There were some interesting findings recently by a group that investigated the Historic Butler County Courthouse in Hamilton — for paranormal activity.
Spiritual Realm Paranormal Investigators (SRPI) spent 8 hours on July 23 inside the courthouse, seeking to pick up any sensitivities that might reveal history.
SRPI was founded in 2013 by paranormal enthusiast and medium Ashlee St. Denis to help her explain and cope with experiences she had been dealing with since childhood. Denis’ paranormal investigation team of 11 members includes four “sensitives.” The group is also passionate about history.
“Just because a building is old, doesn’t make it historically significant. Of course, if there is reported unexplained activity on a premises, we’ll check it out,” said member Brian Smith, a local teacher and former Butler County Historical Society board president.
The group’s time in the courthouse involved planning with personnel of the still-functioning building, Smith said.
“Employees of the building, both past and present, were extremely helpful in providing history, stories and experiences that they were aware of, and even the construction workers of the current renovation work passed along their experiences through county employees,” he said. “We got multiple pieces of additional information through Facebook postings as well ... The more information we have, the more we have to use in determining actual fact from legend and misinformation.”
Numerous areas were off limits and county personnel met numerous times with SRPI to set up the guidelines for the visit.
“A true investigation is nothing like the ghost-hunting shows on television,” Smith said. “They are edited, and at times, scripted, to provide entertainment value. Investigators are on-site often up to three days to capture one hour of edited air time,” he said.
“A lot of information involving paranormal investigations tends to deal with tragedy and the current courthouse itself, as well as the previous courthouse that stood on the same site, are no exception,” Smith said. “The building was used as a temporary morgue after the 1913 flood, and of course, in 1912, three Hamilton firefighters lost their lives fighting a blaze that toppled the clock tower and sent the large bell through each floor of the building until it eventually ended up in the basement.”
Sensitive team members picked up on a possible shooting in the building, which corresponds with stories SRPI gathered from employees involving a shooting during a trial in the historic third floor courtroom during the 1920s or 1930s.
“We are still investigating those claims, and there have been other violent events there dating all the way back to the 1870s,” Smith said. “In fact, when the current building was constructed in 1889, it wasn’t long after that it was reported to have a ghost of the night watchman of the previous courthouse who was found dead in the Treasurer’s office. It was initially believed he died by suicide, but it was soon discovered that the safes had been emptied and it was suspected the robbers, a few who had ties to the government and the new courthouse, had staged the scene to cover up a possible murder,” he said.
In addition to tragic events, the building seems full of residual past energy, SRPI’s report states.
“All of the sensitives reported possible past employees and/or visitors still present on the site,” Smith said. “Several of the team were almost immediately overwhelmed by the sheer amount of energy that exists from the past.”
The majority of that energy is not “intelligent” and is incapable of reacting or communicating, the SRPI reported from its time in the courthouse.
“Residual events are similar to a video loop and just play over and over. Feelings the sensitives experienced, depending on the area, included sharp side abdominal pain and nausea (particularly on the second floor), as well as anxiety and sadness on the third floor, and a general feeling of dread, fear and ‘heaviness’ in certain portions of the fourth floor — some areas much stronger than others,” reported the SRPI team.
“The basement also brought about feelings of nausea and sickness in a couple of the team members, but the mechanical/electrical equipment and panels in the area give off intense amounts of EMF which is known to cause those feelings in some, as well as a sense of paranoia and being watched.”
SRPI had received reports of past security personnel chasing voices throughout the building, and said team members experienced the same phenomena.
“Voices that sounded like they were in the third floor lobby, when investigated, now appeared to be coming from the second floor,” SRPI reported. “Upon us arriving at the second floor, they now seemed to be coming from up the stairwell from Floor 1. But by the time we got downstairs, all was silent. The rest of our team was all present and accounted for up on the fourth floor.”
County maintenance personnel told SRPI they have experienced shutting doors that appear to visibly closed by themselves — an entire hall’s worth.
“We experienced the sounds of such doors as well, particularly on the fourth floor, where we also had a light that was on in hallway turn off, when no one had flipped the switch.”
“We turned it back on and the event did not repeat itself,” SRPI reported. “The sound of an object hitting a door near where one of the team was sitting on the floor was captured on audio; upon inspection there was a paperclip and a thumb tack nearby. We tossed each against the door, the noise of the paperclip hitting the door matched the recorded sound precisely. How it became airborne to hit the door, we don’t know.”
The historic third floor courtroom had plenty of action for one of the teams.
“One of the jury chairs triggered impressive EMF readings; a flashlight was knocked to the ground off a table. The flashlight was placed back on the table and no amount of jumping next to it, caused the light to fall. A motion sensitive ball that lights up when moved (actually a cat toy we have repurposed) was on the floor and went off when asked to do so.”
The SRPI group was present in the old courthouse for about 8 hours, and members said they didn’t feel they discovered even half of what could be there.
“We felt like we were being played with, e.g. the voices leading us through the building and the doors that seemed to shut in areas we were not. That seemed to be the way. Letting us know, ‘we’re here, but not really willing to come out into the open,’ so to speak,” Smith said.
SRPI has completed investigations at several local buildings. To read more about the group and what it does, go online to srparanormal.com.