The Spirit of Justice

“She can come to me in a dream.  I’m not afraid.”

In the current age of technology, we often think of superstitions as being quaint, from an earlier era where science had not forayed into the world of the paranormal, a time when superstitions and myths abounded, often woven into the very fabric of a family’s history.

In some cultures, belief in the paranormal and supernatural is commonplace, unaffected by more recent scientific discovery.  The case of Remibias Chua, a Philipino woman residing in Evanston, Illinois, in the 1970s, is just such an event.

On the evening of February 21, 1977, Chua’s forty-eight year old colleague at Edgewater Hospital, Teresita Basa, was stabbed to death in her apartment, her nude body set on fire. A later autopsy revealed that there had been no sexual assault on Basa.  Police theorized that the motive might have been robbery, as Basa had a quantity of very valuable jewelry, some of which was missing.

Basa and Chua were both respiratory therapists at the time, but worked in different departments.  However, such news travels fast.

Another of Chua’s colleague commented at the time, “Teresita must be turning in her grave.  Too bad she can’t tell the police who did it.” [1]

Shocked by their co-worker’s brutal death, Chua remarked, “She can come to me in a dream. I’m not afraid.” [1]

For weeks, police were stymied as to who had committed the horrible crime.

Later that day, while on a break and dozing in the hospital locker room, she claimed she had “a feeling that someone was watching (her).” When she opened her eyes, she found Basa standing before her, unharmed.  Despite her earlier comment to the contrary, Chua panicked and fled.

Teresita Basa was born in the Philippines in 1929 and moved to Chicago to better her life and career.  Her family had survived the Korean War in the 1950s and the Martial Law era in the ‘70s. With such tumult in the region, she decided to move to the U.S. Basa was well-liked among her peers, a kind and caring woman with no known enemies.

For weeks, police were stymied as to who had committed the horrible crime.

When firefighters broke down her door that fateful night, they found Basa’s body engulfed in flames, a kitchen knife protruding from her chest and a mattress placed on top of her.  In their ensuing investigation, police learned that nothing but jewelry had been taken from Basa’s apartment and named no suspects in the case for several months. Their only lead was a note by someone with the initials AS, who was supposed to give Basa theater tickets. The case went cold.

Six months later, the police received a disturbing call from a Doctor Jose Chua, Remy Chua’s husband.  Dr. Chua was panicked, claiming that his wife had begun seeing the ghost of Teresita Basa and appeared “possessed” by Basa’s spirit. Though Dr. Chua worked in the same hospital, he didn’t know Basa except in passing. It was when his wife seemed to enter into a trance-like state and began speaking in a different voice and tongue that the doctor called authorities. According to Chua, his wife responded to his increasingly frantic questions with, “I am Teresita Basa.” He’d at first thought she was dreaming, but this possession state began taking place periodically for a week’s time, and each time a bit more information was given through his wife.  Finally, Basa’s spirit said, “The man responsible for my murder was a man named Allan Showery, and the proof can be found with his girlfriend.”

Police were at first apprehensive about the Chua’s amazing story, considering it the hysterics of an aggrieved woman, but, despite the fantastical source of the information, chose to pursue it, having no other leads.  They learned that Showery also worked at Edgewater Hospital, and the suspect’s initials matched those on their only piece of evidence: the note signed by the mysterious AS.

Meanwhile, Chua’s trances grew more frequent, the information more urgent.  In one, Chua said, “After he killed me, he took my jewelry and gave it to his girlfriend.”

The police decided to question Showery, who admitted that he went to her home to fix the TV, but left to go back home to collect his tools. Soon after, his girlfriend was questioned. She told the police that Showery did indeed give her some jewelry. Basa’s family looked at the pieces and identified them as having belonged to Basa. The police decided to confront Showery again, and this time he confessed to the murder.

In his confession, Showery said, “I decided to go to her apartment that night to rob her. When she let me in and turned her back, I grabbed her and put her in a chokehold and stabbed her. I held her in that position until she stopped moving. When it appeared she was no longer breathing, I dragged her body into the living room where I snatched her clothes off. I then got the mattress from the bedroom, put it on top of her, and set it on fire.”

After searching Showery’s home, they discovered a necklace also belonging to Basa. Showery was arrested and tried for murder and sentenced to 14 years in prison. He was released in 1990 after serving the full term.

Though it occasionally happens that police work with psychics in solving crimes, it rarely ever happens that the ghost of the victim comes back in such a dramatic way to solve their own murder.

Skeptics claim that Chua had long suspected Showery as the killer, but had been unwilling to come forward directly, fearing for her life.  Instead, these skeptics claim, Chua invented Basa’s visitations in a fit of guilty conscience.

Where does the truth lie? Did Basa’s spirit return to solve her own murder, and, if so, why did she take over Chua’s body instead of somebody she knew better than she did Chua? If Chua hadn’t believed in the paranormal, would Basa’s spirit have been as successful in coming through?

Chua made no further claims of mediumship or other paranormal happenings after Showery’s arrest and subsequent incarceration. What do you think?

[1] From Poltergeist: A Classic Study in Destructive Hauntings, by Colin Wilson; Llewellyn Publications, September 8, 2009, pp 55-56

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