On Monday Oct. 27, Knox College hosted a real ghost hunter, Carmen Reed, as part of its Haunted Homecoming. The ghost hunt, sponsored by Knox’s Union Board, is but one of many events that will be happening throughout the week as part of a celebration to welcome hundreds of Knox alumni visiting the campus.
This event began at 8 p.m. at Kresge Hall. A large, noisy crowd of Knox students had assembled at the doors of Kresge in anticipation. During the first hour, Reed gave a formal talk in which she discussed what led her to become a ghost hunter. She showed a preview trailer of The Haunting in Connecticut, a movie based on events that actually happened to her and her family 21 years ago. When Reed’s 13-year-old son was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, the Reed family, four kids in total, moved to Connecticut for the boy’s medical treatment. The house in which the family settled in was a former funeral home. Soon after, the boy began seeing a strange man in a hooded cloak, with raw skin dangling off half his face, and the other half metal.
“The demons feed on fear and they take the shape of what you’re most afraid of,” Reed told the audience. “Evil lurks in the hearts of men.”
The boy’s behavior began to grow erratic and violent, which scared the other kids. Reed eventually had to place her son in a psychiatric ward. “They will come after you now,” the son warned her ominously. And soon enough, the other kids began seeing things. At first Reed’s husband denied seeing things, but then he too admitted that he saw them. The evil spirits took to molesting Reed’s teenage niece.
The whole town became aware of the Reed house being haunted, which trapped the Reed family and prevented them from leaving. If the family tried to drive away, the car would not start. If the family tried to find refuge at a neighbor’s house, the evil would latch onto the neighbor. Occult experts were called in, as well as a parish priest. Exorcisms were performed in an effort to banish the evil spirits. Reed and her family were imprisoned in the house for two and a half years before escaping for good.
Following the tale was a Q&A session in which students asked Reed about a wide variety of supernatural topics that ranged from non-Catholic methods of dealing with ghosts, to whether all spirits were evil, to some specific encounters with the paranormal Reed has had following the haunting.
After the Q&A, the actual ghost hunt began around 9:30 p.m. Of those who signed up for the ghost hunt, only 40 were randomly chosen who were allowed to participate. Reed and the students embarked on a quest across campus to uproot any ghosts rumored to be haunting Knox. The trek went from the Auxiliary Gym, to the jail block of the Old Jail (which now houses the Center for Global Studies, but was the Knox County Jail), to George Davis Hall, to the mailroom in Seymour Union. Assisting Reed was Campus Safety Officer Nathan Kemp, who unlocked the doors to all the basements of the buildings.
Reed tried to feel the presence of any ghosts and took snapshots with her digital camera in hopes of capturing any paranormal images.
“I try to use my senses to feel out the ghosts,” said Reed. “Ghosts do not speak, but appear in images.” She also said that “certain ghosts can be attracted to a particular person.”
The group did not encounter any ghosts in the basement of Aux Gym, but did come across three flesh-and-blood art students working on projects.
The next stop was the jail block of Old Jail, rumored to be the most haunted place on Knox campus. While Reed tried to feel out the alleged ghosts, students observed, took their own photos, or poked around in all the unlit, dusty storage areas and creepy nooks in walls. Reed could not ferret out anything sinister and pronounced the Old Jail “ghost-free”.
“Aww, no jail ghost?” one student responded half-dejectedly and half-bemusedly.
Then the group traveled deep into the basement of GDH. At first, the basement, although not frequently visited, failed to spook the group.
“Smells like old people,” one girl observed.
But then the ghostly adventure yielded a discovery in the form of a well-hidden, extremely old, narrow, shadowy tunnel. Quite a few students crawled into it and investigated. The tunnel contained what used to be a coal chute and one tiny room with a desk in it. Although GDH was also declared ghost-free, one student captured an odd image of one of the alcoves in the tunnel on his camera. At first, the snapshot contained nothing remarkable. But if one looks very closely, there is a vague, but eerie, outline of a woman’s torso half-buried in the dust and rubble of the alcove.
The last stop was the mailroom. The mailroom itself was locked, but the outside doors leading into the hallway in front of it were not. There, someone managed to capture a phantom glowing orb on camera. One person theorized that it was just some kind of light reflection.
The ghost hunt concluded at 11 p.m. and the group dispersed. The fact that no ghosts were encountered disappointed some students.
“The ghost hunter lady did an OK job,” said freshman Mark Farrell. “She could have found at least one ghost. The basements were interesting, though.”
“I liked how [Reed] was very down to earth,” said junior Ashley Atkinson. “It was also interesting to discover a well down in the basement.”
As to the fate of Reed’s cancer-stricken son, he is alive and well, and a father to four sons.