By Shawn Chitnis

ERIE, Colo. (CBS4) – A family celebrating Halloween each year with a large display outside their house each year says it stands out by including a hearse in their driveway, but over the past decade strange incidents have them wondering if it may be haunted.

“We just like Halloween, it’s fun for kids,” said Robert Toscano, hearse owner. “My wife and me, we’re grown kids is all we are.”

hearse 1 Haunted? Owner Wonders If Spirits Are Influencing Hearse

Robert Toscano (credit: CBS)

He discovered the hearse about 10 years ago when the family wanted a unique decoration that was different from anything they had seen before. The previous owner of the car had a higher offer for the vehicle, which was listed on Craigslist. But Toscano told the owner of his intentions to preserve the car and the other offer would have disassembled it for parts.

“The car is part of our family, I could never get rid of it,” he said.

The hearse has become an attraction in their current neighborhood — they’ve moved into a different house since buying the vehicle — but it has remained a part of their holiday celebration. They have to put out cones to control traffic on some nights because of the high interest in the hearse. They also see around 200 kids coming by to trick-or-treat.

See Robert Toscano’s video of his Halloween home below:

A couple years after they purchased the vehicle, two of the five doors would not unlock. They both happened to be the rear side doors.

hearse 2 Haunted? Owner Wonders If Spirits Are Influencing Hearse

(credit: CBS)

“It’s like it’s the wrong key,” said Toscano. “It’s the only key we’ve ever had for the car, it’s the only key we have.”

It is one of a handful of examples that has the family questioning if outside forces are influencing how the hearse operates. They take precautions to keep the car in good condition, it is insured and gets regular maintenance. It can operate without issue whenever they need to drive it. But they ran into another issue in the past when they considered giving the car a nickname. All of a sudden, the hood would not release when Toscano tried to open it. He even tried using a crowbar but it remained closed.

“If you don’t like the name Betsy, we don’t have to call you Betsy, we can just call you Hearse,” he recalls saying out loud at the car. He tried opening the hood again and it worked without issue. “I get goosebumps when I think about it, when I tell people that story.”

Then on Sunday he took a photo of the entire house and his decorations because the family had added some new features for this Halloween. His brother noticed an image in the picture that appeared to be the outline of a person.

22 Haunted? Owner Wonders If Spirits Are Influencing Hearse

(credit: Robert Toscano)

“You can clearly see a face that we have not been able to recreate,” said Toscano. “I see two eyes, I see a nose, a mouth, I see bangs.”

131 Haunted? Owner Wonders If Spirits Are Influencing Hearse

(credit: Robert Toscano)

The family has tried taking the same photo several times and cannot get an angle or reflection that might explain what they see in the photo.

“I believe there are spirits, I don’t know if there is one with this car,” he said.

For a car that so often is thought of as a symbol of death, the family has given it new life as a part of their annual Halloween celebration. It turns out this particular vehicle was used as both an ambulance and a hearse for smaller communities that could not afford to have one of each type. Toscano also believes this hearse is enjoying a well deserved rest after serving multiple uses before he owned it.

“It was born, it was manufactured to do its job, it served its purpose, and now it’s retired,” he said.

The hearse along with all of the holiday decor show up each year at the beginning of fall. Then the vehicle is placed in safe storage before the family brings it back the following year.

“Everybody does something different for their community; this is something we do for ours,” he said. “In a weird way, it can bring joy to people.”

Shawn Chitnis reports weeknights for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Email him story ideas at smchitnis@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

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