The World’s Most Haunted Object – The Dybbuk Box

When you watch a horror film, it can sometimes leave you with a sense of fear or dread. Our only consolation is that we can tell ourselves that what we just watched isn’t real, that it never actually happened.

But what if it was real and did actually happen?

Think of the times you’ve watched a movie and received a message that what you are about to watch is based on actual events that occurred, that the macabre images you’re witnessing onscreen befell some unfortunate soul.   

We at Horrorfacts wanted to look at films that claim to be based on a true story and sift through what’s real and what’s simply fabricated by Hollywood.

So, join us as we uncover the truth…because sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.

The Film

The first film we decided to look at is ‘The Possession,’ a 2012 American supernatural horror film about a young girl who buys an antique box at a yard sale, unaware that inside the collectible lives a malicious, ancient spirit. The girl’s father teams with his ex-wife to find a way to end the curse upon their child.

The True Story

This possession-based horror film is about an antique wine cabinet that is said to contain an evil spirit known as a dybbuk. The wine cabinet, infamously known as the dybbuk box, first gained notoriety when it was listed on eBay in 2001 by Kevin Mannis.

This article covers the history of the box, the three men who would come to own it, the paranormal investigator who now owns the box, and its current location.    

What is a Dybbuk?

In Jewish folklore, a dybbuk (sometimes spelled dibbuk) is the lost soul of a deceased person that refuses to pass on after death. Instead, the spirit lingers around on earth possessing the living.

Stories surrounding the dybbuk identify it as being a malevolent spirit out to harm those it comes in contact with, particularly its host. They also are generally believed to be male and most frequently will attempt to possess the body of a female.

This idea illustrates the concept of perfect imbalance: a being that is male and female, living and dead, innocent and guilty, all sharing one body.

History of the Dybbuk Box

First Owner of the Box

Kevin Mannis, the owner of a small antique and furniture refinishing business in Portland, Oregon, was the first to purchase the wine cabinet (dybbuk box) in September, 2001, at an estate sale for a 103-year-old woman who had recently passed away.

After he purchased the wine cabinet, he was approached by the woman’s granddaughter, who informed Mannis that her grandmother had been a holocaust survivor and that she had brought the box with her when she immigrated to America. This is also when she referred to the box as the dybbuk box. When Mannis attempted to inquire into why the box had been referred to as the dybbuk box, the granddaughter informed Mannis that her grandmother had always kept the box locked in her sewing room and had given everyone in the family instructions to never open the box, as she claimed that a dybbuk was trapped inside the box.

She revealed to Mannis that her grandmother had attempted to be buried with the box but, due to Jewish tradition, the request could not be fulfilled.

Upon hearing this, Mannis attempted to return the box, assuming it must have sentimental value. At this point, Mannis reported that the granddaughter became upset with him, even raising her voice and telling him, “You bought it. You made a deal.”

Mannis attempted to explain that he wasn’t looking to get his money back, but the granddaughter wouldn’t listen and insisted that he leave, informing him, “We don’t want it.”

Mannis first took the box back to his shop and put it in the basement. He left the shop to run errands for the day, leaving his female employee in charge of the shop while he was gone.

After about a half-hour, Mannis received a call from the employee stating that someone was in the basement swearing and breaking glass. She also told Mannis that the intruder had managed to somehow lock the iron security gates and the emergency exit, trapping her inside the store.

While attempting to tell her to call the police, his cell phone suddenly went dead.

Mannis rushed back to the shop to find the female employee on the floor in a corner of his office sobbing hysterically.

Upon entering the basement, he has hit by an overpowering odor of cat urine and, as he investigated, he discovered that all the lights in the basement had been broken, including nine incandescent bulbs broken in their sockets and ten four-foot fluorescent tubes lying shattered on the floor.

The unnamed employee reportedly never returned to work after this event.

Unfortunately, Mannis didn’t let this event and the granddaughter’s strange behaviour deter him from keeping the box. Instead, he decided to clean up the box and give it to his mother for her birthday.

While refinishing the box, Mannis made the unfortunate decision to open it. Inside the box, he found: one 1928 U.S. wheat penny; one 1925 U.S. wheat penny; one small lock of blonde hair (bound with string); one small lock of black/brown hair (bound with string); one small, granite statue engraved with the word SHALOM; one dried rosebud; one golden wine cup; and one black, cast iron candlestick holder with octopus legs.

On October 31, 2001, Mannis’s mother, Ida Mannis, came to his shop for a lunch date. This is when Mannis gave his mother the wine cabinet. While his mother proceeded to examine the box, he went to make a phone call. Not five minutes later, Mannis was alerted by one of his employees that something appeared to be wrong with his mother. When Mannis went to check on his mother, he found her sitting in a chair, unresponsive and with tears running down her face. After being taken to the hospital, it was discovered that his mother had suffered a stroke. Along with the stroke, she appeared to have partial paralysis and had lost her ability to speak.    

When Mannis came to visit her the next day in the hospital, she spelt out the words: “No Gift.”  After attempting to remind her that he had given her a gift, she proceeded to spell out the words: “Hate Gift.”

Mannis then gave the box to his sister, who kept it for a week before returning it, stating that the doors to the box kept opening on their own.

Next, he gave it to his brother, who kept it for only three days before he also returned it because his wife stated that it smelled of cat urine.

After it was returned to him again, Mannis gave it to his girlfriend, who, after having the box for just two days, told Mannis that he needed to sell it.

That very same day, Mannis managed to sell the box to a middle-aged couple. Three days later, Mannis would find the cabinet sitting at the front doors to his shop with a note attached that read, “This has a bad darkness.”

Unable to get rid of the box, Mannis decided to take it home. After bringing it home, he began to have a strange, recurring nightmare in which he was walking with a friend. He reported that, once he looked into the eyes of the person he was with, he would sense the presence of something evil looking back at him. At that point in the dream, the person would change into a demonic looking hag who would proceed to beat him. He reported waking from these dreams to find bruises and marks where he had been hit.

On one particular night, his sister, brother, and sister-in-law all spent the night at his place. In the morning, all three reported having had the same dream of the demonic old woman. Mannis’s girlfriend also later revealed that she had experienced the same dream during the two days the box had been in her possession.

Following that night, Mannis stated that he started seeing shadowy figures in his peripheral vision throughout his home. He also stated that any visitors that came to his house also reported seeing the same shadowy figures.

Hoping the strange occurrences would stop, Mannis moved the box into an outside storage unit. This, however, did nothing to stop the nightmares or the appearance of the unexplained shadowy figures in his home.

On one particular night, the smoke alarm went off in the shed and, when Mannis went to investigate the disturbance, he found there was no smoke or any sign that there ever was. There was, however, the smell of cat urine. After going back inside, he was hit by the same stench of cat urine.     

This is when Mannis decided he needed to do research into the strange box. While searching the internet, Mannis feel asleep at his computer and he was visited once again by the old hag. When Mannis awoke, he felt like someone was breathing on his neck, and his house once again smelled like cat urine. He sat up in time to see a huge shadowy figure moving down the hall away from him. 

By June of 2003, Mannis had had enough of the box and decided to get rid of it and the curse it had brought upon his life. He decided to post the box on eBay. In his ad, he spoke of the above-mentioned events that had transpired in his life following obtaining the box, along with the following message:

I would destroy this thing in a second, except I really don’t have any understanding of what I may or may not be dealing with. I am afraid (and I do mean afraid) that if I destroy the cabinet, whatever it is that seems to have come with the cabinet may just stay here with me. I have been told that there are people who shop on EBAY that understand these kinds of things and specifically look for these kinds of items. If you are one of these people, please, please buy this cabinet and do whatever you do with a thing like this. Help me.

Second Owner of the Box

In June of 2003, Mannis would sell the box for $140, to Iosif Neitzke, a student at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri.

Two months after purchasing the box, Neitzke began writing a blog about his experiences.

At first, Neitzke thought very little of the curse and made a point of showing off the box during the parties he and his roommates would throw at their house. During one particular party, he grabbed a girl’s hand and stuck it inside the box, thinking it would be funny.

He would continue to laugh at the idea of a cursed box until August 31, 2003, when Neitzke noted in his blog that he and his six roommates started to suffer unexplained medical ailments, including two members of the household complaining of burning eyes, one reporting being listless and depleted of energy, and another becoming spontaneously sick.  

On September 04, 2003, he and his roommates discovered the box had inexplicably come open. Neitzke noted in his blog that the following morning, the air outside his house was filled with small bugs for several hours.  

On September 10, 2003, Neitzke makes note of all the “bad luck” that seems to be befalling him and his roommates, including strange odours permeating the house, the dumpster behind their house overflowing with trash and decay, one roommate suddenly developing bronchitis, and himself breaking a finger.

He would also later make note of several mice being found dead in one of their car’s engines, as well as electronics inside the house starting to repeatedly malfunction and suddenly die, including their Xbox, toaster, TV, and watches.

Between the months of September and January, Neitzke would refrain from making notes of the tragic events that befell him; he would only make short mention of them in his eBay ad.

He noted that he had started feeling ill and had developed trouble sleeping. He made mention of the facts that he was now living alone; that he had had to start frequently changing burnt out light bulbs; that his car had begun needing unusual repairs (transmission fluid was burned out of the reservoir); that he had started seeing large, vertical, dark blurs in his peripheral vision; and that he started smelling ammonia with no discernible cause.

See also  The Curse of King Tut's Tomb

These events would be nothing compared to what transpired on January 27, 2004, when Neitzke stated that his hair began falling out and, just three days later, on January 30, 2004, roughly half was gone.  

Third Owner of the Box

After having the box for only eight months, Neitzke relisted the item on eBay. The box quickly sold to Jason Haxton, a curator at a local medical museum who had been following Neitzke’s blog.

Haxton would buy the box from Neitzke for $280, double what Neitzke originally paid for it.

Dybbuk Box on Ebay
Image of Neitzke’s Original eBay Posting

After receiving the box, computers within the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine, where Haxton worked, started to crash, resulting in the loss of weeks worth of work.

Haxton, indicated that, prior to obtaining the box, he had never had any health issues. Immediately upon receiving the box at the museum, however, he started to experience “very intense, very sudden, and very strong health problems.” 

Being a man of science, Haxton believed that the sudden illness was a result of direct contact with contaminants on the box. He had it tested for traces of mercury and biohazard materials, but all the tests came up negative.

The longer the box remained at the museum, the more unexplained occurrences continued to occur, including light bulbs repeatedly going out, the constant smell of cat urine, and numerous staff members reporting the sudden onset of illnesses.  It was around this time that Haxton was informed that the box was no longer welcome at the museum.

After he took it home, Haxton started to experience the same dream of the demonic looking hag, but instead of bruises, he reported that he would wake up with welts.

Like the previous owners of the box before him, he started to see shadowy figures throughout his home. While watching TV with his son one night, the boy reported seeing a shadowy figure in the room with them. When Haxton looked over, he saw a large black mass standing behind his son.

Haxton, who up to this point still believed everything could be explained through science, started to question his beliefs. So much so that he decided to move the box to the basement of an empty rental property and leave it there, believing that the strange occurrences would stop with the box out of his home.

After returning, he felt the need to take a bath and, while in the tub, began having a coughing fit that resulted in him coughing up two handfuls of a thick mucus substance. Around the same time, his wife, who had recently contracted poison ivy, started to bleed from the infected area.         

With science proving to be ineffective in explaining the events that continued to befall him, Haxton decided to embrace the possibility that the box might actually be supernatural.

Haxton decided to contact Mannis in an attempt to get more information into the origins of this mysterious box.

Mannis revealed that he ended up going back to the house where he’d originally bought the box. There, he met Sophie, a cousin of the original owner of the box. Sophie revealed that the original owner’s name was Havaleh and that, prior to Word War II, she made a makeshift Ouija board in hopes of contacting a spirit to aid her. Instead, she made contact with what she believed to be a dybbuk. With help from Sophia, Havaleh was able to trap the evil spirit within the box.  When Mannis opened the box, he released the spirit contained within.

Haxton next consulted with rabbis about how to return the spirit to the box. It was determined that, since the spirit remained attached to the box, if the box was properly sealed away, the spirit within could be neutralized. Haxton was advised that he needed to construct a box made of acacia wood, lined with gold.

Haxton reported that, after constructing the box and sealing the dybbuk box inside, the strange occurrences ceased and his health returned to normal.

The box would become an internet sensation and Haxton would develop a website (dibbukbox.com) dedicated to the wine cabinet. His site would receive thousands of visitors, all of them wanting to know more about the infamous box. Haxton reported that he received non-stop emails from people wanting to know more about the box, and from those who hoped to purchase it from him. He reportedly refused all offers, no matter the price. And, when asked where the box was, he identified that it was buried somewhere safe.

In July of 2004, Haxton’s story started to gain serious notoriety and caught the attention of the Los Angeles Times, who decided to do a piece on him. The article by Leslie Gornstein titled, “A jinx in a box?” ran in the Los Angeles Times on July 25, 2004.

All of this would attract the attention of Raimi, who purchased the rights to the story in the fall of 2004. This, as we already know, would become the basis for ‘The Possession.’

In 2011, Haxton would release a book, The Dibbuk Box, that told the story of his investigation into the box, including its origin and the events that led to him coming into possession of the box.   

Zak Bagans Obtains the Box

The box would remain buried in a military-grade, shockproof container until 2017, when Haxton passed the box on to paranormal investigator and host of ‘Ghost Adventures,’ Zak Bagans.  

After receiving the box, Bagans placed it in his haunted museum, located in downtown Las Vegas, where it was secured behind a protective glass case.

Shortly after its arrival, the museum staff started to report that “mysterious protruding holes” began to appear in the walls around the artifact as if something was trying to break out from within the exhibit.

In June 2018, while rapper Post Malone was visiting the museum, Bagans decided to remove the plexiglass case and physically touch the box for the first time since owning it.

Bagans would later reveal in an interview to Newsweek that, “I felt all the fear you’ve ever had in your life all at once, in one concentration of energy…it was horrific.”

Post Malone Gets Cursed

Although Malone never actually touched it, he put his hand on Bagans shoulder while he was in direct contact with the box. Apparently this was enough for him to become the next target of the box’s wraith.   

Just two months later, on August 21, 2018, two of the tires on Malone’s private jet would mysteriously blow out while taking off. The plane reportedly had to circle the sky before being able to make an emergency landing. 

Next, on September 01, 2018, three armed robbers broke into a San Fernando Valley home that had recently belonged to the rapper, where they reportedly attacked one of the homeowners while repeatedly shouting, “Where’s Post Malone?”

The home’s new owners attempted to explain that Malone had moved out and they had no way of contacting him.  

The men ended up stealing cash, jewelry, and cell phones worth $20k before fleeing the scene. 

A week later, Malone was involved in a car accident in West Hollywood. According to police, Malone’s assistant was driving the rapper’s Rolls Royce with Malone in the passenger seat. According to reports, the car crashed into another vehicle and then struck a fence before ending up in some nearby bushes. The vehicle was severely damaged, but no one involved in the accident sustained any injuries.

Zak Bagans Opens the Box on TV

The box would remain behind glass until July 2020. Then, during episode four of the four-part miniseries, ‘Ghost Adventures: Quarantine,’ Bagans removed the protective case.

Once he removed the case, Bagans and a member of his crew reported feeling a stabbing pain in the middle of their backs. Bagans described it as being like someone was sticking him with a “hot poker.”

They took an EMF reading of the box and discovered that it was reading seven volts per meter, the equivalent of talking on a cell phone.    

Bagans instructed a member of his crew to film what was happening, but he suddenly became enraged with the cameraman and pushed him out of the room.

During this time, the EMF meter would jump up to a reading of ten v/m.

When the confused cameraman confronted Bagans about his reaction, he claimed to have no memory of the event, stating that the box was having a negative influence on him.

Bagans decided he couldn’t take anymore and called it quits for the night.

The next day, the crew reviewed surveillance footage of the box overnight and discovered what appeared to be a cloud of mist coming out of the box. They believed this to be the dybbuk making its presence known.

Before returning to the dybbuk box room, Bagans brought with him another smaller dybbuk box. It is believed that Havaleh split the dybbuk into ten boxes.

After Bagans opened the smaller box, he reported hearing voices.

He then saw a large black mass standing against one of the walls of the dybbuk box room. When he called out to it, he heard a loud popping sound come from its direction.

Bagans then opened the wine cabinet.

After opening it, he was overwhelmed with images and thoughts that were not his own.

The crew placed a digital recorder inside the box to see if they could pick up any recordings coming from the box. After Bagans removed the candlestick holder, the recorder picked up the name “Kevin” (the first owner of the box).

Bagans would next talk to the box, asking it what conscience it had taken up. He received a reply of one word: “Evil.”

Immediately following this, Bagans and a member of his crew reported hearing a little girl singing a nursery rhyme.

At this time, the crew discovered that the infrared camera on the box reported that it had risen in temperature by six degrees. 

Using a Structured Light Sensor Camera – which captures images that can’t be seen with the naked eye, often as stick figures – Bagans would pick up a figure inside the box that appeared to move from the box to the wall where he had witnessed the black mass standing earlier.

Bagans next picked up the box and walked around the museum until he reported feeling tired and drained of all his energy, causing him to place the box on the floor.

A member of his crew also suddenly felt drained of energy and passed out.

The cameraman would then report hearing someone whispering the words, “I’ll kill you.”

After the crew member revived, he reported smelling “burning wood.”

Bagans was able to pick up the box and return it to the room, but not before commanding the entity to return to the box.

Three days after the event, the cameraman’s dog would mysteriously die.

See the Box

For those of you interested in seeing the box, Horrorfacts reached out to Zak Bagans’ The Haunted Museum where we were informed that the dybbuk box is included in the tour of museum, allowing guests the opportunity to view the box up close and personal.

The minimum age requirement is 16 years old accompanied by an adult and you must sign a waiver form before you can see the box. 

Be warned, though, many guests have reported feeling drained of energy upon seeing the box and a number have even fainted.

Do you dare stand in the presence of the world’s most haunted object?

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