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Floyd Tillmon's Haunted Tourbus - my first investigation
Submitted By: Sherryjane Cooke Date: October 07, 2010, 01:38:27 AM Views: 2761
Summary: This is an article about my first investigation over a year ago. Little did I know that I would actually make contact...the ending reality of what I did capture was thriling, but the reality of proving the spirits' were listed on the Sherriff's list of missing females since the 1980's was truly frightening. It is now in the hands of detectives and their follow up. Even more frightening was that the people I was working with on this investigation - might be suspects. (Photos of the bus are on my page.)

The haunted tour bus of Floyd Tillman had been discovered in a junk yard.  This was my somewhat crazy idea to interview a Texas Country Music legend who may actually not physically be with us.  How many of we reporters can claim that one?

After hearing that the haunted tour bus of Floyd Tillmon was within reach and being a fledgling detective and investigator of the paranormal, I immediately knew I must find a way to go there.  As this was my first real investigation, and although I had been reading technique and protocol books on paranormal investigations, I would need to know about the protocol and highly technical voice equipment. So, finding a paranormal investigator and author about 50 miles from me online was great. The man had discovered the tour bus and had previous filmed an EVP/automatic writing episode in the bus. I was allowed a crash course in investigations, EVP’s and equipment and am a reverent fan of Ghost Hunters (I worry about the other series with so much hype and frightened faces…too much Hollywood stuff,) I was cautiously and nervously” ready?”

My new researcher friend showed me one tape of the tour bus recorded a year or so ago. He took a “psychic” who looked more like Helga the Viking and a local guitarist/singer. She could supposedly do automatic writing and the musician was to bring out the spirits’ interest in joining them... As the musician played the '40's Country Music of that time, the woman nervously began to scribble. Her words from the automatic writing made no sense, and she seemed to be "leading" my friend with words that she already knew about the bus. The EVP session was peppered with recorded voices of what may be Floyd Tillman and others, more laughter than words. Sure, doctoring tapes can be done, that’s why I wonder about some of the “reality” paranormal videos we see on television or the internet.  But seeing the “psychic’s” half baked techniques I was becoming jaded and skeptically, I began my journey.

About Floyd Tillman - Floyd was born in Ryan, Oklahoma on December 8, 1914 and passed away peacefully on August 22, 2003 (one day from my birth day). He was an American country musician who, in the 1930s and 40s, helped create the Western swing and honky tonk genres. Tillman was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 1970 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1984.

He returned to work occasionally in the 1970's primarily throughout Texas. He did enjoy a part in several of the "Legends" or "Pioneer Reunion" shows in Nashville. Floyd continued to work until he reached his 88th birthday, just months before his death. He was inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 1971. His greatest honor was bestowed on him in 1984 when his protégé Willie Nelson inducted him into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Floyd returned to the studio in 2002-2003 to record his final album, which he never heard, dying prior to its release. One of his friends said, "We were just very disappointed that Floyd could not hear the final project. He loved his vocals and smiled 'ear to ear' when I first played them for him." Ah, but the stories abounded about philandering and it was rumored that he murdered his wife. I doubt that very much and I have no evidence or news reports of that, but she does seem to disappear from any mention of a divorce or even her existence afterward. Rumors were unbelievable, but I wanted to investigate anyway.
That morning, ironically or planned, was the day before Halloween.  After losing my two assistants who were also to attend (have no idea why?) I drove alone to again visit for a second day at “paranormal boot camp.”  Worn out but excited that we would be beginning the investigation the next day, at Floyd’s tour bus with equipment, cameras, recorders and my crucifix around my neck. It’s a mission to find out if Floyd IS still with us.

We were to visit the bus the next day – my sister and another friend (just for support,) my researcher friend and the local country music singer. No automatic writing, just EVP recorder and a 45 mm camera.

Worse became worse -  my researcher friend had a major speaking engagement and could not go, I could not reach the local musician and again my two assistants, my sister and friend were nowhere to be found. Still determined, I told my husband that today was the day and I would go alone if I had to. Afraid for my safety, he was going! Well,  he was not going willingly and not about to get in that tour bus.

At the scene, I noticed the burned out church just beside the scrap yard and just beyond the tour bus. The foreboding I was feeling was becoming a little too real to me now.

As we pulled into Mr. S's scrap yard, for my "interview with Floyd" we were met by three large pit bulls barking furiously. I called Mr. L’s son who me just to "just talk to them".  Ok, I can do that, even to the pit bull that was supposed be around??  I may end up minus a leg or arm, but I was just unstoppable… or stupid.

Mr. S. was strange genius of a man and can quote you every date and event in history. With his permission, we entered the drive. So, here I am in a junk yard going to interview a Country Music Legend, Floyd Tillman...who was not really there physically.  Along with the pit bulls (who magically understood “Please don’t hurt me – I swear next time I’ll bring steak!”,) we were met by two caretakers, actually transients allowed to live on the ramshackle grounds within the various abandoned and sadly rusting vehicles speckling the overgrown land.  

Bishop and Joe had seen far too much at that bus. Bishop had several times experienced Floyd's wife, always dressed in a flowered dress with a necklace with a huge black stone in the center, he thought it might be onyx and it was completely surrounded with the biggest diamonds you've ever seen.  A beautiful dark haired girl was also seen in the bus and was VERY friendly to many who happened to visit the bus in the scrap yard. I kept in mind Bishop and Joe’s possible inebriated visions…

My husband, Larry stood guard outside, snapping photos of all outside angles of the bus...many. Or maybe he just wanted no part of my "silly-weird" interview...I chose to think he was bravely guarding so that no one could sneak up and make scary noises.  Before entering, I asked for protection from God, that no evil befall me and that this investigation might not harm but help somehow.  And with a cross around my neck my sister gave me, surely I was safe from vampires too.

As any good guest, I announced myself and asked if I could come in (my friend a paranormal expert, author and lecturer had taught me that.)  I put down the recorder letting it roll during the entire time.  I politely tiptoed through the bus and asked questions as if I would a living country music star and legend like Floyd Tillman. I heard no responses, but was so curious at the condition of the was a bittersweet ending for such a once luxurious 1946 Flexiblebus, with its 429 Ford Thunderbird engine, automatic C6 transmission.  Of course, dust was everywhere as expected and things were falling from the ceiling. I felt so sorry for the bus...that it carried...what it must have seen and experienced, loyally carrying Floyd and his band all over the country.  What a beauty it must have been.

As I asked my questions, in a pause hoping for an answer, I could have sworn I heard a whistling, as if someone were whistling a song... Larry assured me no one whistled.  Then immediately following was a swishing sound, maybe a snake?  But this brave Texas investigator kept her cool, snapping my own photos. I have just uploaded them from my digital camera and do swear by all I hold dear to my heart, that none of these are retouched in anyway.  The pictures are in my picture album here on PN.  In the second window from the left, there is a face, obviously not Larry's, not mine. And the only thing to the left of the bus was a reddish wooden side of what was meant to be a barn. And from the angle, I could not possibly be anyone there! It looks much like the black and white photo of Floyd Tillman I had at home in my research papers!

Upon my husband’s urgings then demanding to leave as it began to grow dusk….we left and I graciously thanked whoever was there for the visit.

On the way home, I listened carefully ear to digital recorder to words that may be there, but without friend Richard L.'s high tech equipment to voice evaluate, I don't know yet what I had that was not immediately noticeable to my yet untrained ear.

Suddenly, I almost jumped from my seat in the car when I heard the distinct whistling of a song and immediately a strong rush of wind, as if the bus had been rushing down a highway with the windows open!  And, I promise you, there was no wind that day! Maybe it was something to do with my cross around my neck.  Or maybe Floyd Tillman is happily rolling down the road in his "car-a-bus" as he called the 1946 Flexible beauty it once was.

It was a few days until my friend and my schedules met up and I was excited to take it to him for the ultimate review!  I was going to be there for this as although he was my friend, I trusted no one with my treasured recording. Setting up his computer voice technology, my friend began to play my recording and interview of Floyd. But something extremely unusual came through…happened, and I am less of a skeptic than I ever was.  

On the EVP voice software, I watched and listened to my voice. My friend and I both jumped when the first EVP came through. When I asked if I was welcomed to come in, a woman’s voice clearly said “I would love that.” With a few more questions and requests from me… came the words “Hello”…then I asked if anyone was with me there. Again, softly two voices spoke separately, and said their names. I can’t repeat them, for reasons you will later learn in this article.  Then…chilling moans and crying was heard…one voice sobbing “crime scene!” My heart skipped several beats as my researcher friend calmly continued the readings. As quickly as I asked why they were still with us in the bus (not knowing if I actually had anyone there,) came more cries… and then “They’re coming!” Two voices, two girls in terror. As the recording continued, my husband’s voice was loudly heard demanding that we GO.  I slowly stepped down with his help as the steps to the bus were
dangerously rusted out…upon leaving I again thanked whoever for the visit…then the EVP “Thank you and come again.”

My friend was not very happy that so many EVP’s came through and his own automatic writing expert gave very little to his investigation. With tape back in hand, and a burned CD with my EVP’s I headed home. I don’t remember driving home, I believe I was still in awe at what I had experienced.

For many days and weeks afterward, I worried about those two girls – a constant nagging to do something.  My mother had called and we discussed it. She was witness to another girl’s disappearance a few years before, interrogated by so many authorities and hypnotized twice by the FBI. We also were working with the Laura Recovery Center and investigators – she was in her 70’s and she wanted my support through the ordeal.

She asked me if the EVP’s could have anything to do with the kidnappings of girls and women off of I-45 between League City and Galveston. The light bulb over my head would have blinded anyone standing around me. We quickly finished our conversation and I headed to my computer to do what I love to do – research!

Pulling up the County Sherriff’s Department’s and reports on the I-45 killer(s) showed these kidnappings happening since 1980. I was going to scan the names, knowing that I would be experiencing a sadness for those girls on the list and their families.  I hesitated, and then began the list of names of these women taken from I-45 missing or dead. Some bodies had been found. They totaled almost 50 since 1980. Hoping that I wouldn’t see the names I had heard on the EVP’s, my hope was dashed as the names on my EVP session… were there…in bold black and white. For minutes, I don’t think I even took a breath. My heart jumped at possibilities, while my stomach felt an emptiness I hadn’t felt before.

Hours went by before I had the nerve to pick up the phone. But call who? Would they believe me or think I was a crackpot? Previously working with an investigator with the Laura Recovery Center – I found that he had gone back to his original detective work. Could I tell this woman on the phone?  I only had voices from a recorder. The woman on the line was immediately supportive and I told her my entire experience, all along thinking she was shaking her head at a crazy woman’s report. But I was wrong. She was sending the information to a detective at the Sherriff’s office for his cold case investigations.

Later that night, still reeling from the ordeal, we went to eat at the country club. Surprisingly, our close friend, the recent ex-Sherriff of our county sat with us.  Not wanting really to talk about it again, it seemed to just slip out…again with the whole story!  His eyes became intense and locked with mine and I knew this was it… he spoke slowly. “Sherry, there are so many things we don’t know and I truly believe in this. I’ve been trying to solve these for thirty years and it’s only through these… these paranormal clues, we need them.”

By the time we arrived home, the detective had called.  Although the story had been told so many times, I again went through all the happenings with the same intensity I had felt when I found the names. He confirmed the names and we began to discuss the area where the bus was. He mirrored the honest and intense interest as had our sherriff friend. As we talked, I began to visualize the large smelter for metal there on the machine and metal trashed scrap yard.  “What a place to get rid of a body” snapped inside my head. Where the heck did THAT come from?? I was happy that those words did not come out verbally!

True the grounds are a mess, the church beside it is burned down, transients live all over, the landowner is a recluse and pit bulls guard the entry. “Crime scene” became a throbbing mantra in my head. It is still.  As is the story my male hairdresser, whose father is a Pasadena detective, told me many years ago… “Oh my father knows that there is not one I-45 Killer, but they are several together who work together.

Detectives have taken it over now. I don’t go there anymore. I found that my researcher friend and the land owner, who were strange friends, each keeping their distance from one another. On my last visit to my friend with the EVP translators, I took my mother for support and I don’t know why. I nervously, but threading the question in with other pleasantries I asked how long he had lived in the area. “Oh, 1980…like ____ the landowner.” Both my mother and I became weak at the knees and hoped that it was just a weird coincidence. Yes, that was it. I never told the detective,  I don’t jump to conclusions and preferred to forget I asked.

Since that time, I have never heard from either. I called once and he informed me that he was not focusing on his paranormal research so much anymore. As for my continued research on Floyd’s bus, I know I’m not ready and I know it would be unsafe in so many ways for any investigator.  Perhaps my prayer for protection and for doing good helped.  Perhaps, it will lead to something to ease the pain for many families…. But I ventured in too close to reality….that’s what I fear… the paranormal is much less threatening now.

Meanwhile, Floyd Tillman's Flexible "car-a-bus is for sale", with or without any friends that may be in there.

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