Miami, Florida, like any other city with a thriving tourist run economy is littered with kitschy souvenir shops that sell everything from alligator shaped ashtrays to screen printed t-shirts with palm trees on the front. In the 1960s, Miami was home to Tropicana Arts. Fine purveyors of ephemera that eventually gets forgotten once the vacation is over.
Tropicana Arts may be gone now, however in 1967, the shop and warehouse experienced a series of bizarre and frustrating events of the supernatural kind that seemed to defy the laws of physics.
When the activity began, a supernatural cause was the furthest thing from everyone’s mind. Management suspected one of their employees was behind the shattered product that threatened to close the store. And if found, that employee would find themselves out of a job. In an effort to find the culprit, the owners called in the police to set up a sting operation to find the miscreant. It wasn’t long before they discovered the miscreant was anything but human.
While the police and employees investigated, they watched in awe as products lifted off the shelf, floated in midair and crashed to the ground. Faced with this strange turn of events, the owners came to the conclusion that perhaps their building had a ghost. Then the owners did something a business should never do in a situation like this; they contacted the media.
As expected, the local newspapers ate it up and published a couple articles on the haunting of Tropicana Arts. Not a day would go by without curiosity seekers milling about the shop hoping to catch a glimpse of the ghost at work. Thankfully, the story caught the eyes of two people who could help with this kind of situation, parapsychologists William Roll and JG Pratt. If anyone could get to the bottom of this mystery, it was them.
When Roll and Pratt arrived, they immediately went about the business of interviewing employees and investigating their claims. The two scientists did not believe for one second a vengeful ghost was taking it’s anger out on Tropicana Arts and its collection of knick knacks. If anything strange was going on, it would undoubtedly be recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis, RSPK, more commonly called a poltergeist. If their assumption was correct, a focus must be found. But who?
As they investigated, the destructive activity continued in their presence and a pattern began to emerge. The activity only seemed to occur when Julio Vasquez, a 19 year old Cuban refugee, was present. After doing some digging into Julio’s life, Roll and Pratt made some discoveries that made up their minds. Julio, had an estranged relationship with his family, suffered severe depression even going so far as attempting suicide. To top it all off, Julio hated his job. Roll and Pratt, were convinced they had their man.
When the two parapsychologists presented their findings to management, the owners immediately fired Julio. Adding insult to injury, the owners had him brought up on charges of theft and property damage. “Why the charges?” you may ask. Julio, couldn’t help what he was doing. He couldn’t control a psychic force he was ill equipped to deal with. The answer to your question is quite simple, Cuban refugees were neither liked or welcomed in the Miami of 1967. However, Roll and Pratt did appear to be right in their suspicion. Once Julio Vasquez was gone, the destructive activity abruptly ended.
The Miami Poltergeist, as it is known in the annals of psychical research, is an important one. It busted the long held notion that only pre-pubescent girls were the unwitting culprits behind RSPK. This poltergeist outbreak showed the world, regardless of age, anyone could produce this relentless psychic energy.
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