Erika Ruehlman of Ohio didn't think much of her then-2-year-old son Luke's obsession with safety. It just seemed like a quirky trait that the young boy had.
"He was very cautious about crossing the street," Ruehlman told Fox 8. "Or anything that might be hot."
But as Luke, now 5, grew older, he kept mentioning someone by the name of Pam.
"He would say things like, 'When I was a girl, I had black hair,' or 'I had earrings like that when I was a girl,' " Ruehlman told the news station.
His mother did not know anyone named Pam and had no idea where her child was getting this stuff. One day, out of frustration, she questioned the boy. "Who is Pam?" she asked.
Her son turned and looked at her and responded, "I was."
"What do you mean, you were?" she asked.
His response: "'Well, I used to be, but I died and went to heaven and I saw God and eventually God pushed me back down. When I woke up, I was a baby and you named me Luke," Ruehlman told Fox 8.
Frantic, she called her mother, who remembered a book about reincarnation, and they discussed the possibility that this might be the case, but Ruehlman needed more answers from Luke.
"I asked him further, 'Do you remember how you died?' He looked right at me and said, 'Yeah, it was fire.' And at that point, he made like a motion with his hand like he was jumping off a building," Ruehlman told the news station.
Luke went on to tell his mom about Chicago, a place that they had never been—this big city where he walked a lot and took the train as he described it. Ruehlman hit the Internet and learned that in March of 1993, a fire claimed the lives of 19 people in Chicago's Paxton Hotel. The hotel was in a predominantly African-American neighborhood.
"I just asked him—I was very casual about it, like, 'What color was Pam's skin?' And he just looked right up at me like, 'Duh, black,' " Ruehlman told Fox 8.
One of the victims in the Paxton Hotel fire was a black woman in her 30s named Pamela Robinson.
The family contacted and appeared on the Lifetime Movie Network's Ghost Inside My Child, and Luke was given a lineup of photos. One of the photos was of Pamela Robinson; the others were just fill-ins. The boy asked a few questions and then picked out Robinson's photo, saying, "I can remember when this one was taken."
Ruehlman contacted Robinson's family and found out that Pamela Robinson and Luke enjoy the same kind of music. The family told Fox 8 that it had no comment at this time.
But just as Ruehlman was really starting to embrace the idea of "Pam," Luke "let her go."
"It was like he got it out. He was finished and had nothing more to say about it," Ruehlman told Fox 8.
Reuhlman and her family want to make clear that they made no money from their television appearance and aren't seeking anything. They say that they tell their story only to share the journey because "it's a positive one" of "unification and it's one of love."
Read more at Fox 8.