The Ghost of Toys 'R Us
The ghost of Toys 'R Us - the haunted toy store
The Toys R' Us mega-store in Sunnyvale, California is more famous for its resident ghost than its shelves full of toys, video games, dolls, and action figures. The paranormal activities were noticed by employees in the 70's when the store was first built over the land of an old orchard. Toys and boxes would be found tossed into the aisles to be discovered by employees opening the stores in the morning. The ghost had a penchant for touching ladies' long hair, tapping their shoulders and whispering their names. This store has been featured in "That's Incredible", "Ripley's Believe it or not", "Unsolved Mysteries" and made into a documentary. Paranormal investigators have repeatedly visited this store, employees and construction workers who have had encounters with the spirit have told their stories. Most importantly, there was photographic proof of the apparition captured by an infrared camera during a séance conducted by renowned psychic, Sylvia Browne.
Who haunts this toy store, why, and where has he been seen? Why is he still here?
The haunted toy store in the 70s-90s - It is still haunted today
This was what the original Toys R' Us toy store looked like before the recent 2009 renovation. It was "The Place" to go hangout for kids of all ages in this massive 60,000 sq. ft. treasure trove of toys At that time, I had no knowledge of any hauntings or ghost in the store until I read about it in the local paper. Then I became fixated on the ghost and watched all the TV specials about it.
Where is the haunted toy store in Northern California?
The Toys R Us is located on 130 East El Camino in Sunnyvale, California which is about thirty miles from San Francisco. It was built on an 1800's orchard that was part of a massive ranch owned by Martin Murphy Jr. and his family.
Martin Murphy, Jr.
Founder of the city of Sunnyvale
Martin Murphy Jr. and his family were Irish immigrants who came to Northern California in search of religious and educational freedom in 1844.
He purchased the 5000-acre Spanish land grant Rancho Pastoria de la Borregas, established the Bay View Ranch, built the first wood frame house, and planted Santa Clara Valley's first orchards. After living in Bay View Ranch for six continuous generations, the Murphy family sold Bay View to the city of Sunnyvale in 1953. The Murphy mansion was made a State Historical Landmark in 1958 but was unfortunately demolished by the city in 1961 due to extensive damage following a fire and to make way for Central Expressway.
The Murphy Mansion at Bay View Ranch - First wood frame house
Longing for a New England-style home, Martin instructed carpenters to prefabricate a house in Bangor, Maine, dismantle it piece by piece and ship the parts of the massive 20-room mansion to California from Boston via Cape Horn. The Murphy's mansion was to be the hub of every political and social gathering during the Gold Rush. In 1881, Martin and his wife celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at Bay View with 10,000 people in attendance.
Séance with psychic, Sylvia Browne
Unraveling the mystery
In 1978, renowned psychic Sylvia Browne was hired to conduct a séance for a segment of the TV show "That's Incredible:The Haunted Toys 'R Us." The attendees were seated on the floor in a circle along with Sylvia as she attempted to contact the spirit haunting the store. She said he spoke with a Swedish accent and his name was Johnny Johnson or Johan Johnson who was a minister at the time when he was hired by Martin Murphy Jr. in the 1880s to work as a farmhand in his large ranch. Johnny fell madly in love with by one of Murphy's daughters, Elizabeth, but was rebuffed when she accepted a marriage proposal from a lawyer in Boston and the couple moved to Massachusetts. Broken-hearted and downtrodden, Johnny continued to work in the ranch until 1884 when he contracted a viral brain disease, encephalitis, which caused his brain to swell up and made him behave strangely. This earned him the nickname "Crazy Johnny." While chopping wood one day, Johnny accidentally cut his leg and bled to death.
While the séance was going on, professional photographers from Alpha Labs took simultaneous pictures of the empty aisle using both infrared and high-speed film. The infrared camera captured the obvious image of a young man in his 20s or 30s leaning against a post, while the high-speed camera showed an empty aisle.
Watch the segment of "That's Incredible" as Sylvia talks to Johnny Johnston during a séance at Toy 'R us.
Johnny Johnson makes an appearance at a séance - Unwittingly trapped in a toy store
This is the famous infrared photograph of Johnny Johnston leaning against a post with his hands stuffed in his pocket. Sylvia Browne is the lighted figure on the bottom right. No one in the séance saw the figure.
Johan or Johnny roams some of these aisles - In a time warp and unable to cross over
Johan was known to roam the back aisles where the Mickey Mouse dolls and Batman toothbrushes were. He was also seen around the Play-doh aisle. Cold spots and and a breeze can be felt, as well as the fragrance of fresh flowers can be smelled in Aisle 15C. But the store has been recently renovated and a portion of the store became Babies 'R Us.
I drove to the store to take these pictures but noted that the aisles have been rearranged, and the toy section now ends at Aisle 13B. The infamous Aisle 15C is gone. However, Johnny is here to stay. Johnny is in a time warp and does not know he is dead. He is still waiting for his beloved Elizabeth to come back to the orchard where the toy store sits today.
The stairs to the stockroom
What lies above
Johan is purported to live in the space above the stockroom in a cool, breezy corner according to a long-time employee, Putt-putt O'Brien. She been stacking toys in the stockroom for over 18 years and have seen Johnny, a young man in his 20's or 30's, wearing knickers, a white long-sleeved shirt and a gray snap-brim tweed hat walk pass her. At one time, O'brien heard the sound of galloping horses. Johan apparently used to exercise the horses at the ranch. Now he gets his kicks by playing tricks with the staff.
Closeup of two orbs at the top of the stairs. - Was Johan watching me taking the photos?
Notice the two orbs in the photo at the top of the stairs. I do not know much about spirit orbs. It could be a reflection of dust or whatever captured by my digital camera. But then again, it could be the presence of a disembodied spirit, or Johnny making his presence known.
Where Johnny lives
What lurks above the stairs?
This is the stairs to the stockroom upstairs. One employee was up on a ladder checking the inventory when someone brushed her hair and whispered the name "Beth." This was supposed to be the nickname of Murphy's daughter, Elizabeth, who Johnny was in love with.
Immediately, the employee tore out of the room and reported the incident to her supervisor who made light of the situation. Later on, the supervisor entered the stockroom to witness toys spinning around the floor and trains chugging on tracks by themselves.
Johnny the prankster likes to hang out in the ladies' room
Mysterious haze outside the ladies' room - This really freaked me out
The ladies' restroom was the scene of several paranormal acitivities. Employees were afraid to go to the restrooms alone. Johnny would follow them and play tricks on them. Faucets would turn on and off by themselves; lights would turn on and off; doors would open and close, and ladies' would feel someone touching their hair and whispering their names.
Johan the prankster - Played childish tricks on the toy store employees
During the hauntings, balls would bounce around, trucks and books would fly off the shelves, dolls which were not supposed to talk would talk and baby swings would swing by themselves. These were from some testimonies of contractors and construction workers who witnessed the paranormal activities.
The Haunted Toys 'R Us - narrated by Leonard Nimoy Part I
Psychic, Sylvia Browne then was also a Police consultant who visited the store more than a dozen times. She revealed that Johnny was a hired hand in Murphy's farm and was in love with one of his daughters, Elizabeth, but was coldly rebuffed. One day, he accidentally cut his leg with an axe and bled to death.
Part II The séance
During the séance, Sylvia Browne contacts Johnny to come forward. She says that he is in a time warp and does not know he is dead. He is unable to cross over to the other side.
Many teenagers beg the store managers if they could stay the night at the store. Many are willing to take the rare opportunity of coming face-to-face with Johnny. Halloween is specially popular wth customers who are lured to the toy store in hopes of finding fiendish or ghoulish costumes but also a chance meeting with a "real" ghost.
Fascinating true ghost stories
This book by Arthur Myer's is a compilation of ghost activities in different U.S. states. The chapter on this Toys R' Us store is under California hauntings (The Haunted Toy Store on page 52). Other fascinating stories include "The ghost who made phone calls", "The non-paying hotel guest", "The Enchanted Dolls","The ghost who tidied things up."
Hauntingly fun toys from Amazon
Sylvia Browne books at Amazon
A fun read for Halloween
When you happen to be in Northern California, do take a trip to this Toys 'R Us store in Sunnyvale. Johnny may be waiting to meet you!
Write-ups about the ghost of Toy 'R US
- Haunted Toys R us
A Toys 'R Us located in Sunnyvale, California was the scene of inexplicable events such as items falling off shelves, strange feelings by employees, cold spots and other strange paranormal happenings. The story made it's way to a television show ca
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Find out about the haunted Toys R Us store in Sunnyvale California - who haunts it, why and where he's been seen
- snopes.com: Haunted Toys 'R' Us
Is the Toys 'R' Us store in Sunnyvale, California, haunted?
- Ghosts 'R Us
Johnny Johnson (or Yonny Yohanson) was a Scandinavian immigrant in his mid 20s studying for the ministry, who put himself to work as a farm hand when not preaching on the circuit in Southern California in the late 1800s. One
- 10 Bay Area Ghosts!!
1.) Sunnyvale's Toys R Us houses more than playthings. Built in 1970 over an 1800s apple orchard once owned by John Murphy, the store is said to be haunted. Johnson was a wood-chopper at John Murphy’s farm where he fell in love with the farmer’s daug