At the Epicenter ...
Although over two dozen college students have claimed to have some recollection of - or witnessed or experienced - the 1985 C2D1 Haunting, two Erie Hall students at SUNY Geneseo, Chris Di Cesare (who lived in C2D1) and J. Jeff Ungar (who lived one door down in C2D2) are considered the primary witnesses to the now infamous occurrence. At the time of the haunting, Di Cesare (far left) was a nationally-ranked distance runner who had completed nine 26.2 mile marathons at the age of 19, while Ungar (near left) was a talented and accomplished writer and photographer. Each of them were in their second year at the college when that momentous fall semester began. Di Cesare was said to be a popular student on campus, often described by those who knew him as "outgoing" and "friendly". His penchant for running through forests and waterfalls in his birthday suit served to underscore his love of the natural world. Ungar was considered both "keenly observant" and "introverted" while being widely respected for his intelligence. Many of his former classmates note that Ungar was rarely seen leaving his dorm room without his trusty 35mm Minolta camera, capturing meaningful moments whenever and wherever possible. One could argue that Di Cesare's joy for life and Ungar's desire to record it, may be the very reasons that they both survived it as they did, and the reasons why evidence of the haunting exists today. It was Di Cesare who first began hearing a 'disembodied voice' in his dorm room on or about February 10th, 1985, just over a week after noted 'Demonologists' Ed and Lorraine Warren had lectured at the college. The following evening Di Cesare claimed to see a full-bodied apparition standing in the room, rising out of his roommate's stereo. Di Cesare, in a panic, began relating his experience to Ungar, who admitted to being somewhat fascinated by the accounts that he was being provided with, and whose decision to chronicle the events led to what is now known as the 'C2D1 Journal'. According the many witnesses, the haunting lasted for several months and included: a blessing from Fr. Charlie Manning, Chaplain of the college's Interfaith Center; the hasty departure of Di Cesare's roommate, Paul; evidence-gathering guidance from a university professor (Dr. Lawrence Casler); and a vicious attack in the dorm shower that left Di Cesare bleeding down his back and sprawled across the dorm's bathroom floor in a state of shock. The existence of the journal notes, the 'skeletal image' 35mm photograph, and the 'ghost tape' all underscore the lengths that Di Cesare, Ungar, and their college mates went to, in the hopes of understanding what was transpiring all around them. As other students began to complain about being victimized by the entity, Di Cesare was reported to have taken the advice of another college student, Craig Norris, and resigned himself to directly engaging the entity.
Proving That They Were There
Room "C2D1" in Erie Hall
A Collection of Witnesses
Unlike many purported hauntings, there have been close to two dozen people (most of them college students) who claim to have witnessed, or been aware of, various portions of the haunting. Erie Hall residents Beth Kinsman and Ed S. were present on March 10th, 1985 when J. Jeff Ungar found Chris lying naked and bleeding on the bathroom floor, with three long scratches running down his back. Chris' roommate, Paul A., asserted that he saw the full-bodied apparition with the 'tilted head' on more than one occasion, and that he would see a gold or white orb hovering near Chris' head as he slept. Many students, including Chris, Beth, Paul, and Curt claimed to hear a disembodied voice call out: "Chrisssss". Linda Fox claimed to be held down in her bed and unable to move, as her friends gathered around her; and Beth was found unconscious in her room, claiming that the ghost would not leave her alone.
Three decades would pass before Di Cesare and Manning spoke again. On June 3rd, 2015, Di Cesare (whose memoir Surviving Evidence was causing quite a stir the the field of the paranormal) was a guest on the internationally-acclaimed Coast to Coast AM with George Noory show. By some twist of fate, Manning, who had always wondered about what happened to the boys, was listening to the show that night and heard Di Cesare thank him - on air - some thirty years later. On July 1st, the two men (along with J. Jeff Ungar, Director Mara Katria, Producer Bill Edwards and some longtime friends who wanted to witness the moment) shared a well-earned embrace. For Di Cesare, it was a chance to finally say 'thank you' to the man who helped to restore his faith and play an important role in ushering him safely through the haunting. For Manning, it was pleasant reminder of the positive impact of his years of ministry. For those interested in the C2D1 Haunting, it was an unexpected opportunity to glean some additional history and detail.
Information from The Ghost Research Society, one of the very first paranormal sites on the internet. Run by Dale Kaczmarek, the site has displayed the photo for over twenty years, and has played a role in making the C2D1 Haunting, and the 'skeletal image' known across the globe. The photograph was provided to the site for use by Alan Lewis sometime in 1994. Lewis, who interviewed both Di Cesare and Ungar in early December of 1985 (not long after the haunting had ended) was the first to independently investigate the C2D1 events, and eventually put his stamp of approval on their authenticity.
"This photograph was taken by Christopher DiCesare, who was a student at Geneseo State University of New York, in 1985. The photograph was taken in Erie Hall Dorm, Room C2D1. The ghost was called "Tommy" by those who were involved. And it turned out, after much research, the ghost was thought be to that of a young boy (of the same name) who had hung himself at the college years earlier. Strange drafts were also felt by many in the room. One evening, the student was shocked to look up and see a very life-like apparition of a male youth wearing what resembled a striped rugby shirt, its head tilted to one side. Objects were very often moved and cold spots experienced. This photograph is an enlargement and shows a skeletal figure to the right of a poster of a man, Bill Rodgers, a 4-time winner of both the New York City and Boston Marathons. This is only one of a handful of such images where no fully developed figure shows up, but only the skeleton! The ribs, spinal cord and pelvis can clearly be seen in this image! It was captured with a 35MM camera."
Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) Recorded in March 1985 in Room B2B2 of Erie Hall @ SUNY Geneseo. Present were J. Jeff Ungar, Chris Di Cesare, Linda Fox and Beth Kinsman. This recording was made on a 'Scotch 3M AVC 20' audio cassette tape on a Sears Roebuck SR2100 tape recorder, and later digitized for use in the SyFy "School Spirits": Dorm Room Nightmare episode which first aired on June 27th, 2012. This is a 14-second snippet from one of several tapes. The original cassette tapes are currently housed in a fire-proof vault in Western New York state.
The Haunting Expands
September 3rd, 1984. The day that Chris Di Cesare first arrived at Erie Hall in SUNY Geneseo.
In his book 'Surviving Evidence: Memoir of an Extreme Haunting', Di Cesare would write: Thirty years ago, I did not know what an extreme haunting was, but I can share with you that William Golding, in his literary masterpiece Lord of the Flies, inadvertently captured the essence of one when he wrote: ‘The world, that understandable and lawful world, was slipping away.’ Although it seemed to me that in our case it had less to do with the laws of man, and far more with the laws of nature.
On the lecture and convention circuit, I met other people. People like Andrea Perron (The Conjuring); Christopher Quaratino (Amityville Horror) and Edwin Becker (the first televised exorcism) who claimed to have learned through devastatingly frightening experiences that, in some ways, mirrored my own. In discussing these similarities, I came to realize that we, as ‘haunted survivors’, were members of a very select group, one that had captured a not-so-fleeting glimpse of the afterlife.
As human beings, we are afforded choices. Some choices are as clear as the pane of glass that separates you and your college dorm from the world on the other side. Others, they are as confusing and devastating as the darkness of a hurricane’s wind in the night time sky; scattering tree limbs, debris – and all hope of safety – across the scarred landscape. Yet, strangely, in spite of all the tools at our disposal, the distinctions of outcome between the two cannot always be predicted.
The distinction between two people, between their philosophies, between their politics, between their backgrounds, can cause separation. A separation that can become permanent. But when it mattered most, there were no separating distinctions in John Jeff Ungar’s mind, only his desire to help a friend. It was John Jeff Ungar, who, as you will read, meticulously recorded the terrifying 1985 events via the “C2D1 Journal Notes”, and who risked it all in those dark days to ensure that proof would exist, and that I would survive.