Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Phantom Lady of Kennedy Hill Road


Originally posted in August of 2008.

This story was told at a family gathering on Sunday, August 10, as we were all having breakfast. Several members of the extended family were present, including Jarrett, who was born moments before this story takes place.

I am always ready to jump on a good ghost story or unexplained event, which is why I think it is so interesting how honestly unenthusiastic Libby is about her own story. She told me several times before sharing it that she finds the story "boring," and doesn't see why anyone would be interested. One of her sisters mentioned to me, later that morning, that Libby never shares the story. She always seems reluctant. Even I hadn't been told this, it was obvious from the story itself. Libby's disinterest, to me, the biggest mystery of the story.


I worked in a restaurant in Rockford, IL, with my now husband, he was my boyfriend. He was a bartender. I was a server, and I was called by somebody to let me know that I had a nephew. My nephew, Jarrett Heintz, was born. It was January 4, 1981, and I was very excited. It was... my whole night was just, you know, I couldn't remember a thing else besides that, and Mark was excited for me. He knew how important this was. And I closed that night, so who knows if it was... It was the wee hours. We made have stayed afterwards; I'm not sure, but on my way home... I remember it being six below zero.

On the way home, I was on Kennedy Hill Road, going towards Byron, where I lived, and I saw a very tall woman with long blond hair walking on the left with my, you know... on the opposite side of the road that I was on. Coming... Going... my way. In fact, I'm trying to say that I was looking at her backside. It appeared that she was wearing nothing but green underwear, but it was one of those flash moments where I questioned what I just saw. I thought am I dreaming? Am I too tired? What is going on here? And a few seconds later, it dawned on me that this person could be in trouble. Maybe she was raped. It dawned on me that it was January 4, and how cold it was.

So at the next possible road I turned around. I wanted to go see if there was anything I could do to help, because this was in an area that I was very familiar with. It was in between my old boyfriend's horse farm and one of my best friend's dairy farms. I just didn't feel that there was any danger to me, so I wanted to help. This was before cell phones. And I turned around and nowhere was she to be found, and I felt really guilty, so I continued home, told my Mom and Dad the story, and said, "Don’t you think I ought to call the police?" And they said, "Yes."

So I did. I called the Byron police, and I said, "Just have to tell you who I am. I'm not some weirdo that's making up stuff. I'm not mentally ill. I'm Doc Jarrett's daughter. This is what I saw, so I thought you just might want to know in case you want to go check things out."

And I don't know how I found out, if they called me the next day... They never found a thing, and that was the end of it, until I'd say... a few weeks later when my friend Kim, who lives on the at dairy farm, saw the same person, and I don't know if there were any other sightings.

But all of a sudden, Kim and I started getting phone calls from radio stations. How it got through Byron, I don't know, but it got in the Byron Tempo. Dianne Motes was probably what? The Editor? We were getting calls from San Diego, out east, Boston, I'm not sure. She got calls from different? What?

One of the sisters chimed in, "No Money?"

No Money. No one offered. And I said, "Oh please, this is yesterday's news. We don't need to talk about this," and I didn't tell any of them my story. They really wanted it. I mean, it was a slow news day, I guess.

So there were several other sightings, and she became the phantom lady at Kennedy Hill road. I believe I was the first. I was the first to report it probably.

Jarrett asked if the green underwear were a constant factor as people reported seeing the woman.

I'm not sure, Jarrett. See it's all foggy to me: was she naked? Was she... blah blah blah. Anyway, then we heard it could be the weird guy that lived on the Jacobson's... in the Jacobson's tenant home, that was tall and thin. Cause this... And then as I thought back, well, this woman really did have some thin... a real thin build. Not your hourglass figure. Long blond hair. It almost... I thought of Lady Godiva, you know, I thought of a blond... maybe a long blond wig.

And then there were all these stories about how, "Oh yes, there was this girl, there was a death, blah blah blah," and I was so not into it. Not interested, so to me it's a non-story.

But the other day, I was thinking about how everyone has a story in their life to tell. And I was going to have my patients write a little paragraph about their life that they would think a stranger might be interested in. And I thought, "Well, what could my story be?" And I thought, well, I could always tell that one.

And so I looked it up on line, "Phantom Lady of Kennedy Hill Road," and up comes this story, and it's fiction. Dianne Motes had to have written it, because she was from Illinois, and this fictional story was not anything about phantom lady the way I saw it. It was totally redone, but the main character's name was Dianne, and it took place at the gatehouse on Slingerland Farm on Kennedy Hill. Why would anyone call it Slingerland Farm? It was bizarre.

I found, moments ago, the story that Libby had found while searching for the phantom lady of Kennedy Hill Road. It was posted on a blog: http://raginmom.blogspot.com/2006/10/deerfield.html. I plan to contact the author (or at least poster) of this story to see what their connection is. Perhaps there is more to learn about this series of sightings.

6 comments:

Adoro said...

Interesting. I lived in Byron until I was 10, and was there until about 1984. From about 1980 (when I was kindgergarten to first grade) we began hearing/telling stories about the "Kennedy Hill Ghost".

I remember that it was about a woman seen walking on the side of the road with long blonde hair, and when people would go back to check on her, she would have vanished. I never heard anything about green underwear...then again, I would have been 6 or 7!

Other stories appeared; one of my classmates told of seeing a disembodied hand. And we heard rumors that at one point, a woman out jogging had been hit by a car and killed, and it was her ghost that haunted Kennedy Hill.

I do recall that Kennedy Hill met River road, what, the north side of the Rock River? I'm about to write something about it, but from memory, not a map. It was a very dangerous intersection. Whenever we went to Rockford, Mom got visibly tense, and it had nothing to do with a "ghost".

Which, back to the topic, incidentally was revealed when I was 9 or so to be a "hoax". I think it was the person you named who invented it, but I can't remember the details. It was quite the scandal at the time. Or maybe the author wasn't the liar...just reported on it and later go the truth.

Small towns. If they don't have ghosts...they invent them.

Everyone does.

Will G said...

I was born in Rockford and grew up in Stillman Valley and have heard this story tons of times. I usually heard a version where the girl was driving down Kennedy Hill Rd in the winter and slid on ice through the stop sign (as Im sure you know the road is very steep where it ends) and into the Rock River where she drowned. Later a police car was driving by and saw the girl soaking wet and freezing walking down river road and picked her up. After a couple minutes in the car they looked back to just find a wet seat and no person. We always told people that if you drive up that road in the winter(which is dangerous enough as it is) that sometimes you can see the girl walking. I loved this story and have told friends about it all over the country now.

Anonymous said...

The ghost was my sister, Nancy. It was a time when she was living at home and bored, but feeling her oats.

Carole McLaughlin

Anonymous said...

Diane moats was a well known reporter and writer in Byron and later Oregon.

Just wanted to correct the spelling of her name. She was a wonderful person.

Christie said...

The story has been around Rockford and the surrounding area since the mid 70's actually.

Of course the stories I heard she was wearing a light blue gown, almost white.....

Michelle Anderson said...

My name is Michelle Moats-Anderson and Diane Moats the reporter who wrote these stories was my mother. First thank you to the person who commented on my mother's credibility, she wrote for the Rockford Register Star, The Ogle County Life and the Byron Tempo at different times. She wrote investigative stories, news stories, human interest stories as well as several columns for these papers at various times during her career. I was 18 at the time these stories were written and living at home, I can attest with certainty that these stories were based on actual reports and interviews that she conducted. The witnesses were all credible persons and she made nothing up. This story unfolded over a couple of months and included threatening phone calls made to our home, to the extent that when our phone rang and we answered it, so did the Byron Police Department. My young brother(5) was also escorted to school and home by a police officer as threats were made against him. What was actually going on up on Kennedy hill...I do not know for sure, my mother had a good idea that she knew what it was...but there lies the difference between knowing and being able to prove it. But she did not believe when it all wrapped up that it was anything "unworldly". It has been a length of time since anyone commented on this and I do not know if anyone will ever read this, but wished to contribute what facts I could.
thanks, Michelle