When you think of one of the largest toy store chains in North America, ghost hauntings are the farthest thing from your mind. In the town of Sunnyvale, California, however, the local Toys’R’Us has a reputation for a lot more than child-hood memories in the making. This Toys’R’Us is “where a ghost can be a ghost”.
There was no horrendous fire or any other life-taking accidents that happened within the toy store, as is the case with many hauntings. It is simply the history of the land upon which store was built that brought about the haunting of Toys’R’Us.
The 60,000 square foot building was erected in 1970 at 130 East El Camino in Sunnyvale, Ca; about 30 miles south of San Fransisco. Over the next 8 years, paranormal activities continued to rouse suspicions within the walls of the toy store.
In 1978, a local writer by the name of Antionette May became interested in the alleged hauntings at Toys’R’Us. Intent on investigating the ghostly activity, she brought with her famed psychic and medium Sylvia Brown, along with a photographer and a few others. The idea was to spend the night in the toy store and see what they could uncover.
May and Brown expected to discover that the ghost was that of John Murphy, the original owner of the property who maintained an apple orchard in the late 1800’s. Instead, Sylvia Brown was given the impression of a tall, lithe male who kept his hands straight down into his pockets, much like a nervous school boy would do. In what she reported as a Swedish accent, he told her first that his name was Johnny Johnson, and second that she had better move if she didn’t want her feet to get wet. Afterwards, historical records were researched that depicted a well having once stood right where Sylvia Brown was standing at the time.
According to Brown, Johnson was waiting for a girl named Beth. He had moved to the area from Pennsylvania in the mid-1800’s. Once in California, he worked as a circuit preacher until suffering from encephalitis, inflammation of the brain, which resulted in a mental impairment.
Johnny Johnson was later employed on John Murphy’s ranch, where he was known as “Crazy Johnny” due to his mental handicap. He developed a crush on Murphy’s daughter, whose name was discovered to be Elizabeth Yuba Murphy Tafee – otherwise known as “Beth”. Despite his infatuation with the young Murphy girl, Johnson was crushed to learn she had run off to marry a lawyer, and moved to the East Coast.
In 1884, directly upon the 60,000 square feet of land which now houses the Toys’R’Us in Sunnyvale, California, Johnny Johnson died. He was chopping wood and accidentally cut his leg (though some stories report he cut his neck), and bled to death. Though he was near 80 years old at the time of death, reports state that in his ghostly apparition form, Johnny Johnson appears to be a young man around the age of 20-30; likely the age when he was in love with Beth, only to find she was betrothed to another.
Employees of the Toys’R’Us that now stands atop Johnson’s place of death have claimed numerous paranormal activities. Voices, whispers and footsteps in empty aisles are common. On occasion, when opening the store in the morning, toys and other items are found strewn about the aisles, though they were left perfectly arranged on the shelves just the night before.
Items have been seen flying through the air, as if thrown from their original resting place. Other times, items have simply shown up in a different place. Particularly infamous is aisle 15C, where many have stated they detect the distinct odor of fresh flowers.
Customers and employees alike have reported strange occurrences in the women’s restroom. The water faucets turn on without physical assistance, and if turned off, will come back on. Females have reported being tapped on the shoulder. Those with long hair have said they felt it being “stroked” by an unseen hand.
Is the Toys’R’Us in Sunnyvale, California haunted? Sylvia Brown and innumerable customers and employees who have experienced the ghostly happenings all agree that yes, the toy store is most definitely haunted. Interestingly enough, the managers maintain that they have no desire to rid the location of the ghost, and will continue to work happily among its presence.