BLOG: Old City Jail tour leads to catching ghosts on camera

Source: Crystal Bruce/WCIV

By Crystal

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - It's rare when I go on a ghost tour or paranormal investigation that I get to make the claim that I caught a ghost on camera.

In this investigation, it seems I did.

But, with most paranormal happenings you can almost rationalize the image I captured as a shadow or light play. Any skeptic would brush the image off, but I'm not so quick to cast doubt on it.

Here's why: I was there. I know the things I felt and the things others around me felt, an odd feeling, bizarre happenings and strange sounds.

Here I am starting at the end. Let me take you back to the beginning.

I was invited to go along on a paranormal investigation of the Old City Jail in Charleston. Located on Magazine Street, its history dates back to the early 1800's and remained in operation until 1939 which means it saw its fair share of pirates, prisoners and all around evil.

My interest in the jail began while watching another paranormal show on TV. Ghost Hunters came to the jail and one of their investigators was scratched pretty badly by forces unknown.

So, when the opportunity to tour the jail just days before Halloween arose I jumped.

The investigation was through Bull Dog Tours. My guide was an animated woman named Karen Marr, who is no stranger to giving tours in this haunted city of ours. She informed us of some of the jail's most prominent spirits and let us do some exploring on our own.

Guided by only the red lights of the exit signs we began our investigation of the jail.

Everyone on the tour was equipped with their own modern technology. Smart phones gave light and captured video and different apps allowed people to do their own EVP work.

Standing outside a room with only one thing inside -- an old decrepit wheel chair -- a person next to me whipped out his iPhone and shined a light inside the room while recording. Little balls of light or dust flew by the camera whimsically dancing around the light from the phone.

"Look at that," he'd say to us truly in awe of what he was seeing. "See that! See those balls of light?"

Truth is, I did. Again, my logical brain said it was dust. It was an old, dusty jail.

On a dare, I sat in the old wooden wheelchair. Located in a room on the second floor where a woman named Lavinia is said to haunt. And the mischievous side of me also rolled around the room in it. I even called out her name, begging for her to give me a sign of her existence in the afterlife.

But there was nothing until I stopped moving.

Sitting in the middle of the room in the wheelchair, I felt the back of it rise up and dump me not so ladylike in the middle of the floor. I immediately jumped up, running out of the room and saying, "Nope! Nope! I'm done!"

My friends followed me out asking me what was wrong. All I could manage between my own laughter and nervousness was, "Someone pushed me from the wheelchair."

Nervous giggles followed and we went back in the room to see if it would happen again. I got back into the wheelchair and noticed that even the slightest pressure from my feet on the chair foot holders would topple me forward. So, skepticism set in. Did I do that to myself? I honestly couldn't remember. It's possible. But, I immediately went back to my own gut reaction and that was me getting pushed from the chair.

We explored other rooms. We recorded ourselves asking similar questions: "Is there anyone here with us?" "Will you give us a sign?" "What's your name?"

Funny thing is, there were about four or five canned questions. After that you just weren't sure what to ask the spirits. Nothing came up on the recorder.

And the noises we heard could easily be explained off as other patrons on the tour. And there were so many noises. Above us, below us, around us. The bangs and creaks seemed to come from everywhere. But, with a tour of 30 people in a small building it was hard to separate real from anything spooky.

By 2 a.m., we were starting to get tired and none of us had really seen anything unexplained. Again, like I said it was more the feelings we got. I heard the word "creepy" used a lot. This room is "creepy" - I feel "creepy" - "oh, that was creepy."

So, we left the jail not really having any paranormal activity that couldn't be rationalized in our heads as something man made.

And that takes us back to the beginning. As I was going through my images of the night I noticed something very strange on the spiral staircase. I'll let you be the judge of what you see, but in my mind it is the clear shape of a man walking up the stairs. Two images and it appears the shape moves like it is coming closer. Clearly, I can see a head and shoulders. Again, it could be shadow and light play. Or it could be something more.

I showed it to my tour guide who quickly said, "Oh, lucky you. You got a picture of Thomas."

Thomas apparently walks up and down the staircase and the hallways of the jail.

So, hello Thomas. I'm glad I get to share your image with those of us in this world who want to believe in your existence. That's the thing about the unknown. They call it that for a reason.


Other paranormal investigations of the jail:

Ghost Adventures caught Lavinia's voice on EVP:

Ghost Hunters: