Ghosts

VIDEO: Top 10 Celebrity Ghost Sightings

Hollywood has a decades-long history of glitz and glamor… and ghosts. From specters of singers to movie star phantoms to former presidents (stepping a little outside the realm of Hollywood there), here are 10 famous celebrity ghost sightings!

Which celebrity ghost would you most want to meet? Tell us in the comments!

VIDEO: Creepy Graveyard That Photos Show Paranormal Activity

Graveyards are creepy. Probably has something to do with all the dead bodies. From a ghost caught on Google Street View to a photo of an alleged vampire seen in a cemetery, take a look at these creepy graveyard photos that show some spooky paranormal activity!

Scary Pictures of Shadow People Caught on Camera

Did you really see that? Out of the corner of your eye - something quick, something dark. It kind of looked like… well, like a person. But when you turn your head, you see… nothing. Was it just your imagination? Now you second-guess yourself, thinking your mind was playing tricks on you. After all, there’s nobody there. It’s only shadows… right?

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The phenomenon of seeing “shadow people” is a strange, mysterious, and often scary event that has been reported all over the world. Their true nature is undetermined - as insubstantial as shadows themselves - but theories range from malevolent entities, to extra-dimensional beings, to shades of the dead, to nothing but figments of the imagination.

Because encounters with shadow people tend to be so fleeting and so intangible, it becomes all the more difficult to explain and categorize just who or what they really are. However in some rare cases, there are those who have had the (mis)fortune to actually capture these shadowy figures on camera. The resulting images seem to evoke supernatural spectacle, creeping fear, and even more questions, but they also confirm an important truth: it’s not always just your imagination.

Here are 15 scary pictures of shadow people caught on camera:

1) Shadow Person Head. “My brother found this picture on his phone. This is his room, his door, his chair, etc., but he has no memory of taking this picture. It freaks the both of us out. We have no idea what it could be. I asked him what he thought it was, and he said a ‘shadow person’. He said, he has come into contact with shadow people. He has seen them face to face. We are a family of empaths, so could that have something to do with it? Is it because we can sense things others can't? Is it because we can see and hear things that others can't? Are we more venerable because we are empaths? . . . We both feel its energy when we are in his room, and I fear that it is studying him. From what I have researched about shadow people; when they come face to face, it’s suppose to mean they have interest in you. They usually don't like to be seen. Something took this picture. My brother didn't. I didn't. It’s obviously not a fake or photo shopped picture. So where did it come from? And why is it here?”

2) Uninvited Shadow Guest. “I have always bumped into shadows ever since we've lived here. Everyone laughed at me until one Thanksgiving when my daughter took a picture of her boyfriend. When she showed me the picture, she said, "What is that?" In the photograph, she was referring to a tall, black, perfect shadow of a man with smoke coming out of his head that was swirling and went up to the ceiling. So scary looking. I said,"That's the shadow man that I've been seeing". Now, they all believe me and now he is almost constantly around in my bedroom. It is the same story as everyone else that's written in: darker than dark, fear of someone watching even if you don't see him and they are outside also. Too much to write about. I just wanted people to know they're really out there.”

3) Shadow Person Caught on Web Cam. “This photo of a "shadow being" was taken by a computer camera. The person whose home it was had some anomalous things going on and often 'felt' someone there. She left her computer web camera on for a few hours, recording the room, then went back and looked through the
frames. This is what showed up on only two of them.”

4) Shadow in the School Yard. “I found this photo on my friends bebo and there was a black figure in the background, I was just wondering what it was. I think that it is probably a ghost and it's very weird. This picture was taken at my school in nottinghanshire, England.”

5) Shadow Photobomb at the Pub. “My niece owns a house in Lyme Regis, England. She spent new years eve with friends visiting the oldest pub/hotel in Lyme and took a series of pictures showing everyone enjoying themselves and for posting on FaceBook later that evening. What she captured was pretty amazing.

Firstly, let me explain that they were sitting in a closed area of the bar, where to the left of the picture there is an outside wall with no doors. From the other pictures taken at the time it is fairly evident that no one else was sitting close to them or behind. Yet this one picture clearly shows some kind of form which is not well defined in terms of shape, but seems to be very solid nonetheless.  

She also told me that they also all spotted a "wisp of smoke" over the table, much like you'd get when you blow out a candle. However (you've guessed it), there was no candle. When she went to try and touch it, it disappeared. 

The pub/hotel was the "Royal Lion" in "Broad Street" and has some reputation for sightings of ectoplasm and the sound of bodiless foot steps.”

6) The Hat Man. “Australia’s Port Arthur was once a former convict settlement and later the site of an industrial prison. With such a long and brutal history it is hardly a surprise that the area has a notorious paranormal reputation.  In 2011, the Poultney family visited Trentham Cottage and snapped the above photograph.  Mr Poultney said the family had been through the house just moments before, and it had been empty which begs the question who or what was in the doorway?

After seeing the photograph, Port Arthur Historic Site tour supervisor Colin Knight said the shadowy figure matched similar sightings of former Port Arthur clergyman George Eastman, who has reportedly haunted Port Arthur since he died in 1870.”

7) Waverly Hill Sanatorium Shadow Person. Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky, opened in 1910 and soon after gained a notorious reputation for patient mistreatment and human experimentation. It’s believed as many as 64,000 people who were admitted to the sanatorium died there over the years before its closure in 1961. Today, under new ownership the sanatorium has opened its door once more as a haunted attraction for tourists and ghost hunters after being featured on the television show Ghost Hunters.

After hearing about Waverly Hills haunted reputation, a lone traveler decided to go investigate Waverly’s paranormal activity for himself. He took this picture while wandering the rooms of the sanatorium, and swears he was alone at all times and was surprised to see this dark figure captured in one of his photos.”

8) Moundsville Prison Shadow Man. “Moundsville Prison, West Virginia, first opened its doors in 1866 and was the home to many dangerous criminals over its years in operation. The prisons long and dark history includes multiple murders, suicides, riots and executions and today is well known for its extreme paranormal activity. Shutting down in 1995, the prison is now open to tourists and paranormal groups who are interested in its haunted reputation. This picture was taken by Polly Gear of the Mountaineer Paranormal group during an investigation of the prison; Gear stated there was no-one around at the time this photo was taken and cannot account for the shadow person standing in the doorway. Is this the spirit of a former inmate or something else entirely?”

9) Shadow Person on the Haunted Queen Mary. “The Queen Mary has a long and intriguing past. The ocean liner turned troopship, turned hotel is now an infamous haunted attraction that draws tourists and paranormal enthusiasts alike in their thousands each year.  It’s said the ship is home to over 130 paranormal residents, so it should come as no surprise the Queen Mary is known as “Most Haunted Ship” in the world. Submitted to Haunted American Tours in 2008, this photograph widely considered to be the best photographic evidence of paranormal activity aboard the famous cruise liner.”

10) Zombie Road Shadow People. “Originally built in the 1860s, Lawler Ford road, or Zombie Road as it is better known by the locals in Glencoe, Missouri, is famous for being the ‘Most Haunted Road’ in America. Stretching just over 2 miles long, this forest road is synonymous for strange lights, eerie urban legends and sightings of shadow people. Since the 1950’s there have been numerous reports of dark, humanoid shapes that mysteriously appear in the treeline, some travelers have even said that they have been followed down the road by these shadowy entities, only for them to suddenly disappear into thin air as soon as they leave the area.

These strange sightings were enough to interest the world renowned Paranormal Taskforcegroup who came to investigate Zombie Road in 2005. The above photograph was taken by Tom Halstead, and appears to show shadow people shadow lining the top of the hill. Halstead stated that there was no-one else present at the time the picture was taken and that the hill area was completely surrounded by water.”

12) The Grey Man. “In South Carolina, the legend of the ‘Gray Man’ is commonly told. The mysterious figure is said to be the ghost of a young man who died sometime in the early 1800s after being caught in quicksand in the marshes near Pawley’s Island. Locals say his spirit has haunted the nearby shoreline ever since. Notably, sightings of the Gray Man are said to always foretell severe storms and hurricanes.

First seen in 1822, there have been more recent sightings in 1989 just before Hurricane Hugo and most recently preceding Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Is this picture taken on the beach of an eerie shadow figure the Gray Man? Many believe this to the best photographic evidence of his existence to date.

13) Shadows of Alcatraz. Located in the San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary is often cited as one of the most haunted places in America.  Prisoners, rangers and visitors have all reported a wide range of alleged paranormal activity on Alcatraz, from whispering in cells and locked cell doors opening and shutting seemingly by themselves to phantom figures in corridors. The above photograph was taken by Glenn Shelton, who claims he has finally proven once and for all that Alcatraz is the” Most Haunted Prison” in the world.

14) Shadow Figure in the Attic. “This photo was taken in the attic at my workplace (a restaurant which used to be a house and a theater) there are quite a few close encounters by the staff with ghosts in the last 10 years.....but now, finally, we have captured something on film. We believe this to be a shadow ghost that is haunting the restaurant where I work.”

In addition to the stories shared above, here are eight more very creepy photo captures of shadow people that have circulated the Internet. Are they more or less frightening without any background information?

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15) Hat Man Brings Bad Omen. "This was taken three days before their mother's funeral. See it's hand on her shoulder? She died in an accident shortly after."

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The above photos and stories were collected from The Official Shadow People Archives, GhostStudy, eBaums World, The Occult Museum, and Top Yaps.

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For more eyewitness accounts and encounters with shadow people, check out The Confessionals Podcast Episode 3: Hat Man and Ghostly Interactions; Episode 97: Bigfoot Staring Back at Me; Episode 126: Say It With a Smile; and Episode 129: House of Shadows.

What do you think “shadow people” are? Have you ever glimpsed a shadow person? Share with us in the comments!

Written Confession: Is It a Ghost Head or Just a Trick of the Light?

The following written confession + photos were submitted via email:

“In this copy I increased the contrast because the original was in a very low light setting. My mom was trying to take pictures of the sunset from her bungalow. That is a tree stump that it appears to be standing behind. And a chair to the right. My mom was about 5 feet from the tree stump when she took the picture. The tree stump was only about 2 feet tall. I will send you a second picture that she took with the figure absent from a slightly different angle. She was the only person on this private beach that extended out to the shoreline. To me, it looks like a young boy. To my 6 year old daughter it looks like a dragon with its mouth open lol.  So to each their own! Oh, one observation I made, the tree stump has 3 “tiers” kinda like a cake.  The middle tier becomes obstructed in the picture with the figure.  Almost makes me think the apparition is in front of and not behind the tree stump. If it is in fact an apparition.  Just a thought!”

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Written Confession: Homemade Ouija Board Summons a Scary Specter

The following written confession + photos were shared via Reddit:

So back in 2013, I lived in Kent, WA, a suburb of Seattle. I lived there with my two high school buddies (M & R) from UT and they were getting ready to move back home while I was planning to move into another apartment in the area. R and I had always been into paranormal activities, including exploring houses which were formerly scenes of horrific incidents or doing ouija boards in known haunted areas. M had grown up Mormon, and although he is no longer, "f***ing with the devil" as he called it, was still out of his fun time wheelhouse.

About a week before our move out date, R and I were drinking some shine and had a grand idea to make a home Ouija board, download some ghost hunting apps and find out why the kitchen cabinets would always open themselves when we left the house, and why our pots and pans always found themselves on the kitchen floors while we were watching tv.

After all, we were moving out soon anyways, so why not haunt the damn place up?

We took a piece of poster board and a slightly modified shot glass and read some incantations for "waxing" the home made ouija board up. We have had INSANE, terrifying Ouija experiences in the past but we were unable to get this one to work. My guess is that although modified to slide better, the shot glass was too heavy to move freely on the poster board. I made the mistake of saying, "If there are any spirits around, we call upon you to communicate with us." Still nothing happened.

We resorted to using our ghost hunting apps courtesy of the AppStore-I get it, I think/thought they were total bullshit too. We had one with a radar, and the dots were never constant but when they did occur, there would be a single dot in our kitchen or there would be several dots from the area between my room and our porch. Coincidentally, our floors in the kitchen once creaked while the dot was in there.

We gave up on the radar and went to the EMF scanner. We heard words like pig, apple, pencil- nothing made any sense.

Then, it started to become extra creepy. It said look....... up...... out...... away..... out.....

Well, we started looking around, up and out and nothing happened. We started taking pictures on my phone and weren't able to see anything. Then, R pulled out his phone and switched it to the camera. He had one of the new Androids with the burst shot camera- a new feature for phones at the time.

He pointed at the door and told me to smile for the pictures. I had honestly given up, so while he was taking pictures, I leaned forward to roll a joint. His phone snapped 8 times before he started crying. He looked at me shaking and said, "Dude, I think we got something."

For R to start crying, I knew something was up. He started at picture 1- nothing except me, my Weim, Ringo and the Highwaymen above the fireplace. He got to picture 6 and a faint silhouette appeared in the frame as my body crossed the door from leaning forward. Picture 7 was the most vivid- the one I personally saved and posted here. In picture 8- no dice on the ghost.

We immediately dropped everything, taped some knives together to make a cross and spent the rest of the night saying the Our Father and pouring salt around the edges of our apartment. In the morning, we showed M the picture and he sent it to his mom. She went the extra mile to brighten the photo up and recognize that not only did our visitor have a face and a cross on their chest, but we also had 2 more standing right behind them.

These pictures have not been altered whatsoever other than brightness changes so that you can see everybody (Or lack thereof) in full detail. Feel free to check it for doctoring or any reverse image search. These are personally the scariest photos I've seen on this subject but I have a tough time acknowledging that they actually contain my back (And dog).

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Ghost Stories from 7 Haunted Libraries Around the World

April 7 through 13 is National Library Week in the US, and we’re honoring the occasion by bringing you ghost stories from haunted libraries all around the world! Much like the iconic library scene in the movie Ghostbusters, these literary atheneums are stacked with creepy ghosts, shadow figures, and paranormal activity. Not only do we love tales of the paranormal, we also think circulation of some library appreciation is long overdue, so please check out these 7 haunted libraries around the world before we reference another bad library pun!

7) STATE LIBRARY OF VICTORIA - MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

Dating back to 1854, there’s no surprise that Melbourne’s State Library of Victoria has more than a few resident ghosts. The Arts section of the library is reportedly home to the ghost of a former librarian named Grace. Said to be a benevolent elderly spirit, she continues to keep an eye on the place and make sure that a more confronting spectre, who roams the southern end of the closed Arts stack, stays in his place. The Music room is frequented by a nattily-dressed mustachioed ghost who is known to leave music books out of place after he is finished perusing them. The ghost stories of the State Library are so numerous that many clairvoyants have been brought in, and Melbourne’s Haunted Bookshop owner Drew Stinton is keen to get the building included on the city’s tour of haunted locales. - From The Paperblanks Blog

6) COMBERMERE ABBEY LIBRARY - CHESHIRE, ENGLAND

The library at Combermere Abbey, near Cheshire, England, is said to be haunted. The ghost is rumored to be Lord Combermere himself, who died in 1891 after being run over by a horse-drawn carriage. After members of the Abbey staff reported possible ghost sightings and other paranormal activity, a photographer set up a camera in the library. The camera's shutter was left open for one hour.

The staff could claim no involvement with the photo-taking, as they were all at Lord Combermere's funeral, which took place four miles from his home. And yet, when the plate was developed, a ghostly image appeared, seated in the Lord's favorite chair.

To the modern eye, the photo may well appear to be a simple double exposure. But many people at the time were convinced that a ghost had been captured on film. - From Ranker

5) PEORIA PUBLIC LIBRARY - PEORIA, ILLINOIS

Long before the Peoria Public Library was ever built in Peoria, IL, a house stood on its site. In the 1830s, a Mrs. Gray owned the home, but fell upon hard times and could not pay her mortgage. The bank foreclosed, and she was forced to leave. But before she did, Mrs. Gray is said to have put a curse on the propertyand anyone who would ever own it. Whether it was her curse or just coincidental bad luck, each subsequent owner experienced a sinking of their fortunes.

The library was built in 1894 on land that was once part of Mrs. Gray's estate. That's when truly creepy things began to happen. Each of the first three library directors suffered mysterious deaths. The original library was torn down in 1966 and replaced with a new structure, but the eerie occurrences continued. Staff have reported hearing ghostly voices calling out their names, and feeling the temperature drop to chilling degrees. Some also claim to have seen the ghostly figure of one of the dead library directors. - From Ranker

4) THE AFRICANA LIBRARY - KIMBERLY, SOUTH AFRICA

The Africana Library in Kimberly, South Africa is said to be haunted by the spirit of a man who once worked there. The library was built in 1882, but it wasn't until the early 1900s that the city was able to hire a credentialed librarian. His name was Bertrand Dyer, and while he was qualified for the prestigious position, he soon began to engage in a type of fraud. He would place orders for books, but inflate the price list presented to the city for payment. Dyer pocketed the extra cash.

But his scam was discovered, and Dyer was so ashamed that he decided to commit suicide. He took cyanide, but it did not have the immediate desired effect. He suffered in great pain for three days before succumbing in the library where he worked.

The library is now a museum, and visitors have reported seeing the ghost of a man in Edwardian attire, floating up and down the halls of the building. Some have observed him rearranging books on their shelves. Others claim that if they are having trouble locating a particular book, Dyer will help out by knocking it off the shelf. - From Ranker

3) BELLWOOD ELEMENTARY LIBRARY - BELLWOOD, NEBRASKA

Why is it that one of the creepiest-sounding apparitions appears at the library with the most innocent patrons? Bellwood School District was founded in Bellwood, Nebraska in 1880. Students at the elementary school need to walk quietly through its library stacks, so as not to disturb the ghost of a severely burned woman who reportedly haunts the building, often seen staring out of windows in anger or despair. The library seems to be the site of other paranormal activity too, including scary noises, unexplained sudden cold spots, and the sound of jingling keys. At night, hopefully after all the elementary children are safe at home, ghostly figures have been witnessed patrolling the halls around the library. While the reasons behind the Bellwood Elementary hauntings have not been uncovered, there are reportedly some records from Bellwood’s past that document concerns over the use of coal-burning stoves in the building. Could this historical detail offer an explanation about the ghost of the burned woman? - Lindsay Merkel

2) PHOENIXVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY - PHOENIXVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA

In the community of Phoenixville, the Phoenixville Public Library is a facility with a rich and notoriously haunted history. The library first came into existence in 1896 as a small collection of books donated to the Phoenixville School District. In 1901, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated funds to purchase a plot and construct the public library building. A children’s section of the library was added to the basement in the 1920s, and the following decades saw continual increases in the library’s collection and facility.

Although there is little information available about why or how the Phoenixville Public Library became haunted, it has been so for as long as anyone can remember. Several apparitions have been reported over the years, both by employees and library patrons. The original librarian, an old woman in ghostly form, is reported to reside in the library’s attic. A little girl is believed to haunt the children’s library in the basement, and sometimes the elevator leading down to it. And the specter of an old man and his dog have been sighted, inexplicably strolling through the library shelves.

One employee, who worked at Phoenixville Library for 17 years, witnessed several examples of paranormal activity during his tenure, including how, after he had carefully pushed in the library’s chairs at closing time, they were found scattered all around the Carnegie Room the following morning. Rocking chairs have also been spotted rocking with no one in them, cold spots have been felt, doors were heard shutting on their own, and fleeting figures have been glimpsed.

Phoenixville Public Library has been the site of several paranormal investigations, and teams have reported lots of unexplained equipment malfunctions during filming; one team member who was attempting to film a “mockumentary” project on site even alleged that he dropped something in the attic, which disappeared and was never seen again! When the Chester County Paranormal Research Society spent the night in the library, a night surveillance camera reportedly to caught a book flying off a shelf.

Having personally visited this library many times, I never experienced any paranormal activity while inside, but I can say that there is something eerie behind the calm, quiet atmosphere - much the proverbial feeling of “being watched,” even if no one was nearby. Maybe it’s only because I’m aware of the library’s haunted history that I conjured up these spooky feelings, but I still always expected to turn and see something otherworldly around every bookshelf, from the adult room to the children’s basement to the stairwell. The legend of Phoenixville Library’s ghosts is a strong one!

For an up-close investigation of the haunted Phoenixville Public Library, check out an episode of para-reality show “SCARED!” below that was filmed in the library in 2009. - Lindsay Merkel

1) WILLARD LIBRARY - EVANSVILLE, INDIANA

What exactly is going on at Willard Library? Judging by pictures snapped on multiple “ghost cams” throughout the building, Willard Library looks to be some kind of paranormal portal into the spiritual dimension. The library’s history is rather benign, having begun its legacy as a private donation library from Willard Carpenter and incorporated to the city of Evansville in 1881. The building, resembling a Victorian Gothic structure, was first begun in 1876, but a depressed economy halted its progress, leaving the foundation unfinished until 1882. It is home to a vast range of genealogy and local history special collections, and also to the ghost of the famous Grey Lady.

 The Grey Lady, Willard Library’s most well-known apparition, roams the stacks quietly, aptly wearing a gray dress and veil. Her identity is not certain, but according to legend she may be Louise Carpenter, Willard’s daughter who was allegedly unhappy when he died and left most of his estate to the library; her haunting of the library is her revenge for an eternal grudge against her father. However, the Grey Lady has never been reported to be a malevolent presence, so this tale may not hold true, but she has been reported as a near constant presence! She was first spotted by a custodian in 1931, and since then has racked up hundreds to thousands of reports of ghostly activity. She makes her presence known through sightings, moving around books, turning lights and faucets on and off, touching people and creating cold spots, and also emitting the strong scent of musky perfume. Some of the documented run-ins with the Grey Lady include:

  • Psychics visiting the library in 2007 say they were able to verify that a ghost has been there, and paranormal investigative groups have brought in equipment designed to locate it.

  • Several library employees have reported seeing the ghost, including Margaret Maier, Children’s Librarian, and Helen Kamm, Library Assistant.

  • During a visit to the library, lecturers from the University of Southern Indiana say they saw the ghost peering into water.

  • Policemen responding to a security alarm at the library spotted two ghosts in an upstairs window of the library.

  • A library patron reported an encounter with the Grey Lady in the library elevator, and a local weathercaster also reported an encounter with the spirit.

Though it has been almost a decade since the Grey Lady apparition has actually been seen, when an assistant children’s librarian saw her in a basement hallway in 2010, paranormal happenings continue to occur throughout the building – and they don’t all appear to be the work of the Grey Lady.

Since 1999, Willard Library has been running ghost cams throughout the building, continually filming different areas and streaming online for at-home ghost hunters to search for onscreen ghosts. While some captures could be explained away as misidentified objects, sunlight or shadows, or even real people walking through the rooms, other images are creepy and puzzling. From misty figures to shadow specters to something that looks oddly like a wolf head on a suit of armor, the paranormal happenings at Willard Library are famous, mysterious, and plentiful!

See some of the creepiest camera images below, and click HERE to check out the Willard webcams for yourself. - Lindsay Merkel

Another Grey Lady sighting?

A shadow figure appears to descend the stairs.

Check out the lower left corner… is it a library patron or a ghostly visitor?

What. Is. It.

An amorphous light appears in the dark library.

What exactly is this child seeing?

Some people have speculated this is a black backpack… others believe it to be something more sinister.

Again… is this a real library patron, or a ghost child caught on camera?

Although we narrowed down our blog to these 7 spooky libraries, there are no shortage of haunted libraries across the globe! Do you have any library ghost stories of your own? Share with us in the comments!

VIDEO: 18 Ghost Sightings Caught on Snapchat

Snapchat is a messaging app lets users easily talk with friends, check out ‘Live Stories’ from all over the world, and read up on recent news. But is it also the latest, greatest way to ghost hunt?

In the following compilation video, 18 people allege to have caught some sort of ghostly activity on screen while using Snapchat. While it’s possible that some of the “ghosts” on camera are the results of technical glitches, not every clip can be as easily explained away, making for at least a bit of head-scratching footage! (… especially clip #10… what kind of nightmare is that?!)

From invisible faces detected by filters to strange activity and creepy figures, is the Snapchat app really a low tech social media ghost meter?

Well, the Snapchat logo IS a cartoon ghost, so……

Check out the video “18 Ghost Sightings Caught on Snapchat” from Chills below:

Written Confession: Ghost Cat Caught on Camera in Arkansas

The following written confession + video was submitted via social media:

“My wife and three kids and I were in vacation last weekend in Eureka Springs Arkansas. We had to go visit the Crescent Hotel and do the ghost tour. Long story short, I caught a pic of what can only be described as a ghost cat. It was a ‘live’ pic on my iPhone. When playing the short clip that the live pics take you can actually see the ‘ghost’ run down some steps and appears to jump onto the arm of a sofa. It’s the craziest thing ever!“

4 Serial Killers Who Left Their Ghosts Behind Them

History is marred by countless accounts of murderers who committed heinous acts and gruesome killings. Arguably some of the darkest crimes were the work of repeating offenders - serial killers who left their stain on the world over and over again with each horrifying act. Some of these criminals were caught and tried for their crimes, while others remained anonymous and at large. Among them all, there also seems to be a number of killers who continue their reign of terror, even after their own deaths.

As if these murderers weren’t already scary enough, here are 4 serial killers who died and left their ghosts behind:

1) JACK THE RIPPER

Jack the Ripper is possibly the most infamous serial killer of all time. In 1888, he gruesomely killed five women in England. He was also the first serial killer to taunt the press by sending them letters, creating a worldwide media frenzy and becoming the first “modern” serial killer. Adding to his terrifying legacy is the fact that he was never successfully identified, let alone caught, so his crimes are also shrouded with mystery as well as brutality.  Despite his undetermined identity, the ghost of Jack the Ripper is believed to haunt several locations in London, including the sight of his second murder - 29 Hamburg Street- and a pub where patrons have reported seeing a “ghastly old man in Victorian clothing.” It was in this same pub where his victim Annie Chapman was drinking before Jack the Ripper savagely killed her. 

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Jack the Ripper’s five victims also haunt London on their own. On the street where Mary Anne Nichols had her throat and abdomen slit, people report hearing horrible gasping noises and an argument between an unseen man and woman, along with seeing her body lying in the street. The ghost of Elizabeth Stride has been heard crying for help, and the apparition of Catherine Eddowes has been spotted multiple times. Another victim, Mary Kelly, was witnessed speaking to people in the street hours after she had already been murdered. 

2) TED BUNDY

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In the 1970s, Ted Bundy killed at least 30 women across seven states, though his murder tally is suspected to be much higher. He was executed for his crimes in 1989, but allegedly his ghost has lingered. A decade after he died, a prison guard divulged to a reporter that several guards claimed to have come across the ghost of Ted Bundy casually sitting on the electric chair - and creepily smiling his signature smirk. If anyone tried to approach him, he would disappear. At one point the sightings were occurring so often, the prison warden couldn’t find anyone willing to enter the execution chamber alone. Bundy also began popping up in prison cells, housing units, and his holding cell on death row. Once his ghost even spoke to guards, boasting  “Well, I beat all of you, didn’t I?” According to an inmate, Bundy’s ghostly visage appears as a blue-white mist, but is so detailed it’s impossible to deny that the likeness is Bundy. And he’s always, always smiling. 

In recent years there have also been reports of ghostly activity in Ted Bundy’s childhood home, including dressers falling over, drawers opening on their own, and words being mysteriously scrawled in the dust, but no one has yet identified the ghost as Bundy himself. 

3) JEFFREY DAHMER

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Between 1978 and 1991, Jeffery Dahmer, the Milwaukee Cannibal, killed and consumed 17 men. For his horrific crimes, he was sentenced to 16 terms of life imprisonment, but was beaten to death by another prisoner in 1994.

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Since his death, Dahmer’s childhood home in Bath, Ohio - and the place he committed his first killing - has been the site of haunted activity. The ghost of Dahmer and several other spirits (perhaps victims?) have allegedly been seen inside the house, but the most significant activity has come in the form of EVPs. Known as one of the best places in world to capture EVPs, it’s been reported that ghost hunters have rented out the house for as much as $10,000 a night in search of Dahmer’s ghostly voice.

In the video below, one such ghost hunter shares numerous EVPs that he captured on the property, including words and phrases that sound eerily like “can’t breathe,” “run,” “stop the bleeding,” and more. 

4) JOHN WAYNE GACY

The disturbed John Wayne Gacy abused and murdered at least 33 men and boys between 1972 and 1978. Because of his penchant for dressing as “Pogo the Clown,” Gacy has become known as the Clown Killer. All of his known murders were committed at his ranch house, 8213 W. Summerdale Avenue in Chicago, where he buried over two dozen bodies in a crawl space and several more in the backyard. Although the original Gacy home was razed during the police search for so many bodies, different owners of the house that was later built on the property allegedly reported screams in the night and bloody apparitions. For several years after Gacy’s house came down, no plant life would grow on the lot, although supposedly there was no logical explanation for the yard to remain barren. The lack of vegetation on only that spot confused the neighbors, and people began to believe it was some kind of mark on the property, left behind by Gacy’s evil works. While none of these strange events is attributed directly to the ghost of Gacy, his terrible legacy was still a hulking specter, even forcing new homeowners to change the house’s street number in an effort to distance it from Gacy’s presence.

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Gacy’s presence also led to a terrifying paranormal-type encounter for one of our interview guests. During the last two years of Gacy’s, our guest James spoke with Gacy one-on-one multiples times, as he gained insight into the mind of a serial killer. When the time came for Gacy to be put to death, James chose not to oblige a last request from the murderer. Two weeks after the execution, he awoke to find the ghost of Gacy in his room, staring and snarling at him. The full account of James’ ghostly encounter and the time he spent with John Wayne Gacy can be heard on Episode 116: Serial Killer John Gacy - Life After Death.

Have the evil works of these serial killers left them restless in the afterlife? Is their dark legacy so strong that they are still hunting for victims? Their own lives may over, but these serial killers are continuing to instill fear even from beyond the grave.

Have you heard of any other serial killers who have manifested in ghostly form? Tell us about it in the comments!

6 Images of Ghost Monks Caught on Camera

The Confessionals Episode 112: Demons in the Desert features a scary encounter with a ghost monk. While it is a unique sighting, others have also witnessed strange apparitions of monks! Take a look at 6 photos of alleged ghost monks that tourists, a ghost hunter, and a photographer managed to catch on camera:

1) In October 2018, a couple reportedly discovered the face of a demonic monk in one of their photos taken in an old slaughterhouse cellar in Nottinghamshire. The building, which is abandoned, was a stop on the Ghost Hunts UK tour in which the couple was taking part. Allegedly, seven monks were burned to death on that spot in the 1500s.

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2) In August 2018, a woman exploring Tintern Abbey says she captured the ghost of a monk standing outside the abbey at night. Tintern Abbey was founded by Cistercian monks in 1131. When the Black Death swept through in the 1340s, many monks succumbed to the disease. 

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3) In January 2018, a father visiting Eynsford Castle in Kent claimed to have photographed the specter of a monk outside on a ruined staircase. Though the figure appears to be very solid, the man says he remembers nothing standing on the stairs when he snapped the photo. Eynsford Castle dates back to medieval times, and according to local lore, one of the families who once owned the castle had a son who left them to become a monk. 

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4) In October 2016, a ghost hunter claimed to have caught an image of the famous Black Ghoul Monk. She believes the photo, taken at 30 East Drive in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, shows the monk’s robed arm clutching a rosary. The home is the site of one of Europe's most powerful alleged hauntings which began in the 1960s, when the Pritchard family moved in and began to be tormented by the Black Monk. The spot where the shadowy photo was taken is purportedly where the Black Monk is often seen, and also where the Pritchards’ daughter Diana was violently dragged by an invisible hand that left fingerprints on her throat. 

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5) In February 2009, a woman who had visited Valle Crucis Abbey in Llangollen was looking at her photos after the trip, and was shocked to see an unknown face staring out of the ruins. The abbey was founded in 1201 by Madog ap Gruffydd Maelor, who was buried in the abbey upon his death in 1236. Shortly thereafter, the structure was badly damaged by a fire. 

6) In 1963, a photograph dubbed “The Spectre of Newby Church” was taken in the Church of Christ the Consoler, on the grounds of Newby Hall in North Yorkshire. It shows a spooky image of a transparent, cloaked figure with a distorted white face standing at the church altar. Some have speculated that the photo captured the spirit of a 16th-century monk wearing a white shroud over his face, possibly masking a disfigurement or leprosy. But others contend that the photo is a hoax, either perpetrated by someone in costume or through the manipulation of superimposed photo images. The church itself does not date from the 16th century, having been built between 1871 and 1875 in memory of one Frederick Vyner, who was kidnapped and murdered in 1870. 

Which photo do you think is the most convincing evidence of ghost monks?

Explorer Films Ghostly Figure in Abandoned Chapel

When you’re alone in the dark and hear an unexpected noise, you may secretly wonder whether you’re about be attacked by a serial killer or spooked by a creepy ghost. Most of the time, the errant sound turns out to be something ordinary, like the house settling or the cat throwing up (also a terrifying prospect).

But for explorer and urban adventurer Danny Duffy, the creepy ghost was all too real in a brief but chilling encounter that he captured on video and recently posted to his YouTube channel, Exploring with Danny.

Danny, who films his explorations of “places frozen in time and places of the forgotten,” was just at the beginning of a venture into an abandoned UK chapel late one night when the sudden appearance of what appears to be a full-body specter sent him running. The scary figure - with a stark white face, fairly definable features, and possibly wearing a long black robe - peers straight at Danny from around a corner of the building. It looks surprisingly human, but it’s frightening just the same. Is it a robed person hiding out in the dilapidated church? Or did a former religious resident of the chapel come to find out what Danny was doing on their hallowed grounds?

The Confessionals had the opportunity to interview Danny following his spooky experience, and that interview will be forthcoming. For now, take a look at Danny’s ghostly video below (language warning!). The actual figure appears at the 2:18 mark. What do you think is really revealing itself in this old chapel in the dark of night?

Woman Thinks a Ghost is in Her Closet But Finds a Stranger Wearing Her Clothes Instead

No one wants a ghost living in their closet. 

And definitely no one wants a weird transient stranger living in their closet. Or asking them for hugs. Or wearing all their clothes. Honestly, having a ghost sounds better than all those things.

Unfortunately for North Carolina college student Maddie, she got everything except the ghost in a very strange scenario that’s probably left her wishing she’d just been haunted instead.

Last week, Maddie began to believe a restless spirit had taken up residence in her closet after she heard mysterious rattling noises coming from inside. Startled, Maddie cried out, “Who’s there?!” And was even more startled to actually hear a reply:

“Oh, my name is Drew.”

Oh, whew, okay, no worries, it’s just Drew.

Wait, WHAT? WHO IN THE FRENCH TOAST IS DREW?

Drew, it turns out, was a 30-year-old stranger who had somehow entered Maddie’s apartment and decided to camp in her closet. Because, why not, right? But it gets weirder.

“I open the door and he’s in there, wearing all of my clothes," Maddie said. "My socks, my shoes, and he has a book bag full of my clothes."

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After discovering her uninvited, overly-clothed guest, Maddie - who may be the most chill person to ever find someone living in their closet - let Drew talk to her and walk around her apartment while she calmly called for help. While he tried on even more of her wardrobe, temporary roommate Drew remarked how pretty Maddie was, and asked if he could have a hug (a hard pass there from Maddie). 

When Maddie’s boyfriend arrived on the scene, Drew decided to take off, and was later arrested at nearby gas station (probably trying to move in to the bathroom or something). He now faces 14 counts of felony charges including breaking and entering, and possibly several crimes against fashion - no word on that one yet.

As if this story isn’t odd enough by itself, Maddie revealed that this is not the first time she thought her house was haunted, nor the first time she’s found a stranger in her home! 

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Sometime after she moved in, Maddie noticed some of her shirts and pants were disappearing, and found someone else’s handprints on her bathroom wall, all of which led her to think a sticky-fingered ghost was haunting her place. But then in December 2018, Maddie came home to find “two guys in the living room.” No further details about those interlopers were provided, like whether the two guys were arrested or found to be wearing all of Maddie’s pajamas. 

But Maddie, who always locks her doors and has found no signs of forced entry, is just as perplexed as the rest of us about these strange occurrences. HOW are people getting in? WHY are they coming in? Are humans the only trespassers in her home, or is there also a ghost squeezed in there somewhere? Where have all her pants gone?!

Now, after so many mysterious disruptions, Maddie is ready to move on, and she owes the final deciding factor to new BFF Drew: “I can’t stay here. My closet, it stinks," she said. “I’m just ready to leave."

We’re right behind you, Maddie.

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New Horror Movie to be Filmed Aboard the Haunted Queen Mary

It’s either creative genius or a paranormal disaster in the making - a new horror movie is underway and being filmed onboard the famously haunted ocean liner RMS Queen Mary!

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The Hollywood Reporter has announced that the new scary flick will focus on two photographers and their young son, who come aboard the Queen Mary and soon become ensnared in the ship’s paranormal past. The movie’s synopsis reads: “As the terror unfolds around the family they begin to realize there is more to this sumptuous ocean liner than meets the eye: its remarkable legacy masking violent secrets. As Erin and Patrick uncover the haunted layers that the vast ship contains, it becomes increasingly clear that there is only one way out for them — to go even deeper.”

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After the film’s script spent several years tucked away without a suitable production crew to bring it back to life (ironic pun kind of intended), the upcoming movie now has a bevy of paranormal movie specialists to execute the project (wonder where are all these death puns are coming from...?). Taking the helm as producer will be Gary Shore, who busted box offices in 2014 with the movie Dracula Untold. The film will also be produced by Nigel Sinclair and Nicholas Ferrall of White Horse Pictures, which gave us The Woman in Black, and Brett Tomberlin of Imagination Design Works, the team that created 2018’s creepy Winchester movie.  

While the RMS Queen Mary has been the subject of many documentaries, shows, and stories, the film The Queen Mary will be the first horror movie shot onboard the actual real-life ship. Will the on-site location provide the perfect spooky backdrop for the film’s plot? Or is shooting a horror movie on an already haunted location just tempting fate (and Queen Mary’s spirits) to sink the film?

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Known as one of the most haunted places in the world since it became permanently docked, RMS Queen Mary has a long history of hauntings. During her 83-year existence, the Queen Mary made 1,001 trans-Atlantic crossings, which were reportedly accompanied by 49 recorded deaths and a collision with another vessel that resulted in 239 deaths. Other lore claims that a murder took place in one of the ship’s cabins, a crew member was crushed to death by a watertight door, a woman dressed in all-white dances by herself in one of the luxury suites, and several apparitions of adults and children in old-timey garb sometimes wander the decks. Now functioning as a hotel Long Beach, California, the creepy Queen Mary certainly seems like a perfect set location to capture the spirit of fear!

But cast and crew should be wary that the film doesn’t join Hollywood’s list of “cursed” movies - a number of classic flicks (many of them horror-related) that have been marked by disaster or ghostly activity (or both). Spooky films like Poltergeist, The Omen, The Crow, and others were plagued by murder and death, serious illness and injury, hauntings, and more during and after their filming. Setting the production of a horror movie inside the real haunted RMS Queen Mary may be an exact recipe for one such disaster (or ghostly activity, or both)!

Only time will tell if The Queen Mary horror movie will ride the wave of success, or if a curse from the ship’s spirits will leave it dead in the water (that’s the last of the ghost ship puns, I swear). Will you be lining up for a ticket when The Queen Mary arrives in theaters?!

Opera Ghosts: Echoes of the Rhoads Opera House Fire

On the corner of South Washington Street and East Philadelphia Avenue in Boyertown, Pennsylvania is a red brick building. Three stories tall and largely unadorned, it doesn’t stand out from its neighbors, blending in to blocks of similarly-styled buildings without a second glance. Small shops rotate through the ground floor, while apartment dwellers come and go through its top two tiers. Except for a commemorative plaque hung on the front of the building, one would never know that on this particular site, 171 people died in a single night. 

The Rhoads Opera House in ruins.

Although the history of deadly disasters in the United States seems to widely overlook this small-town horror, Boyertown itself has never forgotten the shocking tragedy that was the Rhoads Opera House Fire

The Rhoads Opera House Fire

On the evening of January 13, 1908, over 300 theatergoers and 50 actors gathered at the Rhoads Opera House for the opening night of a production called “The Scottish Reformation.” The term “opera house” was a bit of a misnomer, as the theater only comprised the second floor of the commercial Rhoads building in which it was located. Though the venue was in fact small compared to its grand name, the play was eagerly attended by the hundreds, and featured the latest slide projection technology and dramatic staging effects. Through an unintended tragedy of errors, it was this new technology that served as the catalyst for the catastrophe to come.

The Rhoads commercial building before the fire.

While the rapt audience waited for the play’s third act to begin, an inexperienced projectionist with only two days of training mistakenly turned a wrong valve on the projector, which then hissed and startled a few theatergoers seated nearby. Hearing commotion in the audience, several actors raised the curtain to see what was the matter. When they did, they tipped over a kerosene lamp that had been set on the stage for extra lighting. The overturned lamp immediately started a small fire, but theater personnel quickly responded to tamp down the flames. With the fire nearly extinguished, some of the men in the front row decided to move another kerosene tank, kept under the stage, that fueled the theater’s footlights… as a safety precaution.  The decision proved deadly when the tank’s framework broke, dumping the tank of kerosene across the stage and igniting the small fire into an inferno.

In seconds, the stage became a virtual tinderbox. Its curtains burst into flames, quickly followed by the wainscoting of the 12-foot ceiling, until the entire auditorium was engulfed in “waves” of fire.  Frantic audience members scrambled towards the main exit, only to find themselves trapped inside when the panicked crush of people tried pushing against doors that opened inward. Although the second floor contained two window fire escapes, they were unmarked and located three feet off the ground, nearly unidentifiable amidst the chaos. Chairs, debris, and bodies made the auditorium a maze of obstacles that blocked exits and cost precious time getting to safety. When one of the main exit doors was finally broken open, some victims were trampled to death as the crowd stampeded forward, while others fell to their deaths down the building’s staircase. Still others jumped from windows to the ground below, and not everyone survived the attempt. But most of all, trapped theatergoers burned alive. While many people did manage to escape outside, nearly 200 men, women, and children perished while the fire raged. 

After the fire.

Smoking rubble after the fire.

Hours later, when the very literal smoke finally cleared, the full scale of the fiery tragedy was revealed. With a death toll of 171 people - 170 who attended the play and one firefighter - the little community of Boyertown had shockingly lost one-tenth of its population. In a few cases, entire families - husbands, wives, children - had died in the opera house blaze. Two-thirds of the dead victims were women and children, leading some to surmise that the men in attendance had abandoned them to fend for safety by themselves. When rescue workers entered the burned-out building, they discovered bodies piled six feet deep at the top of the stairway, where the surging crowd had bottlenecked and trapped themselves inside. Because of the overwhelming number of bodies, three makeshift morgues had to be set up in surrounding buildings, while the remaining town worked to identify the victims and cope with the sudden, shocking loss of life.

“Main entrance of Opera House after fire Boyertown, PA, Jan. 08”

Another angle of the fire’s aftermath.

A line of residents looking for loved ones among the bodies of the fire victims.

In the days that followed the disaster, 15,000 people converged on Boyertown to attend dozens upon dozens of funerals. The renowned Boyertown Burial Casket Company, which was to become one of the largest casket manufacturers in the world, was hard pressed to meet the sudden demand for its products and its gravediggers, and had also lost a few of its own workers who had attended that doomed performance of “The Scottish Reformation.” In an unfunny twist of fate, those workers had unknowingly crafted the coffins they would be buried in. Over 100 new graves were dug in Boyertown’s already large Fairview Cemetery, including a common grave for 25 victims whose remains were so badly charred they could not be individually identified. While the town mourned in earnest, the theater fire made headlines across the country, and spurred new legislation for fire safety laws in Pennsylvania. There seemed to be no one in the town who had not been in some way affected by the Rhoads Opera House Fire.

”Interior of Opera House after fire Boyertown PA Jan 08”

An enhanced version of the photo above: “Victims of Opera House fire Boyertown PA Jan, 08”.

Thousands gather in Boyertown after the fire to identify loved ones and attend funerals.

“Preparing for the burial Opera House fire victims Boyertown PA Jan. 13, 08.” More and more graves being added to Fairview Cemetery.

OPERA GHOSTS

Even after 111 years, traces of the tragedy have always remained. To many in the local area, Boyertown is considered one of the most haunted small towns in America. Between its historic buildings dating back to the 1700s, the looming specter of the Boyertown Burial Casket Company (which operated until 1988), and the imposing Fairview Cemetery with its approximately 7,000 graves, there is little doubt that the town is home to all kinds of paranormal activity. There is also no doubt that a significant amount of that paranormal activity has been attributed to the horrific theater tragedy that claimed so many lives. From nearly the very night of the deathly fire, the Rhoads Opera House ghost stories began. 

”Ruins of the Opera House Boyertown PA Jan, 08”.

”Digging the grave for the unidentified after Opera House Fire, Boyertown, PA Jan 13, 08”.

Following the fire, while the ruins of the building still smoked, police were called to the scene to remove an elderly man from the wreckage. He told the responding officers that his dead wife’s ghost had called him to that specific spot on the site, to talk to her a final time.  

Workers attempt to remove and identify bodies after the Boyertown theater fire.

Officers were further called out to the ruins on multiple occasions, for weeks following the event, because residents and passersby claimed they could hear screams and cries coming from inside the building’s hull. A woman who lived nearby also claimed that spirits of the dead victims had taken over her house, though details of her paranormal experiences have not emerged. 

The Boyertown theater fire making headlines.

”Scene at the temporary morgue after Opera House fire Boyertown PA Jan 08”.

The sound of on-site screaming has continued to recur, for years, along with investigations of moaning and strange noises coming from inside Fairview Cemetery. Although the remnants of the Rhoads Opera House building were torn down and rebuilt a few years after the fire, the haunting experiences live on. A present-day resident who lived across the street from the old Opera House shared, “I’ve lived here my entire life and have heard so many ghost stories about the building. One old resident of the apartments there swore that every year around the same time a woman dressed in fine clothes would walk through the apartment, proclaiming to be late for the play.” Still another resident reported that, when the new building housed a dance studio sometime after the fire, the younger girls refused to use one of the dance rooms because it was “full of ghosts.” Even the area surrounding the fire site bears invisible traces of tragedy, with some believing that the victims who were placed in the makeshift morgues never truly left. 

A covered body is removed from a second story window.

“After Opera House Fire Jan 13, 08. Boyertown PA” - a devastating look at the victims laid out in temporary morgues.

Thousands attend funerals for the Rhoads Opera House Victims in Fairview Cemetery.

An artist captures the scene as victims of the Rhoads Opera House fire are taken to Fairview Cemetery for burial.

The Mansion House Hotel in the early 1900s.

Present-day Durango’s Saloon.

The most notoriously haunted of these morgues is probably Durango’s Saloon, a present-day bar located one block from the fire site, in what was formerly the Mansion House Hotel. It was in the basement of the Mansion House Hotel where rescue workers laid out corpses pulled from the Opera House rubble. Today, Durango’s Saloon still seems to be rife with paranormal activity, from shadowy figures glimpsed out the corners of eyes, to items being moved or pushed over, to strange mists appearing in photographs. The bar’s owner once even found himself locked in his walk-in freezer when its large, heavy door inexplicably slammed closed behind him. When local paranormal investigator Scott Wiley conducted his own investigation in Durango’s Saloon, he reportedly captured some compelling EVPs during his three nights in the bar. During one session Wiley asked aloud, “Who’s there?” and says he caught the whispery but distinct reply of “Binder.” Research of the area uncovered that a Henry Binder was in fact the proprietor of the old Mansion House Hotel in the early 1900s - until he was killed in the Rhoads Opera House fire. Binder’s body was buried up the street in Fairview Cemetery, but his spirit, it seems, lingered behind.

With the horror of the Opera House fire impacting so many people, for so many years, there is probably no shortage of those who can share a ghostly story about the theater fire, or about haunted Boyertown itself. I have a few stories of my own.

My haunted Boyertown house

Part of Fairview Cemetery today.

Listeners of The Confessionals may recall the very early Episode 3: “Hatman and Ghostly Interactions”, where I shared with Tony a number of spooky and paranormal occurrences that I experienced while living in several different homes. The home where I had the majority of my eerie experiences was an old Victorian, built in 1900, located on the same road as the Opera House fire site (0.4 miles away to be exact). In even closer proximity was the huge, somber Fairview Cemetery, barely 400 feet away and visible from the house. My elementary school bus stop was actually directly in front of the cemetery entrance... not exactly the most inviting of places to hang around when you are 5-to-10-years old! I remember walking through the cemetery on some occasions and being confounded by the sight of old, ornate gravestones marking the burial places of children who were my own age and even younger - how could they have lost their lives so early?

My elementary school bus stop.

Though I was too little at the time to be familiar with Boyertown’s history, the ghostly impression that Victorian house left on me has drawn me to learn more about the home, hoping to uncover a possible reason behind what, to me, was its pervading sense of spookiness, punctuated by unexplained events and fearful feelings. One experience in particular, which gives Episode 3 its name, was the very brief but distinct sighting of a hatted shadow figure watching me from a doorway. Though the glimpse was quick, the figure was clear: a featureless shadow man, bearing the silhouette of a tail coat, higher collar, and top hat. He never appeared again, but I have always wondered about what I saw. That wonder has led to my amateur research uncovering a tenuous but tangible connection between my old home and the Rhoads Opera House Fire. 

The doorway (left) in my old home where I glimpsed a shadow figure in a tail coat and top hat. At that time the doorway did not have any attached doors; these were added by a later owner.

Through archived newspaper articles, I recently discovered that a man named Leon E. Mayer lived in the same house that I did, in at least the late 1930s and early 1940s. Further records revealed that at around 15 years of age, Mr. Mayer lost both his father and his sister in the 1908 disaster. Dr. Charles Eugene Mayer and his 18-year-old daughter Gwendolyn were in attendance at “The Scottish Reformation” when the fire broke out. According to a Reading Eagle article published on the 100th anniversary of the fire, “Mayer fought off smoke and flames to reach his wife and carry her to safety outside the building. Then, he went back in to rescue his daughter. It’s not known whether Mayer found his daughter amid the smoke and flames, but neither made it out.” After their deaths, Dr. Mayer and Gwendolyn were buried in Fairview Cemetery. 

Dr. Charles Mayer. March 18, 1863 - January 13, 1908.

Gwendolyn Mayer. September 30, 1889 - January 13, 1908.

As of yet, I haven’t found the key detail that I’d like to know - who lived in my creepy old house at the time of fire? - but this little revelation about the Mayer family is still intriguing. Leon Mayer and his family, like so many families in Boyertown in 1908, suffered a tragic loss that would forever be attached to those left behind with their grief. Did Leon Mayer carry a piece of his grief with him while he resided in the home where I used to live? Did it manifest in the strange activity that I experienced? Was it his likeness that appeared in shadow form in my living room doorway? Or does the figure date back even further - was it is an echo of Dr. Charles Mayer, lost to the Opera House fire just down the road? I can’t say with any certainty whether Leon Mayer moved in to my former home well after the fire, or if it was his family home where he had once also lived with his father and sister; I can only speculate and theorize while I continue to dig into small-town history. But even if my paranormal experiences in the Boyertown house are not at all related to the the former Mayer family residents, there is still the fact that the town lost a tenth of its inhabitants in the Rhoads Opera House Fire, and touched nearly every family with its devastation. There is a strong possibility that whoever did live in my home in 1908 bore their own personal connection to the fire, and, perhaps, left a residual force behind them.

Again - this is pure speculation based on a few thinly related facts. But one other thing that stands out to me now is the appearance of that shadow figure in the doorway. Reports from the night of January 13, 1908 recorded that Boyertown’s theatergoers were “dressed in their Sunday best.” “Sunday best,” for a man in the early 1900s, was unquestionably a tail coat, collar, and top hat… a uncanny match for the shadow man who appeared in my circa 1900 home, only blocks away from the Rhoads Opera House.

With only the few historical facts I’ve found so far and my own experiences to consider, I can’t help but wonder…

THE LEGACY OF THE RHOADS OPERA HOUSE FIRE

While looking into my previous home’s history, I found one other story that caught my attention, not only because it further involves the Mayer family, but because it also reveals how quickly after the Boyertown fire its ghostly legacy seems to have begun. The story comes from Dr. Charles Mayer’s own grandson - not from Leon Mayer, but the child of his younger son - and was published on his blog in 2012. In it he recounts how his father woke on the night of the fire to the sound of the hall clock. Strangely, he says, the clock chimed not 12, but 13 times. The next morning, he was confronted with the terrible truth that his father, Dr. Mayer, and sister Gwendolyn would not be coming home again.

A current view of the site of the Rhoads Opera House fire.

Although details in the full story differ from other records (something to be expected as more and more years separate us from the original inciting event), it is clear that the tragedy of 1908 is still leaving its mark. Generations later, families are still affected by who was lost, and a town is forever different because of what transpired. Today the site of the Rhoads Opera House fire is occupied by offices, apartments, and a cozy secondhand bookshop. The fire and the death it brought are over one hundred years in the past. But for anyone who has heard the echoes of the screams from the Boyertown building on the corner of Philadelphia Avenue and Washington Street, the dead may not be altogether gone.

The plaque on the former site of the Rhoads Opera House - “Dedicated to the 171 people who perished within these walls in the tragic fire of January 13, 1908”.

“To the Memory of The Unidentified in the Boyertown Catastrophe Jan. 13, 1908.”

“Rhoads Opera House Fire: A disastrous fire destroyed the theater that stood at Philadelphia Ave. & Washington St. on Jan. 13, 1908. It claimed 170 victims, many buried here, due to overcrowding, poorly designed and unmarked exits, and inadequate fire escapes. The tragedy prompted the Pa. General Assembly to enact fire safety laws and improve construction and inspection standards, making public buildings safer and influencing similar legislation in other states.”

For more information about Boyertown and its haunted history, contact the Boyertown Area Historical Society. To hear my own haunted experiences of Boyertown and other homes in Pennsylvania, listen to The Confessionals Podcast Episode 3: Hatman and Ghostly Interactions on your favorite podcatcher.

Our Trip to Alcatraz, America's Most Haunted Prison

Picture it: San Francisco, 2017. I was three months pregnant with our first child, Tony’s beard was at its zenith, and we were vacationing in Frisco for our ten year wedding anniversary! It was probably only our third vacation ever in the last decade, so every day we were checking multiple places off of our “must see” list. Our trip would certainly not have been complete without an excursion to a very famous and historical landmark - Alcatraz, one of America’s most haunted prisons.

A Brief History of Alcatraz Penitentiary

Known as “The Rock”, Alcatraz Penitentiary has a long, chilling history, which seems to echo through its dilapidated buildings as tales of Alcatraz’s hauntings continue to this day. 

Originally built as a military fortress in the 1850s, Alcatraz was converted into a military prison in 1868. Situated one-and-a-quarter miles offshore in the San Francisco Bay, the island’s steep, rocky topography and location in shark-infested waters made it an ideal place to confine violent criminals. The first fortress-prison was demolished in 1909, and a new prison was rebuilt in its place by the prison’s own inmates. After the prison fell into disrepair in the 1920s, it was again closed, restructured, and reopened in 1933, this time as a federal prison claiming to be “escape-proof.” Alcatraz continued to function as a prison for dangerous federal criminals until it was closed by Robert F. Kennedy in 1963, due to the huge financial cost it required to keep it in operation. A few years later, in 1969, a group of Native Americans claimed the island, and held it in occupation for two years, before being forced out by federal marshals in 1971. Finally, in 1972, the island prison was added to the new Golden Gate Recreation Area, and officially opened for tourists and the public.

The Haunted History of Alcatraz

At any given time, approximately 250 dangerous prisoners were housed on Alcatraz, including gangsters Al Capone and “Machine Gun” Kelly, crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger, and murderer Robert Stroud, “The Birdman of Alcatraz” - just to name a few of the criminals from the prison’s bloody history. The reasons Alcatraz earned its title as the most haunted prison in America are many. Some of the creepy occurrences contributing to Alactraz's haunted legacy are as follows:

  • Statistics: During its years of operation, there were 14 escape attempts from Alcatraz, involving 36 men. Twenty-three of the men were caught, 6 were shot dead, 2 were confirmed drowned, and the remaining 5 were thought to have drowned, either in the bay or swept out to sea. (The government's official position is that no one has successfully escaped from The Rock; however, conspiracy theories abound about three men, Frank Morris and the Anglin brothers, surviving their escape attempt, never to be recaptured. You can check out this fascinating story here!) In addition, Alcatraz saw 8 murders by inmates, 5 prisoner suicides, and 15 deaths by natural causes or illnesses. (Want more Alcatraz facts? Go here!)
  • Psychological and physical trauma: The treatment and punishment of prisoners was reported to have resulted in psychological and physical trauma for some of the inmates, a number of whom were driven insane before their time on The Rock was concluded. Some of these treatments and punishment included:

 - The Spanish Dungeon: Located underneath Cellblock A are cells is known as “the Spanish Dungeon.” Reportedly used during Alcatraz’s military prison era, the dungeon cells were used for the more “unmanageable inmates,” who would be taken below and chained to the bars of the dungeon, allegedly without clothes and food on some occasions.

- The single Strip Cell: Feared by inmates, the Strip Cell was a steel-encased cell with no sink or toilet where unruly prisoners would be locked, without clothes, in total darkness. Offenders were usually placed in the freezing cell for 1 to 2 days at a time.

- The Hole Cells: The Hole cells were similar types of cells, where prisoners were isolated from others and provided with only the bare minimum to survive- bread, water, a low wattage light bulb- for sometimes up to 19 days. 

  • Cell 14D: Cell Block D is the most famously haunted cell block. In 14D, one of “the Hole” cells, a prisoner in the 1940s once spent the night screaming that a creature with red glowing eyes was killing him. In the morning, the inmate was found dead by strangulation, and no person was ever discovered to be responsible for his death. 
  • The Battle of Alcatraz: From May 2 to May 4, 1946, inmates attempted to take over the prison. The 3-day fight and standoff resulted in the deaths of 2 corrections officers and 3 inmates, and the injury of 11 officers and 1 inmate. Two convicts who participated in the takeover were later executed (at San Quentin) for their roles in the officers’ death. (You can read more about the frightening Battle of Alcatraz here.)

These events are only a number of potential causes of paranormal activity stemming from Alcatraz's long history. The book Ghosts of Alcatraz by Kathryn Vercillo shares an introductory history and many haunting experiences that have taken place on the island. One excerpt from the book reads:

"Not too far away, just off Cell Block C, is the Utility Corridor where three prisoners who attempted to escape (Coy, Cretzer, and Hubbard) were ultimately captured and grenaded to their deaths. In this same corridor, a welded shut door muffles the eerie sounds of the spirits on this cellblock . . . A guard who was watching the area at night heard odd noises coming from behind the door. It sounded as though something was knocking around in the corridor down there, but when the guard opened the door, he saw nothing that could possibly be making the sounds. He closed the door and was going to continue on his security rounds, but as soon as the door shut behind him, the noises started up again. Thinking that someone must be in there playing some sort of joke on him, the guard opened the door again and looked around the area extensively. He never found the source of the noise. When he closed the door again, the noises again resumed . . . Since that time, this area has been blocked off and that particular door has been welded shut."

In the many decades that have passed since the 1850s, strange events and encounters on the island have never ceased to be reported. From whispering in the cells, to ghostly figures, to sounds of clanging bars and doors shutting, to disappearing smoke, to cold spots and areas where visitors are suddenly overcome with emotion, there are no shortage of ghosts lingering in Alcatraz. 

Our Alcatraz Experience

I'll answer the big question first - no, we didn't encounter any otherworldly activity on Alcatraz! However, our trip to Alcatraz Island was an experience not to be missed (although we almost did miss it!) - and we're glad we had the opportunity to go!

Alcatraz, as one of the most important "must see" items on our trip agenda, was the first big attraction we intended to visit while in San Francisco. But, when we showed up at the ticket office bright and early on the first morning of vacation, those plans hit a bit of a snag: tickets to Alcatraz were already sold out, for the entire summer. With daily tours leaving every 30 minutes, every day, we were dumbfounded that there was nothing available - even considering the landmark's popularity - for the next two months! 

Trying not to cry at this disappointing news (which is the natural reaction to any kind of news when you're pregnant) I jumped on my Smartphone and started searching the Alcatraz Cruise website. We couldn't come all the way to San Francisco and not make it to the "main event" of the trip, right?! Lo and behold, the site came through for us: there were two tour tickets available online, for two days later - the only openings for the entire week! The tickets were promptly loaded into the virtual cart (thank you, pervasive consumer-based technology), and we returned to the pier later that week for our boat ride to Alcatraz. And, lesson learned: always pre-order tickets for popular national attractions before flying across the country to visit them.

Even in June, the ride to and from Alcatraz across the San Francisco Bay was freezing. The wind whipped hard enough to take your breath away, the waves were choppy, and fog rolled in and out across the horizon. From the mainland, Alcatraz looks comparatively close to shore, but after crossing the channel, it's difficult to imagine how a prisoner could actually survive a swim from the prison to dry land. (Lookin' at you, Frank Morris and the Anglin brothers... in whichever undisclosed country you're hiding out in.)

If you're looking for a creepy island where you can enjoy ghostly horrors of the past — and who doesn't look for that in a vacation? - Alcatraz is the place to visit! It’s remote, eerie, and desolate, even with hoards of tourists stomping around. There is a quote, often attributed to Mark Twain, that says, "The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco." After visiting San Fran in the summer, we can both can attest to the truth of this statement; temperatures that week didn’t rise about the low 60s, and it was colder still on Alcatraz, surrounded by water and wind. The chill was everywhere, and the surrounding bay and sky alternated between blue and slate gray throughout the afternoon. Alcatraz is not a cheery place, to say the least.

We opted to skip a guided tour, although looking back I think it would have added even more to our experience by expounding on the island’s history. But since we both hate crowds and love abandoned places, we explored the eerie sights on our own, most notably:

  • The ruined buildings: Many of the island’s residence buildings are in ruins, some having been demolished and some destroyed by fires in 1970. It was interesting to note, though, (in a "Yikes, I hoped they always locked the doors" kind of way) how women and children - the families of Alcatraz’s guards - had lived only steps away from some of the country’s most dangerous criminals. 
  • The morgue: This wasn’t the large, laboratory-style morgue fabricated in Michael Bay’s movie, “The Rock.” (Although I won’t lie, that would have been cool too.) Alcatraz’s actual morgue is tucked away on the far end of the complex, housed in the entrance of an old Civil War tunnel. Despite its small size and the crowds around it, it was still a creepy place, with the mortuary slab still in place and the vaults shrouded in the darkness at the back of the room. Not a place you’d want to hang out in after dark. Or in broad daylight. Or at any time at all, really.
  • The cellhouses: Speaking of places you wouldn’t want to hang out in after dark... The cellhouses, the centers for the main horrors and hauntings comprising Alcatraz’s history and lore, were disturbing. Granted, decay and disuse have done them no favors, but they are still scary places. Cramped, stark, and with no exposure to direct sunlight, the cells were bleak sad cubicles. The buildings were also long and shadowy, ideal places for things that like to come out in the dark - and I don’t mean the Tooth Fairy (cue eerie musical riff). If not for the presence of so many people milling about, I think the overall atmosphere of the place would have felt much more ominous and agitated. My heart goes out to any lonely guard assigned to patrol Alcatraz at night; may he have nerves of steel and carry a big stick.

Although we didn't witness any ghostly activity, experiencing Alcatraz was well worth it, both for its storied history and for its potential to encounter the paranormal.  If you have the chance to see it, we recommend the experience! ...Just maybe call ahead for tickets. Please enjoy some of our touristy pictures of Alcatraz below, and stay tuned for a future blog post about our visit to Eastern State Penitentiary! (Because for some reason, we keep ending up at haunted prisons.)

And now I'm going to watch "The Rock."

Have you visited any famous haunted locations? Share with us in the comments!