By Kathi Kresol
Carol Neal was awakened by the sound of one of her young daughters screaming in an adjoining bedroom in the middle in the night. Carol ran to the bedroom where she found two-year-old Laura, crying and trembling. The badly frightened girl told her mother that she had seen another little girl in her bedroom. Carol searched the room but could find no one. When the Laura quieted down, Carol questioned the toddler about what had frightened her. Laura claimed that a little girl with “no clothes” had come through the ceiling from the attic to talk to her.
Laura was the first person in the Neal family to see the ghostly little girl but over the next several years others would share that experience. In a newspaper article from the Rockford Register dated February 6, 1976, the Neal family members shared their frightening encounters with the young ghost. Allen, Laura’s father told the reporter that he was sleeping on the couch one evening when he “felt someone touch his arm above the elbow.” He woke up and was shocked to see a little, blonde girl running down the hall toward the bathroom. “It scared the hell out of me.”
The Neal family had experienced the ghostly visits for over four years by 1976. They rented the home on Nina Terrace and were at first very skeptical about what they had seen. But then more family members began to share what they had seen and heard. Everyone who saw the girl gave the same description. They claimed she was three feet tall, had beautiful blonde hair and blue eyes.
They also began to notice a pattern to the series of encounters. They noticed that there would be a period of no sightings and then, suddenly they would see the little girl again. They realized that the visits were usually followed by something bad occurring to the family. After one sighting, the family dog was killed by a truck. After another experience, a family member was attacked by a stranger. The family began to view the visits as a warning from the little girl.
The family decided to question neighbors about the history of the house to see if they might know the identity of the child. The neighbors offered Carol a clue when they mentioned that a small child of a previous owner of the house had drowned in the bathtub sometime in the early 1960s. This author decided to further research that story and learned that the story told to the Neal family proved to be almost correct. The actual truth of the toddler’s death was more dreadful. On December 22, 1961, a little girl, almost two years old was being cared for by her uncle. The uncle drew a bath for the child but stepped out of the room for just a minute to grab something. He hadn’t checked the temperature of the water and did not realize how hot it was. The little girl fell into the tub of scalding water.
The first to arrive on scene were the sheriff’s deputies who wrapped the little girl in a blanket and rushed her to Rockford Memorial Hospital. The tiny girl was burned on 80 percent of her body and she succumbed to her injuries several hours later. She was buried in Willwood Burial Park.
Maybe the fact that a cruel accident caused her death made the child want to help the family that resided in her former home. Whatever the reason, Carol Neal took comfort in the fact the child was still there. Carol was quoted as saying, “I don’t mind seeing our little ghost, but I know she is warning us to be careful and something bad always happens afterward.” Besides sharing the story with the Rockford Register in 1976, Carol also sold this story to the National Enquirer. R.
Kathi Kresol has been researching Rockford’s history for over a decade. She shares the stories she finds in her column for The Rock River Times and in the tours she offers through Haunted Rockford Events. Her latest book “Haunted Rockford, Illinois” is now available. For more information or to purchase books or tickets, please visit the website at hauntedrockford.com.