Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Ghost of Toys R Us

Once a week, I will do a spooky post...leading up to Halloween. Do not read the following in the dark, alone. At the bottom of my post are two pictures of a can either sneak a peak (which is what most of you will do) or just leave it for the end after reading the story behind the pictures.

The 60,000 square foot Toys R Us store in Sunnyvale, California is known to this day to be haunted. The biggest toy store in town has been featured in numerous books and television shows, including That's Incredible and Ripley's Believe It Or Not. I remember being a scared 9 year old, watching that episode on That's Incredible. It might have been a two part story...but I just remember having to sleep with the lights on for weeks.

World renowed psychic Sylvia Brown even did a seance in the toy store, and they had brought in several cameras to try to capture the ghost that wandered the store.

There have been countless stories from both employees and customers, and it's difficult to discount all of them. Here's a quick run-down of several experiences people have had at this Toys R Us:

>Footsteps coming from behind, but looking around - no one is there.
>Many people - employees and patrons alike have heard a man's voice whispering their names. >Talking dolls saying "Mommy" over and over again on their own.
>Countless falling merchandise - I'm sure many times they are explainable, but people have actually witnessed toys and boxes falling or flying across the room.
>Faucets turning on by themselves (the bathrooms seem to be the most active areas in the store)
>People have said they have actually seen this apparition...the apparition of a man.

Here is what we know about the land this Toys R Us is built on...

In the 1840s, Martin Murphy Jr. bought 90,000 acres of land. They Murphys built their home where the Toys R Us currently stands. A young man named Johan Johnson was hired as a farmhand. Apparently, he fell in love with Murphey's daughter, Elizabeth. His love was never reciprocated, and she married William Taaffe from San Francisco in 1863.

What I was unable to confirm was that Elizabeth died in 1875.

Johan was chopping wood, accidentally cut himself pretty badly, and he simply wrapped it up and continued chopping away. He literally bled to death, and died in 1884. Some say he cut his leg and severed an artery.

Psychic Sylvia Brown apparently made contact with this spirit in 1978. This was done BEFORE they were digging through local archives. In fact, Sylvia Brown assumed the spirit was Martin Murphy Jr, Sunnyvale's founding father. The spirit she made contact was NOT Murphy...she called him "Johnny."

She told Johnny to go to God, but he refused. He was waiting for Beth. Johnny then told Sylvia to move her feet or else they'd get wet. The researchers found that a water well DID exist under the store.

Snopes has reported on this story, and has concluded....there is no definite conclusion...

The picture below is of the seance, taken with an infrared camera. Another regular camera took a picture of the same spot at the same time, and NOTHING was found on the normal camera. People present at the seance report seeing absolutely nothing there. No person was standing there when this picture was taken. It looks like there's a ghost of man standing there outside the circle of people - in the upper left corner of the picture.

Judge for yourselves:

Below is a close-up of the apparition:


siren said...

That's a weird picture. It's hard for me to say if that looks legit or not. Nobody seems to be looking at the corner, though.

Chicken Little said...

I can't say for sure about this instance, but I have lived in a haunted house (thankfully not this one) and plenty of weird stuff happened including the faucets in the bathroom being turned on, footsteps, you name it. Not pleasant.

The Phoenix said...

It really is a weird picture. There are TWO photographs taken by two separate cameras at the exact same time and same spot. The image just showed up on the infrared.

Chicken Little,
I couldn't live in a house like that. No way! The people that work at that Toys R Us say they're used to the ghost. me. I'd be gone!

the weirdgirl said...

I shit you not, but I know a guy who worked at that Toys R Us! (Yes, I'm a Bay Area girl.) He worked the night crew and said that spooky stuff happened occasionally, boxes falling, lights being turned off, etc. but nothing so scary that it freaked him out enough NOT to work there. At the time, I was more interested in the fact that his brother (who was working there too) was orchestrating boxes of video games to "disappear" out the back door.

I have felt ghosts before (never seen, it's kind of like when someone walks up behind you and you feel them coming but no one's there) and sometimes it's creepy and sometimes it's not. If something bad happened and you feel it it's scary; but if the ghost is just checking things out, looking around, it's just like being next to a regular person.

Not that I'm one of those super-psychic ghost-attracting kind of people. I've met one or two of them and they can be a little off themselves. If you know what I mean.

kim said...

Toys 'R' Us stores are plenty creepy without being haunted. Have you ever noticed that they always smell really odd? And not in an expected kids smell kind of way. More with the ghost stories!!

Josh said...

I don't know if it's true or not, but just that fact that you mentioned That's Incredible scored bonus points with me. I used to love that show.

As I kid, I was fascinated with ghosts and stuff and read every book the library had on them. I would love to visit a haunted house and actually see something happen for myself.

I look forward to reading more stories!

Raj said...

My roommate has a ghost in parent's house. And it does the wierdest thing; every now and then, when he is sleeping, he feels pressure on his chest. It is never enough to cause him pain, but it would always be very uncomfortable.

SammGirl said...

Interesting story here about Toy R Us having their own little haunts,
If you want to see some *real* haunts come on into San Diego and head on over to Othello Street off of Convoy, I used to lived in that area in one of the houses there. me and my family had our share of experinces there, plugs that would unplug themselfeves, ghostly figures appears without warning, Strange cries coming from the dog house that weren't animal, and more, it wasn't until later that we had learn that these houses were built on a old cementary and some rumors has it that after the cementary it was turn into a dump before the housing project came along, at the time we lived there it was back in the late 1990's

The Phoenix said...


It seems like a lot of you have either come into contact with the "supernatural" or know someone who has.
I am working on getting some help from our own ST. LOUIS keep your eyes peeled leading up to Halloween!
Thanks so much.

KC said...

My sister swears that the house she used to live in in Lafayette Square was haunted. If so, it was a peculiar ghost because it seemed to like anything gray. Shoes, clothes, towels... if it was gray the ghost would take it away, never to be seen again.

Pixie said...

I would die if I saw a ghost !!

I would have to move out right away , you should check out most haunted on the travel channel on firdays at 8pm..That spooks me out enough :/ Esp if I happen to home alone watching it!

I think the photo looks real but then it could be photoshopped ?

The Phoenix said...

kim c,
The grey stealing ghost...that's really weird. I've heard the same thing about Lafayette Square.

I LOVE that show...I wish they had the equipment of T.A.P.S. on 'Ghosthunters' (Sci-Fi Channel on Wednesday nights).
There's so much stuff that the camera crew just misses on the Travel Channel one. Plus, the lady is such a chicken - she spends her time screaming and running.

Raj said...

I didn't mention this the first time becoz most people won't believe it. But in the very least, it is an interesting story. When I was in High School, my parents heard about this guy who was kinda like a witch-doctor. They went to check it out(my Dad, the eternal skeptic) and had to stay over-night because the place was in a remote village. Of all the strange things they told me about, one was really spooky. There was this woman who was brought there. She had been acting really strange and saying things that did not make any sense. So they brought her to this guy. Everybody sat around and watched as he spoke to the woman and did his witch-doctor thing. My mom said that the woman spoke with an unnatural male voice. And the voice announced that he(not she) was actually the brother-in-law of this woman. Apparently this guy had just died a few weeks ago. So the witch doctor keeps talking to him and recites some mumbo. Near the end he asks the guy(in the woman) for his last wishes and grants some of the simple ones. One of his wishes was for a full bottle of liquour. So they find one and give it to the woman. My mom said that she drank it straight up in under a minute. Where I come from, very few men drink, so it was an unusual sight to see a woman do liquour like that. After they fufilled some other requests the witch-doctor did his thing and apparently the woman became normal again. I just wish I had been there to see it with my own eyes, but I guess I'll have to take my Mother's word for it. My Dad himself never spoke of the trip though.


Pixie said...

Haa haaa yes you mean Yvette, well she started out her TV days as a Blue peter presenter back in the 80's or 90's ( I forget time flies) Well Blue Peter is this BBC cult childrens show is been around for years and years.
Yes I love Yvette when she gets spooked, they also do live ones (in the UK ) at summer solstice and Halloween etc and she gets just as spooked then )
Trivia * Derek used to play pro football ( soccer) for Southampton .
Yvette Is married to the producer Karl in real life.
Stuart is married to an American , he says its the scariest thing he has ever done !

Jillian said...

Wow Phoenix, I always enjoy a good ghost story every once-in-awhile, and it seems that all of these commenters can give you countless stories about them!

I personally believe in ghosts, but have never seen one (and I hope never to see one in my lifetime).

However, all of these comments are very interesting, as well as the entry! ;-)

big left nostril said...

Is it just me, or does that ghost look like he's wearing a derby, a big-ass cowboy-style belt buckle, bellbottoms, and platform shoes? This raises two interesting questions:

1) Is it possible to have THAT much wrong with your sense of style? (Maybe he just wanted to cover all the bases...)

2) Why is it that pictures of ghosts often show them wearing clothes? Do clothes become spirit and travel with you? Doesn't it seem ghosts would simply be naked?

ObilonKenobi said...

You creep me out, but in a good way. I liked the bit on this story and the "real" exocist. I had heard that story before. Maybe on TV, not sure. Anyway,i like the blog.

jiri said...

Hey, I have enjoyed...your blog is informative - even entertaining.

I have a halloween sites. They pretty much covers costumes and masks related stuff.

Thanks again and I'll be sure to bookmark you.

Jim Naka said...

Your blog is excellent - keep it up! Don't miss visiting this site about child educational toy

Anonymous said...

where can i download that episode??? my e-mail:

Hillary Templeton said...

Hey The Phoenix, am I glad I found you. I'm really keen on psychic power and found your blog. The Ghost of Toys R Us certainly got my interest. What do you think of psychic power ? Not everyone is as convinced as I am that they are the way forward. Anyway, thanks for your post! Sophie

Anonymous said...

I think that all the stuff that is happening around the store is true, but I'm not sure about the picture. If you noticed, the ghost has a shawdow against the wall. I don't think that ghosts usually have shadows, and if they did, wouldn't it be visible to the other people. I would have noticed a stray shawdow. If you show me the other regular picture that was taken at the same time, I might believe you.

Anonymous said...

if this is a ghost from the late 1800's who's his wardrobe stylist cuz he looks like he's wearing bellbottoms and platform shoes? Wasn't this pic taken in the late 70's so how is that possible?

Anonymous said...

that's a damn toy giraffe!!! look at the hoof!!!

Loura said...

Just to let you guys know thats not the picture of the man John Sylvia is talking about. In other articles it has been said that he wears a Brim hat and has kne length pants and a whie shirt. The guy in the picture looks like he is wearing jeans but definitely not the clothes from those times of the story. I think he is just another spectator but not a living kind if you know what I mean.

The Unknown said...

this is one confusing pic.. =/
i've heard of somthing like this "a local toys r' us being haunted" but this pic embarrasses the whole story haha.

Jennifer Schoble said...

Well, I stumbled across this site after returning from a visit to a friend in Hayward, CA. Knowing how much I was enamored by the supernatural and psychic Sylvia Browne, he humored me and took me to the Sunnyvale Toys R Us. All the reports I researched online couldn't help me to pinpoint locations in the store where Johan could be felt... the store had been remodeled in the past 2 years and most of the reports online are previous to the remodel. I went purposely looking to sense something... I have always had a penchance for ghosts and have had many experiences myself. I cannot tell you how many times I have gone to visit my Grandmother's crypt and have had dozens of voices vying for my attention in my head. It had been reported that he liked to frequent aisle 15c... which previously was the kids toiletry section... toothbrushes, cups, the like... and he liked to take all the small motorized cars and bikes down from the racks and place them in the aisleways. Needless to say, after wandering the store for over 2 hrs, each aisle painstakingly slow... I felt nothing. I had actually given up and told my friend we could leave when for myself, I decided to check out the animatronic aisle... where they have the robots, motorized animals, remote control flying things, and stuff like that. I was innocently bent over checking out a shiny metallic remote control motorized insect when something caught my eye to my right. I didn't want to stand up straight... move suddenly... so i just turned my head slightly to look. I thought I caught a glimpse of something turning the aisle next to me... but there was no one there. Shrugging it off... I continued to shop. Unexpectedly, I started a horrendous coughing fit... standing up suddenly in the animatronic aisle... feeling like someone was pressing on my chest from in front of me, I struggled to breathe. I just kept trying to shake it off... and just kept repeating out loud "knock it off, knock it off". My friend heard my coughing and came running... he said later the look on my face scared him... I continued to cough and feel the pressure and mumble for whatever it was to stop. My friend actually took me by the arm and pulled me into another aisle frantic to help me catch my breath. What snapped me out of it was of all things hearing the sound of a lightsaber... my friend had pulled me into the Star Wars aisle. He looked at me panicked... and said ok no more ghost hunting for you we are out of here. Leaving the store, I felt like all eyes were on me... as during the whole ordeal I didn't realize I had gotten the attention of many passersby. Once outside... the feeling in my chest completely vanished. I know this may sound crazy to some... I went there to experience something... and unbeknowst to me... I got more than I bargained for. This experience happened Feb 9, 2008. So if someone would be so kind, if you happen to frequent this store... which seems very unassuming at first glance, please tell me if you have experienced this as well. Thank you Phoenix... for giving me this forum.

Jawa said...

i currently work at the haunted Toys R Us store, and I've done a little bit of ghost hunting in my past so this job is a ghost hunters dream! I personally had an experience at the store and I've only been there for about a month. A toy turned on, said "Hello Honey" laughed and then turned off. nobody had been in this aisle for about a half an hour until I got there, I had been in the section for about an hour. I looked around, smiled at the toy and just walked away. The store is currently going through construction, we're adding a Babies R Us section to the store, and I think it has knocked the ghost awake. which is awesome

Anonymous said...

i heard there might be a video of this i can't find it but if u have a link to it please post... im wanting to see this video if it exists...


Mike Proctor said...

I heard of this haunting somewhere around the early 80's. At that time, an article stated that a local TV news crew spent the night and captured video of an apparent apparition. Does anyone know of such a video or who was there during that overnight session? If so, please email

Phoenixjr33 said...

i work for Toys R Us! thats where i heard about this haunted toys r us.
people at my job think our store is haunted too. the pic looks like it could be but who knows

Paul B. said...

Here is a link to the Toys R Us segment from "That's Incredible." The video is posted on my blog:

Anonymous said...

I had goose bumps down my neck and back while reading this story. I had always thought it was the Hayward Toys R Us which is why I never went inside that store. But I might have gone in the Sunnyvale store once or twice. This is quite fascinating and a bit scary. But since I did not hurt or kill anyone there really is no reason for me to be scared of spirits.

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