By Scott Bruxvoort
Larry Wilson slowly climbs out of his dark grey SUV. His baggy blue zip up jacket keeps him warm during a cool night in Quincy Illinois.
“Hello Scott, Ready to get started?” Larry said.
A two hour drive brings Larry to Quincy University. Larry has been a paranormal investigator for the last 14 years. He has been to houses where murders were committed, haunted graveyards, and has experienced apparitions.
“I am hopeful that we will get activity tonight.” Larry said.
Tonight marks the first known paranormal investigation on the campus of Quincy University. For years rumors state that MacHugh Theater is the site of voices, unexplained noises and ghost sightings.
A four person crew will embark on a night sit-in of MacHugh Theater. Larry Wilson, and Professors Nora Baldner and Christine Tracy joined me in this investigation.
“Scott can you give me a hand with my equipment?” Larry said.
Six bags contain numerous gadgets used for detecting ghosts, spirits and voices.
“Grab on to this one, but make sure you don’t drop it.” Larry said.
Larry tours campus, walking past Padua Hall sharing stories of his many years in the ghost hunting profession. The stories are brought to life by the middle age man. His eyes grow bigger with every word that comes from his mouth.
“In the Villisca House, I heard a spirit tell me to tie her up.” Larry said.
“And then it told me to kill her.”
The stories are interesting but what of it is actually true? The next seven hours spent in the Theater are sure to clear up any suspicions.
The doors are left open to MacHugh Theater; we walk inside and see Nora and Christine already waiting for us to arrive. After short introductions Larry gets to work setting up his equipment.
“This is a Sony HD camera with infrared capabilities.” Larry said.
Larry frantically paces across the worn wood floor of MacHugh Theater. Describing the equipment as he sets up for the long night ahead.
“These are two infrared flood lights, here are digital audio recorders.” Larry said.
Larry has a stern look on his weathered face as he meticulously places his equipment.
“This is a trifield meter which measures the electromagnetic fields.” Larry said.
The last item is the most interesting. Larry removes a small AM/FM radio.
“Right here is a spirit box.” Larry said.
The spirit box is simply a radio scanner. Cycling frequencies at the rate as a hummingbird’s flapping wings. Questions are stirring in our heads, wondering what Larry’s next move is. Before any of us can as a question, he interrupts.
“Just wait and see for yourselves.” Said Larry
Untangling the orange extension cords, Larry becomes frustrated when the infrared light does not light up.
“Are there any other outlets? This one has no power.” Larry said.
Finally he finds the right outlet and instructs Nora to turn out the lights.
“In order to get the right environment, the theater needs to be dark.” Larry said.
“That’s how the ghosts prefer it.”
The red light of the infrared flood light illuminates as the theater is darkened.
“Don’t tell anyone if I scream.” Nora said.
All of the lights are off, we are armed with flashlights. The darkness adds an element of eeriness to the room. Larry speaks into his recorder as he adds the final preparations to his equipment set up. He presents the infrared camera and shows its capabilities to the group.
“If anything moves, we will see it on camera.”Larry said.
He isn’t talking about the group.
“If you are a little boy or girl here, I left a toy dog here.” Larry said. “There is a switch on the bottom if you want to play with it.”
Larry is emphasizing his attention to children, as it was previously the site of an orphanage, and the majority of apparitions seen at the theater are those of children.
“Are you guys okay being touched by a spirit?” Larry said.
After a few cautious looks back and forth, the group consensus is why not.
“If anyone wants to let us know you are here then let us know.”Larry said.
He is prodding, pushing for something to happen. He calls it an EVP session. He asks questions in hopes of hearing a response when he reviews the audio.
“If there is someone here, can you make a noise for us?” Larry said.
“Knock on a wall so we can hear it.” Larry said.
Then Larry decides to direct the questions to Hugh Fitzgerald. Many of the apparitions seen in the theater resemble children, but one figure in particular has extra significance. Hugh “Fitz” Fitzgerald was a theater professor that is largely to thank for getting the theater department at Quincy University started. Since he passed away in 1998, he has been claimed to be seen in the theater, standing in the light booth.
“Fitz, if there are children here, have them put on a play for us.” Larry said.
After an hour and a half there have been no noises or sights of anything unordinary. Larry remains optimistic.
“These things take time, be patient.” Larry said.
“My name is Larry, for the tape recorder can you tell us your names?” Larry said.
Larry continues searching for an EVP, he refers to this as an impromptu session.
“Can you tell us what year you were here? What year is it now?” Larry said.
Darkness, silence, no signs of the paranormal.
“Are you coming to Alice in Wonderland?” Larry said.
This is the next play being performed in MacHugh Theater.
“Did you hear that?” Larry said.
“To the left, I heard it too.” Nora said.
Maybe it was just one of us moving in our seat, perhaps it was someone else. Larry knocks five times on the stage in a rhythmic tune. An old childhood game as he refers to it. Five knocks followed by two knocks to finish the tune.
“Have you played this game?” Larry said. “Knock back if you have.”
It’s dark in here. Someone needs to turn on a light.
“SCOTTIE BRUXVOORT rings out.”
The group tenses up in their seats, a chilling feeling overcomes our bodies. Christine is gripping Nora’s hand in fear. It had to have been a pranking student.
“I have never heard an EVP that loud.” Larry said.
“It would be remarkable if that was an EVP.” Larry said.
A door just opened, something is here. Larry wraps a cord around the door to ensure that it won’t open again.
Hour after hour passes, nothing but the sounds of our exhausted breaths echo through the dark theater. The group becomes frustrated as the clock reaches our target departure time of 2a.m.
“I guess we can call it a night.” Larry said.
Overall there is still part of me that believes the myths, what I felt inside of that theater over the night was an experience that I have never felt before, or wish to feel again for that matter. Is there a ghost? Come see for yourself…..