I learn something new from every investigation and this one was no different. The Ribeyre Gymnasium was the perfect location for a ghost hunt. Built in 1924 to serve as the sports center for the local New Harmony school system, the gymnasium has witnessed a tremendous amount of history during the past century.
The gymnasium was only a year old when a tragic F5 tornado swept through the nearby town of Griffin, IN, and nearly wiped the town off the face of the earth. Many of the injured and dead were brought to New Harmony, with the gymnasium being used as a temporary morgue.
Since that time, strange occurrences have been reported. People often hear voices, footsteps, and doors slamming in empty rooms and the apparitions of two children have been seen frequently. During my first Sweethearts Ghost Hunt investigation at the gymnasium, many of us witnessed a child poking his/her head out of the bathroom door. Others saw movement on the balcony. While we didn’t visually witness the apparitions during this investigation, we had enough experiences to validate the haunting of the Ribeyre Gymnasium.
After a presentation and a lasagna dinner, we divided into two groups of 12 people. Crystal Folz, my friend who has helped me with many other events, took one group to the Annex building, while I took another group of 12 to the basement. Assisting us with the night was Paula Bundy, my childhood friend who helps me with my events and Shannon DeLap, my local New Harmony friend.
Basement – Small Room at the base of the stairs
My group started out together in the small room in the basement at the foot of the stairs. I wanted them to experience an EVP session together before we divided into two smaller groups. I passed around my dowsing rods to let everyone experience them. Several people were blown away by how the rods move on their own. I then pulled out some of my equipment, including my Mel Meter and KII meter, which measures electromagnetic energy fluctuations, which can sometimes signify a ghostly presence. As soon as we introduced the meters, especially the KII, I had everyone turn their cell phones onto airplane mode. When our phones search for signals or receive data, it can cause the KII meter to register. Knowing that everyone’s phones were discontinued from getting a signal gave us the confidence to know that all readings on the meter were legitimate.
Two members of our group came with a plethora of equipment. Al and Judy traveled from northern Indiana and spent the day walking around New Harmony, taking in the sights. One of the gadgets they brought was a Phasmabox program they ran off a tablet. (http://www.extremesenses.com/software/phasmabox.htm).
It took Al and Judy a few minutes to get the device running, so I asked the group if they could feel the ghosts coming into the room. Several members of our group have had profound paranormal experiences and attended to gain more insight.
As soon as the Phasmabox was operating, we started getting strange responses. This program apparently scans online radio stations and works similarly to the Spirit Box without the choppiness.
Here’s an example of what we heard. After about twenty seconds it said, “This in twenty seconds.” It wasn’t in response to a question. It just said it. None of us could make it out at the time. I had to section it out and listen to it with headphones to make it out.
Judy said, “What did you want to ask us?” The device said, “Are you happy?” What I found to be strange was the fact that the voice that responded sounded very similar to me, even though I didn’t say a word.
Al then asked how many were in the room with us. It immediately answered, “Six.” Judy then asked if they could tell us their names. A female voice came through and said, “Two men with us.”
I honestly wasn’t sure what to make of the Phasmabox. Many of the sounds it made were nonsensical. We couldn’t understand what it was saying, but other times, it was as clear as day. One person asked if they lived in New Harmony. The response was, “Been around.”
After almost a half hour, I took half the group to the large area in the basement that has the dirt floor. Paula stayed with the remainder of the group and continued with the Phasmabox.
As soon as my group was gone, the Phasmabox said a few things that made no sense, but then said very clearly, “We’ve lost some.” Was it referring to the fact that half our group left?
They also had a strange response come through that no one understood at the time. It might just be my ears hearing this, but I swear the Phasmabox said, “We want Joni Mayhan to talk to us.” Listen for yourself and let me know what you think.
The group continued to ask questions and during one of the lulls in responses, my digital recorder caught this beauty. “I said, who farted?” If we hadn’t been getting some pretty relevant responses to this point, I would have sworn this was a lark, but it’s hard to dismiss.
The group asked my favorite question and got a great response. I always hold up several fingers and ask them how many fingers they see. I do this for several reasons. Firstly, I want to know if they can actually see us. Secondly, I want to validate the responses we are getting from our ITC devices. There is a lot of skepticism regarding the Spirit Box, so validation is important. Al held up two fingers and asked the question. “Two,” was the very eery response.
After twenty minutes, I brought my group back and had Paula’s group switch places with me.
As soon as my group settled back into the small room, I noticed that one of the recently vacated chairs was making ticking sounds. While it is natural for the chairs to ease back into position after someone gets up from them, the sounds continued long after it should have. I commented to the group about it. Upon audio review, I learned that we caught an EVP at that moment. A whispery voice said, “Chairs tick!” right after I finished speaking.
I was determined to show them how amazing the Spirit Box is when it’s working, so I turned it back on for a few rounds of questions. We went around the group several times and the only response we got was a male voice, telling us to “go!”
When it was Crystal’s group’s turn in the basement, they divided up immediately. Shannon took half the group to the large room, while Crystal stayed in the small room at the base of the stairs with the rest of the group. Crystal’s group immediately began getting hits on the KII meter, which could signify a ghostly presence. This was the first time the meter had blinked all night. Crystal made sure everyone’s cell phones were turned off.
They began using it as a tool for communicating. It came on when they asked if it was a male but didn’t answer any more questions. They moved onto the dowsing rods. They learned:
- They were talking to a male – he said he wasn’t young
- He was frightened
- He was from Griffin
When they asked if he lived on a farm, they got two responses, one from the dowsing rod and an EVP.
After a while, they stopped getting responses. They did what my group did earlier in the same spot and began chatting about the paranormal. Sometimes backing away from the investigation and lightening the mood gives them the courage to move closer. Using the dowsing rods, they asked if someone was preventing them from answering. The rods answered “no.”
They started to move their chairs to make room for Shannon’s group, who weren’t getting any results, and the KII lights started going off again.
Crystal asked if all the movement was stirring them up and the meter flashed again.
One member of the group began asking questions about the Griffin tornado. She told them that she had once been through a tornado too and asked if they were scared when it happened. The digital recorder picked up a faint EVP that said, “I don’t know.” The voice was male and sounded like an adult. The dowsing rods began moving towards yes but paused at the same time they recorded the EVP.
Large Room with the Dirt Floor in the Basement
When my group was in the basement, Paula took half the group into the larger room with the dirt floor. As soon as they turned on the Phasmabox, a girl’s voice came through. The group thought she said, “Someone help me,” but upon later review, I couldn’t really make out what she said. It almost sounded like, “someone there” but it wasn’t clear enough to consider a valid response. Seconds later, Judy asked, “What do you need help with?” A female voice said, “Help me.” They misinterpreted it at the time as “everything.”
They continued to talk to the Phasmabox and got quite a few responses that were difficult to interpret. They asked it to make the lights change on the KII device and it flickered to yellow. Al told them to make it go red and a voice came through and said “green.”
When it was my turn to bring a group into the dirt-floor room, we started with a Spirit Box session but received no responses after a few minutes, so we turned it off. We ended up just sitting and talking while running the audio recorder. We didn’t record any EVPs but had a good conversation about the ghosts in the building.
Crystal’s Group in the Dirt-Floor Room
Crystal’s group found the larger room to be fairly quiet too. They passed around the dowsing rods and began getting some interesting responses.
Dowsing Rod responses:
- They don’t consider it to be a quiet place
- There were several ghosts there
The group began hearing voices talking, so Crystal checked with the other basement group, who said they were also hearing voices. It could have been from my group upstairs, but we were in the far end of the Annex. She decided to just monitor it since she couldn’t find a source of the voices. They continued with the dowsing rods.
- They were afraid to talk to them (slow yes)
- They were talking to a child
- It wasn’t a little girl
- There were more than one of them
- They were siblings
- He was there with his sister (slow yes)
- They were from the 1920’s (fast yes)
- His father worked there (also confirmed with a faint EVP that said “yeah”)
- He played at the banks of the Wabash River
- He liked to go swimming in the Wabash River
- He helped his dad a lot
- He liked to help his dad (fast yes)
- His dad didn’t work on the ferry
- His dad worked in town in New harmony (fast yes)
- His dad worked in a shop
Shannon’s Group in the Dirt-Floor Room
Shannon’s turn in the larger room was similar to the rest of our experiences. As with every group, they were fascinated by the foundation and structure. Shannon commented that it almost looked like they were in an episode of Stranger Things.
They started off with a Spirit Box session. Everyone asked very good questions but didn’t get any responses. During the middle of the session, Crystal came into the room to ask them if they were also hearing people talking. Shannon told her that they were hearing voices too but couldn’t pinpoint the location of where the voices were coming from. The room suddenly grew colder, something everyone in the group felt.
After several minutes, one of the members of the group felt something poke her shoulder. The room seemed to grow even colder. Shannon reported she also felt something touch her leg and wondered if someone was standing between the two of them.
During their session, they noticed that the lights would periodically dim. They began attempting to use the lights for interaction, asking the ghosts to dim the lights. While the lights did appear to dim, the reaction was too delayed to consider it as a valid response.
Shannon also felt something move the recorder. It happened after Rosemary asked if they were from Griffin, so she wondered if it was a response to the question.
We were all stunned to realize that the Annex was the most active spot in the entire building. I went in with a preconceived notion that I would find more ghosts in the basement than anywhere else, but I was wrong.
Crystal’s group was the first group to investigate this room. She started out by explaining the equipment to everyone and showed them how to use the dowsing rods. She set up the laser grid and directed it so it shone against the far wall. If something walked through the light grid, it’s easier to see.
She then explained how the Spirit Box worked and gave them a quick demonstration. She also explained how the KII and Ghost Meter worked and instructed everyone to turn their cell phones on airplane mode so they wouldn’t interfere.
They then settled in for a dowsing rod session. Here’s what they learned:
- He/she was a child
- He/she didn’t grow up here. Crystal explained that the Owens often brought orphans into their group (the Harmonists did this too) so they might not understand the question.
- He was a boy (I also got a very faint EVP “yes” here on the digital recorder.
- He likes to go outside and play
- He didn’t have any pets
- He wasn’t originally from New Harmony (this was a good questions because it confirmed an earlier response)
Several people heard a woman’s voice towards the back of the room, so they began directing questions towards her.
- She confirmed she was a woman
- She confirmed that she just spoke aloud
Crystal sent Shannon into the gymnasium to get the pinwheel and explained to the group that some of the older souls residing there weren’t comfortable with our electronic gear and might be more inclined to communicate by spinning the pinwheel. As they settled back into the session, there was a strange moaning sound in the background. It almost sounded like an animal moaning. No one in the group heard it at the time.
Several people began seeing shadows moving in the gymnasium by the stage through the open door.
They continued with the dowsing rods, directing questions towards the woman. They noticed that when she answered, the dowsing rods responded in a different manner than they had when they talked to the boy, regardless of who was holding them. Only one rod would cross this time.
- She didn’t remember the man who used to fix the clock
- She likes hanging around the gymnasium
- She wasn’t from New Harmony
- She came with someone to New Harmony
Crystal then turned on the Spirit Box, but continued to use the dowsing rods.
- The person was from Griffin (dowsing rods)
- There were no responses on the Spirit Box
Crystal then divided the group and sent half the group up to Attic #1 with Shannon and gave them fifteen minutes to see what they could find.
She continued with the dowsing rods:
- The woman moved here for a job
- She lived in New Harmony
- She didn’t live on a farm (this was also confirmed by a faint EVP that said “didn’t”)
- She worked in New Harmony
They began noticing the chair clicks at that point. The other group had already been gone for over ten minutes, so the chair shouldn’t have still been settling.
- She wasn’t a coach for any of the athletic groups
They asked if the boy was still there and got a “yes” response on the dowsing rods
- He confirmed that he was playing with the chairs
- He likes causing trouble
- He’s the one who peeks out of the bathroom
- There are other children there with him
- Tracy had a video camera pointed on the bathroom door and asked if the boy would peek out of the doorway for her camera. He said yes via the dowsing rods.
Shannon came back down with the first group and brought the second group up to the attic.
Crystal continued with the dowsing rods with the other half of the group who had been in the attic.
- The woman didn’t come to the event with someone in the group
- When they asked if she was a child, the rod wavered back and forth (young woman?)
- She didn’t like to play sports
- She wasn’t an indoor person
- She had something else she wanted to tell them
- She wanted to tell them something about herself
- When asked if she had unfinished business, the rods responded with a “yes” but went very slowly
- There is someone she needs to talk to (fast yes)
- The person is a member of her family (fast yes)
- The family member was in the room
Crystal is a psychic medium and began picking up on the fact that the person probably was there with a member of the group and not a ghost hanging around the building. While she was reluctant to do a reading, she let the event run its course.
- She was there with a male
- She wanted to tell the male that she loved him
- The male was her son
At that point, the woman realized the spirit who was talking to them was her husband’s deceased mother. It was an emotional moment for the woman and her husband, but they wanted to push through it and get as much information as possible. Crystal made sure both of them were comfortable continuing, so they did.
- The woman confirmed her name
- She knew her son was loved and well cared for now
Her husband took the rods and began communicating with his mother.
- She knows that he’s okay
- She’s at peace
- She’s a little worried about him (dowsing rods responded slowly)
- She knows that he loves her (fast yes)
- Crystal then talked to the group about what they’d just experienced. One person said she felt validated after having experiences all her life. They were all amazed at the experience, having used the dowsing rods themselves and seeing how they moved.
Joni’s Group in the Annex
My group was the second group in the Annex building. As soon as we sat down, I told everyone to keep an eye out on the bathroom doorways. During the last investigation, a handful of us saw a head peek out of the doorway. I also explained that the ice machine in the kitchen often dumps a load of ice into the bin, making a loud crashing noise.
We started the session and I asked if there was anyone there who wanted to communicate with us. Immediately, the ice machine made a crashing noise that caused us all to laugh.
We started a Spirit Box session and got an immediate response. I asked if they could spin the pinwheel we had on the floor and a female voice said, “no.” I bring out the pinwheel because we had some luck with it at another investigation. I like to provide low tech options to them as well as our high-tech gadgets.
Al and Judy had a lot of equipment, so I invited them to bring out their SB-11 Spirit Box. The model I use is the SB-7. The SB-11 is essentially two of my devices put together. They scan simultaneously, one scanning backwards and the other scanning forwards, to prevent any radio interference. The results were a mixed bag. While we did seem to get some responses, they were too faint to make out, even later with headphones on.
After a few minutes of this, I decided to take four people up to the first attic to see what we could find up there.
Paula stayed with the other half of the group and they continued using the SB-11 Spirit Box.
In reviewing the audio recorded during this session, it was difficult to understand some of the responses. The SB-11 seems to produce so much white noise; it’s hard to hear the voices.
Someone asked if they were married. A male voice said, “I am.”
“Did you ever go swimming in the Wabash?” Paula asked. “No,” was the faint response.
I came back down a few minutes later and Paula took her group to the attic. I left my SB-7 Spirit Box running. I also left my flashlight up there. As soon as her group got up to the attic, they sat down and asked if anyone was there. The flashlight came on immediately.
Someone asked what his name was and the response was amusing. “Pony Boy,” a voice on the Spirit Box said. Was he a big fan of The Outsiders?
The flashlight remained off until someone asked if they liked playing with it. It immediately came on for the second time.
Some time went on and the flashlight remained off. Someone asked if they liked it when I brought groups there and it came back on.
It remained off until someone asked if they could turn it on again. It immediately came back on, and then stayed off.
“Are there seven people with you?” someone asked. They heard something, but couldn’t make it out. “Is that a yes?” he asked. “Yes,” was the clear response.
I went upstairs and brought the group back to the Annex building, where Al had his Phasmabox going again. We all rejoined the group and started asking questions.
“Do you know what color my car is? Did you see me drive up?” I asked. It responded with “yellow” immediately. It was the wrong answer because my car is red, but the fact that it provided an actual color was interesting to me. Was this really working?
I took a group up to Attic #1 and when I returned, I decided to work with the dowsing rods. I was feeling there were two females there and the dowsing rods confirmed this. I noticed Kylie staring at my chair with a look of horror on her face, so I stopped and asked her what was wrong. Apparently, after I sat my phone on the empty chair beside me, it started skittering down the seat. I was able to duplicate it once, but it wouldn’t do it again. I don’t necessarily think it was paranormal, but it was pretty creepy the way it moved and stopped, moved and stopped.
Al turned back on his Phasmabox and let it run for a while. After someone asked what his name was, he said, “It’s Houston.”
Still not convinced the program was really the afterlife speaking to us, I decided to test it. I asked questions that only had one answer. I asked what town we were in and didn’t get a response. I held up three fingers and asked how many fingers I was holding up. No response. There have been many times when I’ve wondered if some of the communication we’ve had come through the Spirit Box, and in the Phasmabox, were coming though the machine, almost like “ghost telephones.” I often ask direct questions to test this theory and I’ve only had a correct response twice, both while I was living in Massachusetts. Was it possible we were just talking “long distance” to someone in the spirit world? I’m not sure but I’ll definitely keep asking.
After a few more minutes, we broke for break.
Attic #1 (to the left of the stage)
Shannon brought two groups up to the first attic. During her first session, she felt someone rubbing her neck and back. Another person felt very wobbly up there and reported having a difficult time trying to breathe. This is something the group from the previous week also experienced. The flight of stairs is relatively short, so it wouldn’t be normal for people to be winded. They discussed it at length and said that the sensation was abnormal for them. The entire group heard what sounded like a piano playing several notes. They didn’t hear it again.
Joni’s Attic #1 Group
I brought a small group up to the first attic. We decided to use the flashlight to communicate.
We learned that we were talking to a male. No response when we asked his age. We doubled back and asked if we were talking to a female – no response, but when we asked if it was a male, the light came on. We stopped getting responses on the flashlight so I turned on my Spirit Box. We got a few slight responses, but the heating unit clicked on at that point, so any EVPs we might have gotten were drowned out.
After our final break, the entire group investigated the gymnasium together. Due to the acoustics, we couldn’t have a group in the gymnasium while there was a group in the basement. We tested this during our test-run investigation and heard every footstep echo loudly in the basement below.
I set up several divination tools on tables around the room, inviting people to experiment with them. Included in this experiment were Rune Stones, pendulums, and a scrying mirror. Rick had some interesting results with the scrying mirror. The mirror itself is simply a black mirror that you stare at, hoping to see something appear in the mirror. Rick sat with the mirror facing the balcony in the gymnasium, a spot where children have been seen running up and down the old bleachers. He thought he saw movement in the balcony area as he used the mirror.
In the meantime, our four group leaders took small groups up to the stage area and to the second attic for small EVP sessions.
Shannon brought a group to the stage and did a ten-minute Spirit Box session. The group asked some very compelling questions but didn’t get any valid responses.
Attic #2 (to the right of the stage)
Crystal brought a small group up to the second attic and did a ten-minute Spirit Box session. Someone asked what their names were and a voice responded, “Mark.” The voice sounded high-pitched, as though it belonged to a child or young man. One member of the group thought the voice sounded like it said, “Kirk” and began directing questions to Kirk. There were no more responses which might be due to the incorrect name. The heater clicked on at that point which obliterated any further responses.
As the night drew to a close, we sat in a large circle in the gymnasium and discussed the evening. We did a brief Spirit Box session and only got one interesting response. I asked if they knew what day of the week it was and a voice said, “Sunday.” It was actually Saturday, but we were only ten minutes away from Sunday, so they weren’t off by much. I then went around the circle and asked everyone to tell us their favorite part of the evening.
Everyone had some sort of experience. It ranged from the young man who communicated with his mother to someone seeing shapes move on the balcony. Here are some of the highlights:
- Rosemary heard a piano play in Attic #1. It was just a few notes, but was interesting.
- When Shannon did a Spirit Box session on the stage, she said goodnight and they said “goodnight” back to them. She also felt someone touch her back in Attic #1.
- Paula was amazed at the KII hits in the basement. We’ve never had much luck with it before there.
- The dowsing rods crossed at the same time the lights flickered for one person. This happened several times.
- Others were amazed at the relevant responses we got with dowsing rods, spirit box and the Phasmabox
- Rick watched something moving in the balcony several times
- Several people enjoyed the paranormal experiences because they helped them validate other events that have happened to them in their lives.
Thank you to everyone who attended the event. Special thanks go to Crystal Folz, Paula Bundy and Shannon DeLap for all your help making this event so successful.