FREMONT — Sandusky County Administrator Warren Brown considers himself a skeptic.
Last year, the Sandusky County Convention and Visitors Bureau began hosting a series of monthly tours designed to take guests underground into a basement jail known as “the dungeon.”
Visitors began to question whether the dungeon — which was constructed in 1840 — was haunted, and it was up to Brown to find out. So Brown and SCCVB Travel Event Specialist Katherine Rice asked two paranormal investigation groups to perform independent investigations of the dungeon, and the results, at least for Brown, were chilling.
“I’m not real susceptible to this stuff, and I’m a skeptic,” Brown said. “But now, I’m a lot less skeptical.”
Big Dawg Paranormal Investigations went into the dungeon twice — once in January and again in February. During their February follow-up investigation, the group captured video of what investigators described at first as dust particles. The particles floated aimlessly around the dungeon at first, but one particle in the video hovers over Brown’s head, evoking a physical reaction to something he couldn’t see at the time.
“At that point in time, when that thing hovers over my head, I had an absolutely bone-chilling cold run down to my very core,” he said.
Ohio Researchers of Banded Spirits member Chris Page said the round orb in the video is clear evidence of paranormal activity.
“The cameras today are very sensitive to the environment and they actually highlight dust particles,” Page said. “Ninety percent is dirt, dust, lint — stuff that falls off your clothes. The other 10 percent is where it comes into the paranormal.
“When you see that orb flashing and (Warren Brown) has that feeling come over him that leaves when the orb goes away, that’s a great indication that it is actually part of that 10 percent of spirit activity,” he said.
The video made a believer out of Rice as well.
“I watched it pulsate all across the screen and go right to (Brown),” she said. “I was stunned. It looked like it had purpose. It looked different from all the other dust particles floating haphazardly around the room.”
ORBS also took a photo in the same corridor of the dungeon that captures what both investigative teams said appears to be a disembodied torso between two purple glowing lights.
The two independent paranormal activity investigations produced several pieces of video and audio clips, including a recording captured by ORBS in which the words “go away” apparently are heard on the tape.
Then there are the personal accounts. Big Dawg Paranormal Investigations member Gary Nagy said he became ill at some point during the investigation.
“I’ve never experienced something trying to make me physically sick,” he said. “I had to take a couple steps back to regain myself. It was a good experience.”
In response to growing community interest, the SCCVB announced plans to host a series of late-night adventures into the dungeon in June.
The tours will take groups of 20 down into the dungeon to seek out the paranormal, but Brown said those who are pregnant or have heart conditions will be discouraged from attending.
“We don’t need that liability,” he said.
SCCVB offers monthly tours of the Sandusky County Historical Jail — which includes the dungeon — and Rice said a tourist from nearly every one of tours has walked away with a unique experience.
“We’ve done a lot of cases over the years,” Page said. “We’ve been to a lot of amazing places, and you take something different from each place. We’ve always been asked, ‘What place is the most haunted?’ I think this, for activity-wise and rich history, this is right up there with everything we’ve done to date.”