Report on Investigation of the Charleston, SC Old City Jail
Conducted January 18-20, 2007
Written by Joshua P. Warren on behalf of L.E.M.U.R.
Background facts compliments of Rebel Sinclair, Mark R. Jones, and Micah A. Hanks
February 27, 2007
*Report will be updated as new information is received and confirmed
Old City Jail
21 Magazine & 17 Franklin Streets
Charleston, South Carolina
L.E.M.U.R. was given the distinct privilege of being the first team to formally & officially investigate this remarkable site for ghostly anomalies. It was attended by the author, Brian Irish, Micah Hanks, Chris McCollum, Casey Fox, and numerous L.E.M.U.R. Affiliates. It was only open to Members and Affiliates.
Basic History of the Old City Jail:
Charleston authors/historians/tour guides Mark R. Jones and Rebel Sinclair hosted this investigation, and provided historical context. The first structures were erected on the site in 1738, as the property was used as a workhouse for slaves and makeshift hospital for "paupers, vagrants, and beggars." Criminals were kept separate from non-offenders, and were punished with shackles, whippings, and deprivation of food and water. As the operation expanded over the years, and numerous structures were built then demolished, or burned, tortures and executions at the site increased. These included being burned at the stake, branded, drawn and quartered, or having one's ear nailed to a post (until the ear was finally sliced off; often used for horse thieves).
The present structure was built in 1790 as a jail and asylum. Though it was intended to hold around 128 prisoners, over 300 were frequently kept there. In some rooms, prisoners were locked in cages, barely the size of a person's body, packed in like sardines. Disease was rampant, and tortures continued. Rapes of both men and women were common. During its operation until 1939, over 10,000 people died on the property.
Notable inmates include numerous pirates, Civil War soldiers (including survivors of the 54th Mass., as seen in the movie GLORY) and serial killers John and Lavinia Fisher. The Fishers ran a boarding house and murdered many patrons, motivated by robbery. Lavinia Fisher is widely considered the first known female serial killer in America. The Fishers were kept at the jail until their hanging on February 18, 1820.
Some Anomalies Reported at the Old City Jail Through the Years:
1. During renovation in 2000, though the building was locked for months to seal off lead paint contamination, bare footprints were found in the dust. Afterward, several workers saw the apparition of a jailer with rifle on the third floor. He passed through bars, heading toward them, before vanishing.
2. Sounds of dumbwaiter passing through floors are heard, though it is no longer operational. In particular, this happened April of 2006 by Rebel Sinclair and guests of a 10pm tour.
3. Jewelry and other objects frequently disappear. For example, a woman's ring vanished inside May of 2006. A man's handkerchief (with personal meaning) vanished June of 2006. Neither object has been found to date.
4. In the basement, a man had his sunglasses knocked off by a violent, unseen force.
5. In the basement, during 90 degree temperatures, breath can be seen as a cloud of fog
6. Alarms set/reset themselves frequently.
7. A black man, in ragged clothing, has been clearly seen wandering halls. The first sighting was February of 2002, latest was June, 2006.
8. There are numerous cell phone disruptions, including calls from unknown numbers and batteries draining then charging up again.
9. Doors are found open after being closed. A heavy iron door fell off its hinges for no apparent reason during a tour in February of 2005.
10. The "crane of pain," a torture apparatus reproduction consisting of ropes, has been found with ropes intertwined without explanation.
11. Many visitors have captured EVP with video cameras.
12. A Charleston police officer investigating an alarm in 2006 found the back door open. He went inside with a gun drawn, and ascended the spiral stair case. Upon reaching the third floor, he reported a strange sensation, as though his "arms were wrapped in plastic wrap."
13. Several guides and visitors have complained of a choking feeling, and shortness of breath, while on the main staircase.
14. Visitors involved in corrections often become queasy and complain of a foul odor.
15. One guide felt a rope "snake" around her ankles.
16. Numerous visitors have been pushed and shoved by unseen forces.
L.E.M.U.R.'s Investigation Times:
Thursday, January 18, 2007, approx. 9-10pm:
Preliminary walk-through with Joshua P. Warren, Lauren Munson, Angella Blanton, Mark R. Jones and Rebel Sinclair
Friday, January 19, 2007, approx. 11pm-5am
First night of full investigation, with approx. 20 people, including L.E.M.U.R. Affiliates
Saturday, January 20, 2007, approx. 11pm-2am
Second night of full investigation, with approx. 20 people, including L.E.M.U.R. Affiliates
Average temp for the weekend: 53 degrees F
Average humidity for the weekend: 60 percent
Weather was clear
Throughout our course of investigations, the following instruments were primarily employed:
1. Tri-Field Natural EM Meters, Models 1 and 2: These devices are designed to pick up changes in extremely weak DC or "natural" electric fields (as small as 3 volts per meter or v/m), magnetic fields in the microtesla range (as small as 0.05 percent of the earth's magnetic field when an antenna is used), combinations in variations of electric and magnetic (or electromagnetic) fields, and energy in the radio/microwave range spanning from 100,000 to 2.5 billion oscillations per second (100 KHz to 2.5 GHz) with minimum and maximum detectable signal strengths of 0.01 milliwatt/cm squared and 1 milliwatt/cm squared respectively. The advantage of the Model 2 is an input jack for a coil antenna to be used for measuring magnetic fields.
2. Dr. Gauss/Gauss Master EMF meters calibrated for 50/60 Hz AC and sensitive from 1/10 mG to 10 mG.
3. A handheld Electrosmog Multidetector II Prof I sensitive to either electric or magnetic fields ranging from 5-500 Hz as the ELF (Extreme Low Frequency) setting or 500 and above on the VLF (Very Low Frequency) setting.
4. A handheld, non-contact infrared thermometer to register surface temperatures instantly in fahrenheit.
5. Digital still cameras and Sony Digital 8 HandiCams capable of sensing into the near-infrared range.
6. A digital volt meter sensitive to milliVolts, both AC and DC.
7. Electrostatic detector capable of measuring up to 5,000 volts and identifying polarity.
8. Geiger counters sensitive enough to measure microRem and detecting x-rays, alpha, beta, and gamma radiation.
9. Paranormal PC (PPC) system, recording seven fields of data simultaneously: 1) motion-sensitive IR video 2) audio 3) electrostatic deviation 4) artificial EMF deviation 5) magnetic & geomagnetic deviation 6) temperature 7) luminosity
After gathering historic data, we spent the weekend taking control readings and weighing them against anomalies. As our first visit to the Old City Jail, this can be considered a preliminary investigation.
Principal Results from our Research thus Far:
1. On Friday, January 19, 2007:
a) The Paranormal PC was set up in the room called "The Octagon," where some of the worst criminals, including the Fishers, were kept. After running undisturbed for an hour, it recorded substantial deviations in magnetism with no evidence of conventional cause.
b) The Tri-Field Natural EM Meter Model 2, with coil antenna inserted, measured frequent magnetic surges, throughout the building, that maxed out the scale. Therefore, we cannot deduce the maximum amount being produced, but they were at least 1-10 microteslas in magnitude. However, the electric component was very weak, and virtually undetectable. To see if the magnetic surges were being caused by some geomagnetic conditions, we tested various places outside the building. The farther we got from the structure, the weaker the surges until they did not appear at all. We therefore feel confident in ruling out any geologic elements, and also checked current data regarding the kp index, for possible disturbance from solar flares and atmospheric conditions. However, all was calm there. We confirmed the Tri-Field was working properly by testing it at various other sites throughout the weekend (such as the Provost Dungeon beneath the Old Exchange downtown) to find all was normal. These unusual magnetic surges, seeming almost like transient pulses emanating from stationary walls, were some of the most perplexing elements documented at the Old City Jail.
c) Numerous people witnessed "orb-like" anomalies with their naked eyes. And others, primarily females, witnessed cloudy forms, either black or white, swiftly moving down halls. This was most prominent in the basement, and led to an outstanding event around 4-4:30am Saturday morning. Around ten people, including Mark R. Jones and Rebel Sinclair, monitored the basement as the author operated a strobe light. Suddenly, one observer exclaimed she saw a shadowy, humanoid form. Others gasped as they saw it, as well, and were overcome with emotion. The author shut off the strobe light, at which time he witnessed a dark silhouette block light entering the building through a few long, vertical cracks on the facing wall. When he turned the strobe back on, there was nothing visible blocking his view of the light.
d) Brian Irish later discovered he captured an EVP-like anomaly. A voice cried "help me" in one of the rooms. This is documented in a video production Irish has produced, along with some visual anomalies he captured, and should be available online at some point.
e) There were several minor mechanical malfunctions, such as lights, lanterns, and cameras not operating properly.
2. On Saturday, January 20, 2007:
a) Though the investigation was set to begin at 11pm, the author, along with Brian Irish, Lauren Munson, and Geri Jordan accompanied Rebel Sinclair and Mark R. Jones to the jail around 6pm to set up the Paranormal PC in The Octagon, allowing it to run undisturbed, in a sealed room, until 11pm.
b) Around 9pm, the author received a disturbing call from Rebel Sinclair. One of the Jail's most prominent features is a large set of iron keys on a loop, hanging on the wall. The keys, believed to be authentic to the Jail, had vanished. Sinclair was notified by a tour guide who was conducting tours that evening. Sinclair was trying to deduce when the keys had disappeared, and asked if anyone had noticed them at the jail when we set up the PPC three hours earlier. Lauren Munson clearly, and distinctly remembered them being on the wall. We therefore deduced they must have vanished between 6pm and 9pm. Did someone on a tour snatch them, had someone broken in to steal them, and possibly stolen the PPC as well, or was something of a more paranormal nature happening?
At 11pm, when the entire team met again at the Jail, the author quizzed the team, asking if anyone knew anything about the disappearance of the keys. No one did, and everyone was disheartened to feel that someone may have stolen them. But who was the culprit? The PPC was undisturbed, yet something very strange happened around 11:14pm: for a few seconds, it recorded massive surges of magnetism, ions and a temperature spike to 687 degrees F! We do not know if this is an isolated equipment problem or something that passed through the room.
At the conclusion of the weekend, the keys were still gone. However, they showed up the following Tuesday, January 23. That morning, they were found, wrapped in a plastic bag, shoved through the mail slot of the office for the art school that owns, and sometimes uses, the building for various projects. They were retrieved by Chloe, the lady who runs the office. There was no explanation as to where they had been, and it remains a mystery to this day. Furthermore, in the meantime, Sinclair learned the keys were not even authentic. The entire situation is bizarre. Even though there are suspicions as to who may have taken the keys and why, the mystery stands. Was someone trying to frame L.E.M.U.R. as thieves?
c) Around midnight, the author and several other team members heard the distinct sound of chains being dragged across the floor of The Octagon. All lights were turned on, and though nothing was seen, the sound was extremely pronounced. It lasted less than 30 seconds, and no one was able to document the sound. It never occurred again.
d) The rest of the night was spent in The Octagon, as the magnetic surges continued. Several people described seeing a shadowy form perhaps "trying to materialize," but nothing of substance ever occurred.
a) During the hour we spent at the Provost Dungeon, located at 122 East Bay Street, on Saturday, January 20, 2007, around 5-6pm, nothing extraordinary was documented.
b) The author and colleagues also informally visited The Blind Tiger tavern, at 36-38 Broad Street, and were told (by a bar tender) that smuggling tunnels underneath, used by pirates, are haunted by a young woman. Several employees had seen her. The author also called his radio program, SPEAKING OF STRANGE, from the site, around 8:30pm on January 20, 2007, for a live remote.
c) The author and colleagues also informally visited the Southbend Brewery & Smokehouse, at 161 East Bay Street, on Saturday, January 20, 2007, allegedly haunted by the ghost of a man who hanged himself inside.
d) The author and Lauren Munson visited Fort Sumter, site where the American Civil War began, on Sunday, January 21, 2007.
Though visual manifestations are limited at this location, strong physical forces (perhaps related to the magnetic surges) are prominent. And when anomalies manifest audibly, they are extremely distinct. As a preliminary investigation, we found the experience valuable. We certainly consider the site haunted, meaning it regularly houses/produces a wide range of anomalous activity, and plan to focus our efforts more for future investigations.
L.E.M.U.R.'s Expedition into the Bermuda Triangle, and at various haunts in the Bahamas, is scheduled to leave from Charleston October of 2007. We may have an opportunity to visit the jail again around that time. To learn how you can attend the cruise, see:
To learn how you can participate in upcoming L.E.M.U.R. investigations and events, see:
To discuss this experience, and share pics/data, especially if you are a L.E.M.U.R. Affiliate who was present, please visit this Discussion Board link:
When Brian Irish's documentary is available, you will also be notified via that Discussion Board Thread.
To learn more about Charleston haunts, visit:
Rebel Sinclair's site www.RebelSinclair.com
Mark R. Jones's site www.WickedCharleston.net
Visit the jail! www.BulldogTours.com
and read Mark R. Jones's fascinating books
Wicked Charleston: The Dark Side of the Holy City
Wicked Charleston Volume 2: Prostitutes, Politics and Prohibition
End of Report
Copyright 2007 by Shadowbox Enterprises, LLC