The 13th Floor

Tina Resch: The Real Life Columbus POLTERGEIST

Fourteen-year-old Tina Resch watched in horror as little Carol Anne got sucked up into her closet by an unseen force in POLTERGEIST. She saw the girl’s family fight for her until the very end, risking their lives to save their baby girl. And then, the movie was over. Tina was back to reality living with her adoptive parents, feeling as lost as ever. But then something happened. She began experiencing poltergeist activity of her own.

In 1984, Tina was living with adoptive parents Joan and John Resch, a family who fostered numerous orphaned children over the years in their Columbus, Ohio home. She was like any other teenager—rebellious, full of attitude, and emotional. But, her emotions took a dark turn when they began making objects move on their own.

Spontaneous psychokinesis, is what famed parapsychologist William Roll would later call it after spending weeks living in the family home, observing the activity. But before that, Joan Resch was a confused parent terrified at the chaos taking over her home.

Picture frames began crashing down from the wall, lamps were repeatedly knocked over, and the shower started running on its own. Things would fly off from shelves, and soar through the air like an invisible baseball team were practicing in the Resch family kitchen. Joan believed the unexplainable activity was caused by her teenage daughter, an idea that came into her head after viewing POLTERGEIST.

The frightened mother needed help—but not from the police. No, they’d never believe her. So, she called in The Columbus Dispatch reporter Mike Harden for help. Harden and photojournalist Fred Shannon arrived at the Resch family home to document what was happening, and soon would capture an infamous photo that sparked controversy.
The photo depicts Tina on a chair, and a telephone flying through the air in front of her. The young girl appears to be frightened, staring at the object as it misses hitting her and lands on the living room carpet below.

Startled by the disturbance, Shannon turned his head to see the phone on the ground. He missed the paranormal activity as it happened, and continued to miss all supposed activity during his stay. The only time he was able to actually capture the phenomena on his camera was when he would turn his head in the other direction.

Despite never seeing the poltergeist activity with his own eyes, the photographer published the photo and it was distributed through the press as proof that ghosts exist. The image made Tina somewhat of a celebrity, and garnered her attention from the media.

Following the image and newspaper feature, Harden called in parapsychologist William Roll to investigate further. The investigator who had appeared in UNSOLVED MYSTERIES and spoken on other noteworthy paranormal cases, moved into the Resch home.

Roll was convinced Tina truly was experiencing poltergeist activity, although he never actually saw objects move with his own eyes. Years after his time with the family, Roll capitalized on the events by writing the book, Unleashed. The book featured detailed accounts of his time with the family, and included photos taken during the events.

Along with Roll, Tina and family were visited by reporters from all over the country trying to capture something paranormal. Everyone wanted to see a poltergeist, and one night a local news crew captured the true poltergeist in the flesh: Tina. She was caught on camera deliberately knocking a lamp off a table.

Tina insisted she knew cameras were rolling and made the lamp fall over just to get reporters to leave her alone. So, the reporters did leave her alone after that. They deemed Tina as a fake, and found a more interesting story.

However, Roll remained on her tail. He took Tina to a lab to run psychokinetic tests on her in effort to meet the dark force within her. The evil never showed itself—at least not the one Roll was searching for—and things started to go back to normal.

Or, as normal as it ever could be. Tina’s bad attitude and behavior became too much for her family to handle, and they kicked her out of their home. Soon after that Tina had a baby named Amber, and moved in with Roll for assistance. He continued to help and study her, but was unable to find her answers.

Still searching for love and belonging, Tina married truck driver David Herrin, and in 1992, he murdered 3-year-old Amber. Tina was arrested in connection to the crime and is currently serving life in prison.

While awaiting trial, the media dug up Tina’s past and dubbed her “Telekinetic Mom.” She would be forever known as the teenage girl who lied for attention back in the 80s. The events of her life were even featured on a 1993 episode of UNSOLVED MYSTERIES.

Tina never admitted to lying about the poltergeist activity, and no one will ever truly know if it was real or not. Roll insists Tina is innocent in the death of her daughter, and continues to search for the mysterious powers she possessed as a teenager.


Photo cred: Photos: © The Dispatch Printing Company. Photographer: Fred Shannon