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My Pennsylvania Ave Apartment

The Story of a Real Haunting

My Personal Photography

In May of 2011, I moved into an apartment in Emsworth, PA. It was a house over one hundred years old that had been divided into three apartments. My apartment, a small two bedroom, was the second floor. Above me was another apartment and below me was the largest apartment.

I was desperate to find a place, it's important that this fact is clear, I had been paying over $200 every week for a rent by the week suite in a less than wonderful area of Pittsburgh, PA with my three kids. My coworker had the place available but didn't like renting to coworkers because they had screwed him over in past. After some begging, he agreed to rent to me, handed me a key, and told me to go check it out.

To be honest, I didn’t like the place, it was heavy and felt negative. But again, I needed a place and so I took the apartment and of course showed nothing but a happy face to my three kids.

The second floor was my apartment. But the entire house was hell.

I moved in our belongings the following week, the first night there I heard noises, nothing big. Steps outside our front door, creaking, et cetera. I figured this was due to its age and tried to downplay it as a new place I'd have to learn the personality of.

The second night there I had a terrible dream, these gray skinned figures in white hospital gowns surrounded the bed I was in. In my dream, I had the same pajamas on, the room was in life and dream, exactly the same. These figures were moaning and had hands reached out toward me, I was unable to move or scream. They were edging ever closer to my bed. Their eyes were closed skin looked dry and cracked.

My daughter woke me saying I was praying and crying in my sleep. I had always experienced dreams, but never this amount of fear and it scared me.

I attempted to downplay this not only to calm my self but to keep my children from fearing the new place.

My son at the time was seven, he had special needs (high functioning autistic). He began to act very strangely in this apartment. He carried on conversations in full, alone in his room.

He had always been fearless, but shortly after our first week he began refusing to go into the bathroom on his own. When I would ask why his response was always the same.

“The black men in the shower,” he said each time. 

I didn't understand what he meant.

One evening while sitting on the couch with my two daughters, my son walked to the bathroom, opened the door, and quickly slammed it shut. I asked what was wrong.

“The men are in there,” he told me.

“What men?” I asked.

“Open the door and see,” he said.

He looked nervous and began biting his nails while staring at the shut bathroom door.

I must admit it took every ounce of courage I had to open that door, but I had to do it, not just to set his mind at ease, but mine as well.

As I opened the door he stood as far back as possible. I looked and there was nothing I could see.

"Right there, see?" he stared into the shower pointing.

I couldn't see...so I told him to go potty, that I'd stay put, and that it was okay.

As the days and months went on, activity enhanced.

Knocking on our internal front door, hearing someone on stairs despite not neighbor being home, and water turning on in bathroom by itself.

My son came out of the room one day and told my oldest daughter that “the terrible guy” had tried to lick his face.

When we asked who the terrible guy was, he demonstrated that the “guy” walked on hands and feet, literally knees off the floor.

He said the terrible guy had long arms and legs and wobbled when he walked.

The image was not pleasant obviously.

This, of course, made things more difficult, the girls were now terrified and asked me questions all night.

I did what any parent does I told them this was just a seven-year-old child's imagination and regaled them with tales of their imaginary friends.

I tried my best to keep things calm and funny.

But that became impossible once the growls began. Typically they'd wait until lights were out and then low guttural growling would come from corners of the room, from the ceiling or at foot of a bed. We had been tormented by these things, the little movements in the corners, blurry masses out of the corner of our eyes, that changed one afternoon when things began to get visual and targeted my kids. My oldest daughter arrived home about forty minutes before the rest of us.

I pulled up and found her outside on the curb sobbing. The story she told me was as follows: she had come in the front door which faced the bathroom, as she closed the front door, she heard movement in the bathroom. She looked up and sticking out of the tub were feet that quickly yanked back into the shower, she didn’t stick around to see what else happened she darted from the home and decided she wouldn’t be going back in until I got home.

Even now, as I write this, the emotional trauma and fear are overpowering.

After this incident, things got worse fast.

One afternoon I was sitting on the couch. I'd been having terrible nightmares every night, so bad and vivid that I was unable to fall back to sleep. Sleep deprived I called my mother. She has gifts of her own as did my grandma and grandpa.

I was on phone with my mom and explained what I was going through in this "home".

As I’m explaining this to my mom, there was a blowing sensation that came from the right and I felt it like pins and needles on my arm just in one spot.

I was impacted emotionally, I felt utter terror and depression. 

“Mom, I feel something, it's blowing on me,” I said.

She was in Florida and could do nothing more than say a prayer. Her life was full of paranormal happenings, so her contribution from afar was a long distance "be gone" type of prayer.

As soon as she did, the blowing stopped.

“It stopped!” I told my mother.

However, right as I spoke, my middle child screamed. She came running from the other side of the apartment shouting and crying. 

“Mama, something pulled my hair!” 

Her face shows terror, she felt a strong tug and the hair being pulled from her head.

I held her, comforted her, tried to find an explanation - the normal “Was it a nail? Was it caught on your shirt?” But to all inquiries, the only answer I received was “NO!!!”

I asked what happened, she told me she was sitting on her bed playing on her DS and suddenly her head was jerked back, she felt her hair pulled out. She was still crying almost an hour later. Finally, I decided to check the room. 

I walked into the room, and there at the foot of the bed, lying on a pillow, was a clump of hair, my child’s hair, and that was the turning point!

I felt it had been annoyed by my mom's prayer and I believe it had gone after my child to punish me. My oldest daughter had her hair tugged so hard she fell to the ground, about a week before this incident. Unfortunately, I'd explained it away. But all along I knew my fears upon entering this apartment that first day were founded.

After that, the kids began having nightmares similar to the ones I had and never told them about.

After some other incidents, we decided to move the mattresses into the main room and sleep in there as a family. The first night I slept on the couch, with mattresses on the floor next to me. I dreamed one of the worse dreams yet, And to be honest I really don’t believe I was dreaming, I think its the only way my mind can handle it.

I dreamed a black figure with red eyes was leaning over me on the couch blowing on my shoulder, I woke up still feeling this cold pins and needles feeling on that shoulder. After months of this, I was worn down. After the dreams, my kids had I began staying up and watching over them as they slept. One evening, around 3:15 AM, my son began talking in his sleep, he'd never done this. I listened but couldn't make out any words...the voice got deeper, almost guttural, and within seconds both my daughters were speaking the same guttural way in their sleep. It was unexplainable they all sounded like they had joined some low guttural chanting session.

After fifteen minutes of this, my son got on all fours, still asleep, and began crawling over his sisters and making these growling noises. I laid him down, his sisters also sat up (asleep) and did the same chanting like growls. 

I was actually in shock and terrified, but I regrouped, I tried calming them all.

“You are not allowed to touch my children, mess with their sleep or them in any way,” I said quietly but forcefully to this presence

About two minutes later, they were silent and slept the rest of the night without incident.

I went and got holy water, burned my sage and blessed the apartment inside and out. I printed out the Saint Michael prayer and kept it close, as this was comforting to me and my kids. Weeks went by and it seemed calm. So I, in an effort to normalize the situation, allowed my oldest daughter's friend to stay over.

My middle child decided to record a part of the movie that they were watching. They were watching The Grudge. Like me, they like horror movies.

My middle child wanted to record this part so she could play it later to scare her sister and her sister's friend...typical siblings being siblings.

After recording it, she wanted to play it back to make sure it recorded. After she played it back they brought me the DS and asked me to watch it, they seemed panicked.

I watched it as requested...on the video, though its dark in the room, you can see a huge shadow figure walk in front of the DS.

Let me assure you, no one had moved in that room. All three of the girls stayed on the bed, my son was in bathtub, and I was in the chair at the door of bathroom watching him and listening to the TV. Again my daughters and their friend were laying on the bed together, never got up, or walked around.

The figure was not them, my son or me. I couldn’t explain this...but it did make sense. My son had talked of “black men” and it dawned on me—what would a shadow person look like to a seven-year-old autistic child?

I imagined a dark male shaped figure. It made sense now.

After this video, things picked up a bit, two nights later we heard a clattering sound in the bedroom closest we walked into the room and the hangers were rocking back and forth, not a tiny motion, a full on swinging motion.

I played this off. 

“Well, I’m sure the upstairs neighbor made the walls shake or something," I said. 

But I knew he wasn’t home. I just didn’t want the kids freaking out, though they were already freaked out, as a mom you try to keep your kids calm, even if you yourself are terrified. 

Other tenants had left this apartment abruptly. In fact, my landlord told me a few left with nothing more than a few outfits but all else, furniture, papers, clothing, etc had been left behind. I could now understand why.

The downstairs neighbor seemed to experience bouts of rage, a very adorable puppy he had, who was perfectly healthy one afternoon, ended up dead one evening shortly after he got the puppy.

The nurse's aide, who helped this particular neighbor, told me the vet was unable to find a cause for this puppy's death at first. After my initial writing of this story, we did find out the puppy passed from "asphyxiation".

Let me add that this neighbor had lived in this home the longest. This neighbor also acted in scary ways. It felt possible to me that he was most infested and impacted by whatever these beings were.

He would begin screaming in his apartment and throwing things around at random times they would hit ceiling hard. He would sit in a lawn chair, stare blankly up at my window from the backyard for hours.

I can't say for certain what it was he was going through, but I do know the feeling I and my kids got around him was uneasy. It was as if there was some inhuman "something" inside him, looking out through his eyes.

Both neighbors had severe drinking problems, which could be the cause of rage or oddness...and I will confess I had the urge to drink while there, in my original story I was ashamed to admit I drank nightly so I said "I rarely did." ...That's a lie. I drank every night, and it was often in my mind to drink. I wanted to stay in bed, I was unable to control my emotions at times, as were my daughters.

My cars broke down repeatedly, they'd been fine prior to moving in, I lost jobs and my anger was growing.

My son often spoke of a little boy named Aiden. He told me that Aiden didn’t like Mr. D because Mr. D got drunk and hurt his family. There was no Aiden in his class, nor had there been, I checked.

He would say Aiden told him to throw stuff or Aiden said to follow him etc. Very odd stuff.

After talking to my friends, Jessica, Amanda, and Xavier, I made the decision to leave the apartment but I was told to be kind of sneaky about it. That if I announced it, this entity may attach itself.

I knew we needed to leave. I packed and moved one year and six months after moving in.

About a week before I left after putting the kids on their buses, I went to the apartment to try and sleep (as stated I was not sleeping at night). I fell asleep within 20 minutes.

I dreamed I was laying on the mattress, the very mattress I had fallen asleep on, and I was talking to a little boy (blond hair, blue eyes maybe five or six years old).

I knew in my dream he was dead, I mean I literally accepted it as a fact 

"He's dead, we're having a conversation, no biggie..." 

In my dream, I was lying on my back throwing a ball up in the air and catching it and this boy was sort of leaning on mattress body off the bed on the floor our heads at the same level, maybe a foot apart... But something suddenly dawned on me. 

“You aren’t a little boy, I know what you are!” I turned to this "boy" as I spoke. 

A creepy sly smile formed on his face and I knew everything...he had hidden as this little boy and appeared to my son, to gain trust. This was "Aiden" AKA "the terrible guy".

After moving I had only one dream about that place, the terrible guy was on the opposite side of my new apartments fence. A sign he couldn't come into my new home I figured. 

Life got better almost instantly. I had lost three cars as I said. Living there all of my cars, TVs, et cetera broke. I lost two jobs, had nonstop depression, anger, and confusion, I felt lost, hopeless, run down, and full of despair...

From the first night leaving that place, those feelings started to go away. I found a job mere days after moving, got a car that I kept and ran great, the kids were happier. It's been years now. That experience still effects my oldest and myself mostly.

Picture of my old apartment from Google maps, the second floor was my apartment. But the entire house was hell.

Video of Shadow Man Slowed Down

Ava McCoy
Ava McCoy

Mother, artist, survivor, chronic Illness and mental  health struggles... 

I love to write. Some of my stories are personal ones. Sharing my history and challenges,  advocating for other survivors. 

 I love horror films and gaming

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