More than a decade after Peter Fenton reported on the phenomenon of receiving email from the dead, a new story about messages from the beyond is burning up the Internet.
"One night in November, I was sitting on my couch, going through my emails on my phone and it popped up, 'sender: Jack Froese.' I turned ghost white when I read it," Tim Hart of Pennsylvania recently told the BBC. "It was very quick and short but to a point that only Jack and I could relate on."
"I'm Watching" read the subject line to the email that went on: "Did you hear me? I'm at your house. Clean your f***ing attic!!!"
Thing is, Froese, 32, had died five months earlier of a heart arrhythmia.
Hart wasn't the only one who says he received an email from his late friend, and his wasn't even the spookiest.
Around the same time, Froese's cousin, Jimmy McGraw, said he received an email from Froese commenting on McGraw's broken ankle, an accident that occurred just a week before. "Hey Jim. How ya doing? I knew you were gonna break your ankle, tried to warn you. Gotta be careful."
As far as Froese's friends and family know, nobody has the password to the deceased man's email account. "I'd like to say Jack sent it, just because I look at it as he's gone, but he's still trying to connect with me," McGraw told the BBC. "Trying to tell me to move along, to feel better."
Hart says he's OK with it if the emails are a prank. "If somebody's joking around, I don't care because I take it whatever way I want," he said.
In the 1999 story, "Email from the Dead: The true meaning of necrotechnology," Fenton reports on several posthumous emails documented by paranormal researcher Brad Steiger. One was received by a beleaguered biology grad student from a recently deceased professor encouraging the student to complete a project. In another story, a guilt-ridden art gallery owner received an email from a dead artist reassuring her that he did not die because she refused to sell his work, but because of a congenital heart problem.
"Certainly, not every claim of an email from a deceased person holds up under careful analysis," Steiger told Fenton at the time. "Some stories I've heard are plainly ludicrous. But it's the anecdote that raises the little hairs on the back of my neck which tells me the story rings true."
"If I'm presented a case, I have two considerations: First, does the email contain significant details known only to the recipient and the deceased? Second, can the email be traced to its origins by sophisticated technicians? When these aspects are fully investigated, I'm a lot more comfortable with my conclusions."
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