Despite decades of rumors, paranormal investigators this week were unable to detect any sign of the dead or undead in The Wichita Eagle building.
No skeletons were detected in the newsroom.
No giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man was found wandering the press room in the basement at 825 E. Douglas.
That’s even though searchers from KS White Noise Paranormal brought all their sophisticated gear and roamed the four-story building.
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Within the past decade, there has been a surge of interest in the paranormal. Ghost hunting has been featured on national television shows and is the subject of countless books, YouTube videos and autumnal events across the state.
This year, we couldn’t wait for Halloween. With The Eagle building scheduled for demolition next month, we asked a team of ghost hunters to step into our old digs and check for those things that have typically gone bump in the night.
The Eagle is moving this week into its new Old Town headquarters at 330 N. Mead.
Explaining the unnatural
Sunday afternoon, the KS White Noise Paranormal team held digital recorders, flashlights, electromagnetic field detectors and video cameras as they searched for signs of ghosts.
The team tried to use rational explanations to explain the unexplained that Eagle employees through the years have often chalked up to the quirks of a building more than 60 years old:
▪ Elevator doors opening unexpectedly with no one getting on or off.
▪ The sound of wind whooshing through the building.
▪ Bangs and clunks heard in other parts of the building.
▪ Sudden chills and odd smells permeating certain floors.
Robyn Garrison remembers the night she was working second shift at The Eagle when she encountered a man wearing a trench coat and a fedora on the back elevator on the east side of the building.
She asked whether he was going to the third floor.
“He was already on the elevator, standing in the corner,” said Garrison, who worked at The Eagle from 1999 to 2011 in special publications. “He smiled and nodded. I hit 3, and (the elevator) went to the third-floor break room. I got off, but he wasn’t there.”
A few months later, Garrison said, she was using one of the vending machines on the third floor and glanced up, seeing the same man’s reflection in the newsroom cafeteria’s windows.
Jennifer Lacy, who worked at The Eagle from 1999 to 2008, remembers a similar experience with the man in the trench coat and fedora.
She was walking down the first-floor hallway with a co-worker to the back elevator.
She glanced up and saw the elevator’s door was partly open, but it closed just before she arrived. That’s when she saw him.
She hit the elevator button. A moment later, the door opened.
No one was there.
“I looked at her, she looked at me, and I asked, ‘Did you see someone standing there?’ ” Lacy said. “We both said, ‘A man on the elevator wearing a long trench coat and fedora?’ ”
Could it have been the ghostly apparition of a long-ago employee?
Longtime Eagle employees have an idea who it might be.
Gary Karr, who has worked in The Eagle’s sports department for 53-plus years, remembers that Sam Keifner, who used to be an assistant managing editor of The Beacon from the 1950s through the early 1970s, was assigned to work the comics section late in his career.
Keifner would daily wear a trench coat and fedora and smoke a pipe, Karr said.
Hunting the ghosts
On Sunday, as the team from KS White Noise combed the floors of The Eagle, one of their instruments picked up a whisper in a basement closet offering three names: “Bob,” “Nick” and “Murphy,” according to Kim Sponsel, the group’s case manager.
She held divining rods as she walked around the darkened area.
“Are you scared? We aren’t going to hurt you. Come tap me on the shoulder,” she called out.
Cindy Martin, an investigator with KS White Noise, said, “Can you kick one of these bolts?”
“Give us a sign you are here. We’d like to tell your story,” Sponsel said.
“Are you coming to talk with us?” Martin said. “Tell us your name.”
Using an instrument called the Ovilus III, Sponsel explained to whatever entities remained in The Eagle building that they could use it to try to manipulate words.
After a pause came the words “Nick,” “hug,” “zoo” and “lights.”
“Explain to us what you used to do,” Sponsel called out.
On the third floor back in the southeast corner of the library – where Keifner’s office once was – came the words “reporter” and later “Go home.”
“Spirits are (asked) to try to manipulate a 2,000-word dictionary,” Sponsel said.
“Sometimes this works really well and it works with what we are doing, and sometimes it comes up with crazy things that makes no sense.”
It may be weeks before the official findings come out verifying whether The Eagle building is haunted. What is known is that the building has glass windows and can creak with temperature changes and old age from day to night.
“There are a few hits on the K-2 meter that weren’t because of power or electricity,” said Doug Martin, the team manager. The K-2 meter is used to read whether there is any unexplained energy in an area.
Sponsel said that when she did a pre-investigation of the building a few weeks ago, the basement was lighting up the instruments. On Sunday, not so much.
“The machinery was already powered down and unplugged; I couldn’t figure out why my K-2 (was) going in the red,” she said. “Today, totally different story.”
Could the spirits or ghosts or entities have already left the building – like Elvis?
“Or could they have attached to something you guys have already moved?” Sponsel said. “It is so hard to tell.”
To find out more about KS White Noise Paranormal, go to the group’s website at www.kswhitenoiseparanormal.com.