On May 24th, 2012, I and several others had the opportunity to investigate one of the most, reputedly, haunted places in world: The Historic Ohio State Reformatory, more commonly known simply as Mansfield Reformatory. This building is a mixture of Queen Anne, Victorian Gothic, and Richardsonian Romanesque architecture, and was designed to be as least imposing as possible as it was never intended to be used as a prison for hardened criminals. The belief was, at the time, that many small time crooks could be "reformed" and taught how to become productive members of society through programs like furniture making and other skills. Through the years, good intentions gave way to the necessity to find a place to hold said bad guys and Mansfield became a maximum security prison. My company included four other posters from this site: Miracles51031, cosmogal926, stephyw2001, and clever210, a few friends of theirs, my son JR, and my niece Julie. All together, we numbered thirteen (where's Bilbo Baggins when you need him? LOL) We decided to give accounts of our own experiences, since we all will be submitting. Here're mine:
The night began with a visit through the museum. Here we saw, among other things, a chair designed for electro-shock treatments, old photos of the building in its hey-day, photos of past in-mates and wardens, a display of some of the handmade weapons confiscated (which was truly scary), and in a large glass enclosure: a replica of "Old Sparky" the electric chair. There were no executions in Mansfield; those were done at the prison in Lucasville, Ohio. Still, it gave me the creeps looking at it! From there we were taken on a tour of the building by our guide Scott. Great guy, and I have to commend myself and all the others for not pointing out to him how much he resembled Jason from "Ghost Hunters". As we were guided through the twisting maze of hallways and stairs Scott proceeded to turn the lights off. It was only around 7:30 pm, so we could see to make our way to the meeting/break room. And then, we were free to roam the building at will until 5:00 am.
If EVER I should have taken the advice of Miracles on the "Miracles Journal", it was now because events have become blurred. I'm not sure of chronology. I'll be recounting from my scribbled notes taken from listening to my recordings. It is a very large building, and in the dark the first few times through are confusing until you get know your way around, so please bear with me. Thankfully, JR has played enough video games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill to be a great point guard! However, I led our trio at first and a few times after.
Our first experience was in the sub-basement shortly before entering solitary confinement; a place recently discovered through some excavation on the site. We all felt a major chill, but soon it became apparent that there was a draft. Still the place had a bad feel, and JR was creeped out to the point of nearly leaving me behind as I made my way up the stairs. He'd asked if I'd seen a shadow, and as I turned to investigate where he had motioned he said, "I'm just not feelin' it down here" and left. In my most valiant effort to maintain my "ghost hunting" voice, I pleaded (giggling nervously), "Don't leave me!" It was at this point, unbeknownst to us, that we caught our first EVP. Apparently, someone was offended that we didn't want to spend any more time with them. (#1) at 23 seconds
Somehow, stumbling around in the dark with just our flashlights, we made our way to the Deputy Warden's quarters. The Deputy Warden's quarters were on the highest floor, the Warden's just below. As we descended the stairs to the Warden's quarters, once again JR saw a shadow. We got out the recorder but I didn't think we were getting anything so I said, "I'm not getting anything." You guessed it: EVP #2, just a male whisper. Like someone whispering to someone else, it's hard to make out exactly what is being said, but it's cool. This is shortly after our first encounter with "the demon bats from hell" that will, undoubtedly, play a major role in the others' stories.;D (#2) at 1:19
After pizza, a cold drink, a well deserved cigarette, and a great discussion about "demon bats", we were on our way again. We decided to head into the East block, the tallest free standing steel cell block in the world. We entered on the second tier since we had come through the newly renovated, glass enclosed, fully air conditioned, central guard station (that the proprietors also rent out as a banquet hall for events like wedding receptions). We wound our way to the fourth tier, and approximately half way down the guard walk, we heard a scream/screech. I happened to be on point, Julie in the middle, and JR bringing up the rear (we had to walk single file as the walkway is very narrow and too close to the cells for comfort, and brought back memories of the handmade shanks in the museum). JR looked to see where the noise had come from, and discovered the door to the block had been shut. I quickly snapped off a photo, but the flash didn't reach as far as the door, or JR's flashlight. (#3) at 13-14 seconds
We continued on around the block, and when we reached the door that was shut discovered that it was indeed, still open. We played with it and realized that it was well greased, and couldn't have made any kind of sound. Also, in our excitement, we mistook the bars for being the door, when actually the door was covered in steel mesh. But, shortly into our trip on the next floor, we came upon a cell that HAD been closed. We still have no idea if this is what we heard, but it seemed odd that just one out of all those cells was closed. One note: we tried several doors, and all were well greased and didn't squeak.
We took several breaks during the night. At one point, several of us decided to go to the Deputy Warden's quarters again and sit quietly to do a proper EVP session. Unfortunately for me, I had switched recorders, and the one I had at the time picks up and creates a lot of noise so I can't share that particular one since I can't hear it LOL. But I can tell of some of the experiences we had. If you recall, at the bottom of these stairs is where JR had his second sighting of a shadow. It is in this room that our guide, Scott, had told us of his experience where he had been punched in the kidney by an unseen force. We now refer to it as the "kidney punch room".
The main room in the center of the apartment is quite large, with what appears to be an elevated stage at the far end. Here I, Julie and JR sat. Miracles sat on the floor a little ways away from us. We sat in silence for a little while, and Miracles asked if anyone wanted to talk to us. JR heard something in another room and grabbed the EMF detector. The room he was in was joined by a common door to another room, and in this doorway the EMF detector spiked a couple of times. He walked away and went back, but it never spiked again. It is in the first room where several of us heard a slight scratching close to the floor and wall, but not IN them, and near a window. We thought it was possibly the "demon bats" playing around so we sort of ignored it. Miracles went in with her recorder and what she came out with has since changed our minds. You'll have to read her story to find out about it though.
As we sat in silence, we began to hear footsteps on the stairs just outside the door. These continued on and off for some time, and I hope Miracles got it on her recorder! We were joined by stephyw and her friend, so at that time we assumed the footsteps were theirs until we continued to hear them. Again, silence overcame us, and Julie had the distinct sensation of something tickling her side like a cat rubbing against her. JR continued to go from room to room with the EMF detector, and was picking up random spikes in several locations. But the one that really got our attention was on one side of a small table in the center of the room, near the floor. The detector was spiked to the max, so I went downstairs to see if there was a light fixture or something else that could have been causing such interference. I had them tap on the floor where they were getting the highest readings, and there was nothing on my side that would cause it. There was a light on the ceiling at the other end of the room, but no visible cords.
Upstairs, we ran the detector along the floor to see if there was a cord between the floor and the ceiling, but all we got was silence. But around that table near the floor it was wild. We ended our session, and continued to the chapel, since our first attempt at getting there was foiled by the "demon bats". There's strength in numbers, after all.
I actually didn't experience much in the chapel, and I still had the crappy recorder. So I'll leave this segment to the others.
This is where my notes become confusing, even for me. I'm not exactly sure which cell block we were in, but I think it was solitary confinement. We had picked up most of the others after another break, and proceeded to walk through the block again. We weren't being overly quiet, in fact, we were quite negligent in using our "ghost hunting" voices. However, on our way out and while I was discussing with stephyw about snapping a picture (the others had gone some distance away), I picked up another EVP. To me, it sounds like the same guy from the first one. (#4) A sigh, then at 4-5 seconds
Later on, and close to the end of our hunt, our little trio once again took off on our own to the East cell block. We were feeling rather battle worn, so we decided to just walk around the bottom and snap some pics and record. JR noticed that Julie's flashlight was becoming dim, so we stopped to change the batteries. We fumbled around in the bag JR had and couldn't find them, but then I remembered I had the bag with the spares. We heard a small commotion, and shined the one working light toward it, and paid for that mistake by being dive bombed by a "demon bat"! And soon after another, and another... But on my recording, as the second and third bats made their approach there was someone warning us of the attack LOL. (#5) no citation needed lol
Throughout the night I experienced some scents. Urine and body odor being the most common, and I mentioned it about 5 times in my recordings alone. These smells came and went, were never in the same places, and were at times overwhelmingly strong. I did get to smell the perfume of the Warden's wife, and so did Julie; me at the top of the stairs in the Warden's quarters, and her at the bottom, as we all made our way back to the break room after an exciting experience with the "flashlight trick", courtesy of our guide, in the surgical infirmary.
In the East cell block during the time when EVP #3 was recorded, I was on point, and kept getting the sensation of spider webs across my face and left arm, the one closest to the cells. You can hear me wiping them off, complaining, asking JR if he'd experienced this, and stating that surely enough people had been through there recently that there couldn't be any spider webs there so quickly. Thinking about it later, we were all in black shirts, and had the sensations been spider webs it would have been apparent as they would have shown on the black material. I experienced these quite often. The coveted position in our trio was the one in middle, since the one on point would be the first to see and feel things in front of us, and the one in the rear would constantly get the feeling that someone was following too close behind.
All in all, this is one of the greatest experiences I've ever had. It was wonderful to finally meet and put a real person to the screen names mentioned, and it may sound strange but I consider the time spent with my son and niece as "quality time". We had been planning this trip since August of last year, had to wait until October to book our reservation, and started the countdown on January 1st. I walked away from Mansfield with the sense that yes, this place is haunted, but probably residual in nature. That feeling changed during the next few days as I went over my recordings, and listened to some the others had. There are intelligent, interactive spirits roaming around the place. I think we're going to go back some day.
*I hope the links work, if not I'll provide them in the comment section*