ANTIOCH — Images of skulls dripping blood with parts of flesh still on them line the flash racks of the Liberty Tat2 shop in downtown Antioch.
Clients flipping through them use the thousands of drawings to choose as a sketch for their tattoo.
But those aren’t the scariest images at the shop, say owners Mandi and Eric Lynn. Two ghosts, one good, one evil, haunt the place, and it started when they bought the building and began the remodeling of their shop in 2007, they said.
Behind their counter were picture frames they said they secured to the wall with wire and screws so they wouldn’t be able to move. Mandi Lynn said two days in a row when they opened the shop in the morning, they were met with shattered glass from the frames hitting the floor. The wires and screws were still on the wall.
“It wasn’t a good way to start your day,” Mandi said. “I think he didn’t like being disturbed.”
That he is a ghost the owners call Lloyd.
The Lynns say they aren’t the only ones who’ve seen him walk out of a door by the shop’s entrance and make his way to the back of the shop and into the basement.
Clients, they say, will sometimes comment that a man just walked into their back room. When they check, there’s no one there.
Mandi describes “Lloyd” as a lanky man of about 6-foot-4-inches with dirty blond hair that makes him seem unclean and scraggly.
“He wears a brownish three-quarter length coat and always walks straight to the basement. I’ve never seen his face,” Mandi said.
The couple has heard stories here and there about the basement of the shop being the scene of gruesome crimes, when it was a stable and a man supposedly lured women down there to assault and murder them.
On a recent Halloween night, the couple asked the GhostLand Society to perform tests to see what they could find.
Eric said since then, going into the basement at night is creepy.
The first of the two nights that GhostLand Society was there, night vision cameras caught a blurry image of a man crouching down by one of the tripods of another camera, they said.
Mandi thinks the ghost is drawn to women because from across the room in the shop, she’s seen female clients turn around quickly or jerk their bodies and look behind them.
“I ask them if they’re OK and they say they just felt someone standing right behind them,” Mandi said.
Nick Perri of Grayslake works as a tattoo artist at the shop. He said he’s not fond of the supernatural and doesn’t want to know whether there’s a ghost walking by him. He doesn’t go in the basement. He said, “It’s just a creepy basement.”
Not everything supernatural in the basement and the shop creeps out the owners and employees.
There is a more benevolent force whose voice, they say, was discovered during the GhostLand Society visit, saying “Be careful. He’s coming.”
“She’s a little girl, about 6 years old, with strawberry red hair in an old-fashioned night gown,” Mandi said.
Upstairs in the shop, both Mandi and Eric say they’ve seen the flash racks move on their own and always stop on the one with a variety of angels.
Their 14-year-old daughter discovered the little girl’s name is Kate while playing with an Ouija board, Mandi said.
Mandi said she’s not afraid of ghosts. She believes they are energy that needs to move on.
“Energy is never created nor destroyed,” Mandi said, “But, I’m wondering to myself if there’s really something down there.”
To make the matter more ghastly, she said she’s been told that a cut square of concrete in the basement was poured by none other than serial killer John Wayne Gacy, Jr., who was also known as the Killer Clown.
Tattoo artist Dion Socia doesn’t believe there are any ghosts and he’s never experienced anything supernatural.
“Maybe they just don’t like big, bald guys,” Socia said.
As for the Lynns, Eric said that unless a disemboweled corpse comes at him one night, he will continue to coexist with Kate and Lloyd and run his tattoo shop alongside his wife.