Saturday, March 7, 2009

Spine-tinglers: The Janitor

Setting: Pinal County Jail, Globe, Arizona

We had this abandoned little prison to ourselves for the night. The place showed promise from a psychic’s point of view, but the chemistry of having 30 bodies in the small building was not conducive.

The teams broke off into cells below, but my hunting partner and I decided the attic room was for us. We walked into this cavernous room and knew something was watching us almost immediately. To me, it felt as though it moved the dust with it as it scurried behind the bathroom wall. This was supposedly the room the guards used for their relaxation. How they relaxed in this room surrounded with windows and perpetual chill was unimaginable. We arrived in dead of winter and the night would be icy with no protection from the elements except thin glass panes. It made me wonder what summers must have been like. Hellacious, no doubt.

The evening was planned out with the group to take a tour of haunted spots in town, to spend some time wandering the prison and filming. A few planned EVP sessions, others had the unmitigated gall to watch movies on their laptop. My partner and I rolled our eyes and tucked away in the attic on a pile of sleeping bags and waited. We stalked our prey, knowing it was curious but still timid.

In our usual manner when we’re in a pensive environment, we made each other laugh. I have a bawdy sense of humor that makes most people blush and I managed to make my hunting partner bright red within minutes. We teased and made fun of our convoluted trip to Globe. We’re highly distractible and had to stop at every antique shop, which is a manner of heaven and hell for me, someone who reads objects. I both love and hate antique shops because it can feel as though objects are screaming to be noticed and touched from all corners of the store. Until I’ve found the blasted objects and held them and heard their story, I cannot rest. It is, however, an overall good feeling. More objects have good memories than bad.

So, we continued on with our playful banter, knowing that laughter and women combined is the most inviting and least threatening combination. We allowed our natural tender-hearted souls to be revealed and it was paying off. Before long, the sense that something had drawn itself out into the corner of the room, away from the bathroom wall gave us hope. We photographed. We spoke lightly about things. We offered sympathy for those who might have been imprisoned there.

Then, a loud disruption shocked us both. A rogue group of hunters who wanted to film a documentary of their own came upstairs and found a quiet area they could use their Ouija board. They cautiously asked if we would be willing to Ouija and we eagerly agreed. We both found Ouija entertaining. The outsiders worried we might be of the “Ouijas invite evil” variety. We sat down and proceeded to use the board in different combinations, but it appeared that when my partner and I used the board, we got genuine answers. We were amazed.

I immediately honed in on a personality of a child-like man named “Jim” or “James” or “Jimmy.” He was hired for little money to sweep the jail and act as a kind of custodian. It was a simple task he was able to do, but he seemed to like to retreat to the attic where the guards slept because the prisoners taunted him so much. They often had confrontations about him going downstairs and doing his job. He was very timid, very fearful, and very slight of build with dirty blonde hair. A rush of information came across to me about his life and how he died in the flu pandemic of 1918.

As we asked questions of him, I spoke to him like he was a frightened 4-year-old. One of the Ouija folks was upset at the way I was speaking to the entity. He thought I was being condescending. I explained that I am a mother and I was speaking to a man with a 4-year-old child’s capacity and a good deal of fright, calling him “honey” and coaxing him and occasionally scolding was the only way to get more information. We finished the Ouija and their filming, the group leaving us back alone.

Now that I knew the name of our potential entity, I called his name. We wanted to try EVP, but the folks downstairs were so noisy we gave up. Just when I was feeling disappointed, I got a deep shiver starting through my whole body. It felt like it moved from the spine outward to my skin. Not shivers from the outside, but from within. There was no doubt something was manifesting.

A hunter interrupted us, wishing to take pictures of the room. While she was flashing off photos of every corner of the cavernous room, I wrapped my arms around myself, shivering hard. The hairs began to raise on my neck and arms. I knew something was about to happen. The photographer clicked off a shot across from me and I looked up, knowing somehow that was where Jim was hiding.

When the light went off, I saw him. Completely and fully. He was as real as a person in the room.

Except, his posture was strange. He had his arms straight down along his body tightly and his shoulders lifted up near his ears as if he were trying to tuck in and be invisible. He looked directly at me with dark eyes, a gaunt face, stringy dirty blonde straight hair, and a dusty looking shirt in kacki-like color with jeans. He was lean and his nose looked like it had been broken in the past.

The time it takes to flash a digital camera’s light is short. Remarkably short. But, in that brief second I got a complete and total view of him that was eerily unnatural and like something out of a Japanese horror movie.

I’ve seen and experienced a lot of things in my life, especially growing up in a Civil War Hospital, but I’ve never ever seen something that wasn’t there. I’ve never seen someone full body before. I was astounded. Even more astounded when I realized no one else in the room had been looking there or seen it. It was both joyful and disappointing. As an investigator knows, your hope is that the event was witnessed.

The chills went away. The spot where he had stood was not unusual in anyway by lighting, wall paint, or any features that I might have misinterpreted. I took numerous shots to try and get him, but the only thing that showed up in every shot was a giant white orb. Whenever I spoke to him and took a shot, I got the orb. I couldn’t even be excited about that finding, however, because I always disregard orb shots. Something about it, however, seemed very odd. The room became warmer. The feelings in it dissipated. Hunting partner and I decided to try and get some sunrise sleep at a local hotel. We packed up our things to say goodbye and as I said goodbye to Jim, he sent off another bright orb of recognition.

I still remember his face clearly. We got back to the hotel and I drew up a rough sketch of him (haven’t drawn since I broke the base of my thumb years ago and am unable to hold a pencil tightly). The drawing was rough, but the info and the basic look of him was accurate. It is my duty now to try and find out if Jim existed, if he worked at the prison, and if he’s buried in the local cemetery. I don’t like to leave a case open, but other cases stacked up right after it and Jim was set aside.

It’s hard to explain to folks what seeing a full body apparition is like. It’s very surreal. The bodily sensations that go with it are ones of alertness, hair raising, body tingling, deep chills, and a sense of dread deep in your belly like ice water sloshing around. I think the most amazing thing about it was that, for whatever reason, he showed himself to me only and I believe as a hunter with some experience that being a tender-hearted mother, a good natured person, and playful and silly, actually works to my advantage to attract such phenomenon. I hope to see another one again. I really hope to go back there some time and get Jim to interact and perhaps show himself in a shot.

For now, I’ll hang onto these orb shots (a few are above) that I usually toss. They remind me of him.


  1. "So, we continued on with our playful banter, knowing that laughter and women combined is the most inviting and least threatening combination."

    In my experience this holds true. My mother, sister and I lived together in a "girls only" household for quite a few years in Placerville and attracted a fellow named Fredrick. He too was timid, not of strong spirit, but he was rather protective of the three of us. Once, when my sister brought her verbally abusive then-boyfriend home Fredrick spent the evening pacing through the house. My sister, "Adam" and I watched the carpet move where Fredrick's feet went and listened to the rasp of the footsteps. After a while Adam became so unsettled he had to "get outta" our house. As he left, Fredrick slammed the (bolted but not locked) basement door as a parting gift.

    By the by, how many would you recommend for an investigating group? Even if they are all kindred spirits in the art of proving/debunking/hunting do you find there is a happiest number of participants? Too large and people might inadvertantly "pollute" the enviornment. Too small and a feeling of vulnerability might occur.

  2. Celyn;
    You're always so intuitive. You are absolutely true about a spirit attaching to a group of women. TAPS finally got smart recently by sending women out alone, assuming that anyone who's had a trauma might seek the comfort of a female.

    As far as putting together an investigative team, I've always had "types" that I like to include. Not all of them will go out with you, but you can have an extended network that likes to assist:
    1. You want a history buff who doesn't mind trips to the library or the city registrar to learn about property's histories. These people are real romantics and sometimes are even volunteers for local historical societies and therefore can get access to great locales.
    2. You usually want one person at least who is technically savvy and maybe has a nice job in a technical field because they are more likely to not grumble about buying a camcorder, digital camera, finding programs to run EVPs and acquire things like EMF meters, thermometers, barometers, KII meters...whatever strikes their fancy. I am lucky enough to be married to an engineer who designs test equipment and is completely skeptical, so when I want tech advice, he can tell me what might be giving me false positives and we can talk back and forth about potential equipment he might design in the future.
    3. It's totally optional to have a sensitive on your team. I don't use my psychic abilities as proof of hauntings, but I definitely use them to know where and when something is about to occur. This is really like having a bloodhound along.
    4. Another potential team member can include an adrenalin junkie who doesn't mind climbing crumbly stairs, going into abandoned sites, and being the first to explore a crawlspace, as well enjoying antagonizing spirits and provoking.

    I've found the best teams don't have more than 4 people on site at a time unless the site is very huge (like an old hospital). In most home-sized sites, 4 is ideal, you can break into two groups and take turns going into the house and studying without any false readings caused by others wandering the same site at the same time. More often than not, my hunting buddy and I go together and we have it pretty covered as to who does what, who carries what equipment, who does what readings. We're ready to whip out instruments when things get hot. The only thing that would make it better would be to have a secretary who takes times and notes and locations and writes it all down because when you're hunting you're doing things in a split second and when you get home, it can be hard to remember what happened where and that's very significant info. So, I'd tell you three people would be a dream team.

    The only other thing I find is really essential is that the folks who hunt have all had past experiences that motivate them to hunt. I think members like Tango and Kris on Ghosthunters show have a harder time because they aren't trying to find answers for something amazing that happened to them, they're still waiting for something amazing to happen to them. There's a huge difference. I find that people who have had these experiences attract them.

    Hope that helps.

  3. Excellent well. Thank you!

    I've gone once or twice with a group of friends, but it wasn't much more professional than "let's see what there is to see." As I've said before, sometimes I go places/watch ghost shows to see the architecture of places I have curiosity about. :D

    I've not started teams, but I've been invited to several walk-throughs. Twice I couln't go because of work, and once the leader of the group made my alarm bells go off, so I opted out. (He was flirting with the women instead of being professional. I was not going to be left alone with him in a dark room.) I've been speaking with someone in my area who's interested and wanted to know someone else's experience before I showed up. Now I know if I show up and there's 12 people there with laptops I'd be better off volunteering for the research task.

  4. Hee hee. Yeah, there's some real pieces of work out there. My hunting buddy and I started off with just a couple digital cameras and a thermometer. We eventually made some divining rods (lots of instructions online how to do that with coat hangers). About a year later, hubby got me an EMF meter and then I picked up a thermometer, Camcorder, KII meter along the way. I got a tap light too which I use for the ghosts to communicate by tapping on it and making it go off. Hasn't worked yet, but you never know. The KII meter seems to work well for that kind of thing, but I like to try everything until I find out what works and what doesn't. I tried local groups too when I started out, but we found some were very exclusive, others were bozos. Everyone wants to be a hunter nowadsys so a lot of overnight groups came along. I found the local MVD Ghostchasers when the leader was nice enough to respond to me and meet me at a cemetery. We each brought a person with us just to be sure. It ended up she was the best mentor ever. You just never know. I like to keep good communication with other hunters because they can actually end up going on misc. hunts with you on their own and bring knowledge. Keep me posted.

  5. I got chills reading this especially when you saw that apparition of the little boy. I wish you could have caught it with your digital camera. Did you have to have permission to investigate at the Pinal County Jail? We need to go there.....Julie

  6. You know, the thing about ghost hunting is the total randomness about events. We'd felt his presence all evening hovering around the room, but it wasn't until those people came into the room and the one started taking pictures that I felt the prickles. I had the feeling if I looked up, I'd see something. I was used to looking at the spots where I knew he was watching. I always have a very keen sense of just where something is at any given time, but this time when the lady's flash went off on that side of the room--boom! The way he was standing was so freaky and unnatural. He looked at me like he was willing me to see him or daring me. Don't know. Maybe giving me a fleeting glimpse was a reward? I had been talking gently to him all evening. Unfortunately, she was taking a shot of something off to the side when the flash hit him. He wasn't part of the picture. At the time, I was sitting on my sleeping bag and waiting for them to leave so we could attempt to talk to him and take pictures ourselves. When I saw him, I did get my camera from my sleeping bag and began to shoot, but got lots of dust orbs and nothing else. I didn't expect I'd get anything because as soon as I formed the words to tell them what I'd seen, the sense that he was there was completely gone as if he retreated. There was a camcorder set up all evening in the attic, but it was aimed at the door and not at the wall. That's how it goes sometimes. I should have known better because of my senses going off, but with the lady flashing her camera, I wasn't going to take shots too because you don't want to take shots with someone else's camera's flash going off. We usually in a group yell "flash" when we take a picture. We had the jail to ourselves for the night with the MVD Ghostchasers group. Four times a year they do workshops that are open to the public and this was one of them. The next one is in late April and it's a road trip based on "Amazing Race" show called "Cemetery Crawl." It's an absolute riot and folks get in their cars in teams of three and one person videotapes the event, one drives, and one follows the clues. They stop at cemeteries all over the state and have to take pictures and earn tarot cards and there's prizes at the end. It's a fun thing we do once a year to educate people about parts of the state and its history and graveyards, as well as just have fun. Last year's was filmed by a documentarian, unfortunately it hasn't been finished being put together, but I think this year's might be filmed also. We do workshops this year also in July and October. The site has the info usually.