The Toms River couple filed a lawsuit in April against their landlord for renting them an alleged haunted house. Both parties have agreed to have their case heard on the nationally syndicated television program “The People’s Court.”
Kerstin Augur, publicist for the show, confirmed Wednesday that the case will be heard today before Judge Marilyn Milian in the program’s New York studio.
While a studio audience will be present for the taping of the program, the television courtroom is a closed set to the general public as well as to the media, and the outcome of the case is not necessarily expected to be released until the program airs in a few weeks, or even a few months. All of the parties also are required to sign contracts stipulating to such secrecy.
Josue Chinchilla and Michele Callan, 37 and 36 respectively, who are engaged to be married, moved into the home on the corner of Lowell and Terrace avenues March 1 with Callan’s teenage daughter and 6-year-old son.
After the family settled into their new residence, they said they would come home and find their clothes and towels ejected from closets and strewn over the floors. Doors would creak open and slam closed in unoccupied parts of the house.
At night, footsteps could be heard from the kitchen after everyone was tucked in, and unintelligible whispering seemed to fade in and out of thin air, according to the couple.
The most disturbing phenomenon, they claim, was the sound they heard through the vents to the basement; the muffled din of something being dragged through the cellar.
The family left the house March 10 and moved to a motel room in Point Pleasant Beach, where they have been living since, after Chinchilla claimed he felt an invisible hand on his arm, and then saw sheets slide off the bed on their own. Callan also said she saw a dark apparition in their bedroom, at about the same time.
The family wants the return of their $2,250 security deposit. The couple claim their landlord, Dr. Richard Lopez, an orthodontist who has his practice next door to the house, at first verbally agreed to release the family from their one-year lease and refund the deposit after the couple told him about their experiences. But, on reflection, he later had an office assistant call Callan to explain he had changed his mind.
Lopez, 60, filed a counter suit against the family in the amount of $15,000.
Lopez contends Chinchilla and Callan have stigmatized the property and diminished his ability to rent or sell the house in the future.
Related Link: FAMILY FLEE HAUNTED HOME AND SUE THEIR LANDLORD