I don’t mind a good ghost story, even if I’m a perpetual skeptic, but with episode eight of the third volume of Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries, “The Ghost in Apartment 14,” I’m even more appreciative of it for pivoting and weaving in a legitimate true crime story.
So, let’s back it up. First, we have Jodi Foster. No, not that Jodi Foster, just someone who happens to have the same name as her. This Jodi Foster moves to Chico, California with her three-year-old daughter, Hannah, into the Walnut Garden Apartments on January 21st, 2000. Specifically, they move into Apartment 14.
I’m going to rundown everything Jodi said started to happen thereafter:
- She notices a weird smell.
- Hannah’s pink shoes normally by the door keep reappearing in the middle of the bed (not sure if that means Hannah’s or Jodi’s bed), day after day.
- Jodi begins having dreams about a girl walking down the street when she’s stopped by a couple in a car; the couple asks if she wants a ride. She also has dreams about a dungeon also involving a girl and a couple, where the couple is doing “creepy sexual” things to the girl.
- Hannah says hi to a girl in her room she calls “Myliz.” She supposedly did a drawing of this girl in real time depicting her in a white shirt (the photo above).
- The landline normally hooked up to the wall is found by the back bedroom.
- When they return from a night out, Hannah’s toys are piled up with Ernie from Sesame Street on top with a shoestring noose around his neck.
- One February 2000 night, Jodi wakes up in the middle of the night to white static on the television, the kitchen cupboards flapping open, the oven burners on, and Ernie repeating, “I feel great!” Even after she takes the batteries out of Ernie, her and Hannah reports Ernie still saying, “I feel great!” The lights then flicker on throughout the apartment. At that point, Jodi goes to her next door neighbor who happens to be the manager of the apartment complex. The manager comes over with her poodle. The poodle begins barking. The lamp cord begins swinging. And they all get out of there.
- The next morning after the above, Jodi is by the pool when a man who has lived at the apartment complex for 25 years tells Jodi a woman in Apartment 14 went missing. Her name was Marie Spannhake, who went by “Marliz,” and disappeared on January 31st, 1976. According to the Chico Police Department report, she got into a fight with her boyfriend at the flea market and decided to walk home. She was never seen again.
- After three months, Jodi and Hannah move out of Apartment 14 but are still living in Chico. One day, Jodi’s boyfriend is reading Carla Norton and Christine McGuire’s 1988 true crime book, Perfect Victim: The Truth Story of the Girl in the Box, when the boyfriend connects the dots between that case and the missing girl, Marliz. That’s when Jodi remembers Hannah saying, “My Liz,” to the girl in her room and asks Hannah if it’s the same girl. Hannah says it is.
I have three follow-up questions:
- Does the apartment complex manager corroborate Jodi’s story of what happened on that night in February 2000?
- Has anyone else who stayed in Apartment 14 report weird happenings and/or dreams? After all, presumably, there was a 24-year-ish period where someone was staying in that apartment between the time Marliz disappeared and when Jodi moved in with her daughter in 2000. And if she stayed there for only three months, unless the apartment complex is no longer there, someone else stayed in Apartment 14 after Jodi for any number of months and/or years.
- I think it’s supposed to make Jodi’s story seem more credible that Hannah tells us that at the time, she remembers her mom telling her about the creepy dreams and such. My question, though, is why would a mother tell her three-year-old daughter (a point worth emphasizing as well) about sexually creepy dreams?
So yeah, I’m obviously skeptical of the ghost story part. However, the episode then pivots to the true crime story that the aforementioned book is largely based upon, which is the kidnapping, torture, rape, and escape of Colleen Stan in California in 1977, a year after Marliz’s disappearance. Colleen was tortured and raped by Cameron Hooker for seven years. Cameron’s wife, Janice, was in on it in one way or another, but was given immunity to talk about what Cameron did. She connected him to Marliz’s abduction and death, but her testimony is the only connection. In 1985, Cameron was sentenced to 104 years in prison related to Colleen’s case, although he denies the Marliz abduction and killing. He will be moved to a mental health facility soon and could feasibly be released at that point. (I find it doubtful he will ever be released.)
Then the episode goes back to Jodi. She tells us she had dreams about the numbers 35.76 (the distance between the Hooker house and the gravesite) and A17 in 2008. She calls the Red Bluff Police Department to report what she knows. I’m confused about the timeline, though. Didn’t she move out of Apartment 14 within three months and said everything was fine until a year later, she started having the dreams with the numbers? So, why did it take an additional seven years to tell law enforcement? Anyway, whether with Jodi’s “help” or Janice’s, police still haven’t found Marliz’s body.
You may be thinking: There is an actual A17 road in the area! Hannah said “Myliz” and confirmed the matching descriptions! Jodi’s dream seems eerily similar!
I’m skeptical, folks. I think it’s all after-the-fact fill-in material. After-the-fact meaning, Jodi read the Perfect Victim and spun a spooky ghost tale to fit the Hooker story and the connection to Marliz. I mean, it got her on some of the notable true crime shows, including Unsolved Mysteries. I don’t know if she’s some rich woman because of it, but that doesn’t have to be the only reason to spin a tale. Or maybe she’s convinced herself it is a real connection. I don’t know.
Whatever the case, what Cameron Hooker did to Colleen Stan and presumably did to Marliz is awful and disgusting, but was also the most interesting part of this episode.
What did you think?