05/31/14

Eastern State Penitentiary … Is Al Capone still serving time?

The other day I was talking with a friend about our investigation of Eastern State Penitentiary and they asked if I thought Al Capone’s ghost actually haunted his old cell. After I thought about it a minute I had to tell them I didn’t think so. Its funny there are rumors that his ghost haunts Eastern State and Alcatraz. My wife and I have investigated both prisons and have seen both of the cells where he was supposed to have been locked up and we never got any evidence or even the slightest impression his spirit was still there. This got me to thinking that I didn’t know that much about Capone.

 

Like me, most people probably don’t know how Capone ended up In Eastern State. On February 14 in 1929, in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, Capone’s men carried out a hit on seven of rival gangster Bugs Moran’s men. It was dubbed the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. The plan was that Capone’s men were to lure Bugs and his lieutenants to a garage and kill them all. Bugs was running late and saw Capone’s men who were dressed as police show up, so he and another member of his gang turned around and left. After the dust settled and Capone found out that his men had not gotten Moran and fearing retaliation, he thought it would be a good time to get out of town for a while. Capone and one of his men took a road trip into Pennsylvania. The problem was they somehow got caught on a weapons charge and sentenced to eight months in Eastern State Penitentiary. While there Capone’s money and reputation got him celebrity status and  insured that his time at Eastern States was anything but hard time, or so he thought.

This is Capone’s cell today.

It was during Capone’s stay that reports started to surface of him, alone in his cell terrified, weeping and begging “Jimmy” to leave him alone. It was assumed that Jimmy was the spirit of James Clark, who was killed in the massacre. Clark was also Moran’s brother in law and his second in command. It was of course never proved or documented that it was Jimmy Clark, but guards and other inmates reported seeing Clark’s ghost standing outside of Capone’s cell while he begged for mercy. Capone is said to have even called in a medium named Alice Britt in 1931 to try to find out what Clark wanted. Apparently, Britt was unsuccessful, and Jimmy continued to follow Capone through his trial for income tax evasion, through his eleven-year sentence at the federal penitentiary in Atlanta, and then, in 1934, to the Rock–Alcatraz, where Capone did three turns in “the hole” for rules infractions. Paroled in 1939, Capone left Alcatraz a broken man. Back in Chicago the mob had moved on; new leaders had taken his place and even those loyal to him realized once they saw him, that Capone would never control the mob again. Capone died in his bed, of cardiac arrest following a stroke and a bout of pneumonia in 1947. The ghost of James Clark, it is said, was with him till the end. After Capone’s death, no one reported an encounter with James Clark’s spirit again. There is speculation that Capone was suffering from Syphilis and was loosing his mind. The thought was that Jimmy was a hallucination that was a result of Capone’s guilty conscience, but that doesn’t explain the reports from the guards and other inmates, plus I find it hard to believe Capone had a conscience at all.

So is Al Capone’s spirit haunting Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia PA? I would say probably no, but keep and eye out for Jimmy. Who knows?

This is a cool little video from the The Travel Channel that will give you a look into Capone’s cell and a little view of Eastern State as well.

04/17/14

Rocks Will Remember….

A term heard often in paranormal field is The Stone Tape Theory.  Term was first coined in a BBC film of the same name. What is this theory, is there anything to it? I am Researching this because the inquiring mind wants to know.  This theory was first proposed in the 1970’s.  Hypothesis was, that in times of high stress or high emotions could somehow help transfer memory to an inanimate object, and actual recording of the event.  This energy would playback in a non-interactive way (a residual haunting).

Researcher Eleanor Mildred Sidgwick claimed objects could retain, record or absorb the “psychic energy” of a tragic event.

William G Roll, Parapsychologist and Professor at State University of West Georgia, agreed with this stone tape theory.  Believing the mind can create apparitions from “psychic traces of the past”   by their “psi field”.  psi field is defined as subtle energy that unites the mind and body, a universal life force running between all things.  Energy in Chinese medicine– Qi;  in Indian Yoga–Prana or Kundalini  energy is also described as an aura, rays, field, audible or tactile vibrations.

Barrett stated that certain cases were imprints or “echoes”somehow become “perceptible to those living”.  He became interested in the paranormal in the 1860’s after an experience with Mesmerism (hypnosis).  He hypothesized these echoes were thought transferences or“place memories”.  Suggesting that hauntings are memories “lost” from an individuals mind, attaching itself to the environment, showing up and replaying back as hallucinations in sensitive people.

Barrett was a member of the Spiritualist movement and was said to be duped by a medium.  later founding The Society of Psychical Research in 1882.

I have not found a reasonable explanation for this theory of stone taping.  Some claim it is geological,  iron oxide, or rust particles, with electromagnetic fields acting as a recording device changing a persons perception of what is seen.  Others refer to the water memory theory (see Water, a Ghost Essential Element) and plate tectonics, an electromagnetic charge caused by quartz in earth that carries  an electric charge from movement of a fault lines.  Fascinating tales of phantoms, echoes and spirits all on the rocks. Cheers !

04/9/14

The Lady in Black

 

I know you like ghosts, but,do you like Civil War history? Do you like forts? How about a nice boat ride in Boston Harbor? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need to check out Fort Warren. Its located on Georges Island at the entrance of Boston Harbor, which is operated by the Massachusetts Dept. of Conservation and Recreation.

 

Check out: http://www.bostonharborislands.org for more information and how to get there.

 

My wife and I go every year and end up finding something new every time. We haven’t seen the lady in black yet, but we have heard an eerie harmonica playing from a chimney located on top of the wall, way in the back of the fort. The Lady in Black is supposedly an apparition on George’s Island, a young woman in black robes that wanders about the grounds. She is believed to be Mrs. Andrew Lanier, wife of a Confederate soldier that was imprisoned there in 1861. Edward Rowe Snow, a 20th century local historian, had popularized the myth, and the following is his version of the story:

“Mrs. Lanier received a letter from her husband that he had been imprisoned at Fort Warren. She was compelled to free him, making an epic journey from Georgia to Hull, Massachusetts and the home of a Confederate sympathizer. Hull is only about a mile away from George’s Island. Mrs. Lanier systematically observed the fort with a spy-glass, and on a stormy night in January 1862, had rowed across to George’s Island and went ashore. She cut her hair short and dressed as a man, and brought with her an old pistol and small pick-axe. She made her way to the dungeon cells, and from outside the fort signaled to her husband by whistling an obscure southern tune, to which he signaled back. Mrs. Lanier was able to squeeze through the slit-window of his cell, and was then hidden by the Confederate soldiers. With the use of the pick-axe, the soldiers contrived to tunnel to the center of the fort, and then overtake the guards and obtain weapons. The tunnel took several weeks to dig, and on the eve of finishing the tunnel, a sharp blow of the pick had alerted a guard. The alarm was sounded, and the tunnel quickly discovered. As each of the Confederate soldiers was removed from the tunnel, a tally was taken. When all the prisoners were accounted for, Mrs. Lanier was to spring from the tunnel and capture a Union officer with the old pistol. Mrs. Lanier succeeded in surprising the officer, but he slapped the pistol from her hand. The pistol went off and the bullet struck and killed her husband. As punishment for her deeds, Mrs. Lanier was condemned to death by hanging. Her final request was to be given female clothing, and a search of the fort produced nothing but some old black robes. She was executed in these robes and buried on George’s Island.”

So if you dare to explore the Fort Warren keep your eyes and ears open you never know what may be waiting for you…

fort2

03/25/14

Trigger Objects

Sometimes in paranormal investigating, the use of trigger objects are thought to be useful. A trigger object is an object either owned by the deceased person in question or something of their time period. The theory is that it may illicit activity, communication or perhaps the trigger object may move. It is also referred to as the Singapore Theory. The theory is based on familiarization and if the spirits occupying the location are familiar with the object or music, etc – they will be more drawn to it and possibly become more “active”. The ultimate goal is that this process is so effective and stimulating – that the end result is an apparition.

We have brought an orange to an old Colonial house in Coventry CT both because the homeowners thought an orange they had in the house kept showing up in odd places and because an orange was a rarity, like a gift, back in the Colonial times.

We have used a family Bible, a toy ball, stuffed animals, an old Sanitarium bedsheet, we have played various period music, and tried many experiments using many trigger objects.

There are many ghost hunting techniques out there and we use a multitude of approaches custom-fit to each and every investigation.

Objects already found on the location of the paranormal investigation which the homeowner’s state have already moved on their own are  ideal trigger objects. Of course there is no guarantee, but it is one of the best situations to test the theory. Also ideal is if the object belonged to, or held some significance to the spirit when alive.

It is often thought that getting the personal item of the spirit that has been known to move in the past is the goal. Don’t limit yourself to just that. There may be other personal items on-site that belonged to the spirit when alive: jewelry, coins, clothes, books, furniture, toys (avoid battery, activated or computer chip toys that can react on their own and be incorrectly thought to react because of a spirit), photos, religious items, war memorabilia, etc.  Some theorize that metal objects (coins, jewelry etc) may store and conduct energy. I have never run across this – but there are many stories of movement of human vices like tobacco, drinks, cigars, pipes.

No one knows if the spirits are a residual haunting (they don’t know you are there, but they or their energy are caught in time) or if they are intelligent (they know you are there and can communicate).

When using trigger objects keep in mind the environment. Is it somewhere sturdy? Will it get bumped? Is the floor slanted so the ball will roll? Is there an open window, an air vent or draft? Put the trigger object on a piece of paper and draw an outline around it and videotape the entire process. You may think something moved but it hasn’t or maybe the homeowner’s unsocial pet bumped it while you were out of the room. We’ve used devices that detect a floor’s vibration to rule out various situations (nearby trains, construction, etc) that may cause slight movement.

There are many theories and they are largely operating on hypothetical principles about what “ghosts” are and how they can operate in our physical realm.  Whatever the case, all we can do is try to illicit activity in as controlled environment as possible and as scientifically as possible. Happy hunting and let me know what types of trigger objects you have used and what happened! I’d love to hear about it.

03/12/14

Alcatraz

ALCATRAZ

We haven’t done a formal investigation of Alcatraz, but I did have an experience there. We were in San Francisco on our Honeymoon and staring at us every time we looked out into the bay was “The Rock “. It’s always been an intriguing place, with history that spans a period from before California was a state with the Native Americans to the Civil War to the infamous prison that housed the likes of Al Capone, Robert Stroud(The Bird Man), Frank Morris, John Anglin, his brother Clarence Anglin (the three that escaped)and George Celio Barnes (Machine Gun Kelly).

So we booked a trip over and spent the day traipsing around the grounds. My experience happened while we were taking the walking tour of the cell block. It was one of those self guided tours that you listened to through head phones and it would guide you to different spots and tell interesting information and history. We had just left the barber shop and were headed to the next stop on the tour. Just as the recording was about to start up I heard a raspy, loud, and distinct voice say “Hey” in my left ear. I looked around thinking it was my husband but he was still in the barber shop and I was alone.

If you get chance to go, I highly recommend a trip to Alcatraz, but make your reservations well in advance, its on a lot of people’s bucket list.

05/15/11

Eastern State Penitentiary

 

Eastern State Penitentiary, one of America’s scariest prisons, lies in the heart of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Opening in 1829, inmates not only faced punishment in solitary confinement, but spiritual enlightenment as a way to repent for their crimes.  The most famous inmate of all was none other than Al Capone who’s cell is recreated today.  After falling into a state of disrepair, the prison was closed in 1971.  Today, one can travel to Philadelphia for both guided and self-guided tours of this massive, haunting structure.

This site has been a featured investigation on many paranormal shows and has become a popular destination to investigators.

On May 15, 2011, it was our turn.  We made our way to the site earlier in the afternoon and were able to roam the grounds free of charge to get a lay of the land.  The helpful staff even told us there were areas that normal tours never went in.  We returned that evening setting up our DVR system in the Rotunda with cameras pointing into each cell block.  We proceeded to break up into two teams of three along with a tour guide to explore the grounds that already had a creepy look in broad daylight, but looked much more ominous at night.  We spent the next few hours investigating with much passion and enjoyment.  Unfortunately, aside from bats flying around, there was no activity to report.  It’s a great bucket list location for any investigator.