Elijah is an Amazon best-selling author, blogger, previous columnist for an award-winning blog, past creative editor, socialite and traveler
The Beginning: The Morris Family
It was the 1980's, a time of teen rebellion, Madonna and M.J., breakthrough movies like the Breakfast Club, and lots of Aqua Net (oh God, Aqua Net...). For the Morris family, the 1980's was a very different time: a time of great hardship and the supernatural.
According to Jill Morris, a friend of hers owned a daycare next to 207 19th Street, and never before had a sense of dread when next to the property. She was pregnant and about five months in when her and her husband started looking for a place to move in. 207 19th Street, in Watervliet, New York, had a vacant apartment. The building was connected to an old Victorian home built in the early to mid 1800's and was converted into three apartments.
One of the apartments was occupied by a family, and the other was occupied by an older man who Morris claimed, "never spoke."
Before moving in, Jill started to have odd nightmares, and at the time they were completely nonsensical. She'd have dreams of strange visual imagery of a boat, cars and trucks and loud booming and crashing noises.
When they decided to take a tour of the apartment, Jill immediately sensed that something was very, very wrong. When she put her hand on the railing to walk up the stairs to see the upstairs apartment she was hit with a strong and malevolent energy. It was so strong that she claimed she nearly fell backwards down the stairs, but she later dismissed it as pregnancy-related dizziness. When she got to the living room, things got even worse. There was some sort of haze or cloud looming over the room. She and many others described this as haziness, like the room was smoky (imagine a small room where many people were smoking cigarettes). She also noticed, since it was an old home, that there were footprints stained/imprinted on the wood flooring. They looked like heel marks from a woman, and she could feel a woman and a man's presence in the room. Her husband ultimately decided to move into the apartment, and that is when the nightmare began...
Almost all of Jill's friends claimed they had terrible, paranormal nightmares whenever they stayed overnight at their home. Her husband would dismiss these claims and even scoffed at the thought of there being ghosts in the apartment. One of Jill's friends said he was sleeping on the couch when the spirit of a man shoved him off the couch and onto the floor. It was the last time he stayed the night at the Morris's apartment.
"It Wants Us Dead"
After her husband's suicide, Jill invited a medium to take a tour of the property, and the medium told Jill that it was the most evil place she had ever been to, and that any person should stay as far away from the property as possible. Jill commented, stating that whatever was in that apartment wanted them dead, and its sole goal was to inflict chaos.
Help! My Husband Is Doomed...
It seemed as though, the longer they lived at 207, the worse her husband became. His mannerisms changed, his speech, even his body language changed. He began to display signs of impulsivity, recklessness, and loss of memory. On a 4th of July beach day, something overcame her husband while boating, and he took control of the boat (which had lots of children on it) and began driving crazily and headed towards the beach. It appeared as though he was trying to run the boat aground, which could have severely injured or even killed people. The entire time he was sailing about, he was laughing and talking to himself. After he came back to his senses he had no recollection of what happened.
Jill's reoccurring dreams came to fruition one day as her husband was driving them home. Her husband started to laugh once more in an eerie fashion, and on the other side of the road she saw a truck driving with a boat attached onto the back. It was then that her dream made sense; a truck, a boat, and a loud crash. They were doomed to be in an accident, and whether or not her dream was a warning/heads up or it was a premonition from an evil spirit, we cannot be sure. Her husband swerved towards the other side of the road and crossed the yellow line: he was going to crash head on into the truck towing the boat! And then, almost in an instant, he came back to his senses and narrowly avoided crashing. He was confused and had no memory of any of it happening, similar to amnesia.
Now, perhaps it was some kind of evil force that took hold of him, but there are other explanations. He could have had a psychotic break during that summer and psychosis causes many odd behavior changes:
- Audible and visual hallucinations
- Strong inappropriate emotions (for example, laughing and thinking a dangerous situation is funny)
- Trouble thinking clearly
- Withdrawing from social situations
Now, psychosis isn't a mental illness in itself, it is just a symptom. I'm not a psychologist or a therapist, but I do struggle with mental illness and I am very, very, very, familiar with medications, therapy, the diagnostic process and overlapping symptoms of mental illness. For example, if he was struggling with undiagnosed schizophrenia it would explain most (if not all) of his sudden changes in character.
- Extremely disorganized or abnormal motor behavior. This may show in a number of ways, from childlike silliness to unpredictable agitation.
- Disorganized thinking (speech). Disorganized thinking is inferred from disorganized speech. Effective communication can be impaired, and answers to questions may be partially or completely unrelated. Rarely, speech may include putting together meaningless words that can't be understood, sometimes known as word salad.
Most symptoms of schizophrenia come out in your early-to-mid twenties which puts her husband at the exact time frame. Schizophrenia is also mainly common in men. Suicidal thoughts and behaviors are also extremely common with those suffering from said mental illness (keep this fact in mind when reading the rest of the article). There were claims that Jill's husband also struggled with alcohol, and as we know from research, schizophrenia can cause adverse complications and coping mechanisms like using drugs, alcohol, or nicotine.
The mental health field was not as good as it is today; experts didn't understand certain things that we now know today, and getting help or finding resources was more of a challenge. It is safe to say, in my opinion, that this was just a case of undiagnosed mental illness coming to a boiling point, resulting in extreme consequence.
The Terrible Tragedies
After months of spiritual activity, and her husband's decline, it all came to a boiling point: he took a shotgun and attempted to murder her and their son. Jill's mother was present and witnessed the ordeal, and only a few hours later, Jill's husband commit suicide.
Even more disturbing, there were 14 deaths that occurred at 207 19th Street, 3 of which were suicides, in the same apartment and even the same room... Even darker, the small one block radius itself has 16 reported suicides.
Explanations For The Hauntings
According to Jill (her speculation), she believes that the surrounding area is cursed by demonic activity that was summoned by higher-up church officials at the nearby cathedral: Saint Patrick's. She said that churches in the area were going through a rough financial period, but Saint Patrick's in Watervliet was not. She believes that the church officials deviated away from their religion and conjured something evil to have "it" give them some kind of good luck/financial prosperity (according to spell books and grimoires, there are many rituals and spells that can be used to summon demons, and different demons can give you different gifts depending on the price that you pay).
Both 207 19th Street, and Saint Patrick's Church are no longer standing today. They have both been demolished.
Book & Documentary
In 2013, Jill Morris released her first book, 207 which tells the story of her time living at the residence. She planned on releasing a documentary and asked for donations of over $800,000. An exorbitant amount...
Jill Morris says she would never set foot on the property, not even if she was paid millions of dollars. Those who work at the Rite Aid (now Walgreens) say objects regularly fall over and move, motion sensors are set off when no one is around, and strange noises are heard throughout the building.
Where 207 Would Be Today
My Experience & Opinion
After researching and making the decision to write this article, I figured it would be best to do what I always do before uploading an article: drive to the location and take photos. When I started driving it started raining and this was late in the evening, so it was a very fitting night for a photo session at a "haunted" site. I did start to feel a sensation of dread looming over me as I drove closer to the area, and I also started to feel extremely groggy as well. However, this was probably just my nerves getting the best of me because I had just read so much material on the house's story. I believe in the paranormal but I am skeptical at the same time.
Perhaps 207 really was haunted, but perhaps it was a publicity stunt. Maybe there were strange occurrences but Jill exaggerated them or remembered them in a skewed way because of her anxieties pertaining her husband's suicide. Even more dark; perhaps she made everything up just to sell her book and to raise over $800,000 for a documentary, and an upcoming SECOND book. Another thing we need to take into consideration is mental illness, or even physical-neurological illnesses. There are many mood disorders and psychotic disorders that can cause erratic behavior, audible and visual hallucinations, and incohesive actions. Her husband obviously had to be mentally ill to muster up the energy to kill himself, so who is to say he didn't have a nervous breakdown? Jill claimed that he had no prior history of mental illness but for all we know, again, she could be just saying that to make her story seem even more credible. For all we know, her husband could have had pages upon pages of documented nervous breakdowns. Another thing to keep in mind is that, sometimes one can seem totally normal to the public but struggle with personal demons. He could have just lost his façade and broke down and lost his fight. He also could have had something trigger it. Sometimes people aren't even aware of mental illness until a stressful time or a trigger brings it out for the first time.
Jill's claims of her husband threatening and pointing a gun at her are also only corroborated by one other person: her own mother. Someone who has clear bias in favor of her daughter. She could just be covering for her daughter to further the narrative.
As for the speculation that the church had something to do with some kind of conjuring of evil, and that being the explanation for the hauntings; its only speculation. Unless she saw first-hand what the church was doing, or had evidence, or someone from the church admitted to it, then we just can't be certain. After all, it does seem farfetched, and accusing the nearby church of being responsible with the basis that, "other churches in the area were struggling, but they weren't. Therefore they had to be engaging in witchcraft to be successful", is really silly sounding. Every church has different financial situations, with different benefactors giving different amounts of money, and depending on where the church is, the church-goers could be wealthy and better able to support the church. There are many wild claims that surround the story.
Also, Jill claims to be psychic and has said that since she was a small child she would see spirits and hear things others couldn't see. Children are known to have very big imaginations and there are a lot of explanations for her childhood experiences.
From the book, it is gathered by many that there was nothing paranormal, and Jill was married to a mentally ill alcoholic. There are also claims from several people that she did nothing to help her home life, blamed her problems on others, and blamed possession instead of taking responsibility for her own failures.
After reading and researching, I think that her husband probably had unresolved/undiagnosed mental problems. He could have even had a brain tumor for all we know, or some other neurological problem that impaired his memory, functioning and reasoning. I think that 207 probably was haunted, but not as much as it was made out to be. And maybe, just maybe, it was a combination of both mental illness AND hauntings that drove her husband to suicide, but I don't believe for one second that there was a church conspiracy playing out that revolved around Satanism. It is far too out there of a speculation. I'm not sure if Jill's claims are fictitious or exaggerated to promote her book and documentary, or if she really did experience what she said she did, but we won't ever know for certain.
Check out the book on 207 19th street
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 Elijah DeVivo