“Are you scared?” a male student asked a female friend. She just nodded, her arms tucked close to her chest. Words seemed unnecessary; of course she was scared. Everyone was scared. It was about 10 p.m. on Wednesday Oct. 24 and there were a dozen students in the front hallway of the Old Chapel.
The building was warm, and felt like a place that had been waiting for its nightly visitors with an unsettling, quiet, patience. Leading the students was Stacey Jones, professional paranormal investigator, and for her the lonely chapel was just another day on the job.
The students felt otherwise.
Jones was on campus to give a presentation on paranormal investigation, and later to conduct an investigation of the chapel. She decided to invite some willing students to tag along.
She handed out digital cameras, she set up infrared cameras in the dark hall upstairs, and she gave students audio recorders,
“You’re asking any spirits to communicate to you through these,” she instructed. “Guide them to speak into the red light. They probably have no idea what one of these things is.”
Are there spirits in the Old Chapel?
That was the question the students and Jones had set out to answer, and if there was anything dwelling in the chapel from beyond the grave, they were going to find it. Everyone broke off into groups. Jones remained by her computer and wirelessly monitored the cameras she set up on the second floor of the chapel.
The groups were generally small, three or four students, each with a different kind of technology for ‘hunting’ ghosts. Some spoke meekly into the voice recorders, “I want to know who you are? What is your name?” they would ask the silent spirits.
Up and down the dark staircases the students traveled, cameras snapping from down the hall, in other rooms, could be heard throughout the chapel. Melissa Paradee was alone in the chapel’s conference room. A large table surrounded by glass cases held bits of Castleton’s dark past. She read the ancient newspaper articles, some with headlines like, “grave robbers at Castleton.”
One told the story of the mutilation of a stolen woman’s body. After her corpse was robbed, she was decapitated to prevent any sort of police identification.
No single group wanted to venture into the basement alone. It was cold down there. A staircase and a bare white walled hallway lead to several doors, only one of them unlocked. It took the convergence of several groups to open it and see what secrets it held.
Beyond the door was not a room, but a crawl space. Although large in terms of floor space, it was barely four feet high. Five students huddled into the dusty storage area, and one held open the door. “Turn out the lights,” one said, figured something would happen if the lights were off.
The students sat quietly in the dark waiting for something to happen. The room got colder, much colder noticed Spartan photographer Matt Sargent. The temperature was only the beginning. Without warning one of the video cameras shut off. Seconds later the other cameras, the audio recorders, even some cell phones followed suit. Everything shut off, without reason or cause. The students sat in complete darkness, terribly alone.
“Something touched my back!” Sargent screamed.
The Students bolted. From upstairs they could be heard screaming and running, bumping the walls and pounding the stairs.
Stacey Jones took notice.
She led everyone in the chapel back down, hoping for something like that to happen again. This time she held the audio recorder, and she asked questions into the dusty air. The students sat nervously awaiting a response, waiting for something to happen. Photos were taken and Jones told the spirit to show itself in the cameras.
Nothing else happened in the chapel that night, and Jones said that later she would review all the tapes to look for different things. Spirit voices on the audio, mists and fogs on the tape, even complete images of a person. None of these things were out of consideration.
Shortly after the occurrences in the basement the students left the chapel. The air was cold, clear and refreshing.
“It feels good to be out of that place,” a student said walking off into the night.