This story is part of our “Beyond Sacramento” series, where you vote on questions and topics about our region submitted by readers, and The Sacramento Bee explores the winning question for a story. Scroll down in this article to submit a new question.
This spooky question by Julz Cuffman won our last voting round: Why is Dyer Lane considered to be haunted? Any incidents proving it?
Dyer Lane is definitely haunted.
That’s according to Paul Dale Roberts, who has spent more than a decade hunting ghosts after work and on weekends in and around Sacramento. Calling it one of the most active paranormal sites in the region, he said that evidence from several investigations, and the testimonies of several residents living near the lightly traveled road, all but confirm it.
“Everybody seemed to believe there was some kind of haunting activity. Everybody had a different story,” Roberts said. “It’s just one story after another at Dyer Lane.”
Part of the reason why Dyer Lane is considered haunted is because the narrow, tree-lined rural road near Roseville has been the setting for dozens of spooky tales, urban legends and unexplained phenomena for generations — ghost hitchhikers, satanic cults, spectral farmers plowing the tall grass lining the road. Most stories are shared through word of mouth or on online forums.
Some of the stories are graphic and disturbing. One tells of a pair of witches who were practicing their witchcraft in the nearby field. After they were assaulted and killed one night by a group of local boys, legend says, they still haunt the rural road.
Another story tells of a police officer who was shot and killed during a high-speed chase down the road. Roberts said some people claim a ghostly police car will sometimes appear behind them, racing down the road with its lights on before evaporating, a legend that several locals have attempted to document on camera.
Roberts – who runs a group called Halo Paranormal Investigations with his wife, Deanna Jaxine Stinson, whom they describe as a psychic medium – said that while he believes the urban legends have a foundation of truth, he doesn’t think they tell the full story.
“I think people just love a good ghost story,” Roberts said. “When they think of Dyer Lane, and someone tells them about a satanic cult, as that story gets passed along, it gets bigger and bigger.”
Archival stories from The Sacramento Bee failed to turn up any cases of murdered witches or a police officer shot along the eerie road. And none of the books in the California State Library’s collection mention hauntings or paranormal activities on Dyer Lane, according to spokeswoman Kim Brown.
But that doesn’t mean sinister events haven’t transpired along the road.
Death and killings on rural road
Two years ago, the body of a 28-year-old woman who was killed by her roommate was dumped in bushes near Dyer Lane. Janet Mejia’s body was found wrapped in an inflatable mattress on the side of the road, which is regularly littered with trash and debris.
In 1995, a 20-year-old man was shot and killed “execution-style” on Dyer Lane by an acquaintance he was smoking marijuana with on the mostly deserted road. Two eyewitnesses told law enforcement at the time that the shooting may have been triggered by the killer’s vague belief that Manuel Heratio Alvarez was some sort of police agent trying to “set him up,” according to Bee stories at the time.
And more than 30 years ago, a teenager was stabbed to death during a vicious midnight gang fight between young punk rockers and high school students on the secluded street.
According to Bee articles at the time, more than 80 students showed up to the melee, which had been prearranged after “bad blood had developed” during a dance at Rio Linda High School earlier in the month.
“All your little legends and myths have some type of foundation of truth to it,” Roberts said.
A trip down Dyer Lane
On Sunday, Roberts and Stinson’s ghost-hunting group went to the cursed road at dusk to see if they could pick up on any unearthly sightings.
They reported it was a very successful investigation: They said their digital recorders picked up several electronic voice phenomena — sounds on recordings interpreted as the voices of spirits — even with the windy conditions. When one investigator asked if anyone was out in the field, their recordings picked up what they said sounded like a distant voice saying “help me.” Another one later reportedly said, “I’m here.”
Stinson also said she saw the presence of several ghosts and “residual energy” from the past replaying itself — a farmer in overalls in the field, a boy playing with a toy ball and horse, a woman in a prom dress walking down the road holding a pair of heels in her hand.
Creepiest of all, perhaps, was the tall figure cloaked in black silk fabric, a kind of death angel, walking just under the trees that Stinson said she could see.
Even without ghost-hunting equipment or a psychic, most people could probably find evidence of the “very, very active” paranormal phenomena at Dyer Lane, Stinson said.
“If you’re looking for an adventure or a sign of the afterlife, go to a haunted place and see for yourself,” Stinson said. “It’s scary, but if you want to find something, you’ll find it.”