Ghost Stories and Visit From a Psychic Lead to Recovery and Burial of Veterans’ Remains

Ghost experiences and psychic help identify veterans' remains

Edgar (the ghost) as a young man

From The Associated Press:
The cremated remains of seven World War I, World War II and Korean War-era veterans were buried with military honors Friday in a long-overdue ceremony that organizers say was set in motion by ghost tales at a New York museum.

The ashes were among 24 sets of remains discovered in a basement closet 10 years ago as the Iron Island Museum was settling into its new address, a former funeral home.

The building’s former owners quickly picked up the remains, labeled only with names and dates of death. Soon afterward, museum volunteers reported seeing shadowy “people,” and hearing voices and the sound of aluminum chairs being banged about. A framed picture of a child on Santa’s lap would be found under — instead of on top of — the table where it is displayed.

“Strange things were happening all the time,” said Linda Hastreiter, president of the small museum that features a mix of railroad, military and other items saved by neighborhood preservationists.

A friend suggested in 2007 that the museum call paranormal investigators. Last year, a psychic claimed to detect the presence of a man named Edgar, which led Hastreiter to the list of identities from the remains, and the name Edgar L. Zernicke.

Hastreiter dug deeper into Zernicke’s life and found he’d served in the Marines from 1925 to 1929, fought in the Sandino Rebellion in Nicaragua in 1928 and later spent four years in the Navy before returning to Buffalo. He died in 1992 at age 87, twice widowed and a retired tool and die maker…

… Hastreiter marvels at how things worked out. “None of this would have come about if Chip Coffey hadn’t said (Edgar’s) name,” she said. “People might think it’s a crazy thing, but that’s the truth.”…

And from a September 5, 2010 story at

For the last decade, volunteers at the Iron Island Museum in Buffalo have known something odd was going on inside the former church and funeral home where they discovered 24 canisters of unclaimed cremated human remains.

Pictures would go missing from tables. Shadows darted about and, occasionally, a voice seemingly came out of nowhere to bid hello. Volunteers dismissed it as “Charlie the Ghost” acting out once again.

But now “Charlie” has been reunited with his true identity.

He is war veteran Edgar L. Zernicke, whose ashes were in one of the canisters tucked into a basement closet and left behind by Church Funeral Home, which was later sold to Amigone Funeral Home, which donated the building to the museum in August 2000.

Did the graveless Zernicke personally speak from the great beyond to inform Iron Island officials it was him they were experiencing?

No, but something almost as strange occurred.

“We had a psychic from Atlanta come here last year, and he climbed up into the attic. When he came back down, he said the man’s name begins with an E, it’s Edgar,” said Linda J. Hastreiter, president of the museum at 998 Lovejoy St.

At the time, she thought nothing of the information, but her interests were stirred when she started doing research to find out if any of the ashes were those of war veterans.

“I checked the list of names from the ashes and there was the name Edgar Zernicke on it,” Hastreiter said.

She concluded the psychic was indeed correct about the ghost’s identity.

She says her certainty is fortified by the fact that no one but the museum’s volunteers had access to the names affixed to the canisters with the remains, meaning there was no way the psychic could have known there was an “Edgar” among the canisters…

Ghost and Psychic Help Identify Veterans' Remains

The Iron Island Museum in Earlier Days

The museum’s website reveals that ghosts and hauntings are actually a major attraction for the museum:   The site features five videos from a program titled “TAPS: Ghosthunters” and it also provides several purported ghost audio recordings (“EVP Evidence”) in a section titled, “Evidence.” In fact, the museum now charges $30 per person for overnight “investigations.”

Does all this supernatural promotional marketing leave you skeptical? It might be hard to be too critical in light of the museum director’s valuable service to families of veterans. Clearly she has respect for the dead and their loved ones.

If you’ve ever visited or even investigated the museum, I’d love to hear from you about your experience.