Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Haunted Crime Scenes

Ghost Hunting in Cell Block 12

James Clark
James Clark

there have been many other alleged manifestations in the Eastern State Penitentiary. In 1956, Death Row was added, bringing in some rather violent inmates. In other areas, some of the inmates went insane and many died from abuse, old age, illness, and inmate violence.

The place now sits abandoned and crumbling, a National Historic Landmark, open for tours, art exhibits, and an annual Halloween extravaganza. Many staff members have reported eerie sensations, footsteps in cells or corridors, and glimpses of fleeting things in the shape of humans. A phantom figure is often spotted in the medieval guard tower as well.

So T.A.P.S. went there to set up high-tech equipment, with an eye on cellblocks four and 12, both of which had the most reported activity. They deposited voice recorders in several places and walked around with thermal-imaging cameras and electromagnetic field meters. Both devices reveal the presence of energy that's different in quality from the normal reading of a room.

Cell 17 handprint
Cell 17 handprint

At one point, two members thought they saw a black shadow, so they turned and ran, but they were quickly chastised. Still, when all the recorded data were reviewed, the T.A.P.S. team did get something in cellblock 12 that intrigued them. That's where several people had reported seeing a dark entity, either standing or darting around. And on their recording, at the far edge of where the camera was focused, it looked as if someone wearing a dark cloak and long, light-colored trousers had stepped into the area, then quickly pivoted and vanished into the darkness. Above the leg and cloak bottom, the shape was human-like and darker than the surrounding air. Jason ran the image several times but could not determine what it was. He sent it to a professional lab, but that failed to offer a clearer picture. The entire team returned to the former prison and had one of the members donned a coat and walk around in the corridor to try to recreate the image. But they failed to get anything like what they'd captured. In addition, they felt a heaviness in the place at 3:30 A.M., the time when, worldwide, people most often report paranormal activity.

Truly, it was a unique experience, and they'd captured a glimpse of a figure that clearly was not one of their members. Thus, their report to the penitentiary staff was that they believed there was reason to say that the grim, imposing building was indeed haunted.

Speaking of the potential for lots of activity, among the strangest stories is the house that Winchester built.

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