You can make out a full-bodied apparition in the door in this photo from the 5th Floor. There was no one there and this was not visible to the naked eye.
These two photos were taken about 2 seconds apart
Interestingly, the bright orb in this photo is located on the same balcony a nurse is said to have thrown herself off of after testing positive for TB
These bright orbs tend to lend more credence to the presence of spirits than duller, transparent orbs which are often dust particles.
Granted, the orb here could be dust. I included it because it is so large and directly over the ball on the ground, which had stopped rolling on its own power at the exact time this was captured. Interesting timing.
You can see in these four photos, the same red lights in different patterns and different locations. These are outside the 3rd, 4th, and 5th floor windows and have no logical source.
Intriguing light anomaly in the hall near the morgue.
Apparition in the window? The symmetry of the figure on both sides, transparency, and general outline all suggest a woman standing next to me, reflected in the window. If you follow the lines of the wall, you get a clear sense of her location in the room also, which suggests it is not a shadow on the wall or in the glass, but something else.
Waverly Hills Sanatorium
To be honest, Waverly has always been one of my bucket list items. This massive old structure's history is steeped in traumatic deaths, inhumane treatment of the sick and elderly, and even a brief period as a place of incarceration. And yet a lot of mystery remains, blended with urban legends and a growing mythology that seems to be added to by new visitors every day. The current owners are deeply respectful of the sites rich history, and certainly it is worth remembering that a huge number of people survived the tuberculosis epidemic while there, and that most of the staff who graced its halls were caring individuals who genuinely wanted to serve the suffering. You can see this in the artifacts and photographs left behind, many of which you can see on site if you visit one of the tours.
There is much written about the site online, though you do need to be mindful that some of what you find is rumor and urban legend. We found out quickly that some of the more common stories hold no truth at all. However, we also found that the site’s true history and the spirits that remain do not disappoint the visitor who wishes to make contact with the past.
HORNS visited the site in 2016. More accurately, due to certain experiences beyond our control, the "team" on this trip consisted only of myself, making a solo trip to scout the site and try and determine if there was enough activity to warrant a later trip to do a full scale investigation. Since this was our goal at the time, I joined a group of about 30 other people on one of the overnight tours, hoping to learn more of the history from the tour guide and see what I could discover about those who might still be here.
The tour guide, whose name has been redacted here, was an enthusiastic young woman who took us on a quick walk-through, from the bottom floor to the top of the fifth, ending on the rooftop before letting us go to investigate for the evening. Her family has a history with the site, and between her knowledge and events that began to unfold almost immediately, I knew I was not going to be disappointed.
On the third floor, as we walked through, she shared with us that one reason people sometimes may not have much success with contacting the child spirit that has so often been reported there is that they are using the wrong name. The stories online tell that the spirit of a child named Timmy resides here, and can be seen throwing or rolling a ball around. However, she confirmed there are no records of any child named Timmy having ever lived in the building. In her own words, “would you respond to someone who called you the wrong name?” This was interesting to learn and made me curious to discover for myself who this child might be. Later in the evening I would encounter him myself.
The walk-through involved taking the stairs at the end of the wings up to the next floor, while another group of roughly the same size, came down from the top floors, far on the other end of the impressive 180,000 square foot building. Being at the end of the building, many of the landings have massive steel doors that lead out to the fire escapes. However these doors have long since been kept locked due to vandalism over the years. As we ascended the stairs past the fourth floor, the group passed one of these doors. As I walked past, in the front of the group with the tour guide and another woman, I heard a deep, and honestly intimidating growl come from behind this steel door.
I have been doing this a very long time, and I have to say, I have never heard anything like that sound before, or since. The sound was menacing, and primal, though brief. Being a seasoned investigator, I did not want to say anything and influence someone else's experience. However, the tour guide, with a very real quiver in her voice, asked if anyone else had "heard that". I responded that I had, at almost the exact same time a couple of other people said yes. I made a half-joking comment that I wondered if anyone was "f***ing around", but no one in the group seemed to be laughing and most looked genuinely startled. I can't say for certain that no one living was responsible, but I can say that the sound was not something I have ever heard another human being make, and it came from behind that steel door, so I am not sure how a person could have been the source of the sound.
As we walked through the fourth floor, the tour guide shared an experience she had during a tour prior to ours, where she was certain she witnessed a flaming apparition, a man she described as being completely on fire, who passed through the man standing in front of him to approach her. I don't know what to make of this story, but apparently she screamed so loudly during the experience, that one of the operators from the detached office building called on the radio to see what was wrong (a fact I later confirmed independently). Perhaps this could have been a manifestation of the Creeper?
The Creeper is a well-known and frequently reported entity that has been described as a massive shadow figure, or figures, that crawl along the walls, follow people and sometimes gather in the corners of the roof. It is said to be very frightening. When I asked if she had experienced this, our guide shared that the staff has over time had several successful EVP sessions with this entity during their off time. Our guide told us that during these sessions, the entity had given them a female name but when asked if it had ever been human, it replied "No."
We did not have any encounters with the Creeper during the walk-through but later in the evening, during my own investigation, I encountered something that may have been it.
One of the most common stories on the fifth floor involves a nurse named Mary Hillenburg, who is said to have hung herself in room 502 after becoming pregnant out of wedlock with a doctor who could or would not marry her. The nurse’s existence and time at the hospital are a matter of record, and was indeed found dead, near 502. However the maintenance crew who found her discovered her body hanging from an old pipe closer to the elevator shaft. I should mention, there are accounts now that state the nurse did kill herself, but that it may not have happened on site. Of course, there are also some stories that suggest a doctor botched an abortion and then hung her body from the pipe to cover up his mistake. Or, as some have theorized, maybe she was TB positive and could not conceive of living with the impact this would have on her and the child. All interesting stories, but the one thing we can confirm is that a baby’s body was found in a wash out drain at the same time. We were also told that the most probable cause of activity in room 502 was actually another nurse, who we know did test positive for TB, and flung herself from the roof from this room. It’s easy to see how these stories can get blended and confuse those who only have peripheral information.
While we were on the fifth floor, the guide also clarified a story about a homeless man said to have been killed on site as part of a satanic ritual or as the result of gang activity. The man and his dog, who it turns out were well-known to the staff, were found dead at the bottom of one of the old elevator shafts, though it is very possible he simply fell, walking around in the dark when no one was around. They now keep those shafts sealed.
We also learned of a woman who came to Waverly alongside her sister, both of whom lived there for many years, sharing a room. Her spirit is said to be very present but not always very willing to communicate.
Armed with all of this information, I was ready to get started. The group was turned loose to investigate any of the top 3 floors until 3 am, when we would alternate with the other group and move to the bottom two floors, where I would finally get to see the death chute, so often discussed in paranormal circles.
How to describe my experiences? Rather than walk through every moment of the night, I will try and present the most memorable moments as they happened. The major obstacle to doing this scouting investigation with a large group was the number of other people present, which brings with it a lot of noise and people who startle easily, which made getting reliable EVPs difficult. To minimize that impact, I tried to stay well off from the group, placing myself in dark corners of small rooms, and investigating the opposite end of each wing well away from people. Still, inevitably, someone would stumble on me, or vice versa every so often. In the end, I did manage to catch some compelling evidence, so here it is:
At one point in the evening, as I was doing EVP’s in a small office, where I felt I had sensed a small hand on my wrist, attempting to guide me somewhere, I walked out into the hall. There I met two women who were using a spirit box and camera to try and capture evidence. They were sharing with me some of their experience so far, when suddenly, we all heard one of the massive steel doors slam shut. This was one the fifth floor, and you can hear on my audio recorder, which I was still running, both the slamming of the door, and our responses. Knowing these doors are locked and cannot possibly be opened without making some noise, we ran about 20 yards to the end of the wing, where the sound originated. Not surprisingly the door was closed and locked. I have to assume something strong, or large, slammed into the door enough to make it reverberate. Later, when we met up with other members of the group, we discovered the sound had been heard and recorded by several others as well.
While on the fifth floor, in the former children’s area, I walked in as several people were watching a small pink ball roll around on the floor under its own power. One woman looked at me, eyes wide and said “you’ve gotta see this!’ She prodded the small ball with her foot, and I watched in amazement as it rolled around in a semi-circle before coming to rest. Curious, I kicked the ball myself, and it began to roll forward as expected, then suddenly took a large arc to the right, curving around in a circle. I watched the ball move in various, inexplicable paths on its own power for several minutes. When I kicked the ball a second time, and watched as it took a sort of crazy arcing turn, I snapped several pictures. Just as it came to rest, I caught a photo of a dull orb, directly over the ball where it stopped. This could be dust, but the size of the orb and the timing suggest at least a possibility of something more.
As we were preparing to switch locations with the other team at 3 am, I was on the fourth floor, following a man and his girlfriend out behind the group. As I was preparing to step out on the landing of the stairs, I decided to take a last few pictures of the now deserted halls. I took several pictures as the group left me behind, until suddenly, I felt and heard something that I have never experienced before. A huge rush of wind moved past me, as if a large truck went rushing by. The sound was hard to explain – imagine the sound of a large pocket of air being forced out of a enclosed space. As odd as it sounds, there was an audible “whoosh”. That’s as close as I can come to explaining it, but the sensation was overwhelming. The sound itself was completely inexplicable, and the sensation of something LARGE moving past me was unnerving. For what I’m pretty sure is the only time in the last two decades, I actually jumped, shouting “what the f***!” into the empty room. I did not see anything, nor capture anything on film, but the experience shook me in a way I have not experienced before, and I quickly left the room to find the group.
On catching up with the same guy and girl I had just seen a moment later, we realized we had lost the group. The building, aside from being huge, is very dark, with only the exit lights above the stairs showing any light at all. We decided to keep following the stairs and try to find them, but after several minutes, found ourselves, without realizing we had done so, entering the death chute. We later discovered the group had gone back to the office building to regroup before coming back for the second half of the tour. Meanwhile, here we were in the death chute, and I admit to a certain degree of excitement. Finally, after all these years, here I was. The chute is reported to be very active, as literally thousands of people were shunted 500 feet down this sloping tunnel to the waiting hearse after being kept in one of the downstairs freezers. This was done to try and avoid scaring the patients, as people were dying at a rate of one per hour during the worst of the epidemic, and the morgue could not hold them all. So rather than scare the patients with an endless parade of bodies being taken out through the building, the staff started using the tunnel originally meant as a delivery corridor for supplies to dispose of bodies. As we stood there, we heard a voice say, “Come down here. I want to show you something”. Needless to say, we were caught off guard, but went barreling down the steps, where we found an elderly woman with an infrared camera. She had become separated from her group earlier, and been down here for hours unknowingly. She told us she had followed a ball of light down here and as we watched she replayed the video from her infrared camera. Sure enough, a ball of white light danced along the walls in erratic patterns for several minutes, moving towards the mouth of the chute at the bottom of the stairs, where the bodies would have been loaded. After watching this fascinating video, we all managed to find our way back to the office and rejoin our group for the second half of the evening.
In all honestly, not much came of the remaining hours. I sat in the morgue and locked myself in one of the old freezers for some time, attempting EVP sessions, but the noise of a group down the hall doing a spirit box session loudly, makes anything I caught during this time questionable.
Conclusions and Evidence:
I have to say, having spent so many years fascinated by this site, with its rich, and often uncomfortable history, it was difficult to go in and maintain my usual professional detachment. Unlike most sites I have ever visited, many of which ended up having no activity at all - at least during our visits, I did have high hopes for Waverly. So I made extra efforts to hold myself accountable here, and acknowledge my own bias towards the likelihood of spirits in the building.
That said, during the course of this initial scouting trip, I had several encounters that got my attention, with the entity that moved past me on the fourth floor, and the self-directed ball being moved by the child spirit on the fifth floor over which I caught the bright orb. Add to this the intense slam of the steel door and the unusual growl on the landing, as well as several times when I sensed someone near me as I moved through the upper floors. And despite the difficulty, I did capture a couple of interesting EVPs.
Most exciting for me however – after all of this, when I returned home, I found I had caught several photos that proved interesting. The first of course, is the orb directly above the ball as it stopped moving in an inexplicable pattern. There are a few photos that may show orbs in the death chute (though these may well be dust and so I am not counting them as evidence. However, I will mention here that one picture shows about 50 or so of these “orbs” and the next picture seconds later show three or four, and this happened repeatedly. I would expect dust to stay in the air considerably longer. Also there are possible shadow figures in several others, but I have not yet been able to have them examined professionally, so I am not calling these evidence either until I can confirm what I feel I may be seeing as actually present.
Nonetheless, in several pictures, there appear to be three red lights that I can not explain. They are present in different locations, on different floors, and do not have a natural source that I can determine. In some photos there are three, in some there is one, but all of them are red and seemed to travel around the building. In one set of the photos taken about one second apart you can see three of them condense into only one. According to many cultural traditions, three red lights that follow you around like this are considered to be proof of the presence of witches. Whether this is true or not, I could not say, but their regular appearance in some of the photos throughout the night is intriguing.
Easily the most significant evidence I caught, is the full bodied apparition I caught on the fifth floor. In a small series of photos on the fifth floor landing, leading away from the rooms to the rooftop, there is a photo that shows a woman coming through a door. You can clearly make out her skin tones and the color of her clothes. The door next to that is empty. Seconds later, the woman has almost crossed the field of view, and you see her exiting to the roof on my left. In the door directly to the left of the one she came through, a figure is clearly standing in the door, unmoving and appearing to watch us gathering. It is dark, and has no skin tones, no coloration at all – despite being at the same distance and angle as the woman, and under the exact same lighting conditions. Nothing has changed but the inexplicable presence of this apparition, which I feel could be feminine, but that is supposition. If this were a living person, they would have shown some of the same details. Instead it stands there watching us, quiet and dark...and invisible to the naked eye.
Note: I have included a photo that seems to show a second full bodied apparition reflected in a window. You can follow the curves of the figure and make out hips, and a waist, and shoulders in the lower frame, and a head in the higher frame. Also, if you follow the lines of the walls, you can determine that she is standing in front of the corner, and you can see some of the marks on the wall through the figure. I can't pin this one down necessarily, but it is very intriguing.
You can examine some of the evidence for yourself on this page.
I have to conclude that while some of the experiences I had there might have other explanations, and I cannot prove or disprove them, the photos, EVP’s, and direct personal encounters I had while there lead me to believe without question, that there are many spirits still in residence at Waverly. HORNS is currently planning a full-scale overnight investigation in the near future to see what else we can discover at this amazing and active site.