Sunnyvale, CA

While many people may not think of a modern superstore as being haunted, the 
Toys’R’Us haunting reminds us that every plot of ground has a history.  
Built in 1970, the toy store is a 60,000 square foot one story building. It 
is located thirty miles South of San Francisco, at 130 East El Camino, in 
Sunnyvale, CA. This was once an apple orchard, and part of a huge ranch 
owned by John Murphy during the late 1800s.
Paranormal activity occurs regularly at this site. Typically, employees 
unlock the store in the morning and find toys and books scattered about when 
they had been neatly shelved the night before. Sometimes, objects fly 
through the air or simply end up in a different place. People have reported 
being touched when no one is around. Also, some have heard a voice that they 
didn’t recognize calling their name. Aisle 15C sometimes smells of fresh 
Many employees and customers have reported incidents that have occurred in 
the women’s bathroom. The water faucets start pouring when no one else is 
around. If turned off, they go on again. Women have reported being tapped on 
the shoulder. Those with long hair sometimes feel it being stroked by 
someone that they can’t see.
Though incidents had been occurring for some time, the store was not 
investigated until 1978, when local writer An-tionette May took an interest 
in the ghost. May invited psychic Sylvia Brown, a photographer, and several 
others to spend a night at the store.
The group expected the ghost to be of John Murphy, the lands original owner. 
The first impression that Brown picked up was of a tall, lanky man with his 
hands jammed in to his pockets. The ghost spoke with a Swedish accent and 
said that his name was Johnny Johnson. He warned Brown that if she didn’t 
want her feet wet she had better move. (Records show that a well once stood 
on that spot.) She reported that Johnson was waiting for someone named Beth.
Johnny Johnson lived in Pennsylvania before coming west sometime in the 
mid-1800s. While in California he worked as a circuit preacher. Johnson 
became inflicted with encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), which left 
him with a mental handicap. Because of this he was called "Crazy Johnny".  
Johnson ended up working as a hired hand on the Murphy ranch.
The woman that Johnson is waiting for was Elizabeth Yuba Murphy Tafee, 
otherwise known as Beth. Johnny apparently had a crush on this lady, only to 
find that she had left the ranch to marry a lawyer from the East Coast.
Johnson died in 1884. He bled to death when he accidentally cut his leg 
chopping wood. (Some versions of the story say it was his neck.) This 
occurred on the spot where the Toys’R’Us stands today. Though Johnson was 
about eighty when he died, he has appeared to witnesses as a young man in 
his twenties or thirties.
At this writing the store is still haunted and the management has no plans 
to get rid of the ghost. While some employees are afraid, others seem to 
enjoy Johnson’s residence. The manager claims that sales increase whenever 
the media reports on the ghost.
This haunting has been very well documented. Sylvia Brown has been back to 
the store many times. Johnson’s activities have been written about in books 
and newspapers, and the store has been featured on several TV shows. Arthur 
Myers’ book The Ghostly Register   includes some interesting infra-red 
photographs taken during one of Sylvia Brown’s investigations.
The Shadowlands   has some first hand accounts included in the Real Ghost 
Experiences  section:
Page 4, dated 11/9/97
Page 5, undated
Page 6, dated 11/1/98.



Back to Famous Hauntings
Back to Ghosts and Hauntings