Twelve years ago, David Oman moved to a new home just 150 feet from 10050 Cielo Drive, the house in Benedict Canyon where Sharon Tate and four other people were murdered by the Manson family on August 9, 1969.
The mansion where the murders took place had been torn down in 1994, though a different house was later built on site. Five years after the home was razed, Oman's father purchased a nearby plot for $40,000, and together they built a house on it.
During construction, a worker told Oman heard voices and footsteps coming from the top floor and that he knew he wasn’t alone. On further inspection, he saw that nobody was there. Others claimed to hear voices and footsteps, and feeling a cold breeze on the back of their necks. Then, in July 2004, Oman woke from a deep sleep at 2 a.m. to find “a full body apparition at the bottom of his bed pointing towards the driveway which leads to the murder site.” He tells me, “There was no sound. He gestured three times and then just disappeared."
Fascinated and curious, he went to the LAPD to see if items from the murder had been left on the once-vacant land that held his house. If a bloodied piece of clothing or a knife carrying the victims' DNA had been on this property, that might somehow serve as a connection, he thought. That’s when he saw a photo of Jay Sebring, Sharon Tate’s close friend and hairdresser — also brutally murdered on that horrible night. Sebring bore an eerie resemblance to the figure he'd see at his bedside.
Paranormal activity at the house became something of an obsession for Oman. In the last decade, he's allowed access to dozens of “paranormal investigative teams,” who've brought instruments to measure electromagnetic activity in the air, which is thought to be a sign of the spirit world. He says, “The very first person to document the paranormal activities was world-renowned parapsychologist Barry Taff, who said in over 4,000 cases he investigated, this house had the highest consistent EMF readings he’d seen. He called it ‘the Mount Everest of haunted houses' and 'the Disneyland for the dead.’”
Yet living there has never fazed Oman. By nature a spiritual person, he isn't fearful of ghosts or paranormal activity. “I always felt like I wasn’t alone here, but I’m not afraid of werewolves or fictitious characters, and I do know life is more than just what we see. Besides, I’m way more scared of the living than the dead,” he says.
In 2011, Oman served as a writer/producer on House at the End of the Drive, a fictionalized movie based on what he's witnessed on Cielo Drive. Every few months, he now opens his home for an evening of ghosthunting, posting a notice on the film's Facebook page. “Wanna go Ghost Hunting at The Oman House? Here's your Chance!”
In May, I decide to join the hunt. The night, May 10, is dense with cloud cover and a half-moon exposure — a Dracula moon. I park on the very private road high above Beverly Hills and walk to the Oman house. The garage door is open, with a team of men watching multiple monitors of surveillance cameras inside the house. “We’re looking for activity,” they tell me.
Oman, warm and cheerful, introduces me to the group of a dozen men and women: some gawkers, others who work on paranormal TV shows and consider themselves experienced in the field. One girl gushes about her and her mom’s obsession with the Tate murders, admitting to driving by this street many times, “just to see where it happened.” Another tells of an evening she spent here a year ago, when her very skeptical friend sustained inexplicable, almost blood-like, red stains on her dress that she said smelled “like old cat pee.” Horrified, the friend would never talk about the dress ever again.
That same night as they were leaving, the woman continues, random cars on the block had only the right front headlight and right back light lit — all along the street. “And as you went up the street, toward the old Tate place, the left headlights and rear lights were lit, again on random cars. It was like a map or trail of some sort.”
Oman guides our group on a tour downstairs. As we descend the winding metal staircase, a man stands at the bottom holding a meter that looks like a cell phone. “The activity is huge! Look at this!! It’s like almost 2,000 and that’s crazy!”
Up next, photos of possible paranormal activity on the property...
The device, a natural tri-field meter, measures the electrical and magnetic activity that's naturally found in the air. Apparently, this spot gives readings higher than anywhere else in the house. “If you stay in this area of such high voltage it could alter your mind,” the man says.
I ask how he knows the readings are related to “activity” — could it be the electrical field inside all of us? “When the readings are this level, it indicates that this spot is a favorable environment for the spirits to manifest. They can use the energy that’s occurring naturally. So we know to watch in this area.”
We walk through the hallway into a larger room. One of the guys is wearing a tee shirt with PARANORMAL PHOTOGRAPHER on the back. He says, “This is where I saw definitely a male spirit. Not exactly a man standing there, but it was for sure a male and it was as if he challenging me. Like, 'What do you want?'”
We go into a bedroom where a small K2 meter that measures radio frequencies sits on the bottom of the bed, again to measure “activity.” People in the group yell out, “Show yourselves! Are you with us? Let us know you are here!”
The chanting gets louder. “Hey Sharon, are you here?” “Are you with us Jay??!! C’mon, show us!” Ghosts or no ghosts, it feels creepy to shriek at the spirits of brutally murdered people, as if they could just appear on the spot.
Oman later tells me that the actress Lindsay Lohan once visited the house through a friend's introduction — and requested that the spirits manifest. Said Oman, “It just doesn't happen like that, Lindsay.” Yet the people at the house tonight aren't much different — the spirits don't have much room to sneak up on us. We're too busy shouting.
I don’t see any evidence of ghosts that night, although the photos in the upstairs bathroom of a young, gorgeous Sharon Tate are haunting. I will admit, I want to meet her, dead or alive, just to say how sad I am about it all.
I call Oman the next day, after he emails me photos of flashing, floating light in the house, captured with high speed 400 and 800 film. He says they're sightings. “I’ve had many esteemed psychics and mediums here — James Van Prague, Lisa Williams, Chris Fleming — and they all say that the spirits of those that were killed have unfinished business and they will not crossover until the murderers are also dead,” he says. “I’ve seen infrared video footage of balls of light and shadow figures on many occasions and my figurines that stand in a very active room fall over without any help, often. I know it’s them.”
“How,” I ask, because it’s all I want to know. “It’s been 45 years since the murder. How do you know its Sharon Tate’s ghost?”
There’s a pause. “Once when I had a table full of people here, ten years ago, I literally heard Sharon whisper, 'I just want you to know we’re here.'”
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Spooky? Absolutely. But the eeriest thing I learn from Oman is that when his mother died nine years ago, he had to stay with her body for three hours in the dark. “The power went out and I sat with my mother’s body,” he recalls. “I felt her leave her body and her spirit remain. The mythology of death was right in my face and I knew after that, the body and the spirit are two different things.
“Somehow faced with my own mortality, it made things very clear and it cemented for me that there is a soul. And if it’s not at peace, it will stay here until it is.”
For information on future tours, see the film's Facebook page.