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by Jason Offutt, guest contributor.  [December 16, 2006]




[]  The woman was afraid. Each night, on her way home from work, she saw a dark man standing on the roadside, hitchhiking. But the dark figure wasn't a man.

It was just a form, a shadow. Standing. Staring.

Unnerved, the woman called a friend, Dawn Newlan, a medium with the Ozark Paranormal Society, who told her to find an alternate route home.

She did, and when she went back weeks later, the dark man was gone. Dawn's friend had seen a Shadow Person, one of the black figures we see out of the corner of our eye, or sometimes leaning over our bed at night.

These stories are common.

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In Joplin, the black shadow of a man reportedly weaves through the trees that surround Peace Church Cemetery, the resting place of serial killer "Badman Bill Cook." Cook, a hitchhiker, killed a family of five and a sixth random motorist in 1951.

"That's funny," Dawn said, after hearing of Cook. "This woman was in Joplin."

Was Cook the woman's dark man? Shadow People are seen by children, teens and adults, usually in their homes during the late hours; a human-like, black figure often walking down hallways, or skulking in corners.

"I have seen them over the years," Lee Prosser from Springfield said. Prosser is sensitive to the spirit world. "But I never felt threatened by them."

Some have.

Josh LeMar, at the time a Maryville High School junior, took a group of friends and freshman girls to a nearby cemetery. "We had the intentions of scaring the [freshmen]," Josh said. "We were going to give the word, and all the guys were going to jump in the cars and leave the girls there. When we got to a gravel road, we realized we left a guy back with the girls. We pull back in and see the guy we left behind was upset."

There was something in the cemetery.

"He'd seen somebody [dark] jumping from headstone to headstone and hiding behind them," Josh said. "We got out of there right away."

He'd seen a Shadow Person. But what are they? Dawn said for the most part Shadow People are ghosts. "A lot of times they are just someone who has passed and is still earthbound," Dawn said. "Most of the time, they are not threatening, or not of an evil nature. But there are [bad] things out there.”

Lee said people sometimes associate Shadow People with the specter of death, but he said they could be something more physical. "I feel these Shadow Entities are scouts or explorers from another dimension, simply taking a peek-see at what humans are doing," Lee said. "They can appear at any time, and at any place … watching and observing."

Darren Carson, now athletic director of Desert Technology High School in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, worked as a security guard at Central Methodist University in Fayette, Missouri, when he saw his unexplained shadow. "I was doing security rounds with Ben in the spring of 2001," said Darren. "We were out about 12:30 or 1 a.m. and we saw this shape, pitch black, come together in the tree. This shape formed into a ball and shot out of the top of the tree. There was no sound and no wind. It still gives me goose bumps."

As it does for most of those who see Shadow People.

"A lot of people will see or experience these dark shadows," Dawn said. "And all they know is it scares the living hell out of them."

Jason Offutt, a syndicated columnist, may be contacted c/o The Examiner, 410 S. Liberty, Independence, Mo. 64050.

He is the author of Haunted Missouri, a book of ghost stories.

He has email and a blog.

Copyright 2006 by Jason Offutt


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