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The Berini Haunting
In one of the most shocking cases of recent times, a New England family was surprised, disturbed and ultimately terrified by a series of apparitions that seemed intent on driving them from their home
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• Page 2: Poltergeist activity and the dark spirit
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"I try to justify all the things that happen in our house. So many things keep happening that
we can't explain. Things will be quiet for a while then start being weird again. We have an electric keyboard in our parlor. It is off unless someone plays it but plugged in. We left the house the the other day and I know that this keyboard was off. We came home at dark and it was time for bed. I went around the house locking doors. I noticed a light on in the parlor I thought that is strange so I went to check it out and the keyboard was on. You have to switch it on in the middle of the board and it isn't easy to do so I don't think anyone could have just bumped it and turned it on. I could go on and on about other things that have happened."
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• Ghosts: What Are They?
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• The Ghost of Serena

The strange, horrifying events that took place in a New England home in the late 1970s and early 1980s have been documented and investigated, but never fully explained. They began as a series of benign if remarkable hauntings and escalated into terrifying poltergeist phenomena, making this one of the most astonishing cases of ghostly activity in recent American history.

The real name of the family involved has been kept secret to protect their privacy, but the investigators for the Psychical Research Foundation provided them with the pseudonym of Berini. First names have also been changed.

The Berini's unsettling clash with the paranormal started after the father, Joe Berini, moved the family into his ancestral home located in a New England town. The house had been in the family for many years: Joe's father grew up there, and several family members had died in the house. All seemed normal, at first, as Joe settled in with his wife Rose and her two children from a previous marriage, John and Daisy. It was one night in May, 1979 that Rose began to hear a disembodied voice. It sounded like that of a little girl, Rose said, and the first time she heard it, it said, "Mama, mama, this is Serena."

No one knew who Serena was or what the voice might mean. It wasn't until a later investigation into family history that Joe learned that his father had a sister named Serena who died in the house at the age of five more than 50 years previous. But what was Serena's message trying to convey? It turned out that Serena's voice would be a forewarning of family danger - on more than one occasion. The very next day after Rose first heard Serena's voice, Daisy was taken for a scheduled appointment to have her tonsils taken out. Something went wrong during the surgery, however. Daisy's heart failed and she nearly died.

The girl's voice was heard on several more occasions, once on a June night before Joe's grandmother suffered a stroke, and again in November just before the old woman passed away. A fourth time, Joe was awakened by Serena's voice to find Rose choking in her sleep. Upon being roused from sleep by Joe, Rose said she had been dreaming that her ex-husband was strangling her.

The Boy in White

Then, as mysteriously as Serena's warnings came to the Berinis, they ceased. Through the end of 1979 to March, 1981, the family encountered nothing more out of the ordinary. But in that spring of 1981, a new series of haunting phenomena began when Rose was startled by the apparition of a small boy, dressed completely in white, walking along the upstairs hallway in the dead of night. "It was almost like looking through a milk bottle," Rose later told researchers. "It was a very peaceful experience. It stayed for about two hours on and off, coming and going." The boy's spirit appeared again a week and a half later, and this time spoke to Rose, innocently asking, "Where do all the lonely people go? Where do I belong?"

The boy in white also appeared before Joe, who says he saw the spirit go to each of the bedrooms and then kneel in the hallway, as if looking for something that lay hidden beneath the carpet. More than curious, Joe later took up the carpet and the floorboards at that spot and found a religious medal with a broken chain. Had it belonged to the boy? Who was he? Joe then recalled that another child had died in that house - his father's younger brother, Giorgio, at the age of eight. Again checking family history with other relatives, Joe was told that Giorgio was buried in his all-white First Communion suit.

Giorgio began to appear frequently to Joe and Rose over the next few months. The spirit would respond to questions, but seemed distressed over something. At one point, Giorgio accused his twin brother Carlos (who was still alive and living nearby) of taking something from the house, but no one, including Carlos, could figure out what the boy's ghost was referring to. On one nightly visit, Giorgio's spirit said, "My oldest brother is the only one who can help me." This statement caused the Berinis to wonder if the spirit was confusing Joe for his father - Giorgio's oldest brother. And as the apparition vanished that night, the telephone next to Joe and Rose's bed was thrown off the night table by unseen hands.

This was the beginning of the poltergeist activity that would terrorize the Berinis in the weeks and months to come.

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