Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Exploiting the Dead On Television - Where Does It Cross The Line?

I have been researching the history of the Preston School of Industry for about 10 years. I have published many stories of former wards and former staff, some success stories but the majority have been about events that are not of the happy sort. I felt it was my duty as a historical investigative journalist to share with the world those stories I have uncovered so that the facts surrounding various events at the school were told accurately.

Some might try to say that by publishing a blog or my two books on the subject of Preston, that I myself am, in a way, exploiting the dead. And I guess to an extent anytime anyone writes about a deceased individual there is always a certain degree of attention the story will get. However, with the work I do, I strive to honor the memory of those deceased ones with love and respect, so their stories will not be forgotten, and I do not make it a practice to delve into the paranormal realm, so I personally do not feel my work exploits anyone.

But the real question is: When does others' storytelling cross the line into something bad?

With my writing I choose to stick to the facts and tell the history as it was. I prefer to steer clear of the paranormal lore that often follows these stories. By getting to the facts of the stories I research, I am able to present the accurate details of each case and in turn the reader is informed properly of the facts. With the ghost stories, 99% of the time the information is inaccurate and overly sensationalized, not to mention a complete disrespect to the dead. It is one thing to share the historical facts of a person that is public record, but it is entirely something else to perpetuate false stories or even insinuate their ghost haunts a particular place when we have absolutely no concrete evidence of such things.

Let's take the story of Anna Corbin for example. I have spent many years researching both her life and her death. I have published my findings in my various blogs and both of my books. Again, it is one thing to tell the facts, but it is something else to perpetuate her ghost is lingering at the castle and allow film crews to come in one by one and continuously misrepresent Anna's story. Not only has it been a disrespect to Anna herself, but to her family as well.

Back to "Crossing the Line"--  

Various television programs have been given permission to film at Preston over the years. And with each episode of each program came their own "version" of the paranormal activity that takes place at Preston. Starting from newest to oldest let's take a look at some of these television programs and movies that have been filmed at the Castle and the very sad exploitation of Anna Corbin's death. (I have links for you to click on each show to verify my findings).

1.    Lowe Files  (Season 1: Episode 1)  Aired: 2017

This program insinuated that Anna Corbin’s ghost still haunts the castle. The person representing the Castle not only tells inaccurate history of the school but also tells the wrong info on Anna’s death. When they do an EVP session with the spirit box they immediately try to claim it says “Corbin” and “Beat” as if she is talking to them through the box. Although I think Rob Lowe was sincere in his intentions, which is by far a lot better than the other shows, it still was a disrespect to the memory of Anna with the whole ghost “device” communicating scenes.-

2.    Unexplained Files  (Season 2: Episode 12) Aired: 2014

Halfway through the episode the television show airs an EVP recording of a woman saying “Please, Help Me” and the group tries to insinuate it is Anna Corbin. They go on to show a filmed reenactment of Anna Corbin working and being murdered there. They have a white male in a trench coat and hat strangling her with a wire (her murderer's name was Eugene Monroe. He was also black, and he was a ward at the school, not a film noir detective!) They also state the wrong room of where she was found, as always. The worst part of all is the fact they want to pin the voice to Anna Corbin’s story and insinuate that she is communicating from beyond the grave. The only good thing I found in that episode is that one of the team members tries to debunk the theory, thankfully. ---Another thing to mention, the person representing Preston that they interviewed on their program is not a historian although she was represented as one.

3.    Ghost Asylum  (Season 3: Episode 7) Aired: 2016

I could hardly stand to watch it and cringed through the entire episode. Besides the Ghost Adventures episode which will be included below, this is probably one of the worst videos to date. Mind you, this was filmed and aired in 2016, not long ago. So in this episode, they have their “historian” who says that a lot of boys died from illnesses and that Anna Corbin was killed by two boys, and that her ghost haunts the castle. She goes on to say she has seen her ghost and communicates with her. 

The show goes on to insinuate that the teacher who also was attacked at Preston, James Wieden, that his ghost is there. For the record, James Wieden was killed in 1965, a whole 5 years after the old Preston school had closed. He did not die at the castle, in fact he died at the hospital.  He was attacked on the campus of the NEW Preston School next door.  

Then they try to say the ghost of Sam Goins is there. Again, for the record, Goins was not shot at Preston. He was shot 35 miles away from Preston on the Thornton Ranch near Walnut Grove. He died by the time they brought him back there, and because they didn’t get to a doctor in time. He was poor and he had no family to pick up his body, so he was buried at the boys cemetery out back. The people on the show claim they see a ghost of a boy, and think it’s Sam.  (Sam was just 2 months shy of his 20th birthday when he died, definitely not a child). 

They do an EVP session and bring devices into the little closet in the kitchen and based on their EMF machines going on and off, they determine that is where Anna was killed. That is NOT where she was killed, she died in the room with the plunge bath. Of course they were told the wrong information, as usual. They think that because their devices go on and off and flashlights go on and off upstairs that Anna's spirit is doing that. They continuously call out to Anna.  

Again, the person interviewed in this program is also not a historian but clearly represented as one. Many times people at Preston will adamantly deny that they say Anna’s ghost haunts there but as you can see from this video, this individual was happy to go on television and tell the world that Anna’s ghost is there, and she was the person chosen to represent Preston on national television. 

4.    Ghost Adventures (Season 2: Episode 1)  Aired: 2009

The issues I have with this particular episode was that the docent was promoting false information about Anna, her death and the history of the school itself, not to mention the haunted aspect of it. Anna did not live at Preston, so she did not have an apartment there.  She was not dragged down any stairs, she was not found in the kitchen pantry room either.  But the worst part of the whole thing is that the Ghost Adventures crew  went around trying to make contact with Anna and the other spirits alleged to be haunting there, and Zac pretends to be possessed by Anna. He even wanders up in the dark to the second level and goes in the room that the docent said was Anna’s apartment and he sits there acting strange on camera to make it seem as if he is being controlled by something else. It was so obviously faked, and again a complete disrespect to Anna and her family who believe she is resting in peace.

Watch the episode here:

5.    Ghost Hunters (Season 6: Episode 6)  Aired: 2010

I didn’t get to watch this episode though there is a summary typed about it online. It doesn’t look like much was said about Anna in this one, but unless I watch the video I can’t be certain.  Here is the link to the brief summary of that episode.


7.   MOVIE - “Haunting at Preston Castle” fka “At Preston Castle” (2014)

The opening credits try to insinuate the movie was based on real events which is completely false. The main scary character in this movie is a fictional ghost boy but they do briefly mention Anna Corbin as the "housekeeper" who was murdered there. Still I wish they would leave her story out of these horror films.

8.   MOVIE – “APParition” –  (to be released)

This horror movie is by TV and former radio personality Mark S. Allen. He wrote the script with director Waymon Boone.  I have confirmed with the director that part of one of the stories in the film is “loosely based” on Anna Corbin’s story but the name was changed to “Anna Collins.” I think it is safe to say that her story will be told inaccurately, as usual, and the murderer will not be what we expect either. Again, I wish these horror movies would leave Anna alone.

Here is the link to the IMDB page


I wanted to get this blog out there to talk about the blatant exploitation of the dead by various paranormal programs. I chose to focus on the many programs filmed at Preston given the fact that I have been researching and writing about Preston for many years and because Anna Corbin's life has been one near and dear to my heart for a very long time. 

I have never agreed with the fact that all of these film crews have been allowed to come and film at the castle for their paranormal programs, and I have often wondered why there isn't more of a push to promote the real history of the Castle? Why so much focusing on the paranormal aspect of it all? Is it because there is more money involved? Perhaps.

When you watch these programs be it about Preston or anywhere else for that matter, please take everything these TV shows say with a grain of salt, because it is a fact that they do not do thorough research beforehand, just take a look at these examples above. And because of their lack of concern for representing the history accurately, they in turn butcher the real history in the process. Anyone who is truly interested in researching or investigating various locations, please do your homework ahead of time, and do not, I repeat DO NOT believe everything you see on television.

(Copyright 2018 - J'aime Rubio