MANSFIELD, Ohio - On May 14, local paranormal group The Cleveland Paranormal Research Society took part in an overnight lockdown to conduct research at the old Mansfield Reformatory prison in Mansfield, Ohio.
The former prison site (closed since the early 90s) is probably most famous for providing the backdrop for the movie The Shawshank Redemption in 1994 (and also scenes in Air Force One and Tango and Cash, among others).
The old Ohio State Reformatory site was built between 1886 and 1910 and remained in operation until 1990. It is now an Ohio historical site and is overseen by the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society.
In it’s time, more than 200 people died at the prison -- including a few guards who were killed during escape attempts. At the time that it was built, the East Cell Block was the largest free-standing cell block in the world (it’s 6 stories high) and was famous for prisoners being tossed over the rails to their death following spats with other prisoners.
It’s no wonder why several paranormal research groups including the popular Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures team and the Sy Fy Channel’s Ghost Hunters have conducted their own research to see if they could conjure up the spirits of those who may still be lurking in the halls of the old prison.
The Cleveland Paranormal Research Society is made up of six members: founder/lead investigator Jennifer Albert, case manager/historian Natalie Boyle, investigator Joe Whatmore, equipment tech/historian Jeremy Buccilli and investigator Michael Buccilli.
Four crew members went on the Mansfield investigation and this is each of the investigator's notes from May 14:
“On the tour around the reformatory, saw a shadow figure in the toilet room, as well as a figure walking around the bottom floor of the west cell block. Joe Whatmore also saw these figures.
In the warden's quarters, heard music that sounded as if it was from the 1930's-1950s
In the guard's quarters, I was sitting in a chair and it started to rock on its own.
In the hole, was with two other guests that had the Ovilous and the box described the shirt I was wearing.
In the west cell block, felt a slap across the right side of my face when I said I was one of the guard's wives (Guard that prisoners did not like last name's was Brenda and I said I was his wife).
The next morning I noticed I my left eye had looked as if I had been punched (witnessed by all crew members).
Footsteps all through the building."
Jeremy and Mike:
"The first experience that Jeremy and I had in our part of the investigation at Ohio Reformatory was when Jennifer, Jeremy and I were sitting on the Pew's in the chapel; Jennifer was using the "Spirit Box" and asking some questions - asking how many people were there and who was there. We got a "Mike.” Jennifer asked a few more questions and then we got "loser" as couple times and I responded "I am not a loser" and the entity said loser again.
The second experience that Jeremy had was when he, Jennifer, and I were in "Brooks Room". Jennifer was sitting on the recliner and she was doing a "spirit box" session. Jeremy felt a tingling sensation on his back near his shoulder - he asked me to check his back and there was a long vertical scratch. Later on in our investigation we went outside for him to have a cigarette and he asked me to check his back again because it was tingling again. The scratch was still there so I took a picture of it. At 10 p.m. when we met down to the lunch room to get our pizza and drinks Jeremy's back was tingling again; I checked it and noticed 5 scratches. I couldn't take a picture because Jeremy's camera battery had died hours before and my cell phone camera isn't very good in any light other than daylight."
"The personal experiences at Mansfield were, saw a shadow figure run across doorway in toilet and sink storage room, went in library room 3 times, two of the 3 times no smell but once strong urine odor, smelled cigar smoke in administration building basement, heard cell door slam which I caught on audio and over 20 EVPs."
In addition to hosting overnight ghost hunts and weekly tours, the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society has been working to restore this historic facility to its original state. Restorations to date include the removal of debris, replacement of roofing, complete restoration of the Warden's quarters, as well as the complete restoration of the central guard room between the East and West Cell Blocks. The restorations are funded through donations and tour fees. There is also an annual haunted house event at Halloween each year.
You can read more about the restoration work and get information on tours at the prison through the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society’s official website: http://www.mrps.org /.
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