Is Tinley Park Chicago Really Haunted?

Is Tinley Park Chicago Really Haunted?
September 23, 2009

I often ask myself why, when I live in a town that is supposed to be haunted and has a notorious past, have I never seen any ghosts? We have at least three public buildings that are supposed to be haunted, one cemetery where "paranormal researchers" have recorded over 100 paranormal occurrences, a house where a gruesome multiple murder occurred and an insane asylum. Despite all of these places, I have yet to see a ghost.

Tinley Park, Illinois used to be a small, sleepy village, southwest of Chicago when I moved here in 1972. The area was surrounded by farmland as far as the eye could see and our sub development was the second one built in the village; the first since right after WWII the GI Bill helped fund the Parkview sub development.

There were only about 4,000 actual residents back then, but that wasn't counting the people who lived in the asylum on the far southeast part of town. The asylum was the notorious one time residence of Richard Speck, who killed . There has always been a sign in front of the asylum warning people "do not pick up hitchhikers." This was back in the days when the mentally ill were kept locked up against their will and before they were allowed back on the street to become homeless.

Today the place remains a hospital for the mentally ill, although the land has been sold to developers as it is now worth some money. On the grounds are various soccer fields where my kids used to play soccer. Somewhere along the line, someone thought that mixing children with the mentally ill was a good thing. There are all sorts of tales about ghosts in the asylum and when we were kids we used to hear stories about dangerously mentally ill people escaping. Today the village claims that the hospital is not used to house dangerous criminals like Richard Speck.

We quickly heard the story of Teehan's Tavern, which is the oldest surviving business in town. Teehan's is a bar and is frequented by the local residents. The local folklore is that one evening, in 1903, a man named John Wilke got into another fight with another person in the tavern and ended up getting killed. The variations of the story vary, and it is unclear as to whether Wilke was stabbed or shot. The Tinley Park Library has the story in one of their old newspapers on film, but it is a brief description of a "bar room brawl" in which one person died. And it was printed in a Chicago newspaper.

The ghost of John Wilke allegedly haunts Teehan's Tavern to this day. Although I spoke with the owner, Mike Teehan, about this, he denies ever seeing a ghost in the tavern. Other people I have talked to said that they either felt or heard the ghost. These people are mostly alcoholics and unreliable witnesses. I have been in the bar several times, and never felt a ghost.

The other "haunt" is right across the street from Teehan's on the opposite side of the railroad tracks. It is called "Fulton House" and was built as a hotel in the late 1800s when the railroad came through. Many years ago, I interviewed Clarence Fulton, one of Tinley Park's oldest residents, whose grandfather built the hotel. He claimed that the reason it never took off was because a suicide that occurred. The ghost of the unnamed suicide apparently materialized quite often and scared away potential business. The house soon fell into disrepair until Fulton's father fixed it up and donated it to the village as a nursing home. Some years ago, after the death of Clarence Fulton, the house fell into the hands of developers who didn't care about ghosts, kicked the elderly out, rehabbed the place and rented it out as office space. I have been in the building many times but never spotted a ghost.

The other "haunted public place" used to be a Chinese restaurant called Dragon Inn. At one time, this was the only Chinese restaurant for miles and they used to have a Polynesian Revue. We knew the owners quite well as my mother and I ate in there all the time. The Chinese woman who owned was named "Agnes" and she was always very nice. One night her husband hacked her up to pieces and buried her in the garden of their home. He fled back to China after her body was discovered. She supposedly still haunts the restaurant and, to tell you the truth, the last time I went in there it gave me the creeps, but I didn't see a ghost.

In addition to the haunted public places, there is also the haunted cemetery, Bachelor's Grove Cemetery, which I have written about several times and recently spent nearly half the night in. I did not see a ghost.

The last place in town that gave us a bit of notoriety is the referred to as "The Murder House." This house is on a block of homes close to the mayors. In 1994, one of the adult sons in the family stabbed his two adult sisters to death then waited for his mother to come home from work for lunch, when he stabbed her, too. I don't want to mention the name as the father still lives in town. The father and one brother survived and the murderer was found unfit to stand trial and remains locked up in a facility down state. The house was abandoned for a while when a family bought it and quickly sold it. It continues to change hands. People in the neighborhood say that they sometimes hear "screams" in early afternoon when the murders took place. I have been by the house, but never inside.

So, despite Tinley Park's notorious reputation of being haunted, I have lived here for over 30 years and have not seen a ghost; despite going out of my way to see one. Could it be that these are just stories, or am I just trying too hard to spot a ghost?