Can you spot the skeleton? Christophe DiCesare took this picture of a poster featuring Bill Rodgers, a famous Boston Marathon runner. A shimmering ribcage seems to hover on the right side of the poster.
SUNY Geneseo ghost story coming to a theater near you
Mention “Geneseo” to enthusiasts and researchers of the paranormal and chances are they’ll recognize the village as the site of an infamous 1985 haunting, the ‘C2D1 ghost.’
Known by others as “Tommy,” the ghost took its name from the college campus dormitory apartment, Erie Hall C2D1, where it was said to dwell.
In spite of its fame in supernatural circles, most folks in Geneseo have never heard of C2D1.
The ghost’s lack of fame in his own home town may not be accidental.
“We tried to keep it quiet; we really did,” said Chris DiCesare, in an exclusive interview with The County News, where he publicly spoke of the experience for the first time in 25 years.
DiCesare, as a SUNY junior in 1985, believes he was the first person to experience the ghost’s presence.
The hauntings occurred in Erie Hall on an almost daily basis between February and April.
When the initial reports surfaced, some persons made a connection with a recent campus lecture by Ed Warren, the renowned religious demonologist, fresh from his research into ‘the Amityville Horror.’ DiCesare had in fact attended the lecture, but only as a curious skeptic.
“All through the first few weeks I was hoping this would be the case,” DiCesare revealed. “I was hoping this could be attributed to mass hysteria or illusion triggered by the Edwards lecture — or to a fraternity joke or bad food or holograms. Or even a psychological reason, like I was calling out for help. I wanted it to be something my father, who was a science teacher, could explain away.”
“I wanted to be able to take a pill or go the therapy and have it go away. I didn’t want to tell anybody what was going on. It wasn’t like today when people talk more freely about these things. Back then, if you thought you saw a ghost, it could cost you your career, a relationship or any other standing you might have,” DiCesare added.
“But as things progressed, I realized this could not be the case. I had to change my view of what reality is — and it wasn’t easy.”
In 1985 DiCesare was a serious student, a communications major on the college’s advance academic track, and a dedicated runner with a dream of becoming an Olympic competitor.
“My day to day thoughts were about my running times and my intake of carbohydrates,” he states. “I was very cautious about controlling my environment.”
“One night I began to hear whispering sounds saying my name: ‘Chrisss…, Chrisss.”
“I went to the window and looked on the third floor, shouted ‘hello,’ and there was nobody; went to the door and looked down the hall and there was nobody. It happened three or four times and was very disconcerting. I thought maybe someone had drilled a hole in the wall and was calling through as a joke.”
“I know there are people who really want to see a ghost and will go the great lengths to do so, but that wasn’t me. My upbringing made me look for other explanations. Nothing supernatural could be an explanation.”
DiCesare continued to hear his name being called, even when listening to his roommate’s heavy metal music on headphones.
“I knew it wasn’t right. Maybe somebody was putting drugs in my food. But I still didn’t say anything.”
About this time the presence manifested itself to a second person, DiCesare’s roommate, who will remain anonymous.
While taking a shower, DiCesare heard his roommate suddenly scream at the top of his lungs. After he calmed down, he told DiCesare that he had heard something call his (DiCeasre’s) name.
DiCesare recalls his reaction: “I was happy and afraid: Happy because I knew now this wasn’t something which was wrong with me, but afraid now that whatever this thing was had a larger reality.”
The next day, while the pair were working on homework in a ‘treehouse’ loft they had built in their living room, the roommate told DiCesare to stop annoying him, stop making motions and shadows.
When DiCesare pointed out to his roommate that he was nowhere near him, the roommate nervously got up and left the room.
As the experiences continued DiCesare began to sense the movement of objects, including chairs. Whatever was calling to him also began to take a shape.
One day, while in his room eating a box of candies, DiCesare caught a glimpse of a person in his peripheral vision, just beyond his left shoulder. He decided to count to ten on the hope the vision would disappear. But at ‘seven’ he turned — and came face-to-face with the presence.
“He was a young, thin person — a male between the ages of 14 and 18. He was wearing a shirt sleeve shirt and jeans, and the jeans went right through the stereo. His head was tilted to the side.”
“For two seconds I stood there and took in it. Then I realized what I was seeing was impossible. I screamed and ran out the door. My mind was broken.”
“The suites at that time had three rooms and I pounded on the door next to mine,” DiCesare recalls.
Answering was a fellow by the name of John Jeff Ungar, with whom, until this day, DiCesare had been only slightly acquainted.
DiCesare explains his unfamiliarity with his student neighbor: “I was always running, so I didn’t socialize very much.” But DiCesare did know Ungar was an English major — perhaps someone who could document his experience in writing for later psychological evaluation.
Shortly thereafter DiCesare and his roommate sought a priest at St. Mary’s Church.
“Our only other experience with this kind of thing was from seeing that Linda Blair movie, ‘The Exorcist,’ so we thought maybe that’s where we could go for help — but we were turned away.”
However, someone at St. Mary’s directed the pair to the campus Interfaith Center, where the roommates made acquaintance with Father Charles Manning.
The Father listened to their stories and read their notes.
After several questions to assure the boys were not high on alcohol or drugs, Father Manning told them, “I don’t know what’s happening, but you are coming here for help and I believe you, so I want to help you.”
“He could have been a custodian and I’d still have been thrilled that someone believed me,” DiCesare relates.
Shortly afterwards, DiCesare’s roommate fled, not only from Erie Hall, but from Geneseo. Years later DiCesare was told that his roommate had heard the voice instruct him to ‘leave Chris alone.’ He departed from the college leaving no explanation.
Besides receiving needed support from Father Manning, DiCesare was cultivating a friendship with Ungar, who was willing to accept the existence of C2D1 on an almost casual level. Indeed, Ungar was well read in paranormal phenomenon. He took pride in categorizing C2D1’s various manifestations.
Ungar took it upon himself to monitor the ghost’s presence using a camera, tape recorder, thermometer and other recording and measuring devices. Sometimes Ungar could claim great success, such as his photo of DiCesare’s room, with his poster of running idol Bill Rogers, four time winner of the Boston Marathon, accompanied by a partial skeletal presence clearly showing a hip, spine and shoulder blade. (For the upcoming motion picture, Rogers himself supplied a poster for the recreation of the scene.)
In the ensuing weeks, others would encounter the presence of C2D1 in varying degrees of substance. Upon the advice of his father, DiCesare brought some “big, strong people” into the ghost’s presence. These football players ended up screaming and charging out of the room.
After Father Manning administered a blessing in the room, “things seemed to calm down,” DiCesare relates — “but then within days the ghost had moved to another part of the building and began to bother other residents in the same way it had bothered me.”
During one of Ungar’s recording sessions in a new room, the words ‘Please, help me, help me, please’ were heard when the tape was played back.
“Real or unreal, dead or alive, I couldn’t go on with this thing calling my name, asking me for help, and not being able to do anything about it,” DiCesare realized. “I would go in my room and cry. I’d ask God to please take this away; to find somebody smarter who could handle it.”
“I was just a guy who liked running and watching baseball. I certainly didn’t want this in my life.”
With Ungar’s help and friendship, DiCesare delved into theories of the paranormal, seeking the what and why of his experience. He also sought answers in the historic record. As an editor for the Lamron, he feigned newspaper research while making his investigation.
The closest explanation he seems to have uncovered was a police report of a student suicide a number of years earlier.
These days, after earlier careers in banking and as a case worker, DiCesare is a high school history teacher in a downstate community. A knee injury in the autumn of ‘85 ended his Olympic aspirations.
“I no longer come to the table biased,” he reflects. “Half the joy of living is exploring whatever is out there.”
“And I’ve learned, when things get tough, the labels people put on themselves don’t mean much; the real person comes out. The real story for me is not the ghost. It’s how people reacted to him.”
Movie out in 2012
On Saturday, July 9, at Newton Hall Lecture Room No. 214 on the SUNY Geneseo campus, from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., movie director Mara Katria Lyon will launch the very first in a traveling series of lectures promoting her upcoming motion picture, “Please, talk with me.”
The film will recreate the events surrounding SUNY Geneseo’s C2D1 Ghost. Katria Lyon will offer her perspective on the research and filmmaking. Audience members will be privy to glimpses of “Please, talk with me,” including production footage, music and comments from the movie’s actors.
Five key witnesses to the C2D1 experience, including DiCesare and Ungar, will offer live accounts. Original photographs, paranormal recordings and other evidence will be exhibited.
The lecture is free. Seating is limited to 150 guests. For special considerations and availability, please contact Claire Grey by email at claire.grey @hotmail.com.
The motion picture, a feature length thriller, is now in post production with an anticipated 2012 release date.
“Please, talk with me” stars Kyle Shea and Aaron Katter and is produced by William Edwards.