What is a Ouija board, you say (or ouiji board, oujia board, ouji board or quija board, depending on spelling used)?
It is is a relatively popular device used for (supposedly) communicating with the dead or other spirits, by summoning them and having them guide the planchette (a small heart-shaped piece of wood or plastic) to the letters of the English alphabet, the numbers 0–9, the words “yes”, “no”, “hello” (occasionally), and “goodbye”, or to various other symbols and graphics engraved on the board.
Now, whether you’re using it as simple amusement as a means to pass the time with your gloomy and grim goth friends, without any serious investment of belief in it, or you’re the town’s resident part-time fortune-teller (complete with head scarf, rings, ominous stare and mysteriously accented voice) and you employ it for your night job with the real, genuine intent of communicating with the spirit world, depends entirely on you, the owner, and your companions.
The fact remains that since its creation, the Ouija board has been in use up to our present-day and has featured in enough popular movies (especially of the horror type), to make it an intriguing contraption, to which people (and movie-makers) keep coming back to. Not to mention scientists, who also gave it a go and were unimpressed, declaring that all the claimed supernatural effects and actions related to the Ouija board can be explained by unconscious movements of those controlling the pointer, a para-physiological phenomenon known as the ideomotor effect, and hence, all claims of rigorous proof of its validity is pseudoscience.
As for who invented the Ouija board, its first appearance cannot be attributed to any specific individual as it was reportedly used by several spiritualists, including those in Camp Ohio as early as 1886, but the first modern, commercial, parlor trick version belongs to business man Elijah Bond in 1890 who saw the opportunity it presented for entertainment and acted on it.
However, regardless if we believe its supernatural nature or not, we have to take into account the psychological impact that the Ouija board has definitely had on many people in its history. And sometimes it has even had some very serious consequences as shown by the 5 Ouija board related crimes presented below.
1. Death by proxy
It takes a special kind of mom to make her underage daughter kill her father so mommy can re-marry a younger man whom she fancies. But Dorothea Irene Turley took it to another level of deviousness when she convinced her 15-year-old daughter Mattie Turley to do just that by an Ouija board seance in 1933, in Prescott, Arizona. Lo and behold! the board spelled out a brief instructional on how Mattie should proceed and Dorothea gravely told her that “the board cannot be denied”. Mattie shot her father in the back and he died in hospital.
2. Teenage cruelty
The villain of this story is (at the time) 16 year-old Bunny Dixon of Florida who, along with her boyfriend Anthony Hall (25) and their friends Daniel Bowen (24) and Elizabeth Towne (18) thought it would be cool to ambush innocent 25-year-old Ngoc Van Dang, rob him, bind him, gag him, take him to the woods, carve and inverted cross on his chest (author: Hall) and then finally shoot him 11 times in the head and chest.
You see, this makes perfect sense, because Dixon (who happened to be interested in Satanism and the occult, as was Hall) had been told by “David”, a 10 year old boy, through the Ouija board that they had to travel to Virginia that summer for a carnival, but in order to do so they would have to rob and kill a man…
3. Mental illness amplifier
Michael Earridge and Stephen Curran (both 15 at the time) went to Michael Mcallum’s house in London, along with his friend Pierre Antoine. The latter two were 17 years old and 16 years old, respectively. But this night in 1995 didn’t proceed like a regular hang out with friends. Because upon arriving at the flat, Earridge and Curran saw what was later described as a shrine to Satan. If that wasn’t enough to compel them to leave, when Mcallum took out an Ouija board and it spelled out the word “Kill”, that was. Unfortunately, Earridge was prevented from doing so by Antoine, after which Mcallum stabbed him 11 times in the neck and chest, while Curran watched, unable to do anything.
It was found in the investigation and trial that followed that Mcallum had mental problems (which were unspecified) and Antoine was an advanced schizophrenic. Apparently the Ouija board seance was the only trigger necessary for them to perform as they did. It is also assumed that Mcallum killed Earridge as an intended sacrifice to Satan.
Carol Sue Elvaker was in 2001 a 53 year old grandmother with no prior history of alcohol or drugs abuse, nor any form of mental illness. As she used an Ouija board with her daughter Tammy (who had a happy marriage devoid of domestic violence), she apparently was informed in no uncertain terms, by God, that the father of her 2 grand-daughters, Brian Roach (34) was, in fact, evil and had to be put to death. So she took a knife and stabbed him in his sleep, then watched (with his wife, her daughter, by her side) as he bled to death, screaming for help. But that wasn’t the end.
Elvaker then tried to stab one of her grand-daughters (the 10 year old one). Tammy stopped her from this particular action, but then didn’t do anything else but hide the knife, after which she and both her daughters got in the car with Elvaker to get away, and LET HER DRIVE!
Guess what? She tried to kill everybody by crashing, but only succeeded in breaking both her ankles and giving minor injuries to the other occupants. Then she pushed one of her grand-daughters onto the lanes, in the traffic, as she was convinced Brian’s evil had transferred to her, but failed to kill her this way. She was later found in the woods naked, where she was arrested.
5. Missing in action
This is the story of 6 military employees who didn’t fall to the physical, identifiable enemies the Army usually faces. They were analysts, who in 1989 started exploring the supernatural. They were fairly high in the hierarchy, since they all had top secret security clearances. And despite trying a variety of things from ESP (extra sensory perception) to tarot cards, they reported that the only success they recorded involved using Ouija boards, which predicted a few events (supposedly, according to the analysts), with the help of several spirits.
When in 1990, the Ouija board told them that they should prepare, because Jesus’ Second Coming and the Rapture would be upon us in 5 years max (hint: it wasn’t; 1995 passed fairly devoid of Raptures and Second Comings), the 6 men took it seriously. But they were stationed in Augsburg, West Germany and the Ouija board kept insisting that they “leave, just leave” and “things would work out”.
They sure did work out. For everyone except them. Because they left their posts, traveled to Gulf Breeze Florida (famous for its UFO sightings) to meet a psychic friend to consult with and were arrested there by the police, five days after they had left Germany. They were found guilty for being AWOL (Absent Without Official Leave) and tried as deserters, ending their careers in the army.