Tribune Chronicle – 10/31/2010

Ghost stories
Group says it has debunked many local legends

October 31, 2010
By BURTON COLE / Tribune Chronicle

Dave Karr’s interest in paranormal research – ghost hunting – sprang from more than idle curiosity. He was raised in a haunted house.

“The house I grew up in (in Champion) had doors that opened and closed by themselves, the TV would turn on and off, we’d hear footsteps. When I was 4, 5, or 6, several times I would go into the room and my sister’s Raggedy Ann doll had his hand up in the air or pointing straight out, and a few seconds later it dropped to his side and stayed there.

“I was scared to death of the paranormal growing up, even into high school,” Karr said. “Then I got curious.”

Now 40 and living in Cortland, he has been studying paranormal activity for about 17 years. By day, he is a floater at KraftMaid Cabinetry in Middlefield. The rest of the time, he is the lead investigator of the Ohio Valley Paranormal Research Group.

“We have a lot of homes around here that we have gotten activity from,” Karr said.

On March 12 in a home in Trumbull County, investigators recorded an unexplained voice during a pre-investigation interview, and one team member saw a full-body apparition of a young girl.

“Although the actual investigation did not turn up much evidence, investigators heard the disembodied voices of two children during set-up in an upstairs corner,” Karr said.

In an August 21 house call, the team debunked the fears about a shadowy figure in the basement, but Karr had no explanation for the black, mangy dog he saw in the kitchen. The homeowner had no pets.

While investigators are confirming spirits in homes, the most spooky places in Trumbull County aren’t standing up to scrutiny.

So far, only one local legend, a relatively new one, has registered on EVP – electronic voice phenomenon – recorders or EMF – electromagnetic field sensors, Karr said. The findings came from along railroad tracks where a Vienna man killed and dismembered a woman in a wooded area behind his home.

“We walked up and down the tracks,” Karr said. “We experienced chilling spots where the temperature dropped.”

When they play back the recording from their visit, a woman’s voice can be heard.

Electromagnetic readings are high, which is consistent with paranormal activity. “If you’re out in the middle of the woods, you should not see any EMF readings,” Karr said.

As for other famous haunts, “most of the legends we debunked or didn’t experience anything,” he said. But he noted that ghosts are a lot like young kids – they don’t always perform on cue.

Among the legend the Ohio Valley Paranormal Research Group put in the debunked category are hauntings from a “Hatchet Man” who lived in swamps in Bristolville decades ago killed his family with a hatchet; ghost children pushing cars parked at the five points intersection in Hartford; the wife of a Civil War soldier haunting a cemetery behind the Red Cross office on Mahoning Avenue in Warren; and hauntings reported at Perkins Park and Warren City Hall, former home of the Perkins family.

Investigations in all these areas turned up no paranormal readings, Karr said.

David L. Goldinger, founder and lead investigator of the Akron Paranormal Entity Research team, admits a lot of mysterious noises and high EMF readings can be explained by faulty wiring or bad plumbing.

“When we go into a place, we try to first find logical reasons why things happen. If we can’t, it could be paranormal activity. If I don’t know 100 percent what it is, I mark it as unexplained.”

Most pictures taken of glowing orbs are debunked as dust balls or moisture.

“But anytime you get an orb in total darkness, that’s possible paranormal activity because dust and moisture don’t emit their own light,” he said.

Make no mistake, the paranormal does exist, said Goldinger, a 59-year-old retired veteran.

“I want to be scared,” he said. “I’m like a skeptic and a believer at the same time. Until something hits me or throws me across the room, its just speculation right now.”

During an investigation at the Mansfield Reformatory, Goldinger said he saw a blonde man in an orange jumpsuit walk past him and disappear about eight feet later.

“I didn’t catch him on camera, so it’s just personal experience, not evidence,” he said.

Both Goldinger and Karr say if residents are experiencing things in the home that cannot be explained, they should not hesitate to call a paranormal investigation team.

Legitimate teams do not charge for investigation, nor are they exorcists, they said. Their job is to debunk and verify. And sometimes, they say, the truth is you are sharing your home with spirits.

Fact Box

The Ohio Exploration Society collects both documented experiences and unconfirmed local legends about paranormal activity in Trumbull County. Reported local haunts include:

— Private residence on Shanks Phalanx Road, Braceville – Residents heard things falling and conversations behind faint music. One witness saw a clear, white figure of a young boy walking through the wall of the hall closet.

— Hatchetman Road, Bristol – A path off of Corey Hunt Road leads back to a swamp surrounded by dead trees. Legend says an abandoned house deep within the woods and swamp is where “the Hatchet Man” killed his whole family with a hatchet, chopped them up, and buried them somewhere in his yard. The spirits of his family and of Hatchet Man himself are occasionally seen, and voices and footsteps heard.

— Kent State Trumbull Campus, Cortland – Building is said to be haunted by a ghostly woman who plays piano and sometimes makes loud banging noises.

— Leavittsburg Cemetery – Also known as Lover’s Lane Cemetery, it is known to be haunted by a lady in white and by the ghosts of those whose coffins fell into the river due to erosion.

— Southside Trails, Masury – Witnesses have reported feeling extreme coldness, shortness of breath, numbness, and a feeling like being stabbed in the leg at the top of the hill. Legend says about 100 Indians were murdered there in the 1700s. Some people have reported seeing Indians.

— Crybaby Bridge, Newton Falls – The covered bridge, the oldest of its kind, is said to be where a woman who didn’t want her baby threw it into the water. Some people say one can hear crying coming up from beneath the bridge.

— Private Residence, Central Parkway, Warren – Witnesses have reported seeing the spirit of a young Indian woman around the property. When a room was added to the home in the mid-1990s, the remains of an Indian woman were found.

— Warren City Hall – Legend says City Hall, once the home of Henry Bishop Perkins Sr., is haunted by the ghost of a woman who was responsible for her nephew’s death. She roams the grounds looking for him, calling his name. Perkins hung himself in the home’s office after discovering his son’s body. Multiple people have called police to report seeing someone looking out the window of city hall. No one has been found.

— Red Cross Cemetery, Warren – The cemetery just behind the Red Cross office on Mahoning Avenue is said to be haunted by a very weary and distraught widow of a Civil War officer who threw herself into the river. Her apparition is seen every year during the winter, sometimes in a beautiful white gown and sometimes in a blood-drenched white gown. Ghostly cries can sometimes be heard.

— Trumbull County Courthouse – At one time, the courthouse had its own cells to jail those who awaited trial. The basement, where the cells were located, is home to the ghostly footsteps of those who met ill fate.

Source: Ohio Exploration Society

– Gettysburg Battlefield, Gettysburg, Pa.
– The Bell Witch Cave, Adams, Tenn.
– The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Col.
– Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Louisville, Ky.
– Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pa.
– Saint Augustine Lighthouse, St. Augustine, Fla.
– Mount Misery Road, West Hills, N.Y.
– The Queen Mary, Long Beach, Calif.
– The Lincoln Theater, Decatur, Ill.
– Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery, Chicago, Ill.

Source: Akron Paranormal Entity Research


Paranormal researchers make discreet investigations at no charge when called upon. Residents should call for a team when they are experiencing at least three of the following:

– Unexplained noises such as knocks, scratching and walking, or voices;
– Electrical disturbances, such as lights going off and on or electronic malfunctions;
– Physical contact such as being touched, slapped, hair pulling or feeling someone’s breath;
– Visible anomalies, such as balls of light, apparitions or mist;
– Objects moving on their own;
– Unexplained odors;
– Feeling frightened;
– Feeling a sense of threat or danger;
– Feelings of being watched, oppression or dread in the location;
– You want to know you’re not crazy.

Source: Akron Paranormal Entity Research

Copyright © 2010, Tribune Chronicle

Thank you to Burton Cole for including some of the hauntings and legends of Trumbull County from the OES website in his article about local ghost stories and paranormal investigations.