1. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Source: Daily Mail

    In a tabloid story widely shared on social media, we see two photographs taken seconds apart. In the first photo there's a girl looking at the camera, taking a selfie. The camera is reflected in her sunglasses, her hair seems to be blowing in a breeze.

    In the next photo, taken seconds later, the image is pretty much the same, the camera has moved slightly, and the hair and background outside the car have moved, but now we see the image of what looks like the head of a boy with a high forehead, and curly brown hair.

    The girl in the photo is Harper Kurz, her mother, Melissa Kurtz, tells the story like this:
    In thinking about what might be going on here it's useful to remember Occam's Razor - often stated as "the simplest explanation is the best", but actually is more like "the explanation that adds the fewest new things is the best".

    So let's look at five competing hypotheses (proposed explanations) here, listed with the most simplest explanation first, and the least likely explanation last
    1. There was a boy in the car, and Melissa lied about it
    2. There was a boy in the car, and Melissa and Harper forgot about him
    3. There was no boy in the car, the image is of something else blowing around in the back seat
    4. It's a fake photo
    5. There was no boy in the car, it's a photo of something supernatural
    (and there's always an implied #6. something else, but I think the above pretty much covers it.)

    So, #1 and #2 are variants of the same thing. A boy was in the car, he leaned across and reached forward between the two photo so he appears in one but not the other. Then Melissa either forgot about him being there, or she lied about it. So why are these the simplest explanations?

    They are simply because they introduce nothing new of extraordinary to the world, they simply rely on typical events that we know happen all the time. Boys get rides in cars. People lie for a variety of reasons. People forget things. It does not really matter if it's #1 or #2, and they are really pretty close in terms of which is the most likely. I chose the #1 (lie) simply because it seems easier to get two people to agree on a lie than to get two people to exactly misremember the same event for which there is photographic evidence (i.e. the photo should jog their memory as to who the boy is)

    So what's the evidence for #1 or #2? Well Melissa uploaded high resolution version of the photos to facebook, so we can get a closer look than the tabloid versions:

    And closer

    It passably looks like a child, although there's not really enough visible to be sure. Assuming it is a child, the interesting thing is that they actually ARE visible in the first photo - at least a portion of their arm or shoulder is - you can see what seems to be the sweatshirt just poking over the seat:


    So that all seems very consistent with #1 and #2 - it looks like there was a child leaning over, and reaching to grab the seat as they did so.

    So that seems the simplest explanation, but what of the others, what about #3: "something else blowing around in the car". Something like mylar balloons, a plastic bag, or a dress.

    This is more complex because it requires us to to image something that precisely forming into the shapes we see in the photo, something that resembles a human head and two fingers. Something that seems to have the correct three dimensional shape (for the reflection on the forehead) and the skin tone.

    But the "boy" explanation in #1 and #1 is not entirely solid either. We don't get a clear look, and when you zoom in, it's unclear (the focus seems correct though, that's not a clue, just makes it harder to see what it is). Look closer.

    The skin tone does look a bit odd. And does the shape of the face really make sense? It's qute hard to mirror it in a way that forms a good head:

    So it's a little hard to see this as a boy up close, but I think it's easier than seeing something that randomly blew into that spot, hence I've put it at #3

    #4 (fake photo) is of course possible - we've seen amazing things done in photoshop. But if it's a fake it's an incredibly good fake. Melissa even went to great pains to show the image as an in-camera original - posting shots of the image in the camera with the camera data.


    So what of #5 - a ghost, something supernatural. Well that require us introducing something incredibly complex, and entirely new world of science: life-after death with spirits returning to walk the earth, and one in particular appearing for a fraction of a second to warn a girl to wear her seatbelt via a photo they would not look at for months.

    It simply makes the least sense, and is something we should only resort to if we can definitively prove that none of the simpler explanations are correct.

    [Update] The location was described in The Sun as:
    That matches this location:

    And given they are facing south, the sun's position makes it around 5PM. So that part of their story seems correct.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2016
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  2. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    i'm not sure what this is
    upload_2016-11-16_21-22-13. but i dont see no curly brown hair. it could possibly be a girls forehead with her hair pulled back up top like girls do but then her hair would be skunk striped.. which would be odd.but she might just be dirty blonde and the dark stripes are some sort of shadow.

    this is a boy or girl. (s)he is doing a peace sign behenid the seat there. her/his sweatshirt is pulled long over the hand.

    the forehead if that is hair looks like a little girl shape, i'm thinking maybe it has something to do with movement. like those photos you took where your body was all stretched out?
  3. Rory

    Rory Senior Member

    Looks more like she/he is sticking twos up - meaning the ghost is probably of British origin.

    Child on backseat notices frontseat child taking selfies. Decides to photobomb. Front seat child and mom forget the other kid was there?

    Unlikely. Pictures from before and after, as well as the memorability of what they were doing - beauty pageant - would surely remind them if they'd had someone else with them that day.

    What about trying the face mirroring assuming that's a finger rather than half a procheilon?
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2016
  4. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    well, you can believe it's a ghost if you wish. ghosts are fun.

    i dont think the finger covers the upper lip curves. decided to play a bit as i think between the finger, sweatshirt sleeve and hair blocking the face.. some paradolia is going on.
    Plus her hair does something funky there by the lower cheek section, its very square in that section there.

    or she just decided it's a good publicity op.

    probably being forgetful. according to her fb pics they traveled on the 8th, not the 9th as the photo data says. On the 8th an 8 year old boy did die in Florida, but not in Maitland County. She would have had to have gone north west way out of her way to pass near where the boy died. http://accidentsinus.com/States/Florida/RoadAccidents_Florida_TrafficeReports.aspx?StateID=11

    And lots of pics on her fb page of kids doing the peace sign. (it's only rabbit ears if you do it over someone's head)

    I'm fine with guardian angels,or any trick that makes a kid wear their seatbelt... (Hopefully mom doesnt get a ticket when the cops see this photo)..., but sunlight doesnt usually reflect off ghosts. and it looks like a person, although i dont think now the kid is all that little. I personally think our brains are just confusing us because of missing data due to her hair and ths shirt sleeve.

    (obviously kim isnt at the right angle.. i got lazy)

  5. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    There's not a lot to go by there, but it suggested to me a biracial African/European child. High forehead, curly, maybe blondish hair.
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  6. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    yea anything is possible i guess. but at least no contrails that day :)

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    Last edited: Nov 16, 2016
  7. Raymond

    Raymond New Member

    Or a girl with braids
  8. Trailspotter

    Trailspotter Senior Member

    I cannot access the photos through this link:
    Do you still have their copies? I'm particularly interested in seeing the full photo without the "ghost boy".
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 17, 2016
  9. Ray Von Geezer

    Ray Von Geezer Senior Member

    Harper's sister Samantha has young daughters (twins?), and Melissa says in one of her FB posts that she often takes her grandkids with her to pageants. There are FB photos with tied back hair in a ponytail and bun, hair colour looks to be strawberry blonde. I wonder if she had one of the grand-daughters with them and forgot, maybe aided by assuming the picture is of a boy?

    I think the dark lines on the hair might be shadow rather than the hair itself, to me the shadow seems to extend onto the forehead?

    Ray Von

    PS - I'm deliberately not posting or linking pictures of the kids, obviously.
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  10. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Attached. They are not the in-camera originals, just the highest res facebook copies. (2048 wide)

    There's also a snapshot of her web page (taken yesterday, Nov 16) on archive.is

    She posted an email from someone who was presumably trying to make the story go viral for her.

    Possibly David Keane, who writes this kind of story.

    And was listed on The Sun's version, which then is probably the most complete story (very similar to the Daily Mail version though)

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 17, 2016
  11. Rory

    Rory Senior Member

    Here's a link to the details - dates, location - of the pageant they were on their way to.


    And where she says on her facebook that it was the 9th, in agreement with the camera data:

    Screen Shot 2016-11-17 at 10.48.05 AM.

    All traffic accidents in Florida on July 9th, 2015:

    Screen Shot 2016-11-17 at 10.58.38 AM.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2016
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  12. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member


    It is a little odd that her camera is set to European format (09/07 rather than 07/09), but not necessarily suspicious. It might confuse people though.

    She mentioned there was some coverage of the story in August. I presume David Keane was looking for something to write about, and found the older coverage.
  13. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    i dont want to link this womans FB page, but if you look through her photos she posted a photo of Harper in that outfit just after they arrive at the pageant. it's dated July 8th.

    so if the photo was taken on the 9th then she wasnt driving to the pageant, which is weird since Harper is in the same outfit in the July 8th photo. I think her camera was set wrong and she just forgot.

    and this FB page is also saying it started onthe 8th


    Perhaps the reporter got it wrong. But as you say there was no fatality i could find on July 9th.
  14. Trailspotter

    Trailspotter Senior Member

    Just a fraction of second separates these two photos, which almost certainly were taken in burst or continuous mode of shooting. If Harper had held the shutter button for a bit longer, there would me more photos available, but, probably, there would be no puzzle. There are consistent subtle differences between the two photos, including minor changes of the car surroundings, which can be seen through the car windows and in the sunglasses' reflections. The lighting of the "ghost" child head is also consistent with the lighting of the Harper's head. An odd skin tone possibly is due to the tinted side windows.

    Are there pictures of the car? Could somebody identify the car model, please?
  15. Z.W. Wolf

    Z.W. Wolf Active Member

    This is not a human face. It's just a case of pareidolia. There's that gap in the "chin." And the "face" and the top of the "head" don't match. The top of the head is both offset and too big.

    My vote is for #3: There was no boy in the car, the image is of something else blowing around in the back seat.

    I suspect this was something light and flimsy that would whip around and could suddenly appear in the sequence of photos: something mundane and easily overlooked or forgotten. A crumpled plastic grocery bag is a good suspect.
  16. AJohnson

    AJohnson New Member

    The window tint in the back window makes objects look pale due to the light restriction. Also, lets look at security cam footage along their route that day and Im willing to bet a real boy is in the back seat.
    Its all about the window tint. Look at it closely. Look at the color of the rear window and it matches the hue on the boys head. [...]
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 17, 2016
  17. Spectrar Ghost

    Spectrar Ghost Senior Member

    The "chin gap" is because where's a hand with a long grey sweatshirt flashing the peace sign. It took me some time to figure out what was going on there too.

    I'd concur with others that there's another passenger, likely an ash blonde girl, in the back seat. There may be some floating strands of hair back there, or it might just be the reflection off the seat belt height adjuster.
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  18. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    i was thinking hair style too might be blocking part of cheek.. causing that weird gap (green dots) where it looks like there is no skin on [her] cheek. Probably just a shadow though.
    so i marked where i thought seemed like [her] eyebrow, a nostril, upper lip (lower lip is wonky because the finger tip looks like the lower lip) .. anyway when i scaled for forehead, and knowing faces and features differ significantly in shape, still... the dots lined up pretty dang well. and that was just the first pic i tried. our ghost kids head is tilted back a bit more but only slightly.. so close enough.

    Last edited: Nov 18, 2016
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  19. artex

    artex New Member

    aka giving the bird, exactly what I thought. The little grin on the face looks slightly mischievous to me and the kid leant round a bit to get in the shot second time. Just my thought anyway, probably because it's something I would have done, bored in the back if the car.
  20. kasparovitch

    kasparovitch Member

    To Mr. Mick West and Metabunk members:

    You're invited to check my posts #43 and, especially, #44, on the Unexplained Mysteries linked and transcribed below, where I could demonstrate that the ghost in the picture is a hoax thus confirming Mick West's #4 Occam's Razor hypothesis, the simplest of all indeed:



    Here is the picture I'm talking about above.

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 19, 2016
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  21. Efftup

    Efftup Senior Member

    The bird is definitely a single finger, and even the V Sign, is the opposite way round to which the child has their fingers, this way round it's the peace sign, or possibly about to do the rabbit ears over the top of the older persons head
  22. artex

    artex New Member

    cheers for clarifying I've always called two the bird. It looks more like a v sign to me because the jumper shows no sign of folded down fingers anywhere but my eyesight is not the best any more!
  23. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Sorry, but that all looks like normal hair movement to me. All the hair is moving varying amounts, there's no real difference between areas. I see no evidence of Photoshopping.

    Your suggestion that the bottom part of the hair is virtually untouched is nonsensical, it moves a lot.

    Move the slider here for comparison
    13669447_10209973178423675_5375386626860908704_o hair A. 13669447_10209973178423675_5375386626860908704_o hair B.
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  24. Trailspotter

    Trailspotter Senior Member

    Have you compared the full photos? There are many subtle differences all over, consistent with the two photos being taken a fraction of second apart. In particular, look at the Harper's forehead. There are differences in the shadow cast by her hair. Look at her lips. Also, look in the reflection in her glasses. In that of her left, you can see the view through the windscreen, in which the car surroundings moved a bit between the two shots. As they did in the side and rear windows. And so on.
    Screen Shot 2016-11-19 at 16.15.01.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2016
  25. kasparovitch

    kasparovitch Member

    Mick, yes there is some movement, but there's no important movement in any other part of girl's hair.

    The pictures have been taken 40ms apart, according to the exact time registered within the pictures files and verified by Greg Pocha.

    I'd say the hairbrush moved perhaps 0.4cm at least towards the girl, which means it made a movement at the speed of 3.6Km/h or more.

    Also, in the center of the ghost's forehead, the hair is faded.

    These are the only major differences, apart from the ghost of course, between those 2 pictures taken at 40ms between them, that is simultaneously. Are those differences explainable by Physics?

    I don't consider the reflection on the lenses or the vision through windows, as the car is running at the time, perhaps at high speed, so 40ms make a difference.

    There are also some subtle differences where the ghost image touches the headseat, overlapping it at the upper border. I'll prepare the images.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2016
  26. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    The camera (a Nikon D40, an old camera from 2006) cannot take two photos that fast. 40ms is the timing for a 25fps video. This is a full frame photo, not a video frame. The Nikon D40 has a max speed of 2.5 frames per second, which would be 400ms, not 40.
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  27. kasparovitch

    kasparovitch Member

    Mick, you're right, my fault making the computation. It's 400ms, that's 0.4s in fact.

    In reality, I considered 0.4s, which is correct, but wrote it as 40ms, which is incorrect as you mention.
  28. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    So nothing there seems like an impossible movement for half a second.
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  29. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    For reference, consider these two frames of a 30fps video, 12 frames apart, so 0.4 seconds apart.

    (note frame counter in lower left, 47 and 59)

    This shows it's quite possible for someone to move all the way across the car in 0.4 seconds
  30. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    Mick is correct , there is nothing wrong with her hair. she 'flipped it back' with head movement and it is in the process of falling back toward her face.

    i see no indication she removed the pictures. she made her FB page "friends only", as she should have done in the first place as she had photos of other people's children and links to others FB pages. I imagine the trolls were having a field day.
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  31. kasparovitch

    kasparovitch Member

    Well, the FB is a minor question, but it only allowed watching the same pictures Melissa Kurtz offered the newspapers and are shared at large over the Internet. Concealing them proves nothing, but doesn't seem good, that all.
  32. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    that's not true, she had dozens and dozens of pictures of other people's children some with names tagged.

    she's not concealing anything. She is responding appropriately as an adult should [have done before the article even came out].

    as you already noted the few pictures that relate directly to the "ghost boy" are already available for viewing on other sites. It's not a big deal.
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  33. skephu

    skephu Senior Member

    You cannot really explain something with Occam's razor. It's only a heuristic to rank possible explanations to decide which explanation should be investigated first.
  34. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Sure, but how do you shoehorn that into a headline?

    And I think in this case it does not really "decide which explanation should be investigated first." The first three (or maybe four) are all plausible, and people here have offered different opinions as to which they think is the more likely correct one.
  35. kasparovitch

    kasparovitch Member

    I agree. For myself, I maintain that the hair detail is the ultimate detail that will debunk this mystery, that is explanation #4.

    Some right hairbrushes keep the same position and the right hairbrush tips keep for the most part their relative positions between them and this is inconsistent with the hole I told before.

    Unfortunately, this subject didn't attract much attention from skeptics, or they are still working on it.

    Does anyone know the exact spot where the pictures have been taken? It's a highway near Maitland, so it must be either Interstate 4 or Highway 17. The girl's right lenses gives a cue, as it reflects a building brick color with a white border and there's something like a tower nearby. Also, there are many trees, especially on the left side of the highway.
  36. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    i think you are seriously over thinking the hair. Have you ever tried photoshopping hair? its almost impossible to get clean cuts and esp. single hairs. Look at the pics close up. There is no reason they would even had to have done anything to her hair.. why would they need "the hole" for the ghost boy? they wouldn't.

    Look at the amount of hairs they would have to photoshop and distrrt and twist and recolor. No way.


    it's just a combo of her head movement and most probably, based on the back hair there.. the airconditioner vent to her left angled toward window blowing full blast. hence the kid in the backseat wearing a long sleeve shirt or hoodie in 90degree weather in a car baking with windows up.


    it's probably i-4. why?
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  37. kasparovitch

    kasparovitch Member

    Because every detail counts. It was I-4 or H-17, more probably I-4.

    The place was about Maitland, Orlando. She drived to the Imperial Beauty, which was to the South, so she was driving North-South, is that correct?
  38. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    seems that way but she might have had to drop her granddaughter/son/Harper's friend off somewhere first ;)
  39. kasparovitch

    kasparovitch Member

    To Deirdre:

    Photoshopping this hair wasn't that difficult:

  40. Spectrar Ghost

    Spectrar Ghost Senior Member

    Try it against a real background. I can see where you took an eraser tool to the tufts on the right side; without a uniform backdrop that fuzzy edge would be far more obvious.
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