Paranormal News provided by Medium Bonnie Vent > Paranormal researchers examine the haunting legacy of Preston Castle

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1 Mar 2008

Paranormal researchers examine the haunting legacy of Preston Castle


Thursday, February 28, 2008


Built in 1894, Preston Castle was the site of a staff murder in 1950, a ward's killing in 1922 and at least 17 deaths to disease. On Saturday, The Ghost Trackers organization investigated the building for paranormal activity.
Photo by: Courtesy to the Ledger Dispatch
With her camera set to night vision, Gloria Young captured a picture of a strange, engulfing shadow with no object or light source behind it.
Photo by: Courtesy to the Ledger Dispatch
The Ghost Trackers' Sharon Leong films the castle's old hospital with an infrared camcorder.
Photo by: Scott Thomas Anderson
When Anne Leong was filming in infrared at the spot where Anna Corbin's body was found 57 years ago, she captured anomalous orb of light flying over the head of Heather Young.
Photo by: Courtesy to the Ledger Dispatch
When Anne Leong was filming in infrared at the spot where Anna Corbin's body was found 57 years ago, she captured anomalous orb of light flying over the heads of members of the Preston Castle Foundation and media.
Photo by: Courtesy to the Ledger Dispatch
On Saturday night, massive winds raged across the hills as a dim procession of storm-flickered headlights crept up the driveway to Preston Castle. Under its Romanesque archways and blackened tower, a group of people hurried through the rain toward its front. With the palms curling and olive trees thrashing in the gale, they opened its 114-year-old doors to stare into a hallway of shadows. They were searching for a lingering presence. They were listening for the faintest whisper of the dead.

The Ghost Trackers Paranormal Research Group is based out of San Jose. Its founder, Gloria Young, is no stranger to haunted places. When Young was growing up, she and her friends would often play in cemeteries. Her ease among the worldly departed turned into an obsession with their activity over time. She read everything she could about paranormal phenomena. Twenty years later, the first glimpse of Preston Castle at night - with its history of death and tragedy - left her in awe at what might happen once she crossed its threshold.

Following members of the Preston Castle Foundation into the structure's grand entrance, Young's five-person team wasted no time setting up their equipment. They brandished several types of digital cameras fitted with night vision, audio recorders, a high-powered condenser, a Geiger counter for measuring radiation waves. "We should start where the murder happened," Young said to the foundation members. "It's the most likely area to detect a presence."

Young, her team and the foundation members conducted themselves with a quiet reverence as they headed down into the castle's basement - and with good reason. The 57-year-old unsolved murder of Anna Corbin was a horrific event for the Ione community that's still remembered today. Corbin was once the head housekeeper at Preston School of Industry. Though most boys imprisoned there saw her as a tender figure, on a bleak afternoon in 1950 she was found viciously bludgeoned to death - her body locked in a small storeroom off the executive kitchen. Though several trials were held, no one was ever convicted of the gruesome crime. For decades it's been said that Corbin's matronly spirit remains in the long hallways of Preston Castle.

When Young's team arrived at the executive kitchen and confronted the narrow space where Corbin's body was discovered, they immediately asked the foundation members for silence. With the tiny lights of their technology flashing, Young asked Corbin if she was there. Everyone stood motionless, practically holding their breath. The mute echo of silence played throughout the room, challenged only by the drone of a faltering electrical system and the wash of the storm outside.

All at once, in the midst of the soundless vigil, a giant explosion rang down the hallway. The Ghost Trackers, the foundation members and the media were all physically shaken. They headed back up to the main floor to investigate, finding that the powerful windstorm had opened the large wooden doors on the verandah and violently thrown them shut again - mimicking the sound of a shotgun. A debate soon broke out about whether the doors had been secured with a steel crossbar before the group had descended into the basement. Those who wanted to believe that the swirling forces of nature outside were responsible for the heart-stopping moment seemed to remember that it had, in fact, not been latched. Those who tended to believe something else was responsible recalled that it had been. In the end, the group moved on, no one truly being sure.

As the investigation proceeded, the menacing storm continued to play havoc on the Ghost Trackers' ability to listen for strange noises. In the second-floor library the wind invaded the century-old brickwork, roiling through the frail, tattered pipes to create the sound of a woman crying. Above the group, on the third floor, the wind swept in through windowless archways and danced across the missing floor sections, creaking the broken, naked planks up and down to simulate heavy footsteps. "It was hard at times to distinguish what noises were natural to the extreme weather and what noises were unnatural," Young later recalled. "The storm was magnificent, but it made things a lot more complicated for us."

Ironically, the most uncanny sound of the night was not heard by the Ghost Trackers themselves, but by their local escorts. When the group came into the section of the building that was once the castle's hospital, Young's team split up into various areas - the operatory, the quarantine room, the hallway still possessing a few lonely, rusty bed frames. The compartments their have own claim to Preston's darker history, forever locked to a graveyard beyond the windows where the bodies of 18 young, wayward boys lie sleeping. Most of them were victims of tuberculosis and typhoid fever - though Sam Goins, who was shot in the back by a Preston guard in 1922, also died there.

With the Ghost Trackers split up into different rooms of the hospital, members of the more-skeptical castle foundation did hear what, for a few fleeting seconds, seemed to be the distinct sound of someone humming a tune. In the tense discomfort of the moment, it took some time before all present reluctantly conceded that they did, or at least might have, heard it; and that it was something completely unlike the tricky voices of the wind they'd been experiencing all night - soft, faint, but chillingly audible. The Ghost Trackers were made aware of this and employed their equipment accordingly. Once the recorders were on, nothing more was heard.

The Ghost Trackers' Sharon Leong, and her sister, Anne, felt there was still a good chance they'd identify paranormal activity once they took their recordings and video back home and examined them with technology that could amplify and break down the data. "A lot of times you don't hear anything at all when you're recording audio," Sharon said. "And then when you turn it up on your computer you hear what are sometimes clearly voices too faint for the human ear. That happened to us a couple of months ago when we were at Alcatraz Island. We asked a question and didn't hear anything; but then once we got home and turned the audio up, we heard a very frightening response."

Several days after her trip to Preston Castle, Anne realized she might have been standing near enough to the group of people who heard the humming to have caught it on her camcorder. "It's there," she confirmed to the Ledger Dispatch. "The humming was faint and I had to use the headphones to hear it, but it was definitely a man humming."

Leong also picked up something strange on her infrared camcorder. When the group was down in the basement at the crime scene, she had asked out loud, "Anna, who murdered you?" After reviewing her video, Leong said at that very moment, a moving light anomaly darted across the heads of several people. "As a paranormal investigator, I'm well aware of how one's mind can be influenced by the romance or excitement of a place like Preston during stormy weather. Since we know people can be influenced by suggestion, I'm usually skeptical about any so-called activity until it has been corroborated with physical evidence. In this case, there was a light anomaly at that moment - not to mention recordings of a sigh and humming in other parts of the building."

Her sister agreed. "Preston Castle exceeded our expectations," Anne said. "The place is certainly active, full of energy - and energy doesn't die."

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