Ghost Hunters

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 6, 2009

Ghost hunters want access to old haunt

By Jason C. Mattox

A Senatobia man, representing the Mississippi Paranormal Society (MPS), spoke with the  Sardis Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday night regarding the old North Panola Hospital Building.

The facility, closed for nearly two decades, and located near the I-55 and Highway 315 intersection, has been of interest to similar groups with the Orb Hunters of Memphis and another unnamed group also investigating allegations of paranormal activity.

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One group, touring the facility in November and December, alleged a possession of one team member and urged the citizens of Sardis to pray for their souls because they lived in a zip code that ended in 6-6-6.

“We are not part of that group,” Donald Burkett of MPS said. “We want to go in there and try to debunk the allegations of a haunting. There are groups out there that have no respect for the properties they investigate, but we are not like that.”

Burkett said the group had recently completed an investigation of the Tate County Courthouse, but when asked about findings, would not reveal information.

“I have not done a reveal for the clients, so I really don’t think I should say anything,” he said.

Another member of the group told the board they are affiliated with TAPS, a paranormal investigating team featured on the Sci-Fi network hit “Ghost Hunters.”

“We are going in to places looking for ways to disprove a haunting,” Burkett said. “We try to recreate strange anomalies, so we can prove they are not paranormal activity.”

Burkett said he and his group had been in the hospital, up until it was locked in December, at least one weekend day for nearly a year.

“We had been doing our investigations, and now we have partnered up with two other independent groups, and we would like to know what it will take to get back in there,” he said.

Burkett said the group members would be willing to sign waivers of liability that would release the city of any responsibility if there is an injury.

“We just want to go in there one more time with all the equipment and see what evidence we can find,” he said.

Another group member who spoke from the audience advised the city that the hospital could become a boost for tourism.

“I’ve seen communities who would use the facilities to hold conferences and offer tours looking for paranormal activity,” he said.

Ward 2 Alderman Mike Wilson said he had heard this kind of tourism draw would be a negative for the city.

“We have seen it both ways,” Burkett said. “But this can be a boost from the people in the paranormal community that would come in to tour the facility.

“The paranormal community is growing, and it is no longer the stigma that it was at one time,” he continued.

Police Chief John Still reminded the board that there were still city and county records stored in the facility.

“Since this building is still used for storage, I would think something needs to be done to secure them before anything is allowed,” he said.

Wilson asked the group what they had found during their previous visits to the hospital.

“We have a photograph of a shadow in one of the old [operating rooms] that looks like a woman wearing a nurse’s cap,” he said. “We also have audio of what sounds like a woman humming.

“We also go through the building before we begin and open every drawer and door, and we have had some doors slam closed on us,” Burkett continued.

Wilson said since the group was forthcoming in their request, he would have no problem allowing the tour, as long as it is handled in a positive way.

Ward 1 Alderman Joseph “JoJo” Still said he was unsure why the hospital was popular with paranormal investigators.

“I don’t know of anything bad that happened in there,” he said.

Alderman-at-Large Roy Scallorn said he wouldn’t be in favor of the tour.

“We are trying to build up our main street and market this hospital, and I don’t know how this could be anything but negative,” he said.

Burkett again said the group wants to debunk anything they can, which might lead to proving the hospital is not haunted.

“This doesn’t bother me,” Wilson said. “But we own this building with the county, and they need to approve it too.”

Aldermen instructed the group to get onto the next agenda for the Panola County Board of Supervisors who will meet Monday.

No action was taken.