Author Archives: scottmarkus

The “Old Slave House” in Southern IL by Drone

I have long wanted to see the “Old Slave House” for myself since first reading about it in Michael Kleen’s book “Haunting Illinois.”  I knew even when that book came out in 2011 that the site was strictly off limits, currently owned by the state of Illinois.  Attempting to do things ‘by the book’ I contacted the state.  Saying that since it’s such a new addition to the DNR, I should contact the site directly, I was given a phone number that did not connect to anything.

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Do I think I was being thrown off my goal intentionally?  No.  Unfortunately, I think I got a feel for how much of a priority this location is to the state, which is to say, not much of one.  Despite being on the National Registry of Historic Places, this is likely an endangered location with little chance of the house ever being re-opened to the public.  Part of this is due to its seclusion. Seen in this map, the nearest ‘large’ town is Harrisburg, which only boasts a population of 8,800 (Eldorado is around 4,000), so the likelihood of the location generating revenue as a museum is unlikely. However, with the location infamous for its dark history (being associated with slavery and the horrendous “reverse underground railroad”) and with paranormal activity reported here for over 160 years, there is another option.  I think the building would have paranormal shows and ghost hunting teams lining up to rent the location nightly.

To hear more about the history and hauntings at Crenshaw House, watch the video above.

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Recap of the 2018 Michigan ParaCon

This post originally came out a week ago in our free paranormal newsletter.  Sign up for that right here on our site at this link.

For the second straight year I headed to the Michigan ParaCon with a motley crew of paranormal nerds (Allison Journlin of Milwaukee Ghosts, Lisa Van Buskirk of Madison Ghost Walks, and two-thirds of the paranormal band, Sunspot and the hosts of the “See You on the Other Side” podcast, Mike Huberty and Wendy Lynn Staats) to hear the latest news from the biggest names in the game.  Feel free to check out our preview video, which we recorded on Facebook live while stuck in construction traffic.   If you’ve never been to an event like this, in some ways it’s like any other trade show.  New products and merch are available in the vendor area (usually in the form of books, DVD releases and clothes) while the main hall features constant programming consisting of panel discussions and lectures.

It’s a wonderful way to connect with fascinating people who share our somewhat unorthodox interests and to meet people we’d otherwise not have easy access to.  Of course, one of the real treat is the exchange of ideas, experiences and theories.  Naturally, a lot of the great first-hand chats happen after hours in the hotel bar (this is often worth the price of admission itself).  Last year, among other amazing stories, we had a conversation with John Tenney, who had been asked to observe an exorcism.  Talk about an amazing and unique (and damn, right – horrifying) story to hear straight from the horse’s mouth!

Sometimes you start to see a shift in ideas when you attend these events.  That concepts and methodology changes is exciting in and of itself.  The latest theory that almost became a theme this year is perhaps easiest explained in conversation rather than written out.  So, enjoy my attempt to throw a fascinating concept your way in the video here.

At a glance, here we some of the highlights this year:

  • John E.L. Tenney, as you may be picking up on, is a great storyteller and a wealth of information. In his lecture, he talked about some of his more recent fascinating investigations, along with a message of oneness and appreciating everything in our world.  Later, at the bar, John dropped some knowledge on us in the form of the incredible story of Ted Serios, a Chicago bellhop who had the ability to psychically imprint images of locations onto Polaroid film simply by touching the camera.  Challenged, he was even able to do this on live TV by touching the broadcast camera.  Oddly, most video of his work on YouTube is in German or Spanish.  It’s peculiar that an astonishing American is remembered more in other countries than our own today.  However, a full conversation on the man can be found here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vFNVpUhiyk
  • Katrina Weidman and I talked at length about shadow people, individual stories and theories. I hope she’s working on a project on the topic as she seems very intrigued.  Wendy and I were both very impressed by the “Paranormal Lockdown” star who we first met two years earlier in Milwaukee.  Her memory of our meeting was so sharp, you would’ve thought we hang out all the time.
  • Finding myself in an elevator ride with Jeff Mudgett, HH Holmes descendant and subject of the recent series “American Ripper.” Jeff and I have known each other for several years at this point and it’s always exciting to hear the latest news in the quest to find out all there is to know about his infamous ancestor.  Meanwhile, Allison found herself sharing an elevator with Josh Gates of “Expedition Unknown,” which allowed her husband to gush to him directly over the phone.
  • Getting to see Sunspot play live. Okay, I’m biased here, but take a look below for a recent live performance about staying the night in haunted locations.  Let’s just say, they’re an ideal booking for a paranormal conference!

  • Though I can’t really say I was a big follower of the show, “Ghost Hunters,” I was still excited to meet Grant Wilson, who is still very interested in learning about the mysteries of the unknown world and is reaching out to audiences directly with a new YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/TheGrantwilson
  • Of course, it’s also always a blast hearing the latest from Greg and Dana Newkirk and the Traveling Museum of the Haunted and Occult.

The next newsletter will come out very soon with some podcasts, haunted sites in Sault Ste Marie (where the MI ParaCon was held), and a look at the movie based on the Bell Witch, “An American Haunting.” 


A Review of “The Nun” + Some Ghost Stories & Elisa Lam’s Mysterious Death

This is a review of the horror movie, “The Nun,” but we also get into a lot of real life Ghost Stories in LA, the mysterious death of Elisa Lam at the Cecil Hotel and the Bell Witch Cave in Tennessee.


Haunted Woods? Indian Burial Grounds? Urban Legends Galore on Sanatorium Hill, Madison, WI

This is a first look at a location I’ve wanted to explore for a while now.  Sanatorium Hill (aka Lake View Sanatorium, now Dane County Health and Human Services) lived up to my hopes as a fun place to explore.  Next step is doing a LOT more research, including hearing more about YOUR stories of the place, followed by, of course, actual ghost hunting!


Taking a Look at Some Paranormal Photos

Coming to you from Culver City, overlooking Culver Studios and the Culver Hotel, I take some time to analyze some possibly paranormal photos! If you have some of your own to share, please send them over to me!


Flashback: Haunted Bucktown Pub, Fort Sheridan & Robinson Woods.

Waaaay back when I was in college I interned just about everywhere I would get accepted.  I had the pleasure of working at HBO Films, and even got some of my first on-set experience on “Daddy Daycare” and the seriously underrated “Hollywood Homicide” with Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett when I worked at Revolution Studios.  However, one of the best experiences was right here in sweet home, Chicago working for CLTV.  The show was a weekly entertainment series called “Metromix.”  Even after finishing up my internship there, they brought me back on to help produce three “Haunted Chicago” segments for the weeks leading up to Halloween.

It’s insanely difficult to tell a ghost story, involving a location’s rich history, in two to two and a half minutes, so some of the segments feel disjointed (if you ask me), but it’s still fun to look back at what these locations looked and felt like in 2002 when these bits were shot:

Paranormal Activity at Robinson Woods Burial Grounds, Norridge, IL

The top YouTube comments on this video are

  • “This is where John Wayne Gacy killed the Peterson-Schuessler boys” (oy!)
  • “The deer aren’t possessed, they’re following you because people feed them.”

First thing’s first, those bodies were actually found at Robinson South. I should make a video pointing out these two different locations. They are close, but aren’t the same exact same place. It does get misreported quite a bit though. The location where the bodies were discovered is about 700 yards away and is south of Lawrence Ave. Also, those poor boys were killed in 1955 while Gacy was active from 1972-78. Totally understandable why there’s confusion as Gacy did do his killings not far from here. His house is almost exactly a mile from the Robinson Stone, to the Northeast.

As for the deer comment… well, the commenters are right.  The deer are definitely not possessed.  There was the issue of trying to tell a long, detailed story that got cut down to two minutes – most of the story was cut. Not hearing most of it, a lot gets lost.  I have an incredible story about how the deer reacted once activity started picking up on my first visit here.  I also share the native American belief that a chief may be reincarnated into a mighty buck, which I find fascinating (I’m into learning diverse cultural beliefs).  I spend a lot of time on this location in my book, of course mentioning the Peterson-Shuessler case and telling Alexander Robinson’s story. We include an interview with one of his descendants while also presenting evidence through a Pulitzer-nominated investigative reporter, that Hansen (the man believed to be the killer), was a bad guy, but possibly not the killer.

And shout out to Mary Czerwinski, my research partner on the first edition of my book, who gets some screen time!

Paranormal Activity at the Bucktown Pub

The top YouTube comments on this one are all suggestions on other haunted places in Bucktown.  Keep ’em coming!

I re-visited this location just recently and a bartender that was there when I first visited back in 2000 or 2001 (not pictured) has been working there since before the owners in the video took over.  He has spanned multiple owners and said that Tom & Piper, while nice people, chose not to see the paranormal events happening around them.  Today the location isn’t as active as it was in the years right after Wally’s death, but activity is ongoing.

Ghosts of the Haunted Fort Sheridan in Highwood

Top YouTube Comments on this video include:

  • “I’m in this neighborhood all the time – it’s not haunted”
  • As well as people telling their personal stories of paranormal activity sighted here…
  • …including, confusingly, both types of comments from the same user (huh?)

Roosevelt Hotel (Haunted Oscar Locations, Pt. 2)

This is the thrilling conclusion of Haunted Oscar Locations Pt. 1, which you can find here.

RooseveltHotel-Haunted

Roosevelt Hotel, 1924

The glamorous, though perhaps long and drawn-out, annual rite of passage known as the Academy Awards, checks in around three hours if we’re lucky nowadays.  The first ever awards only lasted 15 minutes.  It was held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which is just across the street from the Chinese Theater and down the road from the Pantages.

Sid Grauman, Mary Pickford & Douglas Fairbanks at Mary & Douglas's cement signing. They were the first people to have their prints and signatures added to the Chinese Theater courtyard.
(L to R) Sid Grauman, Mary Pickford & Douglas Fairbanks at Mary & Douglas’s cement signing. They were the first people to have their prints and signatures added to the Chinese Theater courtyard.

The Roosevelt was put up by Louis B. Meyer, Sid Grauman, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, the later two, of course, were Hollywood’s first power couple (see picture to the right).

Hauntings here happen throughout the building, but especially at the pool area (which is one of my favorite places in all of Los Angeles… well, one of my favorite places in the world).  The pool is set back from the streets, nestled between the main hotel building and a series of bungalows.  This location is a hidden gem that’s open to the public due to the poolside bar that caters to guests and curiosity-seekers, alike.

RooseveltHotelPool-Haunted2It’s not uncommon for a security guard to see that somebody’s down in the pool area after it’s closed.  A guard gets dispatched to kick out the after-hours guest, but when they arrive, there’s nobody’s there.  So, he gets on his walkie-talkie to report it, only to hear back from a person in the control room, still watching on a monitor that, “No, they’re still there… and they’re standing next to you.”

When I was doing the LA Hauntings tour, I had a hotel employee in the van with us who claimed that he himself has seen these spectral people on security cameras as well.  It’s noteworthy to point out that these cameras shoot in infrared, allowing for recoding after dark.  Ghost hunters believe paranormal activity happens frequently in light spectrums that the human eye cannot observe, including Infrared.  The same employee told us that it’s not just one individual that’s observed – there will be groups of phantom people hanging out poolside.

RooseveltHotelPool-Haunted3

Thirteen floors up, the crack of the bat is heard on the rooftop. Babe Ruth used to spend some of his offseasons hanging out in Hollywood (pictured below in front of the Roosevelt).  He allegedly had a batting cage installed on the roof and people apparently still hear the crack of the mighty Bambino’s bat.

Babe Ruth at the Roosevelt Hotel

Montgomery Clift was in the Sinatra film “From Here to Eternity.”  In the film he had to play a bugle.  This is not something he knew how to do, so he would have to practice.  He was staying on the 9th floor of the Roosevelt and loudly practiced while pacing the hallway, likely annoying everyone in earshot.  To this day, the front desk still gets complaints of horn playing coming from the hallways.  Usually, only this phantom sound is observed, but apparently on one occasion his specter was sighted.  He vanished by walking through a wall where a doorway used to be after tipping his cap to the witness.

Haunted Roosevelt Hotel

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I had the privilege of appearing on a couple of episodes of “Monumental Mysteries,” which was a spin-off of the popular Travel Channel series “Mysteries at the Museum.”  The east coast-based production crew would come to LA and interview me if they were covering something unusual like a haunted Spanish Mission or odd UFO experiences.  While setting up a shot, the producers asked me if the Roosevelt Hotel, where they were staying, was haunted.  One producer talked about watching her closet door slowly open by itself.  Not thinking too much of it, she closed the door and went into the bathroom to wash up.  When she returned, the closet door was again open, but now the iron was sitting on her bed.  We’re talking about a heavy object somehow transporting itself to a new location, not just falling off a shelf.  Predictably, when I asked what floor they were staying on, the answer was, “the 9th.”

A lot of the best stories I know about haunted Los Angeles and Hollywood come from doing the tour when people on the tour share their own experiences.  This one came before the tour even started.  The clerk at the rental company where I rent the van picked up the van asked, “What are you renting this van for?”

When I told him about the tour, he said, “You go to the Roosevelt Hotel, right?”  He obviously had a story to tell. He talked about checking in to the Roosevelt.  Unpacking, he the closet door, revealing a maid standing inside, warmly smiling back.  In an instant, she vanished.

The only rational reaction would be to hit your head on the ceiling while jumping out of your skin in fright.  This is an interesting case to me because it shows how a paranormal experience can override rational thought and emotion.  He claimed he felt very welcome, that it was a warm greeting.  Whatever happy maid is still there, she is projecting a loving, positive feeling – a psychic impression.  It’s also a nice reminder that paranormal experiences, while they’re always unexpected, they’re not always negative.  One has to wonder if this helpful maid was the one to took out the iron for the “Monumental Mysteries” producer.

None other than Marilyn Monroe, probably Hollywood’s most sighted female ghost, was seen at the Roosevelt, but not in the most conventional way.  Her ghost isn’t seen directly, but as a reflection in her very own mirror.  Marilyn stayed here for a time and had a large mirror, about the size of a doorway, installed in her room.  She would rehearse the next days’ scenes into it, being able to see, from head to toe, how she would appear on camera.  After countless hours of emoting into this inanimate object, perhaps she left some deeper imprint on it.  For a time, the mirror was placed in a second floor lobby, allowing anyone a chance to try to catch a glimpse of the blonde bombshell (the hotel even had a sense of humor about it, placing a cardboard cut-out of Marilyn in the distance for a good photo op).  In 2008, the mirror was placed into storage for safekeeping while some construction took place.  A decade later and the mirror has still not reemerged.  Word around town is that Lindsay Lohan purchased the mirror.  Hopefully it’s in a safe place, wherever it is.

As an interesting side note, as mentioned in part one of this article, Marilyn had her hair dyed blonds in the salon at the haunted Gaylord Hotel and her first photo shoot as a blond took place here at the Roosevelt, poolside, for a sunscreen lotion print ad.

Not every haunting at this location is a positive one.   At one point, an employee of the Cinegrill, one of the Roosevelt’s bars, was on the tour.  He told me that he was talking to some security guards who heard screaming coming from a hallway.  Looking at the security tapes, they saw one of the maid staff seemingly get thrown out of a room, hitting the wall opposite the doorway.  She ran, screaming down the hall.  As these stories tend to go, she left the premises, never to return and, unfortunately, never telling her story.

Haunted Roosevelt Hotel

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What in the world happened?  Is that story even true?  We won’t know, but I’m just passing this interesting, spooky story along to you, to create a timestamp of the first negative story about this location that I’ve ever heard.

RooseveltBlossomBallroom-HauntedFinally, our last story is an Oscar story! Apparently people in the Blossom Ballroom, which held the first-ever Oscar Award ceremony, feel a constant cold spot in the area where the podium stood.  Unlike other stories about cold spots, where it comes and it goes, this oddity is focused in one spot all the time and it’s there almost constantly.  I wonder if somebody’s still giving their award acceptance speech, continually reliving the biggest highlight of their career.  Some wonder if the cold spot is some some sort of a doorway that’s allowing for all this energy to be coming and going, allowing all these entities to continually make their presence known.

Outside of Linda Vista Hospital, which is now an off-limits, private location, I believe the Roosevelt is the most haunted building in all Los Angeles and a must visit, whether you’re a local or just passing through town like to many a soul have done in the past.