2008, January 24 (pre): A Ghost Child

A photo to consider... [Larger version here]

The photo above first became public on January 24, 2008, in an article that multiple British news services carried that day. The picture was taken with a cell phone camera by 17-year-old Matthew Summers when he and his friends were getting ready to go out one night, though the actual date is not noted anywhere. The picture was taken in the front room of a house on Roscoe Road in Billingham, County Durham, England, and presumably not too long before the websites posted it.

Camera Phone
Matthew Summers and his cell phone. [Picture sources here]

        While the shot overall is pretty straight forward, Summers discovered something unexpected when he zoomed in to look at his friend's crying little sister... because that also zoomed in on the second child in the shot, between the legs of the girls on the left. There was no second child in the room when the picture was taken. Talking about the creepy nature of the discovery, Summers stated: "I was really shocked because I don't believe in that stuff."

        The Daily News article on the incident included the opinion of Ciaran O'Keeffe, described as a 'parapsychologist' from the TV show "Most Haunted," who suggested the photo was not of a ghost or apparition, but rather just a case of pareidolia, being the human tendency to interpret random objects and patterns as faces. "There is no ghost in this picture, just the coincidental effect of pixelation and darkness and light which combine together."

Further Thoughts

        While pareidolia is a possible explanation, the image sure looks more like an actual child than a "coincidental effect of pixelation and darkness and light"... especially since the bottom of the curtain is clearly visible behind legs in all other parts of the shot.

        It's possible that Summers faked the photo, adding the ghost child to it via computer and software. If he did, then he had to either load it back onto his phone or have taken a picture of the altered shot... because he's showing the picture on the phone above.

        The simplest explanation would be that there was actually just another child in the picture, obscured in a dark spot between the girls' legs, and Summers lied. That the news services never suggest this possibility is no surprise, as the story would sell better if readers were left guessing.

        The article itself doesn't seem to have been picked up by too many news services outside of Britain... but from 2008 on the photo was everywhere, with a complete lack of story being presented.