Boyle Heights Paranormal Project

Who you gonna call? Members of The Boyle Heights Paranormal Project*

Amongst the many Eastside related Facebook pages to pop up in recent months, The Boyle Heights Paranormal Project is a project that immediately grabbed my attention. I visited their page and was surprised to discover that indeed, this was a real group of folks from the Eastside who went around to local haunted areas to document the supernatural goings-on of the neighborhood.
It makes sense to find documenters of the paranormal in our part of town. The Eastside is home to quite a few century-old graveyards and cemeteries as this area was at one time considered the outskirts of Los Angeles. For many years I’ve been intrigued by rumors that many Eastside elementary schools were haunted due to being built on the former sites of graveyards – these spots being the last open spaces in our rapidly expanding city. I’ve talked to teachers and janitors who have “seen” things.
The Boyle Heights Paranormal Project members are well aware of this history and their frequent documented forays into nearby cemeteries and other phantom-ridden locations result in a bounty of ghostly photographic images. Many of them are downright creepy, in others, you might be hard-pressed to notice anything out of the ordinary. In any case, visit their Facebook page (website coming soon) to view some of these photos…if you dare!
One of the members of the group was kind enough to answer some questions about their project and even tackled one of LA Eastside’s reoccurring queries: are there cholo ghosts?

How did you get started?

Boyle Heights Paranormal Project was an idea I had in 2005. I started to research the cultural and ethnic history of the community I grew up in and came across some rich stories that I had heard growing up but really never gave any thought too. After contemplating for many months, I decided to create a group of individuals that had similar interests in the rich and diverse community we grew up in and to bring to the forefront the tales and lore of the diverse group of residents that make up Boyle Heights.

Does Boyle Heights have more ghosts than other neighborhoods?

Boyle Heights is rich in cultural history with people from diverse backgrounds and religious beliefs. Growing up my neighbors were Japanese, Russian, Jewish and Mexican-American, all with their own versions of the El Cucuy (or the Bogyman) and their perspectives of life after death. So, I do believe strongly that Boyle Heights, as rich as it is in cultural history is probably as haunted as any other neighborhood here in Los Angeles.

Is the ability to see ghosts a natural born talent or something one develops?

Paranormal research has shown that the ability to see ghosts on a daily basis is experienced by a chosen few who feel that the gift can be fine-tuned and broadened to other aspects of the paranormal.

Are you familiar with the many ghost stories told in Eastside elementary schools?

While attending First Street Elementary School in Boyle Heights, we all heard stories of La Llorona and it scared the heck out of us. We also heard the tales of footsteps echoing through the empty hallways of our school, lights flashing off and on, and the occasional door slamming in the copy-room . Some of the local schools that have documented paranormal activity: First Street Elementary, Malabar Elementary, Our Lady of Talpa and Second Street Elementary.

Why are there no cholo ghosts?

Now, we all laughed at this question at first, then we researched it and found not only are there cholo ghosts but ghosts of all lifestyles and genres. We have disco ghosts, surfer ghosts, and the apparition of the ice-cream man, so the afterlife is filled with a diverse group of spirits who are in death as they were in life. Some here on our staff have had family members actually see the apparition of a loved one walking up a staircase. In fact, in this particular instance, this family member was killed years earlier in gang warfare. So yes, there are cholo ghosts – firme, huh?

Any other news or info you would like to tell our readers?

I would like to add that the Boyle Heights Paranormal Project is a group of professionals that all have the same ideas about the paranormal – we acknowledge that there is something there we cannot understand. We will approach the phenomenon in a scientific light so that we leave all unanswered questions answered to the best of our knowledge and to conduct our investigations in a professional manner and with the utmost respect.
We are happy to announce the launch of our website and the upcoming investigation at Linda Vista Hospital and The Waverly Sanatorium, in Kentucky.
We can be reached on Facebook and soon at

***Photo by Eddie Ruvalcava

38 thoughts on “Boyle Heights Paranormal Project

  1. Thanks Chimatli, thinking about ghosts or the cucuy and trying to come up with something, and even though the Eastside has all those cemetery’s I can’t think of many. Also the Eastside is the location of LA’s sometimes infamous “County Morgue” where sometimes there are so many bodies they stack them up like firewood, so go figure.
    Of course there have been many “La Llorona” sightings in the LA River, especially in the section with all the vegetation in Frogtown.
    But in my experience there have been many more Llorona or “The Lady In White” sightings in Elysian Park.
    When I was a kid our mothers warned us not to be caught at night in the hills of Lincoln Hts, Montecito Hts or El Sereno, because the specter or ghost of the woman who (in the 20’s or 30’s I believe), killed her children with a claw hammer would haunt those hills looking for more children to kill. She was supposed to have a mad insane look on her face and her hair blowing in the wind and be heard screaming like an owl.
    Near the Eastside but not actually in it there is the legend of the Mexicano who was buried in the cement while building the “Suicide Bridge” in Pasadena and who lures people to jump to thier deaths there.

    The Queen of Angeles Hospital (where I was born by the way), in Echo Park has had many many ghost sightings. There is a certain floor where the ghost of a Catholic Nun roams the halls.

    The creepy castle in Alhambra where recently Phil SPector killed his girlfriend was always rumored to be haunted.
    And close by in Griffith Park “Bee’s Rock” is supposed to be the home of a demon or phantom that makes people jump off of it. When I was about 12 years old some of my friends hiked up to Bee’s Rock got separated and when they came back down one was missing. After a large search party spent a day or two looking , they found the young kids body in the brush and rocks at the bottom of Bee’s Rock.

    Cathedral High School was built on a cematary and that is why the nickname for the sports teams is “The Phantom’s”
    I love this subject and will try to think of more.

  2. this is one of my favorite subjects!!!

    I grew up with tons of ghosts stories of Elysian park since my mom’s family grew up there. As a teen in high school we would often go up to Elysian at night and look for the White Lady. Had some creepy visuals. After high school I would go to Elysian with some good catholic girls with a ouija board and man would that sucker fly around! The Ouija board also flew around in the hills above Lincoln High, up by ‘cheap skates’ if you know the area. There is always something in them hills. Any hills.

    I don’t know if it was an error but are they going to Kentucky to see about a sanotorium? I don’t know why they need to go that far. For a REAL creepy and truly haunted former State Institution they need to go to CSU Channel Islands just up the 101 near Oxnard. That place is scary.

  3. “I would like to add that the Boyle Heights Paranormal Project is a group of professionals ”


    Professional whackos who chase “ghosts” to the delight of other whackos, I think the original “Ghost-Busters” are truly professional.

  4. Whacko’s? Maybe, but are people who believe in “ghosts” and paranormal activity any different from dogmatic religious teachings where everything is based on peoples faith?
    Like the Jevovahs Witness’s who claim to know how many of the faithful will be saved, something like 144,000 people and stand on streetcorners passing out thier magazines and arguing thier own dogma’s and belief in some “Rapture” theory’s that are based on nothing scientific, strictly faith.
    Not much different in my book.

  5. Santiago, judging by some of the comments you’ve left on this blog, I’d have to say: it takes one to know one! 🙂
    DQ and Gerry, thanks for your experiences. I’ll add more when I’m at a computer.

  6. The Cartoon Network’s “The Othersiders” did their pilot episode on the Lincoln Heights Jail. They saw things move,heard voices,etc. and came to the conclusion that it was haunted. The BHPP should do a return visit there to see what they find. They should also visit Flattop; years ago a friend and I came upon a dead goat near the base of that hill and it scared the bejesus out of us. We ran all the way down to ela park. After a few minutes, we mustered up the courage to revisit the dead goat only to find it no longer there! Either it was just sleeping or it was a zombie goat or someone mangaged(within a 20 minute span) to take it home for birria!

  7. OMG the Old Jail is totally haunted!!!
    When I was involved in the Aztlan Cultural Arts Foundation we would always feel, hear and sometimes see things we couldn’t explain. Very few of us liked walking around alone in there.

  8. Also, as a kid, my friends and I saw the “white lady” on Terry Place in Lincoln Heights(then again it could’ve actually just been an elderly huera Mexicana.) We dug trenches in the hills just above George Street and waited and dared the cucuy(the boogie man) to come out on us, armed with slingshots and beebee guns. We wound up shooting at thin air and scaring ourselves sh*tless.

  9. One last entry from me on this subject: anybody remember the Bloody Mary chant? During the late 70’s,kids at Gates Street elementary gathered inside the boy’s bathroom, turned off the lights,chanted out “Bloody Mary” and she (allegedly)emerged out of a big mirror and scratched a kid on the chest. Looking back, i know it was just baloney; the older kids messing with the younger one’s minds. Which reminds me of the time my cousin Xavier, up on Hillside Village, showed me a bloody severed thumb inside a tiny plastic box resting upon a tiny tuft of cotton; of course it was his thumb sticking through the box and I didn’t realize it was his until he started wiggling it around and busted out laughing.

  10. @ Xicanoserg
    Right on homie, fight the cucuy!!!
    I love that. Chicanos don\\\’t go down without a fight.
    That\\\’s why there are no horror films with Chicanos cuz we would fight back. Slingshots, knifes, burning copal or sage, holy water, a virgen statue, lo que sea.
    When I saw the “Blair Witch Project” at a house full of Raza we were all screaming at the TV and actors to get some spears together, rocks, or just burn the pinche forest down, no freaking witch has a chance with Chicanos.
    Why would they go into the woods with all that equipment and no gun? WTF?
    no se raja la Raza.
    fight on…

  11. My Tia from Colorado was supposed to be a bruja or curandera, she was always great to me though. A lot of the family said she was a bruja because she was from Aguilar, Colorado, a hot bed of brujeria, and also because my Tio Lulo who was a very handsome man, went up in those lonely hills around Aguilar and when he came back he brought along his new wife, Tia Sally, who was kind of homely looking (it must have been witchcraft they all said!), and who claimed she had visitations from ghosts all the time.
    One time when my son was about 4 years old, he was always crying and suffering from leg pain, probably growing pains but Tia Sally said she would cure him.
    She tied strings around his ankles and prayed over him.
    He never had leg pain again, and in fact he cried when we wanted to take those old strings off his ankles.
    Tia always told me stories about visits from spirits and about all the miracles she had performed for her when she prayed to her patron saint, “Mother Cabrini”.
    My Abuela (her sister in law), lived on 6th St between Grande Vista and Lorena, down in the hole, in a little rear house off the street.
    Her brother Lulo was in the hospital in Denver Colo thought to be dying from some internal bleeding problem. Tia Sally wanted to let my Abuela know about her brother Lulo’s condition and wrote a hasty letter to Abuela, Tia Sally said she was so upset and confused that she went out in the hall of the hospital to go mail the letter, but couldn’t find anyplace to mail it from. Then a tall Gavacho (her words), dressed like a priest walked up to her and said he would send it off for her.
    The next day the letter was found in my Abuela’s mailbox on 6th St., no address or stamp on it, only my Abuela’s name. This is a true story, verified by the letter my Abuela had and I saw, it was only post marked Denver Colo. My Abuela who was a very cynical yet devout Roman Catholic used to just shake her head in disbelief and laugh, “Well they always said Sally was from those Mexican hillbilly Brujo’s up in Aguilar”.

  12. A few years ago I began to experiences some unusual noises at work. At first it was the sound of foot steps then later the hand dryer from the restroom would all of a sudden turn on. My first thought on this was “Your trippin”. Then it lead to the feeling that I was being watched. I kept it to myself till one day I mentioned it to a co-worker, which also had the same experiences… Damn, I thought who you gonna call? Ghostbusters? I shook my head in disbelief and went about my business.

    As time passed I could literally feel that as I walked around my job, I felt someone or something was walking right beside me…Oh hell no I said…This can’t be happening..Finally talking to another co-worker, he mentioned the Boyle Heights Paranormal Project. He said to look them up on facebook. After reading more about them and what they do, I sent them an email. I honestly wasn’t sure if they would come out to my job. I figured they would be too busy to respond,let alone come out to my job. But very quickly they contacted me and after an email and a call or two…They were at my job. I was so delighted to meet this dedicated bunch… They listened to what I had experienced and quickly got down to business..

    BHPP were respectful of my concerns and very professional…I am grateful to have met them and I have a feeling I’ll see more of them soon. Also I want to point out that after they came out to my job, for the first time in a long time I was finally able to get a good night sleep. This made me and my teachers at school very happy.

  13. A little more for you, this is a great post. I read the facebook from BHPP and someone mentioned smells or scents that had some significance.
    After my Grandmother died I was very sad and the whole family was kind of devastated. She was in almost every sense like a mother to me, I was her first grandchild and we were very very close all my life.
    I couldn’t shake the sadness at her loss even though we in the family all knew her time was close at hand.

    About a week or two after her funeral and burial at Calvary I was thinking of her and was again in very sad and melencholy mood. I walked through the house and into the bedroom, a very strong scent of her unique and favorite perfume permiated the air. That scent was her, nobody had been in the house and my wife never wore that perfume scent.
    Almost immediately I was overcome with a sense of well being and the sadness left me like a wind had come through and blown it away, I knew she was communicating to me that she was happy and in a beautiful place.
    I had never heard of the phenom before then but since that experience I have been told that this is not an uncommon experience.

  14. As a girl who grew up in El Sereno and Echo Park and has been a Paranormal Investigator for the past six years, (I wouldn’t call myself a “professional,” and am immediately suspicious of anyone who describes themselves as such in this field), I am thrilled to read the stories of others contained in the comments here.

  15. I had familia who lived in la loma and palo verde back before everyone was kicked out. The locals had a fear of walking up the stairs at night, because of a ghost that haunted them (and still does on the outskirts of dodger stadium). Some said it was a beautiful woman, others said it was an old man, but either way the victim would walk up to them and the face would become a dead decayed thing, and the victim often fell down the stairs. Ive herad lots of folks from that barrio know of it, in fact I also heard of the same ghost from an ex girlfriend’s family who also lived there years later.

    Apparently many places that held old mostly gone barrios have a lot of ghosts, including elysian and griffith parks, the areas cricling downtown, dogtown and la mision in what is now whittier narrows. Dogtown supposedly has demon dogs that stare at you from across the street.

    My grandma’s family is from the old VNE neighborhood, and back in the day a group of viejitos would go to the repetto hills (in present day monterey park) to find the hidden treasure left by either joaquin murrietta or tiburcio vazquez. The story also went that one of his men who died nearby guarded the treasure, or his ghost does either way.

    Ive also broken into the old hospital near hollenbeck and it was very spooky. Ive had family who spent extensive periods at general hospital report ghost sightings, and when I was young there’d always be people who would vanish at night skulking around Aliso Village (soemthing Id experienced firsthand). Supposedly old chinatown (around union station) has a lot of ghosts from the massacre that occured around the turn of the century.

    My homeboys lived on the big white house on gerhart near the 60 freeway and that place was bonafied haunted by something. When i was young me and my friends would stay over and you’d hear thing soften, and feel like someone was there when you;d be alone. when i was a teen I used to take girlfriends there because the parents were often gone and we would be fooling around and often stop because of loud noises or footsteps we would assume meant that other people had gotten home. but we’d search around and find the house empty, i mean we’d even heard voices and keys clanging, and I dont know how many times i’d throw on my clothes all half assedly to find an empty house.

    I also lived on New avenue just north of valley in San gabriel. the area was south of the SG mission and from old documents and maps Ive ascertained it was ocated on or near the old tongva village that accompanied the missions (just south, eventually across the railroad when it was built and near the alhambra wash). There was definite paranormal activity around there, Id bet some borrible things happened to the tribe in that area and the energy has remained.

  16. Art, enjoyed your stories and when you spoke of searching for Joaquin Murrieta’s treasure it reminded me of a story my great uncle told about buried treasure.
    My uncle and his wife rented this house from a viejito who was almost a hundred years old they said.
    They became friends and one time after a couple of shots of whiskey the old man told them about a treasure of Spanish gold he knew about but was too old to go dig up.
    He drew them a map, directions that led them into the mountains far from home. It was my uncle, his wife, and a friend, who making sure they weren’t followed located the spot where the Spanish treasure was supposed to be buried, at the foot of an ancient oak tree.
    They started digging that night by the light of a kerosene lantern, and after taking turns with the shovel for an hour or so hit something solid, and when they wiped away the soil they dicovered the top of an old antique box container.
    My Tio started to dig it out with his bare hands when suddenly he said, his hands got caught in some of the roots of the tree. He tried to free himself to no avail, his wife and friend all tried to pull him free but he was stuck.
    Then my uncle said they all heard horns blowing and when they looked into the sky where the sound was coming from, they saw what looked like an altar glowing light in the dark.
    Then from the forest they heard the sound of horses and hoofbeats charging towards them from a distance,
    All of a sudden my uncles hands came loose and they ran like hell to the car and drove out of the mountains like thieves running from a holdup.
    When they told this story to the viejito he laughed till he almost cried and told them that they were stupid to try and dig up buried treasure anywhere unless they lit two blessed candles around the treasure and prayed to San Francisco, the patron saint of buried treasure.
    They were so scared that they never went back and the Spanish Treasure is probably still there under the giant oak tree in the San Jacinto Mtns.
    Oh shit did I spill the beans? Scratch that last sentence,

  17. @ Art and DQ, great read….Hearing Griffith Park being mentioned reminded me of something I experienced in Griffith Park.

    I was hired by the owners of the griffith park trains. They wanted me to decorate the train station for their Santa rides in Travel Town. We spent weeks going there decorating trees, setting up lights, and hanging ornaments.

    One night myself and my neighbor worked there with my boss. We had to walk over from train to train to hang up lights and stuff..As you can imagine seeing trains in dim lighting is scary in itself. But we conitnued to work…After we started getting hungry so we walked over to there little vending machine..We heard noises from what sounded like horses and chains..Then it sounded like people running..With our dollar bill still in the machine, we looked over to where the trains on the far right side were and nothing was there…

    I almost peed myself that night..We ran back to the station and I told my boss what happened he, didn’t even seem surprised. My friend and I wanted to leave right away.. He offered to take us to go eat but since we were scared out of our wits..We lost our appetite.

    The following morning we returned to work, we walked over to the trains and right there..Right before our eyes was a sign about a certain cabin being part of a derailment many years ago where people had died. If you ever visit Travel Town you will see the sign is there next to the remains of that cabin.

  18. Thanks all for the great response. I hope the folks from BHPP are reading the comments because there are all kinds of amazing stories here!
    I hope to add my own soon…

  19. Loved the interview. I am really looking forward to BHPP’s investigations, I’m sure they’ll dig up all sorts of interesting history of our neighborhood’s past. Do you know if they’ll have any screenings of their episodes or any events like that. Well Keep me posted I really want to see and hear some good BH Ghost stories.

    On a side note Ghost Adventures did a piece on the old abandoned hospital over by Hollenbeck Park and it was really bad and hillarious to watch… the host was actually looking for cholo ghosts and calling them out.

  20. Hi there! I just want to thank you for writing such a great article about our team, you’re awesome.

    Boyle Heights Paranormal Project

  21. Hi everyone !
    This is Dawn from BHPP , I am a investigator .
    I’m absolutely thrilled about the interview Chimatli gave on us . I am reading all these incredible stories , there is so much rich history in Boyle Heights and the surrounding areas . Ratfink138 asked if we will have any special events planned , well we actually do . Linda Vista is proudly hosting our Meet and Greet/Website launch party March 12th 2010. If you want to attend go to our Face Book page and add yourself as a fan of BHPP . Invites will soon follow. It is sure to be a incredible night and we cant wait to meet all our fans!
    Keep the stories coming they are amazing!

    Dawn Gomez -Boyle Heights Paranormal Project

  22. Back when I was living right near Sunset in Silver Lake I used to hang out with a little crew that were misfits like me. We didn’t have money–only one of us had a vehicle, an old van that we’d drive when there was gas money. Anyway we’d go get drunk in this big abandoned house up in the hills until one night we all heard some strange noises–and not just the stoner dude who owned the van, which was the usual thing. Even the most level-headed of us, a lesbian chick who wore glasses and acted like a librarian, heard it. Then we all saw a ghost! But we weren’t going to let it spoil our hangout, so we spread out and trapped it in a bedroom. Turns out the “ghost” was this guy hoping to buy the old house cheap, but first he had to scare us away. He said, I would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for you meddling kids.

  23. @hijodecero
    that just sounds like an episode of “Scooby Doo”!!!
    You even have the Vilma character, lesbian with glass, who acts like a librarian, the stoner van driver, and the ‘meddling kids’ line.
    Come one bro, you forgot the dog.

  24. I take a Fortean approach to most supernatural and other paranormal phenomenon. I am skeptical but interested and understand somethings cannot be explained by present day knowledge.

    I spent most of my childhood in a mild fear state because of all the scary stories I heard living as a kid in Boyle Heights. I don’t know if it’s a Catholic thing, a Mexican thing or a working-class thing but I do know adults used to have lots of fun telling us little kids about El Cucuy, La Llorona, The White Lady and all other kinds of unknown phantoms that haunted the shadows.

    I went to Humphreys Elementary where Bloody Mary was daily entertainment. It had to be done in one particular bathroom, an old one that still had all the fixtures from the 1940s (30s??). I was too terrified to even be in the bathroom when the chants started. Actually, I avoided that bathroom altogether. Later when I got older, I tried the bloody mary chant just for the heck of it and realized why an image of a “bloody mary” appeared. If you look at one spot long enough, in dim lighting with elevated levels of stress, your vision starts going dark, red even. Add in a young child’s imagination and voila! a bloody mary appears!

    My dad always tells a funny story how as a teenager, he and his friends took a bunch of girls up to Elysian Park and high on macho showmanship charged into the hills and trees with baseball bats yelling “Come out White Lady! We’re here to get you!” I used to laugh at the corniness of this story but maybe there is something up there in those hills? 😉

    When I got older my family moved to South San Gabriel and nearby is a park called Garvey Ranch Park. My school was a few blocks from the park and there were rumors that the park was haunted by the ghosts of bandidos. Apparently, it was a place were many Mexicans were lynched. I think there is a reference to this in “The First Suburban Chinatown” a book about Chinese presence in Monterey Park. I also asked about this at the Monterey Park Historical Museum and the docent said yes, he knew the rumors well, then laughed nervously and changed the subject. Hmmmm…

    I hope El Chavo tells his great story about Malabar Elementary!

  25. Thanks for the info on the Clara Phillips “Tiger Girl” murder case Kim Cooper. I talked to my mother and she said that the “Crazy woman ghost with the claw hammer” haunting the hills of the Eastside at night were one and the same.
    LA if not the most haunted city in the US is certainly the champ of grizzly, bizzare, and headline making murders.
    It must be haunted!

  26. Hello this is Richard Standingbear Berni, I am the founder and Lead Investigator of Boyle Heights Paranormal Project, I am glad that you are all having a great response to the Project. And for the the skeptics, including myself at one time , we all have our own opinion , we here at BHPP welcome all your stories and would love to include them in our upcoming Documentary, so if interested send us a email, and thanks again for the input. SIDE NOTE: To answer the questions on the pic of us, it was taken by a local Photographer Eddie Ruvalcaba, feel free to see his work on Facebook under his name.

  27. I read something about Malabar Elementary school many years ago. I think it was in the 50’s when the school was expanded and homes had to be sold due to eminent domain. At one house it was rumored that there was looted treasure buried somewhere in the property. I don’t remember if it was buried by bandidos when Los Angeles was scarcely populated or hundreds of years before that. The treasure was cursed and to anyone who found or disturbed it. I think the school playground was the area where the treasure is suppose to be at.

  28. I would love to tell you guys my experience that I have growing up in East Los Angeles. I’ve seen things and felt so many unexplained things, Hit me up. I have a friend writing a book about my experience with the other side.

  29. Yes, Boyle Heights has or had its share of unusual activity fo’sho…my grandma’s house proved that. I lived on Gleason around the block from Doobie!!!

  30. Hi there!I live and work in ELA, I saw this interview…. I work at some of the elementary schools you mentioned. I tend to tell the students that the Llorona story isn’t true (as I’ve heard soo many times as a kid)
    I am very interested in knowing more about Malabar and First St. I do admit, the main building hallway is creepy when you’re alone. I have visited other older schools that do give a strange vibe. BTW, it would be great to have a website of strange happenings from the area!!!

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