Perhaps it’s a story only good for Halloween, perhaps it’s simply an uncanny coincidence. But, over the past half year, the family of the homeless man who was found dead in a Studio City fountain was contacted by a few of the tenants in the buildings surrounding where the man died and told about a “playful poltergeist.”
“They are telling me that there are some mysterious things going on around the building—things that can’t be explained,” said the younger brother of 49-year-old Robert Cattarini, who died from a brain aneurysm the day after Thanksgiving and was found in the fountain. “They think maybe there’s something unresolved, or something he still needs to say.”
Representatives from three separate businesses in buildings near the fountain at Ventura Boulevard and Laurelgrove Avenue, told Studio City Patch that they have seen and heard things since the body was found in the fountain. (None of the half-dozen workers, and a few business owners, wanted to go on the record about the incidents because they feared it could hurt business.)
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“Only since he was found there, only since last Thanksgiving, this strange thing happens,” said a longtime shop owner. “I go to my car, I am alone, I hear footsteps behind me and I turn around and there is nothing. I don’t see anything, just hear it. It is like a playful poltergeist.”
Similar reports came from other businesses in the area. Lights that were definitely turned out were suddenly back on. Radios or answering machines were flipped on or off. One shop owner even asked a Catholic priest to bless the area to settle the prankster spirit there.
“It happened so much that we first contacted the building manager, but it wasn’t wiring or electrical problems,” said another store manager. “It happened so often that we finally did some research and saw the stories on the Patch and we contacted the family in New York to tell them about it. We have no other explanation.”
At one place, where there is an all-female staff, the toilet seat was constantly left up. The women would also come in the next morning to hear the radio blaring full blast. They would even unplug the radio, but the next morning it was on and blaring again.
“We knew that no one else would be coming in, but we told the police anyway to keep an eye out, but there was never any sign of a break-in,” said one of the women. “Sometimes we would walk in and feel something, like a presence. Our hairs were standing up on end.”
What’s most unusual is that Leo Cattarini said that all of the antics—the radio, the lights, the toilet seat—were all jokes that his mentally ill brother would play on the family when he was alive. He liked to blast the radio, and he liked to make himself known.
“It’s strange to say, I know, but it really sounds just like him,” the brother said from New York. “I guess it’s nice to think that maybe he liked it there in Studio City so much he decided to stay around a while.”
A group of local psychics went to the fountain the weekend of his death to see if they could come up with any evidence of foul play. They brought a Ouija Board, and one of the participants told Patch, "We didn't get any readings."
Artak Dovlatyan, of Specialized Realty, who manages one of the buildings near the fountain, wouldn’t talk to Patch, but did investigate some tenant inquiries and ruled out any mechanical failures or issues.
Police said when they found Cattarini’s body, there was a puddle of water near an elevator not far from the fountain, showing that perhaps the homeless man splashed himself and walked around disoriented before he stumbled into the water and died.
One woman said she saw a puddle of water in September near the same area. “I went inside to get a roll of towels and I came back out and it was gone,” she said. “It could not have dried up that fast.”
Recently, the only thing one shop gets is a distinct scent of flowers—not anything that anyone is wearing or could come from any shop nearby. “If something like that happens now, we just say we blame it on Robert,” the tenant said.
Brother Leo said, “I think Robert would like that just fine.”