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By: Jennifer Hitt
TAPS Paramagazine Contributor
Menger Hotel, San Antonio, TX
Established in 1859 and mere yards from the famous Texas Alamo, this hotel boasts designs from four of San Antonio’s most important architects’ designs of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. What was originally a 50 room hotel now has an astounding 316 rooms. It is still the oldest, continuously run hotel west of the Mississippi River and most of its architecture, history, and artifacts are considered museum quality pieces. Opened by William A. Menger, it was the first brewery in Texas and he made extensive trips overseas to purchase exotic paintings and décor that you still see in the hotel today. My mom and I visited the hotel and had a few drinks at the bar. You really do feel as if you’re transported back in time.
Listed in Historic Hotels of America, guests like Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees, Mae West, John Wayne, Bob Dillon, Theodore Roosevelt, Sam Houston, Generals Lee and Grant and Presidents McKinley, Taft, Clinton, and Eisenhower have graced the hotel with their presence. This is where Teddy Roosevelt recruited his famous Rough Riders cavalry brigade. In 1898, Theodore Roosevelt resigned as Assistant Secretary of the Navy and volunteered to head a cavalry unit to fight in Cuba against Spain in the Spanish-American War. This team would be known as Roosevelt's Rough Riders. This unit included cowboys, gamblers, hunters and prospectors, Buffalo soldiers, college boys, and Native American. Visitors through the years have reported seeing Roosevelt’s ghost enjoying a drink at the same bar from which he recruited his cavalry. And Barry Klinge, formerly of Everyday Paranormal and The Klinge Brothers caught a phenomenal EVP (electronic voice recording) that said, “Get my horse!” He also saw a boy dressed like an old time paperboy. Did Barry experience cavalrymen? While in his room, he watched a strange ball of light hover and explode into mini balls of light above his bed.
The historic Menger is said to house 32 spirits. And they don’t seem to mind sharing their home with current residents and guests. A 2011 Trip Advisor poll ranked the Menger Hotel 7 out of 10 on America’s most haunted list. The most prevalent ghost is Sallie, a chambermaid who was beaten by her husband in the hotel and died days later from her injuries. She is seen going about her day to day duties wearing a white outfit and bandana around her head, many times carrying towels. Guests will call out to her but get no response and many people report she’ll just vanish into the walls.
In a recent interview, Menger Historian Ernesto Malacada said maids report after cleaning and leaving certain rooms, they’ll hear the showers turn on. And that most recently, a young blonde girl about 7 or 8 has been seen. She has seemingly taken a liking to the hotel’s night time room service waiter. As he makes his deliveries, he’ll sometimes feel a tug at his pant leg and look down to see the small, transparent little girl. History claims a young girl was run over by a horse drawn buggy in the late 1800’s. She wasn’t a guest of the hotel but could this be the same little girl and she has taken up residence there?
Author, Docia Shultz Williams wrote, The History and Mystery of the Menger Hotel (2000) said a recent guest complained about having no sleep the night before. They claimed men were in the room above them yelling and moving furniture. Upon inspection, the room above them hadn’t been rented in over a week.
Captain Richard King who was once the owner of the largest ranch in the world, The King Ranch, is also a frequent visitor. During his life, he had a personal suite in the hotel and is often seen walking through what used to be the main door to his suite but is now a solid wall. During the remodel, the sitting area and bedroom were swapped. King spent his last days at the hotel and died in his suite. His funeral was even held in the parlor. My friend, Callea Sherrill spent some time there and had this to say. “I was walking down a long hallway in the older part of the hotel by myself. I was almost to the end of the long corridor when I heard someone walking pretty close behind me. I turned to look and it was a man who seemed to have come out of nowhere. When I made eye contact, he turned into what I thought was a hotel room but I didn’t hear a door. I went back to look and it was just a niche in the hallway. The man who seemed completely human just vanished!” Did Callea see the tycoon himself, Captain Richard King?
Kitchen help from days gone by seem to still be around, as utensils are often seen moving to and fro without human help and a woman is seen in the lobby knitting and wearing and old-fashioned, blue dress. When staff members ask if they can help her, she responds coldly, “No!”, then disappears.
San Antonio resident, Paul Coffey claims he was touched on the arm by an unseen entity. That same visit, he would find months later, he caught a photo of a ghostly figure of a white-haired man in a black suit who said he died in the room and that he was in his 90’s.
While conducting research, one thing is clear. The spirits of the Menger Hotel show no malevolence towards current guests, residents or workers and seem indifferent, even happy to share their space with the living. If you get a chance, go visit, have a drink at the bar, and toast to Teddy Roosevelt. Someone might just toast back.
By: Jennifer Hitt
TAPS Paramagazine Contributor
Historic Jordan Springs, Winchester, VA
Drive an hour and a half west of Washington DC and you end up in the city of Winchester, VA, population 26,587 (2011 U.S. Census Bureau). Here, lives the regions only all-inclusive events and cultural center, Historic Jordan Springs. The largest of the buildings (43,000 feet) hosts weddings, conferences, and retreats. The smaller facility (35,000 feet) was built in 1953 as a convent for nuns.
The current owners, Greig D. W. Aitken and Tonie M. Wallace Aitken, purchased the buildings and the 237 acres of property from the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity in 2001 (The Catholic Church). The earliest records from the 16th century indicate Catawba Indians lived in the area. Local, “healing”, springs drew them to the area. Only one of the original cottages built around this time still remains. This building is the Special Events Salon & Spa.
In 1832, the Jordan family bought the property. Their hotels were the most celebrated resorts in the east and saw the likes of famous men such as President Roosevelt, General Stonewall Jackson, and Robert E. Lee.
During the Civil War, hotel operations shut down and several of the buildings were used as makeshift hospitals. The foundations for many of these are still visible today. Many soldiers who died on the property were buried there but later taken out to be buried at the neighboring Stonewall Cemetery.
In 1916, the resort ceased functioning. That second hotel burned down in 1920. The property remained in the Jordan Family for many decades. Many gravestones mark where the family members are buried on the property. In 1951, the Franklin Foundation of Philadelphia bought the property. Their idea was to teach Russian students how to fight communism from within their own country. Efforts were soon stalled when they could no longer retrieve students from behind the Iron Curtain. In 1953, The Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity purchased the property on which they operated a Catholic Monastery and Seminary, then finally in 1972, the property was leased to Shalom et Benedictus for a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center for young people. That facility closed in 1999. (history c/o http://historicjordansprings.com)
Now that you’ve had the history lesson, it’s time to read about paranormal experiences. Many groups have toured the property and most come away very happy. One of these groups is AdventureMyths. Group members Frank Polievka and Jonathan Ness were so impressed by the evidence gathered at their first investigation, they went back for another and then filmed a documentary. They were so sure of their visual evidence, their film footage is available for viewing on Livestream and on their YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/AdventureMyths). Their documentary is available for live streaming on Amazon or via DVD.
Historic Jordan Springs is always active, even in broad daylight. John Rossi and his team, Shenandoah Shadows have logged more than 1000 hours investigating the vast 230 acres and they’ve captured some very interesting evidence. The third floor and attic, in particular, seem to be a hotbed of activity, some not so friendly. John’s most traumatic experience happened on the third floor after they’d just entered the billiards room. Immediately, they were aware there was something dark in the corner of the room. John no more than said, “There’s something in the corner.” when something grabbed him by the throat and choked the air out of him. A psychic medium, Kim, had the same thing happen to her simultaneously. As they fumbled out into the hall, they caught their breathe. For over three hours, they kept running into the entity. Was it trying to intimidate them? When they were finally leaving, they saw it once more. Someone on the team said to it, “We have you on the run!” Shockingly, on four different recording devices, they heard, “Fu** you, I’m not following you!” Who is this entity that clearly doesn’t want anyone there?
Frank from had the privilege (or not) of sleeping in the third floor bathroom where many people report crazy activity. It was here, while he was sleeping, that he caught an apparition on video breaking the laser grid. It appeared to peek in on him as he slept. Five different psychics have visited the property and they all say the same thing and did not know each other. A male committed suicide in this space where a hotel room once stood. The entity must have been wondering why someone was sleeping in his space. Perhaps because he took his own life, he is trapped there and unable to cross over. During a private tour, John had his recorder running, as he normally does. When he listened back to his audio, he heard his statement of “This is the bathroom (that used to be a hotel room) where a male apparently committed suicide.” The response was chilling. “I’m in here now.”
The attic is another extremely active location. While AdventureMyths (at that time the group was comprised of Frank, Jonathan, Vicki Rickett, and Dusty Cassidy) investigated on the third floor, they heard running above them. The sound was coming from the attic. When the headed towards the attic area, they heard someone go around the corner from where they were. But they and two others were the only ones in the building and no one had been at that location. Frank from AdventureMyths also spent the night in the attic. As he woke from his semi-slumber at dawn, he told the camera, “I didn’t get much sleep. I kept hearing something walking towards me and I got a little creeped out.” He experienced footsteps the whole night as did Jonathan who was in the room directly under him on the third floor. Both groups agree there appear to be multiple children haunting the attic. What better place to find strange objects, play and hide if you’re a child. During an EVP session, Shenandoah Shadows asked, “Would you like to play?” A little girl responded with, “Hide and Seek”. A more somber EVP begs, “Don’t leave me!” Many guests have seen an apparition of a young girl in a blue dress and an even younger girl in a white dress. Who might these children be and why do they remain?
Colt Nutter, Executive Director and Events Producer of the property continues to experience strange happenings when there is no one is in the building. He has experienced doors closing on their own, books coming off shelves and crashing to the ground, voices and music playing. During a staff meeting in the middle of the day, the entire group clearly heard the sound of chairs being moved in the room directly above them. When someone went to look, there was no one there, nothing was touched, and there was only one way in and out. They were utterly alone and baffled.
If you want to visit the location, contact Shenandoah Shadows on their website at http://shenandoahshadows.org or email John Rossi directly at email@example.com. With over 230 acres to investigate, you’re sure to find something!
By: Jennifer Hitt
TAPS Paramagazine Contributor
The House of Wills, Cleveland, OH
Located at 2491 E. 55th Street in Cleveland, Ohio, The House of Wills Funeral Home opened in 1905 as Gee & Wills by the first and most successful black entrepreneur of the time, J. Walter Wills. The business opened in 1905 and relocated a few times to settle at its current location. The structure was built in the 1800’s. In 1907, the partnership dissolved and the business became J. Walter Wills & Sons.
The building has been used as the headquarters for the local civil rights gathering (1950’s/60’s), a school, and a hospital, leaving it ripe with potential spirit energy. Do spirits of lost family members or the sick and elderly still roam the halls? Local investigators, formerly of Western Reserve Paranormal, Dawn Meeks and Natasha Meeks-Miller think so. It’s one of their favorite locations to investigate. On a recent trip to the home, during an EVP session, they asked, “Do you know Zak Bagans [from Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures]?” Comically, the response on the recorder was, “Who?” Dawn also felt something brush by her and while sitting in the viewing room, they saw a figure enter the doorway, yet, no one else was there.
During its heyday, the building was one of a kind. You would find rooms like the Egyptian Slumber Room filled with comfortable couches and elegant and vibrant curtains. The Casket Room was also anything but modest with its fanciful wall and ceiling décor. And the Grecian Chapel’s bright and colorful walls would make you feel like you were already in Heaven. Sadly, today, “The location”, says Dawn Meeks, ”is a challenge to investigate. It’s in a depressed part of town and many of the windows are broken out. This also makes it difficult to gather EVPs.” The building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places but is in desperate need of repairs. An artist purchased the property in 2012 and has been restoring it during his free time and with the help of friends. His goal is to host art shows and other events. One investigator says of the recent purchase, “I hope the new owner doesn’t shut down the possibility of letting groups investigate. It’s a wonderful place and piece of history.”
Fringe Paranormal investigated in 2010 and had this to say. “The House of Wills is an interesting location not only for its architecture and history but for the potential it presents to those researching the unknown. We experienced some minor events such as rustling and banging, which can’t be explained, an errant K2 meter spike and what sounded like shuffling in the basement area. While we did not encounter anything too extraordinary, we did experience a few interesting events which make us want to return to the location. This old home may have promise as an active location.”
Others who have investigated, claimed to see shadow people, strange mists, and hear unexplained footsteps. A former owner passed away on the property. Could this be the man seen wandering the halls impeccably dressed in a suit and tie? Still others claimed to see what appeared to be a swirling vortex in the casket room.
Want to investigate the property or have questions? Find and join the Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/107382332629400.
Do you know of another lesser-known haunt you’d like to share with the world? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with details.
By: Jennifer Hitt
TAPS Paramagazine Contributor
Point Lookout Lighthouse, Scotland, Maryland
Built in 1830, Point Lookout Lighthouse is located in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. The lighthouse was built to help mark the entrance to the Potomac River. James Davis was the very first lighthouse keeper but he died a mere three months later, the cause unknown. His daughter, Anne, took over. With a whopping salary of $350, she was the lighthouse’s first female keeper. Since then, many keepers, male and female, have watched over the location, some who believed in paranormal phenomena and some who didn’t (or didn’t talk about it). Sadly, many ships were lost to sea in that area. One of the earliest reported ghost sightings is believed to be of a man named Mr. Haney whose boat, The Express, went down in a raging storm in 1878. Mr. Haney tried to make it to land in a small rowboat but never made it to shore. Around that same time, a lighthouse resident saw a man on the back porch dressed in period clothes. Upon opening the door, the figure floated across the lawn and disappeared near the Bay. Could this have been Mr. Haney seeking help from the storm?
In 1861, the Civil War began and in 1863, a war camp was created on the adjoining property. It was the largest Union-run camp in the North. It housed a hospital, storehouses, stables, cottages, and prisoner tents. It originally was to hold only 10,000 people but by 1865, numbers swelled to over 20,000. Prisoners lived in overcrowded conditions with little to no protection from the elements. Food was scarce and many lived on rats. Catching them actually became a pastime. Because of malnutrition, disease, and wounds, over 3,500 died. In all, it saw over 52,000 civilian and military soldiers. Only 50 managed to escape successfully and a few bought their freedom. The entire site was comprised of 40 acres, much of which has been washed away because of coastal erosion.
In 1964, the state of Maryland took over the property. The lighthouse remained active for 135 years and was finally closed in 1966 after being transferred to the Navy. Modern ships no longer needed help navigating the waters of the Potomac. Unlike many other lighthouses, this one was allowed to remain standing. During this time and later, people living on the property began talking about their experiences including unexplained voices, sightings, and other phenomena. One resident in the late 1970’s became so interested in the haunting that he wrote to famed paranormal researcher and parapsychologist, Hanz Holzer for help and support. Mr. Holzer and his team did come out to investigate in 1980 and wrote that the place is a “hot bed of activity”. Notes from the investigation claim to have caught a recording of a woman singing. They also saw a figure in a back room whom they caught on audio saying “let me out!” Could this have been one of the Civil War prisoners?
Another resident living on the property always heard furniture moving and heavy footsteps when she knew no one else was there. Recent visits to the site claim catching audio of a child’s voice saying “come out and fight!”, screaming, drums, and several clips of something saying “get out or perish!”, and “get out!” (Listen to the audio clips at this link, http://www.ptlookoutlighthouse.com/paranormalsounds.shtml.) In 1996, two people decided to drive to the property because they had never seen the lighthouse. When they got out of their car, they saw a man sitting on the porch. One of the visitors said, “Good evening” so the gentleman didn’t think they were up to no good. The man looked up at them, immediately got up and walked through the wall into the house. For the next 10 seconds, they were stunned not only to see that but to see a spectacular ball of light illuminating the entire inside of the house then just as quickly go dark. Kim Hammond, the Director of Paranormal Investigations at Point Lookout and Co-Director of Eastern Paranormal Research in MD, and her team witnessed a free-floating, hand-sized object hover near them then disappear into the wall. This happened on more than occasion. Rie Sadler of the Paranormal Research and Investigation Society of Maryland (PRISMd) has investigated the location several times and serves as a volunteer. She has seen a black mass more than once, witnessed the half body of a Civil War soldier walk through a truck, and has heard a female singing. Jim Jones and James Gray of PRISMd also saw a black mass more than once and snapped a photo of a face in the basement.
In 1981, the Navy decided to no longer rent the property to civilians. In 1990, the lighthouse was opened to the public. Since then, the Navy along with many volunteers like Kim Hammond, have helped to renovate the property. If you are interested in finding out more or would like to visit the lighthouse, contact this website, http://www.ptlookoutlighthouse.com.
By: Jennifer Hitt
TAPS Paramagazine Contributor
Edinburgh Manor, Scotch Grove, IA
Drive northeast from Iowa City, IA or southwest from Dubuque and you will run into a small, unincorporated community called Scotch Grove, IA that is often referred to as a “ghost town”. The first settlers of this town came in 1837 from Canada and were said to be descendents of Scottish farmers who were evicted during the Highland Clearances (forced displacement due to agricultural revolution) in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Appropriately, this town houses a rather large, ghostly building. Or at least that’s what Seth Alne, founding member of Calhoun County Paranormal in Cedar Falls, IA thinks it is.
Built in 1908 and formerly known as the Jones County Home, it opened as a poor farm. Poor farms were built to keep the homeless housed, fed, and off the streets. It sits on 11 acres and consists of the main building that has 12,000 square feet, two caretaker houses, and a wastewater holding lagoon for the property. Unfortunately, not long after, people began taking advantage of the location and it had to be shut down. It then opened as a mental institution, rather, more of an asylum. Since then, it has been an exclusively elderly mental institution and, more recently, a special needs home. To set the mood, a former employee labeled it the “saddest place on earth”.
The facility’s last residents were moved to another location in October 2009. And the building closed its doors in 2010. Research indicated that as of 2011, someone wanted to turn the location into a bed and breakfast. However, much of the building is in need of critical repairs and is not fit for housing as many of the rooms sit dilapidated.
But what about the hauntings?
There are at least 80 documented deaths but many believe there to be more, especially from its days as a poor farm. Seth indicates many bodies are buried on the site itself. In speaking with locals and police, most are too scared to go there at night. Even workers, when the location was open, wouldn’t visit the basement after dark.
Seth Alne and his group often investigate the property. While down in the basement with two other people, he gave a loud “hello!”. From the opposite end of a long, spooky hallway, they all heard the response of a whispery “hello” from what appeared to be an elderly lady. They and other people have heard random voices, coughing, screaming, items being moved, and footsteps. Many have seen apparitions, including the tour-giver who has also heard voices and children singing. Seth has personally seen a shadow figure while standing in the building’s entrance while talking with a friend. “I was looking down a hallway and saw it standing in a room. I clearly saw it. It was blocking out light and it had a definite outline with light even shining on his face. As soon as I took off towards it, the figure stepped into the darkness. When I got to the room, it was empty.”
The property is currently for sale (quite a reasonable price) and tours are available. Seth and his group are having an event there called Mental Lockdown on September 8, 2012. Tickets are available through the Calhoun County Paranormal Facebook page or Seth’s personal Facebook page. You can watch a short video from Edinburgh Manor at http://www.calhouncountypi.com/?page_id=9. Stay if you dare!
By: Jennifer Hitt
TAPS Paramagazine Contributor
First Ward Schoolhouse, Wisconsin
Entrepreneurs, Justin Libigs and his mother, Judy Carl were looking for an old building to turn into a bed and breakfast. They looked for more than a year before stumbling onto the oldest surviving schoolhouse in Wisconsin Rapids today. Built in 1896, this beautiful, old piece of Wisconsin history, the First Ward Schoolhouse, is now a place of local legends and paranormal activity.
The original school contained four classrooms heated by a coal furnace. It also came equipped with the best in its time, including electricity, the best available blackboards, and Venetian blinds. Each brick use in the building’s construction was made on site. And to continue the tradition of sparing no expense, the doors, gables, and classrooms were painted in watercolor. The new school alleviated the problem of overcrowding in the county and housed grades K-6. Lack of funds forced the school to close in 1910 but a population increase in 1921 demanded it be reopened. By this time, it housed grades K-3 only. To keep costs at a minimum, local nuns were now the teachers who were allowed to live onsite in the building’s attic. Local history claims the nuns were the first to experience any activity and were certainly the first to log said occurrences.
1977 was the last year children roamed its hallways. From 1977 to 1979, the building was used as office space. Since then, it has remained vacant. Or has it?
Justin Libigs and Judy Carl, founders of Relatively Haunted and mother and son team, visited the property many times before deciding on their purchase. Each time they were dumbfounded by both the activity they personally experienced and the number of people in the area who couldn’t wait to share their own experiences and stories. One such story involves a legend about a witch who lived on the property. It’s said she killed children and painted the school red with their blood. Neighbors reported seeing mysterious lights throughout the building or witnessing an elderly man through the windows of the third floor. Yet another story places a small, crying ghost of a little girl on the property. Research divulged there was a 5 year old girl hit by a car and killed near the grounds in 1938. All Justin and Judy know is that on their very first visit through the doors of the school, they were greeted by a warm “hello” from somewhere inside. Upon scouring the building, no other humans were found. Their second visit yielded even more phenomenal results and this time they were ready. Not only did they, again, receive “hello” on multiple voice recorders, they caught what appeared to be giggling children and an EVP of a grumpy, older gentleman who they don’t believe wants them around. He is mostly seen in the basement and during times of construction. He’s also known to continually set off outside motion sensors.
In the midst of the buying process, two workmen were sent in to appraise the building. After being in the building for mere minutes, one man came running out yelling, “I’m never going in that building again!” The man has yet to tell about what he saw or experienced. Not long before that, the real estate agent who showed them the school claims to have been pushed against a wall in the basement. Needless to say, she no longer goes in there.
Justin shares one of his bizzare experiences involving dime store jacks and a little, red, rubber ball. “While we were working in the Kindergarten room, which is about 50 feet long, we had a ball and jacks set out on one end of the class. The ball suddenly rolled away from the jacks and down the length of the classroom. It then turned and rolled back down the length of the classroom, rolled around a chair and stopped back at the jacks. The ball did NOT roll that way upon recreation. Not that way or that far”, says Justin. He also claims to have seen the little girl. “One morning, I was working in the old, 3rd grade classroom on the second floor pulling out broken windows. Noticing something move out the corner of my eye, I turned to see what it was. To my shock, standing there in front of the closed door with her back to me, was the little girl She turned her head to look at me, reached up to turn the doorknob to open the door, and ran out.”
Aside from the grumpy spirit in the basement, they feel they’re dealing with relatively jovial ghosts. They try to stay out of his way but many times it can’t be avoided since that is where the kitchen and washer and dryer are located. Just a few weeks ago, Justin was carrying groceries into the basement when he heard, “You shouldn’t be down here!” He’s doing his best to scare them away but at some point, someone just needs to break it to the old guy. Justin and Judy are going anywhere. It’s evident, they are enjoying their new home.
To find out more about Justin Libigs, his mother, Judy Carl, and their team, visit www.relativelyhaunted.com. The school is available for tours and ghost hunts. For more information about that or upcoming events, email email@example.com.
By: Jennifer Hitt m
TAPS Paramagazine Contributor
Benjamin Passmore Hotel/Harrodsburg Herald, Kentucky
A 45 minute drive southwest from Lexington, KY takes you to Harrodsburg, KY. At North Main and Broadway in Harrodsburg, KY sits a historic landmark originally built as a hotel. The Benjamin Passmore Hotel was built in the 1800’s by Benjamin Passmore. In 1920, the building was converted into a grocery store. And finally in 1951, The Harrodsburg Herald bought the property and, since then, it’s been home a fully functioning newspaper.
On February 15, 2008, local residents, Jeff Sanford of Kentucky Paranormal (http://kentuckyparanormalkyp.webstarts.com) and Chris Dedman (www.chrisdedman.com) of the Paranormal Resource and Research Society (http://www.prrsociety.org/home.html) first investigated the property. The caretaker of the property at the time felt he was being physically attacked so he reached out to them for help. At the time, investigators were asked to keep any findings on the “down-low” as the property owners didn’t want the hauntings made public. And find evidence, they did. The investigators experienced shadow figures, disembodied female voices, slamming doors, and multiple EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon). Chris Dedman was even physically scratched.
They returned to investigate on March 10, 2011. This time, they received direct responses to ghost box questions (a piece of equipment that filters through radio stations and it’s said that entities can use the noise to speak) and it was a small girl’s voice. Employees have reported seeing a young girl in a green and white dress, white stockings, and red patent leather shoes, yet no written history of the building explains who this child might be. A medium/sensitive brought on to the property was drawn to call her Abigail.
On January 23, 2012, Jeff and Chris returned for an overnight lockdown. They were determined to answer some questions about the property. This time they also brought Jeff’s friend and group co-founder, Jim Steberl. With minimal equipment (only hand held cameras and digital recorders), they saw shadow figures and again heard female voices both audibly and on their recorders. One recording sounded like it said, “He’s a Dedman!” Interestingly, in the 1920’s, there was a brothel/tavern in the building next door. The townsfolk sought to shut it down. What makes this fascinating is that Chris Dedman is a direct descendant of some of those very townsfolk. Was Chris viciously scratched during the very first investigation because an entity recognized him? Was it the same entity that spoke his name? Their last investigation on January 27, 2012 produced disembodied voices, K2 and flashlight interactions, blue and white orbs that the team actually witnessed, and video footage of a supposed entity in the main warehouse area (Google “Harrodsburg Herald Ghost”).
Employees report pictures being thrown from walls and objects falling from desks and counters for no reason. Most of the claims are made from female employees. EVPs have also produced a rather disturbing male voice who refers to himself as “Richard”. He has been known to call women very demeaning terms. April Ellis, the General Manager of the paper for many years had a hair-raising story to tell. “One night when I was working alone and late, I heard footsteps coming down the hall toward my office. The footsteps stopped and I could hear someone tapping their fingers on the half-wall in the hall. I called out that I was getting ready to leave and would be there in just a second. I assumed it was a co-worker coming to see me. No one ever answered so I pulled out my cell phone and dialed 911 with my finger ready to hit send. I stepped around the corner to see into the hall and no one was there. Feeling foolish, I headed out and after four or five steps into the hall I heard heavy footsteps coming from my office running up behind me. There is a step up into the hall and I heard what sounded like someone leaping onto the step. It was loud enough that I screamed and turned honestly expecting to be eye to eye with a heavy set man and there was no one there. The hall was the only way in or out of my office, needless to say, I got out of the building as quickly as I could.” Might this have been the entity known as “Richard” toying with her? A medium brought in about 10 years ago did convey there is a man who likes and prefers to stay around what is now April’s office. April told us another story. “My son is with me a lot when I work nights and weekends. When he was about 5, we were leaving for the night and we were in the back of the building working our way forward shutting off lights and closing doors. As we passed by the different pieces of equipment, stack of paper my son was rattling off, “Good night cutter, good night puncher, good night paper,” and then he said “Good night little girl.” Needless to say, April froze and said, “What did you say?” The son just smiled and continued walking. Another employee, Barb, had only been working at the paper a few months. She stayed late one night as did another employee, Paul. The next morning the Paul said to Barb, “I spoke to your daughter last night but she didn’t respond to me.” Perplexed, Barb said her daughter was not with her the night before. Paul said he saw a small girl with blonde hair walk by the press and had assumed it was Barb’s daughter who was about the same age with blonde hair. Did both April’s son and Paul see the little girl in the green and white dress? April said these are just a few examples of what happens in the building. She says the ghosts like to have the run of the place at night and don’t want to be disturbed. And there have been many instances of employees there at night giving up trying to work because they feel an overwhelming feeling of being watched.
For more information or to see about a tour or investigation of this location, contact Jeff Sanford at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Jennifer Hitt
TAPS Paramagazine Contributor
Korners Folly, North Carolina
Located in the heart of Kernersville, NC, between Greensboro and Winston-Salem, there lies a strange and magnificent, unassuming haunted house. “The Folly” as it’s lovingly called by local residents and director, Dale Pennington, sits directly on Main Street for all to see.
Jule Korner (pronounced “Kerner”), the grandson of the founder of the town, started construction on what would be his bachelor pad and artist’s showpiece in 1878. Jule was an exceptional talent in the fields of design and architecture. He masterfully created and saw to every detail of the home. No two fireplaces of the 15 in the home are alike. They are each adorned with their own style of tiles and décor. Similarly, all doors, door frames, windows, and columns are also one-of-a-kind pieces. And each of the ceilings is embellished with its own hand-painted mural. The original design of the home had fewer rooms than the current and final count of 22. When Mr. Korner married and started a family, he realized they needed more space. He never intended for the house to be their final home but his wife, Polly Alice, fell in love with the structure. In order to make room, he closed in what was originally the carriageway (now the foyer and dining rooms), moved the stables (now the kitchens) to another patch of land, and created an underground tunnel to join the two properties. He then, literally, cut rooms in half leaving certain rooms with only 5 ½ foot ceilings in places and creating 7 levels from 3 floors. However, the most interesting part of the home is located in the top floor, the country’s first private theater, Cupid’s Park. The Korners were big advocates for the arts. And still today, the foundation uses the theater for local puppet shows, lectures, and gatherings. Construction of the home never really ended. Updates and tweaks were constantly made up until Mr. Korner’s death in 1924.
My first visit to The Folly was in August of 2009. I’d been a resident of the area for many years but had never heard of it. After hearing of its haunted history, it was time for a visit. I stepped through the front door and was immediately transported to another time. Martha, the tour guide, gave a brief history of the house and the family and set me on my self-guided tour, voice recorder and camera in hand. Placards along the way give each room’s history and intent. I kept my voice recorder going the entire time and took random photos. When I got home and went through evidence, I was stunned and a bit frightened! I’d been standing on the stage of the theater alone when I asked the question, “If there is someone here can you say hello?” A response is evident. A deep, whispery, somewhat evil voice answers back, “helllooo….”.
While no volunteer has ever experienced supernatural phenomena while working there, most every investigative team who has visited the place has caught one or more exceptional EVPs. Groups to have had investigative success include Haunted North Carolina (http://www.hauntednc.com), SPARS (http://www.spars-paranormal.com), and The North Carolina Paranormal Society (http://www.ncparanormalsociety.com). One group caught a light anomaly on video that couldn’t be explained. One investigator caught a man’s voice on recorder saying “haunted”. Yet another group caught a little girl’s voice saying “peek-a-boo”. Do the ghosts know the investigators’ intentions and therefore toy with them? Neighbors have reported seeing a young girl’s apparition in the windows and curtains moving on their own with no explanation. Most agree that the spirits are playful not malevolent. However, one visit from a lady who claims to communicate with spirits and angels painted a different picture. She said the spirits of the house are trapped by evil and can’t escape and are many times scared to interact with investigators.
My most recent excursion at the home was with a local newspaper reporter who wanted to see what ghost hunting was all about. As we sat in what is deemed the Sewing Room, we constantly saw shadows moving along the walls and experienced extreme cold spots. Having ruled out lights of passing cars, he was left scratching his head and a bit shaken.
A foundation has been set up and is taking donations for the restoration of this amazing relic. If you’re ever in the area, stop by and take a tour. If you would like to set up an investigation, the foundation is welcoming. You can learn more about the home, review the tour schedule, and contact the director to set up an investigation at www.kornersfolly.org.
By: Jennifer Hitt
TAPS Paramagazine Contributor
Poasttown Elementary School, Ohio
On the very first night they were there, Nick McWethy and Brian Hensley of Crossover Paranormal (www.crossoverparanormal.com) experienced children’s laughter, screams, and loud banging. Only when they began to delve into the history of the place, did it all make sense.
Poasttown Elementary School in Middletown, OH opened in 1935. Crossover Paranormal had the pleasure of getting first-hand history and information about the school from a teacher who worked there from 1935-1972. Ms. Slade taught 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade and spoke of several tragedies that occurred throughout the school’s history. She talked about a boy who was hit and killed by a car. The next day, his schoolmates brought in their spare change so they could buy flowers for him. As the tears fell down her cheek you couldn't help but feel her pain. Some say when you die suddenly you don't realize you are dead. Is it possible that this little boy still roams the halls, going about his day as he would have when the school was open? They also learned about a janitor whose negligence started a fire in the school gymnasium. Oddly, the janitor subsequently died in a trailer fire. The current caretaker of the property, Darrell Whisman, who currently resides there, used the school as a haunted house before it was finally closed in 2000. One Halloween, one of his “actors” for the haunted house was in the boiler room and claimed to see what appeared to be a burned face staring back at him. Was this the janitor? And finally, a little girl was known to have fallen to her death down a flight of stairs. There are conflicting reports that she died on impact or died from her injuries weeks later. There is also speculation that the school was built on a small graveyard. The fact remains, investigating groups are hearing screams of agony and any combination of these tragedies may be the reason why.
The creators of “Children Of The Grave”, as seen on SyFy, Phillip and Christopher Booth of The Booth Brothers’ fame though enough of the place to film part of their most recent, “Children of the Grave 2” documentary there. This new, paranormal documentary researches true hauntings of children and their emotional stories of the supernatural. (You can read more about this current project at http://childrenofthegrave2.blogspot.com.)
Mediums and psychics have visited the place from time to time. Not knowing each other or having prior knowledge of what another has said, most have indicated something is scaring the children. They’ve said there is a vortex at the top of the stairs when you first enter the building. Is it possible that something evil has come through this portal and continues to frighten the children and keeps them from crossing over? Has whatever it is made them afraid to roam the halls? Brian has been scratched. Others have felt the presence of “evil”. One of the biggest skeptics you’ll find in the paranormal community is Aron Houdini, the great, great nephew of the famous escape artist, Harry Houdini, and the only relative currently practicing escapes. When Darrell asked him what he thought of the place, Aron responded with, “There’s definitely something there!” Darrell and his wife have lived on the property for 8 years. And when asked what his scariest experience was he said, “When something sits on the edge of our bed, we look, and there’s nothing there.” He says that happens quite regularly. He’s also heard the voice of a little girl on more than one occasion saying “Mommy and Daddy said….”, her voice always trailing off at the end. They also see shadows on a regular basis. In Darrell’s opinion and contrary to some reports, whatever is there appears “welcoming”. Needless to say, his friends think he’s crazy for living there.
The boys of Crossover Paranormal do events and investigations there on a regular basis and their findings never fail them. Are the ghosts friendly? Is there a dark spirit also roaming the halls? They’ll give you their opinions but you should come for a visit to draw your own conclusions. This majestic, unassuming building is fascinating even without a haunted aspect. There are lots of nooks and crannies, hidden rooms, creepy long hallways, and plenty of places for things to hide. I’ve been there and I agree with Aron Houdini. There “something” there.
To find out about upcoming events or for more information on this lesser-known haunted location, follow Crossover Paranormal on Facebook.
BIGFOOT FILES: North Carolina sightings
By: Jennifer Hitt
TAPS Paramagazine Contributor
The man pointed to a nearby path and said the beast approached from there. He described it as ten feet tall with six fingers on each hand and having beautiful hair. This Casar, North Carolina resident can be found all over the web recounting his multiple brushes with a creature in 2010. He was able to scare the animal away by poking it with a large stick but that didn’t keep the beast away for long. It kept returning and he was afraid it would attack his dogs so he called 911 and asked for permission to kill the beast. When his story and subsequent six minute 911 call hit the news, he was called upon by various researchers wanting to investigate the property and surrounding areas. One such request came from a researcher who was involved in a Bigfoot scandal back in 2008 who was called upon to verify the remains of a Bigfoot that turned out to be a gorilla suit stuffed with animal entrails. Team members from the American Bigfoot Society (ABS) also contacted him to made arrangements to investigate his property. The ABS investigation never occurred for various reasons, one of which was the sudden request from the property owner to charge investigators who stayed on the property. However, Eric Altman of the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Society and avid Bigfoot researcher spoke with teams from other investigations around this area who stumbled upon astonishing footprints that included toes, which he said is a rare find. Another Cleveland County resident and local police officer experienced a similar creature when he was a child, calling it an eight to ten foot tall creature that looked like a hairy man that was attacking chicken coops and killing farm animals.
Top researchers in the United States have multiple theories as to what they think these creatures wandering the woods of North Carolina may be. One is that these beasts aren’t beasts at all, but are a race of ancient Neanderthal who choose to remain hidden from the modern world. This race of people may bury their dead and this might explain why no remains have been found. A second less accepted theory is that they are Native American Indian Shaman practicing age-old traditions of living off the land. A third, more widely accepted view is that they are an undiscovered North American species of ape.
The more prominent primate theory is shared by a Cowpens, North Carolina resident who has had multiple run-ins with what he considers to be Bigfoot. At the North and South Carolina border, this wilderness survivalist, avid hunter, and former Marine recounts one of several experiences with these beasts. He and a cousin were doing some late night fishing at a nearby river. They heard footsteps and the sound of cracking branches on the other side. When he shined the flashlight to try to catch a glimpse of what it was, the walking became more frantic pacing back and forth. He believes these creatures are very territorial and it may have been protecting its turf and added that whatever it was, it was clearly agitated. When a huge rock flew through the air and landed in the water directly in front of them, they knew it was time to leave. They realized they were being followed when splashing water indicated the beast made its way across the river to where they had been sitting. It followed them about 200 yards out of the woods until a relative’s vehicle picked them up at a nearby road. Another experience left him and two cousins dumbfounded in the woods when they all saw a grey-haired Bigfoot in the distance. It just stared at them and then walked away, taking the time to look back at them over its shoulder once more. What does Eric Altman say about these accounts? Mr. Altman hasn’t researched many claims in this area but says this is a friend of his who is a very credible and not easily frightened individual. “If he says he saw something,” says Altman, “he definitely saw something.”
Over in nearby Troy, a twenty year Bigfoot researcher captured what he says is a three minute, thermal video of a Bigfoot. The video shows a large creature bobbing and weaving behind trees who ultimately grabs a candy bar from a stump that was left as bait. The researcher, having a masters in Behavioral Psychology, appeared to be credible. However, Mr. Altman conveyed to me that the figure in the video appears human-sized and may have been someone camping nearby. Either way, the news generated so much interest that even Animal Planet came to town to investigate and used the local footage to include in their six-part series on Bigfoot sightings across the United States.
A man over in Shelby acted in time to pull out his video camera to get a five second video of a creature crossing the road in front of his car. The video was shot from about fifteen to twenty feet away and shows an approximately six to eight foot tall stereotypical brown and hairy creature. The cameraman said the beast appeared to be limping and was clearly not happy with their interference and growled at them. Additionally, he and his passenger couldn’t get over the stench of the animal describing what smelled like a cross between skunk and road kill and noted they even saw the creature’s male genitalia. Mr. Altman discounts this story entirely saying firstly, the video is very fuzzy, and secondly, the legs and feet appear to be baggy like a costume.
In North Carolina, creatures have been reported in Montgomery, Cleveland, and Randolph counties, just to name a few. According to The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) the majority of sightings have come from the Montgomery County and surrounding Uwharrie National Forest region that stretches over 53,000 acres. Plenty of room for a creature to hide, or thousands as some researchers believe to be the case. The BFRO website shows approximately seventy reported sightings in North Carolina dating back to 1968 to as recently as June, 2011 but not everyone reports what they see for fear of being ridiculed.
Eric Altman says he isn’t sure what they are. He says there have been as many accounts of the creatures looking human as there have been of them looking like primates. One fact remains. In North Carolina, stories keep coming in and investigations in the area are on-going.
http://www.bfro.net/GDB/state_listing.asp?state=nc -- Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization website (BFRO)
WOMEN IN THE PARANORMAL
By: Jennifer Hitt
TAPS Paramagazine Contributor
As far back as the 1800’s, there have been strong women in the paranormal field. Today, there are many serious and smart female investigators and researchers in the paranormal community who are also authors and business professionals. I have the utmost respect for women who remain dedicated to their paranormal passion because serious and dedicated research and investigation takes time and patience. Over the past weeks I’ve talked to many, unique women investigators at length about how they view the field, how and when they started, their biggest accomplishments, fears and struggles, and what the future and this field holds for them. Here are a few of their stories.
Fiona Broome has been in the paranormal field for over 30 years. She is an author, a researcher, and a paranormal consultant. Her first article appeared in Fate Magazine in 1981. She says curiosity drew her to the paranormal. She said she’s fascinated by the reasons why some places and objects seem haunted and some don’t. A committed researcher, Fiona says she usually finds answers in history and geography. She has shared many of her theories with other professionals in the field who then use her data in their own investigations and sometimes include them on the paranormal television shows. When asked about those shows, she replied, “The audience craves a continual adrenaline ‘fix’. Ghost-related TV shows are near the limit of the thrills-and-chills they can achieve without losing credibility. The core audience – people who are seriously interested in paranormal research, regardless of the subject’s apparent popularity – doesn’t provide ratings high enough to remain on commercial TV. Actual ghost research isn’t that exciting or predictable.” Fiona isn’t currently in a group. But in the late 1990’s, she was part of a group that spent many months investigating and researching cemeteries that, years later, became the foundation for her book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries: A How-To Guide. Curious about how the men in the group treated her, she replied, “Regardless of gender, we treat each other as equals. Every member of the team has a significant body of work that demands respect. We’re comfortable with each other, know each other’s strengths, and focus on our distinct and respective fields of expertise during the investigations, and when we review the results.” Fiona’s greatest achievement is her creation of one of the first ghost-related websites in the 1990’s, www.hollowhill.com. Her website contains more than 700 articles, most of which are hers, and is a reliable source for people wanting to know more about the “ghost phenomena”. Fiona’s greatest fear for the field is her concern over self-proclaimed “researchers” – people who will ridicule past studies then plan “BYOB ghost-investigations”, for instance. “They will make it harder for the rest of us to be taken seriously, continue our work, and gain access to important investigative sites.” she said. Fiona has no plans to leave the field any time soon. She will always explore new avenues of research and her advice to anyone who wants to join the field is, “Find ways to contribute new ideas, preferably with scientific support so we can better understand the things we’ve labeled ‘paranormal’. We need more ‘what if?’ questions and new ways to answer them”. To find out more about Fiona Broome and her multitudes of books and articles, go visit her at www.fionabroome.com.
Sarah Harmon, dubbed Paranormal Sarah by friends and colleagues, has been in the field for over a decade. She was born with an early interest in the paranormal and began working with a group when she was only 13. It wasn’t until 2003 that she started working in her beloved field of Parapsychology. Her calling came while working in a mental hospital. “I was continually faced with the mistreatment of patients with ‘paranormal symptoms’. I decided to make it my life’s mission and passion to pursue psychology to better understand myself and others. Human rights advocacy and mental health treatment is needed in this field and vice versa.” she says. Sarah doesn’t belong to solely one group – she helps with several. As for working with men, she says for the most part they respect her but their biggest mistake is thinking because she is an attractive, young woman, that she will not be objective or skeptical. She finds most groups consist of ‘techy men’ and intuitive women – a good balance. When asked how to better the field, she said, “People can do that by bridging the gap between science and spirituality and continuing down the path that (Hans) Holzer set for this field in validating the paranormal so that people having experiences can get the validation and advice they seek.” Additionally, her biggest concern is that people think that scientific growth happened long ago and that nothing new can exist. Sarah regularly investigates both residences and businesses once a month and she plans to stay in the field. To people just getting into the paranormal community, she says, “Don’t do anything in this life for money or reward. Do it because you love it. If you love this field, take the challenge but know it’s a rough road. Being negative and depressed about the hard work before you and always having shallow pockets will tear at your soul and make you susceptible to negative attachments.” To find out more about Paranormal Sarah and her ongoing research, visit her website at www.paranormalsarah.webs.com.
When I asked our next interviewee how long she’d been in the field, she quoted Lady Gaga and said she was “Born this Way”. Marie D. Jones has been interested in all things paranormal since early childhood and believed that Bigfoot lived in the woods behind her house and she loved telling ghost stories. Her father was a geophysicist who exposed her to what she termed, “hard science”. This and her own love of science would be the link to her later research into the paranormal in terms of quantum, theoretical, and speculative physics and how they hold the key to what we call “paranormal”. As a child, Marie was looking at UFOs through binoculars prior to having any knowledge about them. So, it’s no surprise that she began her paranormal career as a Ufologist. She spent 15 years in the Mutual UFO Network, working with the Center for UFO Studies, and the Fund for UFO research back in the 1980’s and 1990’s. She says, “(Then) I left the field to pursue writing full-time and naturally began including my paranormal interests in my books. My focus was to write books that presented new theories and stretch the boundaries of what we call paranormal.” Marie is not in a group but does serve as Director of Special Projects for (her) co-author Larry Flaxman and his organization, ARPAST (Arkansas Paranormal and Anomalous Studies Team - a science-based research group. Find them at www.arpast.org.) When asked if she investigates, she says, “I don’t go out on investigations, as they are usually in other states but, Larry and I develop theories together than can then be ‘field tested’ by his group on investigations.” Through hers and Larry’s partnership, they’ve written four books. Marie is one of the very few women, if not the only woman in the field, connecting science with the paranormal by combining it with consciousness, brain studies, and Noetics research (a branch of metaphysical philosophy focusing on the study of mind and intellect). In order to better the field, Marie believes that including science in paranormal research is the key. “I have found the most amazing clues from studying a variety of sciences, including psychology, neurology, endocrinology, biology, and physics. I’ve even found clues in seismology!” Marie’s greatest achievements are her cutting edge books that stretch the boundaries of how people think about the paranormal, including her book PSIence: How New Discoveries in Quantum Physics and New Science May Explain the Existence of Paranormal Phenomena and the follow-up to that book written with Larry Flaxman, The Resonance Key. When asked about her latest project, she said, “I am extremely proud of my new book, Destiny Vs. Choice: The Scientific and Spiritual Evidence Behind Fate and Free Will because it’s a culmination of a personal and professional journey I’ve been on to explore whether reality is pre-planned or made up as we go along.” Marie’s greatest fear in her words are, “That I am on my deathbed and at the moment of death, a glowing figure will appear to me and say ‘Oh, man, girl, you were SO off base!’ and I will go on to find that (death) is nothing like I theorized it might be.” Ms. Jones expects to be in the paranormal forever by continuing to write both fiction and non-fiction books and exploring paranormal theories. Her next big idea is to define reality. “I think that is probably the BIG QUESTION we all want to answer. It’s the one thing I hope to tackle soon and it won’t be easy!” We look forward to reading it, Marie! To find out more about Marie D. Jones, visit her at http://www.mariedjones.com.
As a part of Everyday Paranormal out of Texas and the only female on the team, Katie Burr has been in the field for almost three years. In that time she’s had the amazing opportunity of being on Discovery Channel’s paranormal television show, Ghost Lab. Katie has had paranormal experiences all her life. She tells how after her grandfather’s passing, the entire family would experience the television volume inexplicably turning up on its own, which was something she said he would do when he was alive to signal that he was annoyed at the level the family was talking. Finding out why and how these things were occurring became Katie’s goal. As for her team she says, “I’ve always felt like I am an equal part of the team and couldn’t ask for better teammates. They are all like my big brothers and though they do stick me in somewhat precarious situations during investigations, I know it’s for the purpose of drawing out activity, and it’s all in good fun.” Ending up on Discovery Channel was not an easy feat to accomplish. This was done, she says, “By having extremely high standards for how paranormal investigations should be run, not only because we try to look at all of our data as objectively and scientifically as possible, but because we have found ways to correlate the data with other elements of the environment.” The show ran for two seasons and was canceled late into 2010. Katie, in addition to being in school, is pouring her heart and soul into her new business, Katie Muffins, an art and gift boutique that will also sell baked goods. But, she says, “The one thing I know for sure is that the paranormal has been a part of my life since childhood and it will be a part of my life in the years to come no matter what direction I take.” Visit Katie’s shop page at www.etsy.com/shop/KatieMuffins or find her fan page on Facebook.
The ladies were asked what words of wisdom they would like to leave with the rest of the paranormal community. Their answers were almost unanimous - the importance of information-sharing and learning as much as you can about the field prior to working in it. Hoarding helpful information such as investigation techniques or pertinent information about a haunted location can be a detriment to the field and cause rifts between teams and even teammates. As for new people coming into the community, Fiona, Sarah, and Marie all agree. And Marie says, “One word. READ. Read everything you can and not just about paranormal. Get into world religion, metaphysics, science, psychology, and how the body works. Once you start digging into the paranormal, you will be shocked at the correlations you will find.” Katie’s advice to someone to coming into the field is, “To get in it for the right reasons and choose your team wisely. The company you keep in this field makes all the difference in the outcome of your investigations and research. You want to make sure your teammates all have the same common goal in mind and that you can trust them to give their accurate account of a situation, as well as have the ability to be objective about their findings.”
One thing is certain. Women in the paranormal are not going anywhere. If anything, they are persisting and becoming even more prevalent. This is good news. Strong-willed and serious researchers and investigators are what the field needs to continue to grow and prosper and give inevitably give us all the answers we’ve been searching for.
GHOST HUNTER TRIES TO FIND THRILL AGAIN.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
By Mike Kernels
News & Record Staff Writer
Jenn Hitt is a self-described skeptical believer.
Remember: deep breaths.
That’s what you keep telling yourself as you make your way through unlit Körner’s Folly in the dead of night.
A mannequin stops you cold.
A narrow stairway gives you pause.
A dark room has you uneasy.
And this warning makes you wish you wore Depends.
“I keep seeing something over by the stairs. It’s not like a shadow. It’s almost like a gray mist.”
Electronic voice phenomenon.
Bumps in the night.
These are some of Jenn Hitt’s favorite things.
She’s a part-time paranormal investigator — that’s right, a ghost hunter — who, at the moment, is having an identity crisis.
You see, Hitt is a ghost hunter who doesn’t know if she believes in ghosts anymore.
In two years of investigations, she’s seen zip. Nada. Nothing in the dark.
What Hitt wouldn’t do right about now for some paranormal activity. Any activity.
“I’d like a ghost to punch me in the face,” she says.
That might make her feel better.
But it wouldn’t solve the larger problem: proof.
Concrete. Tangible. Irrefutable.
Hitt used to think she had it.
On an August afternoon in 2009, she brought her family for a look around Körner’s Folly, which has 22 rooms in various sizes, three floors, bats — seriously — and a reputation for being haunted by its former occupants.
“I happened to have my recorder in the car and took it just in case,” Hitt recalls. “I was on the third floor by myself. I said, 'If there’s anyone here, can you say, “Hello?’ ”
“When I listened back to it, I heard 'hello.’ Like a whisper. It scared the hell out of me. It sounded evil.”
She was as happy as she was horrified. She had proof. At last.
With pride, she started playing it for peers. And that’s when her problems began.
No one heard what she did.
“We’d love for you to come talk to us,” says Hitt into the blackness.
“How old are you?”
“Is there a message you would like to pass on?”
“Is it cold,” Hitt says, “or is it just me?
How does a pragmatic, 41-year-old mother of two from Colfax come to believe in the supernatural?
Blame it on a phenomena almost as unexplainable: reality TV.
Specifically, “Ghost Hunters” on the Syfy channel.
The show follows plumbers/paranormal investigators Grant Wilson and Jason Hawes as they travel the country visiting haunted places great and small.
Wilson and Hawes come armed with a healthy amount of skepticism as well as enough ghost-detecting equipment to open a Best Buy. Or a Spencer’s.
Supreme Court candidates endure less scrutiny than evidence presented on the show.
“Prior to the show, I thought ghosts were imaginary,” Hitt explains. “I believed the evidence they were giving. I wanted to see a ghost. It intrigues and frightens the hell out of me at the same time.”
So in January 2009, when “Ghost Hunters” came to Wilmington to investigate the decommissioned USS North Carolina, Hitt joined them.
“I was scared to death,” she recalls. “It was dark, and you’re walking down these narrow pathways. Everything you hear or see, you think is something.”
Later that night ...
“I went back to the hotel super excited. I thought I saw faces on the wall, all kinds of stuff.”
Her recorder, though, got nothing.
The “spirit orbs” she photographed? Just dust and moisture.
But that didn’t matter.
“I had a great time."
The Reception Room.
Hitt says she accidentally photographed a ghost here that day in August 2009.
“We’d love for you to talk to us.”
Suddenly, an unearthly sound.
“Is that your stomach?”
This is the part about ghost hunting they don’t show on TV.
“Investigation is boring,” Hitt admits. “You’re sitting in the dark ... trying to get one piece of evidence. You just wait — and hope someone talks back.”
On “Ghost Hunters,” cases are tidily wrapped in an hour, complete with the prerequisite drama and commercial breaks.
But that’s not how it really works.
Hours are spent investigating.
Days are taken analyzing audio and video.
Weeks add up in the quest to find the truth.
All on a ghost hunter’s own dime.
All mostly for nothing.
“The show makes it look glamorous,” explains Hitt, an administrative assistant. “If you’re getting into it to be rich and famous, it’s not going to happen.”
We’ve come back to the spot where Hitt says something said “hello.”
As we slowly sit down on the floor, the darkness, and silence, is foreboding.
Her tone gentle, Hitt asks: “Can you make us believers that you’re here?”
That’s. When. The air conditioner. Starts. Making. A noise we haven’t heard before.
It is ... ugh ... overpowering and ... oh, man ... penetrating. Like fingernails on a chalkboard.
YOU WANT IT TO STOP.
And just as suddenly, it does.
This time, Hitt is more forceful: “Can you make your presence known again?”
A floorboard cracks in the stairwell. Right next to the air conditioner.
“It’s cold over here,” Hitt blurts. “I feel like something is back behind me.”
After two years of fruitless searching, the thrill of the hunt is gone.
“I miss,” Hitt says, “getting scared.”
An inn in Whitefield, New Hampshire.
A restaurant outside of Dallas.
A plantation near Baton Rouge, La.
A mansion in Vicksburg, Miss.
All supposedly haunted. But if there were ghosts, they couldn’t be found.
Körner’s Folly has been the only place where she’s had an encounter. But now she’s starting to doubt that.
“I want someone to hear it, too,” she says.
At least 20 of her peers have drawn the same conclusion. No voice.
“No one can corroborate it,” says Hitt with resignation in her voice. “Some have said, 'I hear something, but I don’t know what that is.’
“Looking back, I just think it was static. Or a radio wave. I don’t know. Maybe I wanted to hear 'hello.’”
The Sewing Room.
The silhouette of Hitt’s body is leaning forward as she speaks softly.
“I keep seeing something over by the stairs.”
What is it?
“It’s not like a shadow. It’s almost like a gray mist.”
“I just saw a shadow ... right ... there.”
“That spot right there.”
“If you’re walking by the door can you give us a sign? Bang on something.”
You just had to say that.
“Can you talk to us?”
“Who’s here with us?”
Take a wild guess.
“I’m freezing right now. I’m freezing and I’m having a hard time breathing.”
Makes two of us.
Hear that?! What was that?!
“Thanks for having us. We’re going now.”
A harvest moon hangs low in the sky as we leave the building and decompress.
The cold spots. The air conditioner. The mist. The rest of it.
What happened in there?
A check of the tape turns up — as you might expect — nothing but our own voices.
“I don’t really care to investigate, anymore,” Hitt admits. “The work outweighs the reward. I still think there’s something there.”
There was something in the dark tonight. There had to be. We saw it. We felt it. In our heart, we know it.
We just didn’t prove it.
(Questions about this or other News & Record articles? Contact Mike Kernels at 373-7120 or email@example.com.)