Thursday, August 23, 2012

Part 1: Hunting Ghosts in West Virginia

I recently investigated the West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville, WV with the paranormal team, Louisiana Spirits. Built in the style reminiscent of a gothic fortress, complete with turrets and battlements, we stood in front of the stone castle that claimed a recorded 998 deaths. Nicknamed “The North Side of Hell,” this Moundsville prison was listed as one of the top ten most violent correctional facilities in the country.

But this is not a history lesson. If you’re curious about learning more about the prison’s blood-soaked background, I’d highly recommend a tour of the facility. However, we are here to talk about ghosts. Stocked with equipment such as Thermal Cameras, a K-2 meter, a digital EMF meter, and an Olympus digital voice recorder, we roamed the prison grounds with our eyes and ears open for signs of the dead.

We started our investigation with a tour of the penitentiary so that we could learn its history and its tragedies.  Our guide equipped us with names, locations, types of deaths, and short cuts…all which aided in our investigation later on. We arrived around 11:30 p.m. and stayed until 5:30 a.m., using each moment to study, learn, and understand the ways of the prison and its inhabitants…and I assure you, there are many of them.

We spent a great amount of time in the original cafeteria, which leads into the hallway where sightings of the infamous Shadow Man have been caught on tape. Aside from a few noises here and there, I was upset that I didn’t feel or record anything of concrete value there despite the stories of the rooms immense activity. I even sat in the hallway waiting for the Shadow Man for 20 minutes only to be left alone in the dark with nothing but a wandering mind to instill fear. For what it’s worth though, the kitchen area was a completely different story.

While I personally didn’t hang around there long enough to attempt to get a recording, the atmosphere was enough to convince me that I wasn’t alone. The air was thick with tension, and my chest tightened the moment I walked into the room. I immediately became claustrophobic and the temperature rose, forcing me to take off my sweatshirt. I felt threatened, smelt smoke, and refused to be left alone, and once our guide started telling us the history of the room, my suspicions were confirmed.

The kitchen area is said to be a violent, malevolent room. People have said that they’ve smelt sulfur upon entering it, and that scent is common when spirits are trying to manifest themselves. EVP recordings have picked up the words “legion,” “devil,” “demon,” and “666,” and when asked if there was a demonic spirit in the room, the K-2 meter shot up and fluctuated between 7 and 10. Our guide said that he had done several sittings in the room, and that he actually witnessed facial manipulations with the people he was with via a spiritual attachment upon members in the group. I’m all for walking with the darkness, but when the darkness turns evil, I tend to leave.

The more I walked the grounds and heard the stories, the more fascinated I became with the prison. The amount of violence that took place there, not only between the inmates, but at the hands of the doctors and wardens literally shocked me. You hear about torture in books and watch it in movies, but let me assure you that its completely different when you’re standing in front of an electric chair or looking at the tools used for the “Kicking’ Jenny” or the “Shoe Fly.” These men were beaten, raped, starved, and executed…some twice because they wouldn’t die. The spirits that walk those halls are angry and trapped. Their souls left to wander the same cell blocks were they were tortured to the brink of insanity and left to die.

But what happened when insanity didn’t kill them? When it merely clung to them like a wet blanket, clouding their minds with hallucinations and nightmares?

Why they entered the Psych Ward of course.

Those that know my writing and my fascinations in the horror genre will tell you that I’m obsessed with the insane. The idea of psychological horror intrigued me enough to work on both a novel and a poetry collection voicing the rants and ravings of mistreated patients and the doctors that abused their power with them. When I found out that there was not only an infirmary, but a psychiatric ward as well, my heart all but jumped with joy. I finally had the opportunity to see the rooms and the equipment that I was writing about… and lucky for me, I even got to meet some of the patients. But that's a story for another night. Until next time...
Stay Scared, 
Stephanie M. Wytovich

Picture 1: Courtesy of DarkWhite Arts Photographer, Melanie Stone
Picture 2, 3, and 4: Courtesy of Crystal Vines, Investigator with Louisiana Spirits

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