FROM THE ARCHIVE: Ernie, Debbie and their ghosts at Winchester Mystery House in San Jose in 1983

We dug through the KGO-TV archive and found out a couple used to work overnight in the Winchester Mystery House decades ago.

BySteve Davis, Justin Mendoza KGO logo
Friday, October 30, 2020
Ghostly look back at Winchester Mystery House in 1983
#TBT: "'I just felt like a hand move across my head." Just in time for Halloween 2020, we dug through our ABC7 News archives and found out a couple used to work the overnight shift at this haunted institution back in 1983.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Sarah Winchester began remodeling a home in 1886 with guidance from spirits, and later became known as the Winchester Mystery House . It has 160 interconnecting rooms sprinkled with doorways that exit into thin air, stairways that lead to dead end ceilings and other oddities designed by Winchester who believed in ghosts. Did she?

She built for 36 years until her death in September 1922, nearly 100 years ago.

We dug through the ABC7 News archives and found this story that originally aired on Oct. 31, 1983, re-discovering a couple who used to work overnight nearly four decades ago.

RELATED: LIST: Top 10 mind-bending facts about the Winchester Mystery House

Late ABC7 News reporter Steve Davis visited the haunted institution. He spoke to Debbie and Ernie, who called themselves the "night watch couple." They recalled their eerie experience working in the mystery house where at the time, and still to this present day, many psychics insist is inhabited by spirits. Is it?

"When we first moved in here, the first week, I was here I was calling my sister. All of a sudden, I just felt like a hand move across my head, then all day long. I tried to think 'did I really feel it?' And yes I did," said Debbie.

Whenever the alarm goes off, Debbie and Ernie (last names unknown) find out why.

"On the first week we were here, it went off every other night. Couldn't find anything. It just popped off," said Ernie.

RELATED: Winchester Mystery House in San Jose to reopen Saturday

Even the trained guard dog shy is when he passes one particular hallway every night.

"So, what I have to do is shine a flashlight down the hallway for him to see," Ernie said.

"Otherwise, he won't go down there. Sometimes, when I do a late round, I'll catch a movement on the corner of my eye. And it'll be the Indian, and I think I would get used to that statue being there but, I haven't. And sometimes it seems like it doesn't move and seems like stares at me," he said.

So, how are Debbie and Ernie doing 37 years later? That's a mystery. Staff at the Winchester Mystery House says it does not have access to employment files from three decades ago.

A spokesperson said an area of the haunted property was built for staff to live in. The "night watch couple" had other full-time jobs and lived here for nearly a decade.

The Winchester Mystery House has not had anyone living in it since the 1990s. It has transitioned to security services protecting the iconic tourist attraction 24 hours a day, seven days a week... from ghosts, perhaps?

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