Saturday, September 15, 2012

Freaky (Factual) Tale Friday: Don Decker, aka The Rain Man

(photo @ realfoodfreaks)


When I hear about paranormal stories, I'm usually very skeptical for a variety of reasons. One of the main ones, however, tends to be the lack of varied, verified, and independent eye witnesses. So when I first heard about the case of Don Decker, I figured the "evidence" that I would come across would be from the usual list of incredibly suspect sources:

-Family members that can't form complete sentences.
-Shady private investigators.
-Paranormal researchers that look like extras from Saved by the Bell.

I was surprised to find, however, that with the exception of Decker himself (who seriously creeps me out), everyone else that witnessed the allegedly paranormal activity around him seemed to be reasonably normal and articulate.

As far as the "verified" portion goes, that was where things started to get even more real. 

If every paranormal "whistle blower" that claims they worked at Area 51 or did government contract work was being truthful, our national debt would be twice as high as it is now. In this case, however, most of the official sources can be traced back online to people that actually exist and hold the positions that they claim to be in. They were also willing to go on record/camera about what they saw.

Please Note: Links to the 'Unsolved Mysteries' episode that included on camera interviews with many of the subjects involved in this incident (including the priest who performed the exorcism) now take you to a page claiming that video is unavailable. Hopefully Youtube is able to put this episode back up as it does not exist online in any form that I have been able to find.

Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

In 1983, 21-year-old Don Decker was serving a one year prison term for possession of stolen property. In February, he was given a weekend furlough to attend his grandfather's funeral. What many people did not know was that his grandfather had severely abused him as a child.

As he watched his family make loving statements about his childhood tormentor, Don got angrier and angrier. He left the funeral and stayed with some friends of his (due to his mother not allowing him to come home) named Bob and Jeannie Kieffer.

When Don went up to use the bathroom before dinner that evening, the feelings he experienced during his grandfather's funeral began to wash over him...and things started to get weird. After the temperature in the bathroom suddenly dropped, Don claimed that he saw the image of an old man wearing a crown and glaring in at him from the window.

Not the same thing, but almost as terrifying.


This wasn't just a visual experience, either; in addition to feeling as though he was being attacked, Don suddenly felt a sharp pain in his arm. He looked down and saw three bloody scratches near his wrist.

Later that evening, the Kieffers claimed that Don went into a "trance-like state" in which he just sat and stared straight ahead. After a few seconds, water began to drip from the ceiling and wall. Very shortly after that, a rainy mist began enveloping the entire house...and it was completely laughing the gravity's face by flowing up from the floor to the ceiling.

The Kieffers decided to call their landlord, Rob Van Why. When he arrived with his wife to examine the house, he noted that it couldn't be a leak since the downpour was happening in the front of the house, while the pipes were located in the back (and they didn't spew water that had magical powers). It also had not been raining any time in the last few days. 

The Kieffers and the Van Whys decided to call the police. Officers Richard Wolbert and John Baujan (who eventually became the chief of the Stroudsburg police department) arrived and thought it was just a case of leaky pipes, as well...until they also noted that the water seemed to be defying the laws of physics.

The officers decided to get their chief, Gary Roberts (who retired the next year), to come to the scene and observe the phenomenon himself. In the meantime, they asked everyone to leave the house. The Van Whys insisted on staying at their property, so Don (who still seemed to be in a trance) and the Kieffers went to a restaurant across the street. As soon as Don, left however, the rain stopped.

When the group arrived at the diner, they related their tale to its owner, Pam Scrofano. She was convinced that this was the work of a demon possessing Don's body. As they continued to talk about the situation, the rain that occurred back at the house began falling inside the restaurant. Scorfano then tried placing a crucifix in Don's hand, which burned him badly. 

The Kieffers and Don left the restaurant (which subsequently stopped the rain there) and returned to the house (where they rain started once again). Once inside, Van Why's wife and Jeannie Kieffer began berating Don about what was happening (because clearly, yelling at a possibly demon possessed person couldn't possibly have any negative effects).

                                                               floatingaway
Otherwise known as the 'Steve Irwin Method' 
of communicating with the spirit world.


If Don was possessed by a demon, it reacted the same way that most men would to having multiple women nagging him; with passive aggressive malice. Pots and pans began to shake around the entire room as Don levitated into the air and was thrown back against the wall (which in fairness to the evil spirit, did shut them up for the moment). Don also experienced another set of scratch marks going down his arm.

A little while later, the officers came back to the house with the police chief. When he arrived, he found not only a group of very frightened people, but the rain inside the house, which had started again. Surprisingly, he simply told his officers that it was not a matter that they needed to deal with (since no one was getting hurt from what he could see) and to forget about the case.

Fortunately, future police chief John Baujan had a bit of a rebellious streak in him. Three officers arrived at the house the next day to examine Don. Lt. William Davies put a crucifix in Don's hand, which became hot and burned him just like it had at the diner. As if on cue, the rain inside the house started again. 

After a few seconds, Lt. John Rundle (now deceased) claimed that Don levitated off the ground (just like the other witnesses claimed he had the night before) and was thrown against the the wall. When the three officers rushed over to help him, they saw three scratches like the ones that had appeared on Don's arm before, only this time they were on his neck.

When Don's furlough was over, he left the the Kieffer's house and went back to jail. After being in his cell for a few minutes, warden David Keenhold heard some commotion coming from the area where Don was housed. One of his officers came in, stared at him in disbelief, and exclaimed "Your shirt!".

When Keenhold looked down, he saw that the area around his sternum was saturated with water. It turned out that when the guards had heard of the recent events at the Kieffer household, one of them had dared Don to make it rain in the Keenhold's office.


"So instead, I used my powers to make 
him uncomfortable...FOR THE REST OF THE DAY!"


Just for good measure, it also started raining inside Don's jail cell. At this point, Keenhold decided to call in Reverend William Blackburn to perform an exorcism. When the reverend entered the cell, Don began begging for his help. Blackburn instead tried to accuse Don of making up everything that had happened (once again going with the "poke the evil entity with a stick" method).

At that point, Don's demeanor completely changed from the trance-like states he had entered during the prior events. He claimed to have great power, rubbed his fingers together, and rain began to pour inside the cell. At this point, Blackburn realized it was time to do his best Father Karrass impression and start fighting this demon with the word of God. He pulled out his Bible and began reading from it...which was surprisingly easy, since unlike everything else around him, the pages did not get wet.

Unlike in the movies, however, it only took a few minutes and very little struggling for Don to suddenly seem at peace as the rain stopped.

To this day, Don Decker has never experienced the terrible feelings or occurrences that he did during that weekend almost 30 years ago. He firmly believes that it was the spirit of his grandfather coming back to harm him from the grave. 

While nothing can prove that it was the spirit of his dead grandfather or some other sort of demonic possession, there were multiple eye witnesses (many of whom are high ranking police officials) that saw the same impossibly strange occurrences at different points in time. They also managed to all keep their stories very consistent in interviews that were done almost 20 years apart.

There also wasn't much for the police witnesses to gain from all of this except for ridicule, possible loss of their jobs, and a coveted, unpaid interview on a SyFy or Lifetime channel program.

Embedded below is an episode of  Paranormal Witness (2011) about the Don Decker incident. Unfortunately, the Unsolved Mysteries episode (1993) about it has been removed from Youtube (but you can still find the show's wiki page here)  While the melodrama gets kicked up to an almost sickening degree at times, you do get to see the subjects go on camera to get interviewed (and age fairly well).

I guess there's a chance this could all be one of the most elaborate hoaxes of all time, but even the most skeptical atheist would have to admit that just maybe, an evil presence was somehow involved.




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