In the Fall of 1943, residents of Sahuarita lived in terror.
Paranormal activity plagued the area 20 miles south of Tucson, with most of the activity focused on the home of a 70-year-old woman. Bricks were tossed down her chimney. Rocks frequently pelted her roof in the dead of night. She would routinely find sand mixed in with her coffee.
Not long after the rumors of the haunted house began to circulate throughout the community, a man was robbed. The man could not see his assailants in the pitch black darkness of the night. Two other men were beaten on different nights. Residents started to carry guns, fearful that the ghosts appeared to be multiplying. The residents acknowledged that their bullets were useless against the ghosts, but they didn’t know what else to do.
When the news of the robbery and assaults reached the 70-year-old woman and she made the decision to abandon her home.
Deputy Sheriff Ben Mariscal also had enough of the paranormal activity in Sahuarita. Mariscal wasn’t afraid of no ghosts and was determined to put an end to it.
Over the course of his (paranormal) investigation, he suspected that several area youths were up to no good in the neighborhood. He targeted two boys, in particular, as the “ghost chiefs” of the bunch. One of the boys, a 15-year-old, was the grandson of the 70-year-old woman who abandoned her home.
Mariscal arranged a “ghost hunt” with the two boys at the abandoned home. He told the boys that he wanted to witness the ghostly activity for himself. The boys agreed to participate . On the night of the paranormal investigation, Mariscal arrived at the home with an innocent 15-year-old boy. The boy would be used as a decoy, according to his plan to nab the “ghosts” that evening. The deputy told all three boys to sit on a bench, with the decoy seated between the two suspected ghost boys. Mariscal turned off the lights. They all waited for the midnight hour, which was just moments away.
Through the darkness came the sound of a blood curdling scream. Mariscal turned on the lights to find the decoy with blood pouring out of his busted nose. Mariscal demanded to know which of the boys was the ghost. The two suspected ghosts immediately turned around and accused the decoy of attacking them with a metal instrument. The decoy protested, saying that he felt one of the boys’ arms move just before he was hit in the face. When Mariscal revealed that the bloody-nosed boy was a “plant”, the ghost boys ended their charade.
The boys were put in front of Judge William G. Hall in juvenile court. The “chief ghost” was given a year probation with the guarantee of being shipped off to reform school at Fort Grant, if even the slightest “ghosting” occurred again. The second boy received a slap on the hand.
Judge Hall said about his ruling: “If they had stayed with their pranks and let it go at that, I would have been inclined to show leniency, but when they began knocking down people and robbing one, it was going too far. This one boy is without doubt the leader of the little gang and supplied most of the ideas, I believe, and for that reason the terms of his probation are rather severe. The other lad was not involved to the same extent and I thought if we took care of the chief ghost the difficulty would be solved.”
The 70-year-old grandmother of the heavily reprimanded chief ghost returned to her home. From that point forward, no rocks showered her roof. No bricks dropped down her chimney. No coffee was tainted with sand.
It is assumed that the decoy’s nose healed nicely, though there is no record of what happened to him after the ghost hunt. It is due to him, and Deputy Sheriff Mariscal, that the streets of Sahuarita became safe, once again.
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