The ghost hunting team of Ghost Hunters International traveled to Montego Bay, Jamaica, to investigate “one of the world’s most haunted places”: Rose Hall, said to be haunted by the ghost of an evil woman named Annie Palmer, “The White Witch of Rose Hall.”
The episode (“The Legend of Rose Hall,” Season 2, episode 13) aired last week. It’s a shame that the Ghost Hunters didn’t do any actual research on the White Witch of Rose Hall, because I could have saved them some effort (and embarrassment).
Had they read my thorough 2007 investigation into the place, they would have discovered that the ghost of Annie Palmer cannot possibly haunt Rose Hall, because Annie Palmer was never a real person. But I’m getting ahead of the story. According to reports:
Annie was “beautiful beyond compare; she had a rich throaty voice with black penetrating eyes… Her complexion was smooth, and she could shift from a gentle smiling creature to a haughty, cruel, sensual, cat-like woman, gracefully exuding both anger and sensuality… Annie had strength besides her cruelty. She had the power of a mind trained in sorcery. She believed in spirits and had the ability to project death fears in her slaves.” As a young girl living in Haiti she had become the favorite of a high voodoo priestess: “It was this woman who taught Annie to believe in spirits, to regard the air as charged with the supernatural, over which she could gain control. She attended forbidden voodoo orgies, summoned by eerie drumbeats in the dead of night.”
She moved from Haiti to Jamaica, and soon met and married Rose Hall master John Palmer. According to one account, “John Palmer lived for three years after their marriage. Annie claimed he drank, that the second husband went mad and the third married her for money. The slaves said poison, stabbing, and strangulation did them in one by one.” Jeff Belanger, in his book The World’s Most Haunted Places, states “Annie killed John Palmer with poison, and then she closed off his bedroom and would not allow anyone to enter it.” Another account adds that Annie brought in her paramour to make love to her next to her dying husband. She then hid her husband’s corpse, “most effectively, it seems, since it has never been found.” As for Annie’s fourth husband, he also died under murky circumstances. His fate was apparently sanguineous, for “the room in which he died received no visitors, as the blood stains could not be removed from the floors.” Annie not only left a trail of dead husbands, she also delighted in acts of unspeakable cruelty and perversion. Annie’s sadism was legendary, her wrath feared by all. She was said to enjoy watching the slaves being whipped from her balcony. Once, when a servant displeased her, Annie had the poor fellow’s head cut off and placed on a bamboo stake, left to rot in the tropical sun, the bloated flesh and horrible stench a warning to others.
It’s all very dramatic—and completely fictional. Annie Palmer is in fact the title character in a famous Jamaican novel, The White Witch of Rose Hal l, published in 1929 by Herbert G. de Lisser. There was no real Annie Palmer even remotely resembling that of the White Witch. Thus Annie Palmer never existed, thus they presumably could not have found any evidence of her ghost. Rose Hall, “the most haunted house in the Western Hemisphere” and indeed one of “the world’s most haunted places” is in reality merely myth passed off by careless writers as fact.
Apparently the Ghost Hunters crew believe that fictional characters can have ghosts! It’s one thing to say that a human being has a spirit that can survive in the afterlife and haunt a location. It’s quite another to say that a person who is created by another person’s thoughts or words also has a ghost.
I wonder what they’ll say when they look at the proof that their ghost never existed. That’s gotta be awkward. Will the Ghost Hunter crew head to London and claim to find evidence of the ghost of Sherlock Holmes? Or maybe they will head to a city called Metropolis and discover Superman’s ghost…
The original piece appeared in Fortean Times magazine, and will be included as a case study in my upcoming book Scientific Paranormal Investigation .