A RECAP OF OUR FINDINGS AT
THANKS TO THOSE WHO JOINED US IN RADFORD, VA ON MAY 25!
- Meet and greet
- Late night appetizers and refreshments
- Evening ghost investigation with the Paranormal Dares team
WHY WE CHOSE ST. ALBANS SANATORIUM
We are really excited about this venue. Any place that earns a spot on the list of most active paranormal sites on the East Coast, you better believe we are interested in checking it out!
Built in 1892 these walls have witnessed the pain of many since the first occupants stepped inside. Originally opening as an all boy’s school where competition, hazing and bullying were encouraged, St. Albans was repurposed as a sanatorium in 1916. Psychiatric treatment in the early 1900s was not known for being overly humane and patients were subjected to barbaric treatments long since condemned by the medical community. Stories of death, suicide, despair, and evil are well known by those familiar with the site and it seems that some of the remaining residents are willing to share. Do you dare to listen?
MEET OUR SPECIAL GUEST: DENNIS ESTLOCK
We’re thrilled to have Dennis Estlock, a medium and remote viewer with nearly twenty years experience as a paranormal investigator, join us on our hunt through St. Albans Sanatorium!
Dennis recalls his first memorable interaction with a spirit coming at the age of 7 when his Grandfather visited him to say goodbye. At the time Dennis was unaware his beloved family member had passed only hours earlier in his home over 100 miles away. Later on he would have a similar experience when his older brother died tragically at a young age.
Dennis has continued to explore his talents and seek answers to what lies beyond through his professional life. He currently works as the Technical Director for an Amazon Prime and VidiSpace series called The Twisted Realm, which chronicles the paranormal investigations of The Twisted Paranormal Society from Fishersville, VA. He also serves as the care-taker for The Cabin on 360 in Mechanicsville, VA where he hosts and assists paranormal teams seeking evidence of hauntings on the grounds of the old Civil War battlefield.
We had the pleasure of working with Dennis during our investigation of The Cabin on 360 and are excited he has accepted our dare to ghost hunt at St. Albans Sanatorium.
WE DARE YOU TO WATCH
SOME WHO ENTERED, NEVER LEFT
Built in 1892 as an all boys’ school, the facility became a psychiatric infirmary in 1916. The early 1900’s was a time of disturbing medical practices especially when it came to mental illness. St. Albans became known for its willingness to perform outrageous human experimentation. Lobotomies, electroconvulsive therapy, mummy wraps, and insulin induced comas killed a number of patients that are believed to still haunt the grounds of St. Albans. Those that weren’t killed by experimentation were left permanently disabled or disfigured for the rest of their lives (and possibly into an afterlife). Do these tortured souls still roam the halls of St. Albans, as well?
A CURSED PAST
The area around St. Albans has been a hotbed for unrest for centuries. It’s believed that there were many colonial-era skirmishes surrounding a nearby watershed, which was an important means of survival in those days. One of the most documented tragedies in this area was the Draper Meadow Massacre, which is said to have resulted in numerous deaths, hostage situations, and ransom demands. Gruesome accounts of what transpired during these hostilities are known to historians. (Examples include the presentation of the decapitated head of Philip Barger to friends, the brutal killing of the baby Eleanor Draper, and reports of escaped hostages trying to eat one another out of necessity.) Needless to say, the area around St. Albans Sanatorium has a long history of disturbing events that would typically spawn paranormal activity.
MALICIOUS SCHOOL SPIRIT
St. Albans was originally constructed as an all boys’ school and it probably wasn’t a school you would want to attend. Hazing was not only a part of life, but even encouraged by the school’s leadership. The expectations for academics and athletics were so extreme that student leaders used aggressive bullying to try to keep others in line and demand better performance. As one would expect, several suicides of young students were the obvious outcome of such an environment. Many believe those tortured souls stayed on campus.
EXTREME MEDICAL PROCEDURES
For those that are unaware of hydrotherapies, this is not a new, trendy offering at the local spa. You may know that hydrotherapy is used as a treatment for minor medical conditions even today. Hydrotherapy became especially popular in the 1800’s for treatment of a long list of illnesses. For the most part, the methods used were relatively safe, albeit completely ineffective for the ailments being treated. Yet, many have found the rooms where these therapies were carried out at St. Albans to be the most active rooms for paranormal activity. The reason: the pain and suffering of patients that resulted from aggressive application of hydrotherapy. It’s believed the doctors at St. Albans may have taken hydrotherapy to extremes. Not only were some patients mercilessly sprayed with ice cold fire hoses for surprisingly long periods of time in an effort to “cure” them of their ailments, hydrotherapy at St. Albans became much more intense. Imagine being wrapped like a mummy in ice cold towels and/or strapped into a boiling hot water bath without being allowed to move for DAYS! This is torture by today’s standards. As a result, these patients’ spirits are believed to remain within the walls of St. Albans after committing suicide to avoid additional hydrotherapy treatments.
While it’s easy to understand why the victims of St. Albans horrific human experimentation activities gain so much attention when mentioning the facility, let’s not forget how awful the conditions were even without mentioning the more heinous acts. St. Albans had, in 1945, 48 staff members and 6509 patients! The result was deplorable conditions for patients. People suffered and there was absolutely no means to alleviate that suffering with the resources available. Suicides were commonplace at St. Albans during its time as a sanatorium.
A MYSTERY SOLVED?
Oddly, some of the reports of ghost sightings are from characters believed to have perished not within the infamous facility, but rather in the areas around St. Albans. The murder case of Gina Renee Hall is an interesting one. Her body was never recovered after being murdered by Stephen Epperly in Radford, VA (the case garnered fame as the only murder conviction in Virginia where a body was never recovered). Her car was discovered near St. Albans and bloody clothes were found throughout the town around St. Albans. Interestingly, Epperly was working on a construction project spreading gravel at St. Albans at the time. Did he use this access to dispose of the body? Gina Renee Hall’s ghost is one of the most consistently mentioned of all of St. Albans ghosts. It’s believed her favorite hangout is the bowling alley in the basement. Numerous paranormal investigation teams have reported encounters with Gina. Why would Gina be there? It’s not believed that she was murdered at the facility. Could it be that she is trying to communicate the location of her body so that she can finally rest in peace?
PATIENTS AT THIS SANATORIUM, WHICH HAD NO MORE THAN 48 STAFF MEMBERS
YEARS OF TRAUMATIC HISTORY
RECORDED SUICIDES, & COUNTLESS OTHERS SUSPECTED
Paranormal Dares recently conducted an investigation at one of the most popular paranormal enthusiasts’ destinations in the country: St. Albans Sanatorium. According to our team, this enormous 108,000 square foot building was daunting from the moment they pulled up the hill and walked through the front doors.
“It’s a very ominous building,” said Keith Fournier, host of the Paranormal Dares event. “Very scary-looking. It’s probably one of the scariest places I’ve been quite honestly.”
Throughout the course of the evening, reports from guests streamed in regarding evidence they captured that could not be explained, strange voices, a sensation of being touched, a feeling of being stalked, and more.
“One of the craziest moments by far was when I had the camera set up in the main area,” Keith recalled. “I had the display pointed at the audience, and suddenly, everyone started panicking because they told me they were seeing a figure on our camera of an entity sitting in an empty chair in the front row.”
This incident, which took place early in the evening, was just the start of an interesting evening of investigations.
The Paranormal Dares team often invites guests to bring any of their own investigative equipment. One small group using their own recording devices on the third floor captured an angry voice that told them to “get out”. Investigations in the boiler room yielded stories about voices that were as terrifying as they were cruel and aggressive.
“Something terrible happened in that boiler room,” said Jessica Angel of the Paranormal Dares team. “We didn’t know about it until after, though… that room is just so scary.” The St. Albans team hadn’t mentioned the tragedy that took place in that very room until after visitors came away with stories about hearing an angry, threatening voice.
Keith also mentioned that guests were coming back from free roam investigations with reports of multiple aggressive interactions.
“Strangely enough, people weren’t reporting any interactions with sad, lost, or harmless entities,” Keith observed. “I think it’s hard to get past the scary part of this place because it just feels so threatening.”
Many of the guests agreed that the building certainly does incite a sense of fear. With no lights and the occasional snake slithering through the halls, guests relied on our team of hosts as well as the wonderful team at St. Albans to navigate the building, which was difficult at best. Haphazard and poorly-planned additions throughout the building’s history create an abundance of stairwells and strangely disconnected passageways.
“They built the building in pieces,” Keith said. “If you didn’t know your way around, you could get lost and not find your way out until morning… it’s just pitch black in there.”
The team was grateful to the guests who came out and joined the investigation. Keith, Jess, and Erik wanted to send their thanks to the attendees, as well as the St. Albans team for collaborating on such an incredible and intense experience. The hosts also wanted to send a warm thank you to the team at Twisted Paranormal who shared their talents and helped provide support for this event.
“We will definitely be coming back to this place,” Jess said. “We’ll keep people in the loop and let them know when we can come back for another round.”