Resch, Tina

Tina Resch was a central figure in a significant American Poltergeist case. At age 14, Tina Resch was the focus of one of the most widely documented episodes of poltergeist activity in the United States. Her case is evidence in support of Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis (RSPK): the ability to move objects from a distance, usually connected with the intense energy associated with adolescence.

Resch was born in October 1969 to an unknown woman who may have loved the little girl but couldn’t cope with motherhood. In August 1970, Resch’s mother dressed the 10-month-old in a frilly pink dress with white patent leather shoes, collected her birth certificate and immunization card, and left the child at the hospital. Although authorities tried to find the young woman, they did not succeed, and Resch was adopted by foster parents, John and Joan Resch of Columbus, Ohio. The Resches had older children of their own and an adopted son, Jack. They also took in other foster children.

Life with the Resches started well but deteriorated. Tina did not do well in school and felt ostracized; she felt increasingly alienated at home. She slept in a basement bedroom and was often isolated from others. Her behaviour changed.

Resch exhibited tics and jerky movements—she may have suffered from Tourette’s Syndrome—as well as a tendency to be loud and argumentative. As she got older, she used fouler language and confrontational behaviour, both of which are symptoms of Tourette’s. She reacted to discipline by dissociating, forgetting the fights or their consequences.

On the night of March 1, 1984, Joan demanded that John discipline Resch for her disrespectful behaviour, but instead of submitting, Resch ran through the house, her father chasing her. The girl grabbed a kitchen knife and threatened to use it if John ever touched her again. He backed off, and Resch went to her room. The next morning the poltergeist phenomena began.

John and Joan assumed Tina was causing all the trouble, but odd things happened without the girl’s intervention. Pictures swung wildly on their wires, candleholders rocked back and forth, glassware shattered unaided, appliances and lights turned off and on without help—even if unplugged—and heavy furniture danced across the floor. The phone rang incessantly, but there was either no one there or strange voices would rumble menacingly. The telephone itself flew around the room.

The Resches called a friend at the Columbus Dispatch, Mike Harden, to witness these strange events, and he in turn phoned the Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University, trying to find someone who could make sense of what he saw but couldn’t explain. Duke referred him to the Psychical Research Foundation in Chapel Hill and its founder William G. Roll. Roll agreed to come to Columbus and assess the situation, and he and his assistant Kelly Powers arrived on March 11. By then the Resches were buffeted by “the force,” as they referred to it, from all sides.

Harden and newspaper photographer Fred Shannon accompanied Roll and Powers to the house on Blue Ash Road and couldn’t believe what they saw. Shannon took quite a few photographs but quickly learned that the force was capricious and wouldn’t perform if watched. Shannon had to appear disinterested in order to capture a photo of the telephone flying in the air above Resch’s lap. There were so many unpredictable hazards that the Resches had to relinquish the foster children, isolating Resch even further.

Over the course of his studies of poltergeist activity, Roll had identified a connection between the phenomena and the intense and scattered energy of teenagers. He even had a name for the activity: recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis, or RSPK. Further testing of Resch at Roll’s research facility indicated she was psychokinetic, but why? Not all teenagers exhibit RSPK. Then Roll remembered some interesting conclusions put forth by Michael Persinger, a neuropsychologist at Laurentian University, Ontario. Persinger believes that geomagnetic disturbances affect ESP, and further study indicated an upswing in reported cases of RSPK during those disturbances as well. Resch’s dissociative behaviour and lack of coordination pushed to the breaking point from the stress of living with the Resches, may have caused her brain to generate its own geomagnetic storm and focus her energies into RSPK.

By the time Resch was 16 the RSPK had stopped, but the Resches had come to the end of their rope and had decided to give up parental rights. They sold the house and intended to put Resch into a juvenile detention facility until other foster care could be arranged. Her boyfriend James Bennett had offered to let Resch live with him and his mother, and when the family judge was about to approve the Resches’ request, Bennett blurted out that he and Resch had eloped. It was a lie but it worked. Resch moved into the Bennett home and married James, but the relationship did not last.

After divorcing Bennett, Resch became pregnant in 1988 with a man she never identified. Amber was born that September, and Resch married Larry Boyer so that Amber could have a father. Resch had Boyer arrested on charges of beating her. After her second divorce, she called Roll for help, and he invited her and Amber to stay at his home in Carrollton, Georgia, until she could get settled. In Carrollton, Resch met David Herrin, a single father with a three-year-old daughter like Amber. He seemed hardworking, liked Amber, and he and Resch hit it off. All seemed fine until Amber died on April 14, 1992.

Police arrested both Resch and Herrin for murder. They were tried separately. Resch was in jail for two years. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life plus 20 years with no chance of parole. Herrin received 20 years for cruelty to a child, with eligibility for parole.

Roll wrote a book about the case, Unleashed: Of Poltergeists and Murder, the Curious Story of Tina Resch, published in 2004.


  • Roll, William, Ph.D., and Valerie Storey. Unleashed: Of Poltergeists and Murder, the Curious Story of Tina Resch. New York: Paraview Pocket Books, 2004.
  • Stefko, Jill, Ph.D. “Bizarre Poltergeist: In Jail for Murder.” May 9, 2005. Available online. URL: www.suite101. com/print_article.cfm/paranormal_realm/115852. Downloaded January 30, 2006.


The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits– Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – September 1, 2007