Is the Viral 'Dear David' Haunting a Hoax? We Asked a Real Life Ghost Hunter

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by Jacqueline Burt Cote November 22nd, 2017

If you've been following the paranormal saga of "Dear David," you're no doubt losing sleep wondering whether or not the viral phenomenon is legit (not to mention how unbelievably creepy the whole thing is). Just in case you aren't up to speed: NYC-based illustrator Adam Ellis has turned to Twitter to document the alleged haunting of his apartment by a freaky child ghost who appeared to Ellis in his dreams, messed with his cats, made stuff move when no one was around, and—finally—showed up in photos Ellis took on his phone. Or did he?

Either the "Dear David" story is one of the craziest haunting stories ever, or it's one of the most brilliant marketing schemes ever… and we just had to know the truth. So CafeMom spoke with professional psychic medium Karen Hollis , who has appeared on such TV ghost-hunting hits as "A Haunting" and "Paranormal Survivor," to get her take on the terrifying tale.

The Original Drawing of David

Tweet from Adam Ellis: "He had a huge misshapen head that was dented on one side. I did my best to draw it: drawing of "misshapen head ghost

Right off the bat, Hollis thinks it's odd that David made his crossover from the dream sphere to real life when Ellis drew a picture of him.

"I find it suspicious and convenient that Adam claims that this all began 'when he drew the child ghost,'" says Hollis. "His twitter feed reads 'Comics Boy' which makes me think that this is a ploy to have this go viral and be famous rather than it being a true paranormal event."

"Why would drawing a picture of a child ghost draw that ghost to you? If it is a 'true haunting,' it would fit into some known category of haunting, one would think. Intelligent, Traumatic, Re-occurring due to historical significance, etc.… simply drawing this child ghost would not bring something paranormal to you."

And while the sleep paralysis Ellis describes during David's first visit can be extremely frightening (as anyone who's ever experienced it knows), it generally is not a sign of spooky goings-on.

"Sleep Paralysis can make you feel as if you are being held down, which is very scary, but not a ghost," says Hollis. "Of all of the investigations I have been on, not one person has linked a true paranormal experience with sleep paralysis."

The Rocking Chair & Curious Cats

Adam Ellis tweet: They're both there now. Two cats facing a door

Among the more startling videos shared by Ellis was one caught by his pet monitoring camera when no one else was home of his green chair rocking all by itself (a decorative turtle shell also inexplicably fell from the wall where it was hanging). Definitely bizarre if there really wasn't anyone home, but as Hollis points out:

"There is no way to tell if the green chair rocking is somehow attached to fishing line, which is filament thin, and would not show up in the video as the chair is placed at a distance away from the nanny cam."

Ellis also shared pics and footage of his cats staring at the door at midnight, which they apparently did every night like clockwork (when David supposedly showed up) and acting spooked in general over nothing visible. Weird, sure, but perhaps not so unusual to the average cat owner.

"Cats stare at lots of things for no reason," says Hollis. "A cat staring at a door does not make it a haunted environment."

As for the pics of what Ellis thought was a shadowy figure in his hallway, Hollis says that was likely a common trick our eyes can play on us.

"The shadow figure in the hallway is nothing more than a case of pareidolia," she says. "Pareidolia is a type of apophenia, which is a more generalized term for seeing patterns in random data. Some common examples are seeing a likeness of Jesus in the clouds or an image of a man on the surface of the moon."

David's Dream Introduction

Three Adam Ellis tweets detailed in hte text below

According to Ellis, after the strange occurrences began, he had a dream about meeting a girl in a library who asked him if he'd seen David and warned him that while he could ask the spirit two questions if he said "Dear David" first, he must never ask a third -- or David would kill him. Yikes! Horrifying, for sure -- but perhaps a bit convoluted? Hollis seems to think so.

"Although it is true that the 'dead' are more likely to communicate with us in a dream state because they can bypass the 'conscious mind,' which is the judging mind that helps us know reality from fiction, this is not how the dead communicate," she says.

"If 'Dear David' was menacing and/or real, he would just show up in the dream and not send a girl in a library dream to announce his existence. This claim is simply not plausible in my opinion. I speak with the dead every day in my office and I have never met a demon, child or otherwise. People are people dead or alive, and just because they are dead does not mean that they are good, or have seen the error of their earthly ways. Being dead also does not make them evil!"

"This myth has been perpetuated by the television ghost shows who like to sex up the fear factor for sensationalism," she adds. "Adam does not give us a reason as to why this ghost demon is after him. Further, he says that he is warned not to ask the demon ghost child three questions or he will be killed, and yet he persists in doing so. He must not be that scared after all! Sounds to me like the 'I found a genie in a bottle and got three wishes fairytale' told to the story of 'Dear David.'"

The Ghostly Photos

Adam Ellis Tweet: This is the one that made my heart drop blurry image that is very dark. There is an enhanced image below this one.

One of the most dramatic (and recent) updates Ellis made to his story included several photos he took on his phone in the dark while having a dream that David was crawling towards him on his bed, muttering menacingly. While the images are extremely dark, you can make out the fuzzy image of a phantom boy with a dented head (if you look at the enhanced image below). But Hollis believes there could be a very non-supernatural explanation for this one: Photoshop (or, more specifically, friends who happen to be Photoshop experts). If he can draw it on paper, he can draw it in Photoshop.

Enhanced photo of dear david
The same photo as above, enhanced.

Editor's Note: As posted on his Twitter feed, the images he normally posts are 1200x900 or 900x1200. The image above was posted to his Twitter feed at 675x1200 pixels. So the photo above has, at the very least, been cropped or altered in some way.

"Most telling is that he has 13,000+ Tweets and 2, 618 Likes and is following almost without exception a bunch of social media types -- one named 'Goose' who is a 'Photoshop Layer Slayer,'" she says.

"I believe that the ghost photo below is nothing more than a doll propped up on the bed, and some Photoshopping to make it look grainy. In Photoshop, you can place an image on top of an image and do anything you want with it!"

None of this is to say, of course, that actual hauntings don't happen -- just that this particular story doesn't quite fit the bill.

"Over the years, I have met people who are truly 'haunted' and very scared," says Hollis.

"They move out of their homes and leave, they don't continue the drama on Twitter! By the way, you cannot make anyone do anything whether dead or alive in my estimation. Not with sage, not with holy water, and not with salt. Your options are to either learn to live with the phenomena, or move if it unnerves you."

Yeah, moving sounds good to us! Whether or not "Dear David" is true, it's still super entertaining. And we almost hope, for the sake of Ellis and his cats, that it is indeed a hoax. Because, let's face it -- a good apartment in NYC is hard to find!

Our House Media interviewed Karen for an episode of Paranormal Survivor. This episode has aired in the summer 2015 season on Destination America.

Find out more about Karen's Media Appearances.