There are no coincidences in the paranormal world.
Noted demonologist John Zaffis has often said this in interviews and articles, and he would be in a position to know. That makes the string of similarities between Darren Evans, paranormal researcher and author, and Tim Wood, founder and lead investigator of LiveSciFi more ominous than they might first appear to be. In the cards? LiveSciFi is investigating a brand new location—the Zozo house in Oklahoma where once Darren Evans lived…and Evans is coming to join them. With both coming together for this historic paranormal investigation on October 21, those parallels might become important…and dangerous.
The thread between the Ouija board demon and the investigators that are researching it are more deep-rooted than you might think. It’s a difficult thing to organize, considering the complexity of the theory, but it is possible to show the correlations between the entity called Zozo, Tim Wood, and Darren Evans. These threads stretch across over two centuries of history and three continents, but once they are connected everything looks like a detective’s board of clues. By connecting the dots, the evolution of an entity and the people who hunt it turns into an incredible story.
To break it all down for you, we need to first establish the foundations of each.
Darren Evans—Tulsa, Oklahoma
Tim Wood—San Francisco, California
Zozo—judging from the etymology of the name, Zozo, the entity has roots in both France and Africa, via the Creole cultures in Haiti and Louisiana
Darren Evans’s first Zozo encounter was in 1982. His website publishing his research on the entity was established in the summer of 2008, and has served as the primary source of information on Zozo since.
Tim Wood’s first Zozo encounter was in 2007, during an investigation at the Stanley Hotel. Since then the entity has sown up on numerous live shows, both in his home and at haunted locations.
Zozo has been traced back as far as the Middle Ages, but the entity has been in the demonologist’s lexicon since at least 1806. Encounters with the entity began to occur on the Ouija board or spirit board in the 1950’s, had an upsurge in the early eighties. As the internet became more accessible, victims or targets of the entity gradually began to compare notes. Evans’s website publication in 2008 gave those victims a forum. Once video streaming equipment improved, Zozo videos increased at an exponential rate—particularly in the last four years.
Zozo Clues and Characteristics
Blackbirds, Louisiana, slavery, Voodoo and other French-African religious blends, French/Basque and African etymology, sex or sexual assault, possession of humans, possession of animals, Ouija or spirit boards, death and/or suicide, haunted locations
Connecting the dots
To begin with, both Darren and Tim live in cities with a strong French heritage. Many of the rivers in Oklahoma have French names because of the explorers that first mapped the region. As far back as 1682 Robert Cavelier had claimed Oklahoma for France, as part of Louisiana. San Francisco has had a thriving French community since SF was just a mission. In 1786, the French explorer the Comte de la Perouse wrote a detailed report about the small settlement and the area around it, which drew many Frenchmen to try their luck in the American West in the wake of the French Revolution.
Both Oklahoma and San Francisco were involved heavily in the American self-mutilation over the issue of slavery. Oklahoma was at first part of the Louisiana territory, and the rich farmland of the plains drew people north from the bayous and they brought their slaves with them. Even the indigenous people of Oklahoma owned slaves. San Francisco suffered a similar fate. The Gold Rush of 1848 brought hordes of Southern men to try their luck and they, too, brought their slaves along.
Where there were slaves in America and the Caribbean, two other things thrived: rebellion and adapted religions. Haiti rebelled against France in 1791; California entered the union as a free state, which brought hordes of runaway slaves and abolitionists to San Francisco; and Oklahoma remained a slave state until the Emancipation Proclamation officially outlawed slavery in the US—which was confirmed at last when the Confederacy fell. In the Caribbean and the plantations of the American South, slaves combined the Judeo-Christian beliefs of their owner with the ancestor worship of their heritage. The result was a group of melded religions, the most famous of which is Voodoo.
In the tumult of the mid-nineteenth century, an African-American woman named Mary Ellen Pleasant came to Louisiana from Nantucket, where she’d been educated in a convent and became involved in abolitionary work. She claimed to be the daughter of a Voodoo high priestess, and is alleged to have studied under the greatest Voodoo queen of all time, Marie Laveau. Around 1848, she turned up in San Francisco where she quickly amassed a fortune and established a reputation as the Voodoo Queen of San Francisco and is remembered as the mother of civil rights in California due to her tireless work for abolition and the Underground Railroad. A park now sits at the corner of Octavia and Bush streets, where six eucalyptus trees she’d planted around her now-gone mansion still grow.
In 1982, a plumber working in the crawl space of an Oklahoma residence unearthed a two-sided Ouija board. One side was a normal, commercially produced spirit board. The back side, however, was painted black with Zozo in the middle of the board instead of Ouija. Zozo was flanked by bird wings. Darren Evans, then a teenager, became obsessed by the board. He returned to where the man had disinterred the board, and found a ghoulish surprise. At each corner of the buried board, Darren found four jars with perfectly preserved blackbirds in them. Three years later, Darren used the board with his friend Randy. Before they closed the session, the board spelled out See you in Hell. In 2005, Darren and Randy met up and used the Ouija board again. This time, the entity announced itself as Zozo right off the bat, declared that Randy was cursed, and would die in a car accident. In closing, the entity repeated the line from twenty years before. See you in hell.
In 2007, Tim Wood first encountered Zozo in the Stanley Hotel during an investigation. That occasion was the first time he’d used a board on a ghost hunt, and over the next few years his usage would increase. In 2010, he was doing an investigation at the Queen Anne hotel when he and his friend Dan decided to do a session in the park across the street. They took the Ouija board to the plaque memorializing Mary Ellen Pleasant and conducted a session while provoking her spirit. Dan got his first EVP that night, but as they walked back across the street both men had the sensation that someone was following them.
In 2007, Randy called Darren unexpectedly. Randy was acting strangely. Before he hung up, he said, “Darren, I will see you in Hell.” The next morning, he was dead as the result of a head-on collision with a telephone pole, less than a mile from his house.
In 2010, Tim Wood was getting concerned about his friend Dan, who’d become depressed and withdrawn. Two months after the session on Mary Ellen Pleasant’s one-time property, Tim’s phone rang and caller ID flashed up with Dan’s number. Tim was busy at the time and didn’t pick up the phone. Hours later, Dan was dead—also the victim of suicide.
Currently, in San Francisco there’s an infestation of blackbirds. The problem is compounded by the fact that ravens are dive-bombing people on the streets. Blackbirds roost in the eucalyptus trees once planted by Mary Ellen Pleasant. Legend says that she’ll appear among those trees as a raven. Legend also says that if you insult her in her park, she’ll curse you. Currently in Oklahoma, the blackbird infestation is so wide-spread that exterminators offer a blackbird removal service.
And in both cases, the Zozo entity has exhibited a predatory nature sexually, either during communication on the spirit board (Wood) or famously during a nationally broadcast Ghost Adventures episode (Evans).
So what does all this mean?
It means that Darren Evans and Tim Wood have frighteningly similar experiences as they research the Zozo entity, and are connected by deep-woven parallels in their lives as part of the paranormal world—where they live, the influences around them—and it all comes back to the Ouija board demon they interact with. Even down to the names of people around them. Mary Ellen Pleasant had a huge impact on San Francisco where Tim lives; Darren’s mother is named Mary Ellen, and the co-author of his new book. The Zozo Phenomenon, is named Rosemary Ellen Gurley.
Both were drawn to using the Ouija board after their first encounter with Zozo.
Both have significant moments with blackbirds—Darren with the Zozo board and the four jars of dead blackbirds and Tim with the persistent blackbird problem in San Francisco and the Mary Ellen Pleasant legend in her park.
Both come from an area with both a significant French influence and a history of involvement in slavery, San Francisco for the abolitionist movement and Oklahoma as the last bastion of the Confederacy and the largest slave holding state in the West.
Both had friends who may have committed suicide or were killed as the result of a spiritual or demonic attachment after using the Ouija board.
Both have been researching Zozo and searching for answers.
And both are on a collision course with the entity. On October 21, Evans will join Wood and the LiveSciFi team in an investigation of the house where he lived with his family in 2009—an already haunted location that is now severely haunted.
“The family is experiencing paranormal activity. I walked through the house and I felt the aggression worse than I’ve ever felt it,” Evans said in a recent interview. “I have concerns for the family; that concern is why I called in an investigator like Tim. That house has been haunted since the late nineteen seventies.”
“I know we’re going to get stuff there and make contact with Zozo,” Wood agreed. “I want to be able to document communication with the demon and validate his existence to believers and skeptics—video, audio, and physical evidence.”
It would certainly make sense for that to happen. Both men have been dogged by the entity throughout their lives. Evans’s experiences are catalogued in his book. Wood’s encounters have occurred mostly on video. For them to join forces in this location practically guarantees that the entity will make an appearance. That’s one of the reasons an exorcist will be on hand for the investigation.
Coincidentally, the film Ouija: Origin of Evil will be released on the same day the investigation starts—October 21.
“It’s like the perfect storm of Ouija this weekend,” Evans said. “None of this was intended.”
But as John Zaffis said, “Coincidental? I don’t think so.”
Certainly doesn’t seem like a coincidence that all three elements will meet in that Oklahoma residence. But you have to wonder what this historic paranormal investigation will expose about the nature of the entity—and the resolve of the investigators.