Over a decade ago I was told this story by a lady who lived in an apartment in Villa Park, Illinois. When she told me this story, it reminded me of an urban legend she may have overheard. However, she said this was her own personal experience and spoke of it matter-of-factly.
Rebecca said after she moved into her apartment, she gradually became aware of something strange in her unit. She wasn’t immediately aware of anything unusual, but over time she began to hear strange sounds. As she sat in her living room she would hear footsteps in the hallway between her living room and bedroom. She would get up and look to see what it was but the hallway was empty. She was also unnerved to hear footsteps in the hallway when she was in her bedroom.
Another sound she sometimes heard was a sigh. When all was quiet, she might hear someone sigh as if they were tired or perhaps sad. She couldn’t make out the location of the sighing. This happened often enough that she came to accept her apartment was haunted. She was not afraid of these noises. If anything, there was a feeling of sadness accompanying these events, nothing scary.
Rebecca said she became curious about who this unseen visitor might be and made inquires about the former occupants of her apartment. She heard a story that a gay man had lived in this unit. This person was supposedly murdered, the story being it was the result of a hate crime, and the killer was never found. Rebecca felt this event was the motivation behind the ghost.
Rebecca said she eventually decided to speak to the ghost in her apartment. She said she spoke aloud, talking to him as if he were in the room. She expressed her sympathy for what happened to him. She told the ghost she heard the story of his death. She wished there was something she could do to make things right. She felt bad for him and wished him peace. He was welcome to stay if he wanted.
Perhaps an acknowledgement of his situation and an expression of concern was what the spirit wanted. After she spoke, she never heard footsteps or the sighs again. The ghost had departed.
Her story shared many elements of a typical ghost story: the anomalies, the back-story, and the final departure of the spirit. It seems communicating with spirits is sometimes enough to awaken and free them, if they are stuck in-between worlds. Rebecca speculated the ghost simply wanted the crime committed against him to be recognized by someone, even if only her.
Recently I have tried to verify the story. Was someone who lived in this apartment ever murdered? If I could discover the back-story was accurate, it would add support to Rebecca’s tale. However, since the date of this event is unknown, and I have no name to research, I have run into a dead end.