I have a strong connection to the State of Arizona. I have a daughter named Illianna Vega, a former Tucson police officer that lives in Arizona and I have other connections that I consult with in regard to paranormal activities in Arizona. Illianna is very familiar with ghosts. She was also a correctional officer for two Arizona state prisons. Prisons are always haunted by prisoners who have died of natural causes in prison, committed suicide or were murdered by other inmates. Arizona has many “paranormal hotspots”. When I was stationed at Fort Huachuca, Arizona in 1979, I investigated UFO activity and spiritual activity at Superstition Mountains and Sedona. In 1979, Illianna Vega’s mother would take me to very haunted places like Tombstone and the Old Tucson Studios. While I was in Military Intelligence school in Fort Huachuca, I heard stories of “ghostly soldiers” that would walk around the perimeters of the fort. Military Police who were on late night duty would see these ghostly soldiers and confront them, only to see them vanish before their eyes.
When visiting Tombstone, you can feel the presence of being watched. When I walked around Boothill and came upon Billy Clampton’s grave, I distinctly heard a man whispering in my ear. Boothill is very haunted. I am not the only one that heard whispering in my ear. An unnamed journalist said he was visiting Boothill and heard a strange tiny voice. The journalist was at an unmarked grave and the whispering started. The childlike whisper says: “It was nice of you to do that.”
The journalist was shocked that he heard a disembodied voice at the unmarked grave. The journalist stepped away from the grave and finally gained enough nerve and came back. Then again, he hears a childlike whisper and the whispery sentence was: “You came back. You must like to play with me a lot.” The journalist could not believe what he hard, then all of a sudden he hears childlike laughter. The journalist at this point of time is getting scared and with his peripheral vision, sees a humanlike shadow. The shadow was moving along the tombstones, getting closer to the journalist. The journalist had enough and ran out of Boothill cemetery. Other ghosts that haunt Boothill is China Mary. She is also known as the Lady in Red, because her flowing dress is the color of red. China Mary is a Tombstone notable. The living China Mary was aka Sing Choy, an astute businesswoman who managed the Tombstone’s General Store. She was also the overseer of Tombstone’s opium dens and Tombstone’s Redlight District. China Mary was the “god mother” aka the Madam of the Redlight District. China Mary was known to run her opium dens and Redlight District like a tight ship and she made a lot of money from her legal and illegal businesses. Because of the strong money flow into her purse, she was also known to be a generous woman for people in need and showed compassion to the poor people of Tombstone. China Mary is sighted at Boothill Cemetery and is also seen “gliding” around the town late at night. China Mary may have died in 1906 by heart attack, but she still makes her presence known and keeps watch on the town of Tombstone, like she did when she was alive. Another ghost that makes his nightly rounds is the ghost of Billy Clanton. Locals and tourists say that Billy Clanton’s ghost is known to patrol the town and he walks up and down Allen Street. Billy lost his life at the gunfight at the OK Corral. Billy is another one buried at Boothill. Notable markers include Marshal Fred White, killed by Curly Bill Brocius, and Tom and Frank McLaury, buried alongside Billy Clanton. Curly Bill and the McLaurys were lost to the “Gunfight at the OK Corral,” the infamous 30-second shootout. Jack Dunlop aka “Three Fingered Jack,” is another Boothill resident. Three Fingered Jack was shot to death during an attempted holdup. The ghost of Three Fingered Jack was seen at the Tombstone Courthouse by a tourist named Jay Mattheus from Phoenix. Jay says he was visiting the courthouse with his family and his little daughter ran up to him terrified and said a sloppy looking man with 3 fingers was asking her where she was from. Jay says he saw a disheveled man walking away from his daughter and vanish before his eyes. When Jay got back to Phoenix he discovered on the Internet that Three Fingered Jack lived in Tombstone and he believes to this day that his daughter encountered Three Fingered Jack.
OLD TUCSON STUDIOS
Illianna Vega’s mother in 1979 drove me down to Nogales, Mexico and showed me an old church haunted by a ghostly priest. The priest is said to walk around the old church and if you encounter the priest, he will display the sign of the cross with his right hand and then vanish. I was fascinated with this story and learned that there was also a ghostly priest seen not at a church, but seen at Old Tucson Studios! I believe that this priest ghost seen at Old Tucson Studios is probably an actor that portrayed a priest and enjoys that role in the afterlife. Doug Elliott of Los Angeles and former resident of Arizona says that he encountered the ghostly priest at Old Tucson Studios and the priest gave him a quizzical look, smiled and then laughed uncontrollably. Doug couldn’t figure out why this guy in a priest costume was laughing at him and Doug placed his hand on his shoulder, only to feel nothingness. Doug was taken aback, and to his amazement the priest disappeared. Doug did not recognize the face of the ghost, but it was something that gives him goosebumps every time he thinks about this encounter.
Another ghost that is seen is the ghost of a very recognizable face. The face of actor Leif Erickson who played Big John Cannon on High Chaparral. When I walked around the High Chaparral lot, I heard strong footsteps behind me and when I turned around there was no one there. Could I have possibly heard the footsteps of Leif Erickson? Many tourists make claim that they have seen the ghost of Leif Erickson wearing his cowboy get up. Nicole Howell, a tourist from Flagstaff, Arizona says that she saw the ghost of Leif Erickson and he showed her recognition by smiling at her and gave her a short wave before vanishing.
SOME HISTORY OF OLD TUCSON STUDIOS:
Old Tucson Studios is an American movie studio and theme park just west of Tucson, Arizona, adjacent to the Tucson Mountains and close to the western portion of Saguaro National Park. Built in 1939 for the movie Arizona (1940), it has been used for the filming of many movies and television westerns since then, such as Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), Rio Bravo (1959), El Dorado (1966), and Little House on the Prairie TV series of the 1970s–1980s. It was opened to the public in 1960, and historical tours were offered about the movies filmed there, along with live cast entertainment featuring stunt shows and shootouts. On September 8, 2020, Pima County, which owns the land on which it stands, announced that it was being shut down for an “indefinite” period.
On April 24, 1995, a fire destroyed much of Old Tucson Studios. Buildings, costumes, and memorabilia were lost in the blaze. Among the memorabilia destroyed was the wardrobe from Little House on the Prairie. Also lost in the blaze was the only copy of a short film about the history of Old Tucson Studios. This film included rare behind the scenes footage of stars such as William Holden, John Wayne and Angie Dickinson. The Reno, a steam locomotive from the Virginia and Truckee Railroad on static display in the park, was also badly damaged.