IT was meant to be a sweet snapshot of Amanda Twiggs’ two-year-old chatting to her imaginary friend – but the result was far more sinister.
In the empty space the little girl had been talking to, the picture showed an ominous black blur, the ghost of an evil child.
In the weeks that followed, a series of inexplicable and terrifying events at the Twiggs’ home in the Rhondda Valley culminated in Amanda being pinned against a wall by an unseen presence.
The 30-year-old says: “When she first started talking to herself I thought it was cute.
“Then strange things started happening and after the terrifying night I was pinned to the wall in her bedroom I knew I needed professional help.”
Bizarre things started happening six weeks after Amanda and Roy, 30, a mechanic, moved into their dream home in Trebanog, in March 2013.
Amanda says: “My belongings would disappear and shoes would end up in strange places. Then my daughter began looking into space and jabbering away. I assumed it was an imaginary friend.
“But she began having sleepless nights. I’d wake up to hear her talking to something in her bedroom and there were constant banging noises. If I went into her room, wardrobe doors would bang and floorboards would creak.”
Recalling capturing the ghoul on camera, Amanda says: “One afternoon we were watching TV when she started talking to thin air, so I took a quick picture to show my husband.
“Later, when I looked at the snap I was horrified to see a ghostly black shadow exactly where she was looking.
“It made my blood run cold.
“One night I woke in the middle of the night to hear her crying hysterically. I went into her room and I was suddenly pinned against the wall.
“It felt like someone ridiculously strong was pushing me back. As much as I struggled I couldn’t escape. When it released its grip, I was so terrified I grabbed her and ran out of the room.
“It was then that I realised I needed to take this seriously. I searched online and found a local paranormal investigation team called Paranormal Now.”
The ghostbusters work for free in Wales and can exorcise spirits.
Three days later came a visit from Richard Oliver, a medium who has been performing spirit exorcisms for more than 15 years, and his team — Richard James, Rachel Knapman and Martin Mildon. They were soon to experience the ghostly visitations for themselves.
Amanda explains: “They were shocked that so much activity showed up on their equipment.
“When they said a young male ghost was following my daughter around I was beside myself with worry. I couldn’t wait for them to get rid of it.”
Richard, 39, says: “For the first home visit we used a P-SP7 Spirit Box and an Ovilus III speech recorder, which help us to detect any unusual energy.
“We found a lot of strange activity at Amanda’s home — cold spots and sound waves. We were on the sofa talking to Amanda when the room went cold and the sofa lifted off the ground with us on it. I’ve seen a lot of strange things, but this was particularly scary.”
The team set about an exorcism, which involved burning sage, chanting prayers and calling on angels.
Richard says: “We communicate with the spirit to banish them and call for angels to protect the family. It is a long process but we are well trained at dealing with this type of spirit.
“The spirit was a boy of around nine who followed her around. Once we were done, he was gone.”
Amanda adds: “It was strange having an exorcism going on in my house but when it was over I was so relieved.
“It was amazing what they did for us. After they left that day, my daughter slept through the night for the first time in months.
“We have no idea why the ghost boy chose our home to haunt, we are just glad the ordeal is over.”