We’ve all done it, got carried away at an auction or made that mad impulsive purchase on eBay which we’ve immediately regretted. Most of us of course just end up a little out of pocket, poorer but wiser.
But for one Portland man attending an estate sale in 2001, the acquisition of an innocuous looking wine cabinet was to turn his world upside down.
Now known as the Haunted Dibbuk Box, the story of that antique wine cabinet and what happened to it, has gone on to capture the imagination of the paranormal world.
The Estate Sale
In 2001 antique dealer Kevin Mannis attended an estate sale and successfully bid on a small box shaped wine cabinet or cupboard that had caught his eye.
Keen to know a little of its provenance he was delighted when the granddaughter of the previous owner approached him and gave him a little of its history.
The cupboard had been owned by a Jewish lady called Havela. After escaping the holocaust in the Second World War, she made her way to Spain where she purchased the small cabinet.
She then traveled on to America where she lived until her death. Strangely the granddaughter referred to the cabinet as ‘the Dibbuk box’, a term Mannis had not heard before.
When he asked her what it meant, the lady explained that it was a term that her grandmother used to describe the cabinet.
On one occasion when she was asked about the origins of the cabinet, she spat three times and told her granddaughter it was a Dibbuk.
The old lady stressed that the box must never be opened or touched by anyone else. In fact she had been so concerned that it would be opened she insisted on the cabinet being buried with her.
For religious reasons this proved impossible. Hearing her story and realizing that the cabinet was a family heirloom Mannis offered to return it.
At this point the woman became agitated and upset making it very plain that she did not want it. Attributing her strange reaction to grief, Mannis took the box to his shop.
He was later to discover that a Dibbuk was the trapped soul of a malicious spirit and opening the cabinet he had just purchased was possibly the biggest mistake of his life.
Arriving back at his store, Mannis placed the box in the basement where he intended to clean and polish it before giving it to his mother as a birthday present.
He then left his business for a short period to run an errand. Almost immediately he received a phone call from his assistant.
She was hysterical and screaming claiming that there was an intruder in the basement smashing glass and shouting profanities.
Mannis rushed back to the store and ran into the basement. Strangely, every light bulb and fitting had been smashed and the smell of cat urine hung in the air.
There was no intruder in the basement and definitely no cat. The assistant left and never returned.
Two weeks later Mannis decided to make a start on refinishing the box.
Opening it he discovered that it contained two old pennies, a lock of blonde hair, a lock of black hair, a gold goblet, a dried rose bud, a statue engraved with the word ‘Shalom’ and a candle holder.
A strange collection of things but nothing sinister.
After polishing and tidying up the box, Mannis presented it to his mother when she came into his shop a few days later. Almost immediately his mother collapsed suffering a stroke.
Rushed to hospital, partially paralysed and unable to speak she managed to spell out H-A-T-E-G-I-F-T to her bewildered son. There was clearly no way that she was going to accept the cabinet.
Mannis then attempted to gift the box to various family members. Almost immediately they returned their gift.
Some complained that it smelt like jasmine flowers others like cat urine. Everyone who received the box reported feelings of dread, strange smells and unexplained happenings.
When a middle aged couple came into the shop and bought the cabinet, Mannis was relieved that it was out of his possession.
Three days later he found it sitting on the step of his store with a note attached ’This has a bad darkness’.
Almost everybody who came into contact with the box began to suffer from terrifying nightmares.
The nightmares often featured an old hag who would attack and terrorize the dreamer. Strangely the same old woman appeared in the dreams of different people.
Within months Mannis was at the end of his tether but loathe to destroy the box in case he unleashed even more mayhem, he made a very bizarre decision.
In June 2003, Mannis listed the wine cabinet on an eBay auction. Deciding that honesty was the best policy he recounted the box’s history and the paranormal phenomena he had experienced since purchasing it.
The strange listing attracted many watchers with some even offering to pray for Mannis and his family.
Of course the sensible amongst us wouldn’t dream of buying such a cursed object but human nature being what it is, bidding was brisk.
What his motive was for buying the Dibbuk Box is unclear but if he thought he would be immune to its mysterious powers he was wrong.
Before long the student’s hair began to drop out, he suffered horrific nightmares and the lights in his home continually burnt out.
Jason Haxton, Director of the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine in Missouri had been following Neitzke’s blog with interest and offered to buy the Dibbuk Box from the young student.
A relieved Neitzke readily agreed.
Again the new owner or caretaker as he likes to call himself, began to suffer from bad dreams, vision problems, welts and hives as well as fleeting glimpses of shadow people.
This time though, instead of disposing of the box, Haxton decided to tackle the problem head on.
Removing the box from the vicinity of his family he worked with scientists, Kabbalists, Wiccans and experts in the paranormal, to put the box in what he calls a rest state.
He then sealed it in an Acacia wood ark lined with 24 karat gold. Haxton believes that as long as the box stays in its contained state, it cannot hurt anyone else.
Today it sits in his study, sealed and untouched.
So why not destroy it completely, it is clearly a very dangerous object?
Haxton himself confesses that he like others before him is strangely attracted to the Dibbuk Box and would regret losing it.
He can never envision a time when he is without the box and insists, like one of its previous owners, that it must be buried with him when he dies.
Curiosity surrounding the Haunted Dibbuk Box has not dampened over the years. Now the subject of books, films and documentaries, it’s story is known worldwide.
Despite its terrifying history there are still those who wish to own and possess it. Haxton receives countless requests from those who wish to examine or buy the box.
He declines them all.
Fortunately the Dibbuk Box is in safe hands, for now.
The restless soul trapped within is silent and powerless. Bought as an innocent looking wine cabinet and then sold in an online auction, the history of this little cupboard and the consequences of owning it are terrifying.
Any one of us could have bought this item and who can tell how many more there are out there in the world.
The story of the Dibbuk Box is a fascinating tale but it also provides a very important lesson. When it comes to buying at auction caveat emptor, let the buyer beware.