The Downtown Report: Mid-October Edition

Haunted Downtown

Back in October of 2000 some serious investigating was underfoot regarding the often-heard rumors of haunted locations downtown. After contacting KLOS about hosting their annual Mark & Brian Halloween Parade here, the promotion staff visited and they agreed to move it to Downtown Fullerton from the City of Orange. We needed to create a buzz for the radio show. Sure enough, there were a number of first-hand accounts to be found, and a certain Fullerton newspaper from the past printed my entire story titled “The Ghost of the Villa.”

As mentioned here before, a handyman was murdered on the premises by his wife. She ran a few blocks away and then took her own life, as verified in a conversation with Ernie Chapman, son of Charles Chapman. Not being an unsolved crime and not wanting any bad publicity, the murder/suicide info received no news coverage and the

police reports were later purged. That’s why it took Ernie to confirm it–he was around at the time. The Villa Ghost never left and has reportedly been seen by many roaming the building. Some of that info has found its way into books and haunted tours, so it must be true, no?

Spooky things like a picture of this floating soda bottle (below) helped create a buzz for the Mark & Brian Halloween Parade to happen in Fullerton in 2000.

Included in the first hand accounts of ghostly encounters were The Cellar Restaurant, Brownstone Café, Café Hidalgo, Heroes, and a variety of reported sightings of the handyman down in the basement, and even in the upstairs hallways at Villa del Sol, where the California Hotel rooms were. Add to that, strange, unexplained happenings at the ballroom in the Odd Fellows/Williams Company Building, the Fox Theatre, the Fullerton Union High School Auditorium and other locations, and you will note that we are rife with hauntings, real or imagined, throughout our downtown.

If this interests you, consider going on a Haunted Fullerton Walking Tour. Tour enthusiasts meet inside the Fullerton Museum Center every Wednesday and Thursday at 6pm the entire month of October. They begin with a “ghoulish” cocktail mixer and then it’s off to the 1.5 mile walk. Special tours will be on Thursday October 27 and Friday October 28. For more info and tickets, go to

More tidbits from the past

We asked for personal memories regarding some places that moved on, and right away, reader Judy Berg recalled La Paz being the first Mexican restaurant where they served chips and salsa as soon as you were seated. That of course is where Heroes took over the space, preceding their move to what would become SoCo. Podium Music, 719 N Harbor, was where Jim Washburn purchased his first guitar amp, a $189 Vox Super Beatle in 1970. Merry Christmas.

Orange County Pawn Brokers on Harbor and Commonwealth may not be haunted but became infamous for owner Victor Pahl, often seen driving around in his white Rolls Royce, sporting a long ponytail, while always decked out in tons of silver and turquoise. He had developed his business into the highest grossing pawn shop in California and had no problem flaunting that fact. In 1985, he shot his wife and her attorney inside the shop when they came in to check the books–divorce proceedings were under way. They both survived, and after spending 11 months in jail and eventually getting out on bail, Victor was acquitted of all charges after three psychiatrists and a psychologist testified that he was generally in a “zombie-like” state, saying his mind went blank and he did not remember the shooting. No ghosts, just fodder for Halloween. Victor returned to run the pawn shop, which eventually moved and the location became Heirlooms of Tomorrow for many years.

Fender Gallery

By now we trust you have checked out the Fender Gallery at our downtown Museum Center. It takes funding to keep it going, so head over to the Plaza on Saturday, October 22, for a great night of music by Carvin Jones, King of Strings. It starts at 5pm and goes to 9pm. Find tickets and info at

Photo Quiz

Not easy to spot, but visible from the sidewalk, mysterious flowers grow in a crack in the concrete stairs across from a reportedly haunted downtown landmark referenced on this page.

Send answer to Mike at

3 replies »

  1. The Schumacher Building is allegedly haunted by Himself, who was supposed to have committed suicide therein.

  2. Another great and scary Downtown Report from Mr. Ritto! Victor Pahl shoots his wife and lawyer and only gets 11 months because he was in a zombie state? I don’t think that defense would hold water today. The weed flowers growing from a crack in the steps is what really spooked me. I’ll be hiding under my bed!!!