Poltergeists: The Haunting of Eleonore

Psychic investigator Harry Price is best known for his investigation into the hauntings at Borley Rectory, often called "The Most Haunted House in England". The controversy over his handling of the Borley case has overshadowed much of the other work that he conducted. In his time, Price was one of the most respected and well-known investigators of paranormal phenomenon. The case of a young Rumanian girl is one of his more puzzling cases of poltergeist phenomenon.


Eleonore Zugun was born in Talpa, Rumania on May 24, 1914. She seems to have had a normal childhood until she reached the age of twelve, when she was sent to live with her grandparents. One afternoon shortly after her arrival there, a hail of stones suddenly came crashing through the glass into the living room where Eleonore was sitting. Upon rushing to the window, the residents of the house found no one out in the street who could have thrown the stones - and as they watched, another stone suddenly crashed through the window to land at Eleonore's feet. That was only the beginning of what was to be nearly two years of unexplained and unexplainable events that happened in the presence of the young girl.


Certain that she was possessed by a demon, her grandparents bowed to demands from the villagers that Eleonore be returned to her own home. There, the strange manifestations continued. On one occasion, a wet rock hurtled through the glass windows of the Zugun house while a priest was there. The priest scratched a cross into the rock and returned it to the river from which it had appeared to come. A short time later, a rock came flying through the window into the house. Upon examination, it was determined to be the same rock, still marked with the priest's cross.


Once again, the child was sent to live with someone else - this time with a neighbor - and once again, the manifestations followed her. By now, though, the spontaneous movement of objects, breaking glass and loud noises without any apparent source were accompanied by another phenomenon - stigmata. Eleonore would suddenly cry out in pain - and within moments, observers could watch bitemarks, scratches and other injuries forming on her skin before their very eyes. Eleonore attributed these stigmata to her 'Dracu', a demon which she claimed haunted her and tortured her.


Eventually, when an exorcism failed to halt the incidents, Eleonore was sent to live at the Convent of Gorovei. There, the manifestations continued unabated as Eleonore became the focus of study and investigation. When the press heard of the incidents, the girl's troubles became a controversy that was widely debated - and the girl herself ended up confined in an asylum for the insane. It was there that she came to the attention of Fritz Gruenwald, a psychical researcher. After interviewing dozens of people who had witnessed the phenomena, Gruenwald convinced Eleanore's father to release her from the asylum into his care and observed her for three weeks at the convent of Gorovei again. Having confirmed the phenomena to his own satisfaction, he set about making plans to have her stay with family friends - but passed away before he could complete the arrangements.


It was at this point that Eleonore and her story came to the attention of Countessa Wassilko-Serecki, who brought the girl to Vienna to be studied by psychologists and investigators there. It was there that Harry Price enters the story. Price spent several months studying Eleonore, with numerous witnesses to attest to his reports. During that time, Eleonore, who was described as 'very bright but immature for her age', was the center of numerous incidents of spontaneous unconscious telekinesis, as well as the mysterious stigmata that came and went on her body with regularity.


Price went so far as to have Eleonore hypnotized to see if a post-hypnotic suggestion could induce the stigmata to appear. The results were inconclusive. After one session, during which it had been suggested that she make the letter G appear on her forearm, a mark did appear in the suggested place shortly after the session - but it was difficult to tell what it was meant to be. After others, there was no manifestation at all.


During the course of the months that he studied Eleonore Zugun, Price became convinced that the phenomena surrounding the girl were genuine insofar as he believed they were a manifestation of her unconscious mind. Shortly after her fourteenth birthday, the manifestations stopped abruptly and never reappeared. Price offers no precipitating incident and concluded that whatever hysterical turmoil had caused the poltergeist phenomenon had been resolved.

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