, and now Alfred came through.

When asked about Lucy, he said, “She didn’t get any food, and then she got cold by the river. [5]

“…Nobody helped them there by the river. Let them die. Buried them in a pit.”[6]

During outbreaks of yellow fever and other epidemics, bodies were buried in New York City in mass graves.  Perhaps this was Lucy’s fate, and when part of her story came to light, it appeared to release her, for ever since the séances with the Ghost Hunter, the Witch, and the Actress, the residents at number 428 all sleep peacefully with full tummies.


[1] Holzer, Hans, Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond, (New York, NY, Blackdog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc. 1997), p 257
[2] Holzer, Hans, Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond, (New York, NY, Blackdog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc. 1997), p 257
[3] Holzer, Hans, Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond, (New York, NY, Blackdog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc. 1997), p 258
[4] Holzer, Hans, Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond, (New York, NY, Blackdog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc. 1997), p 258,
[5] Holzer, Hans, Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond, (New York, NY, Blackdog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc. 1997), p 262
[6] Holzer, Hans, Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond, (New York, NY, Blackdog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc. 1997), p 262

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