Bartonville Asylum Investigation

The first buildings of the Bartonville Insane Asylum began in 1885 and were completed in 1887. Upon completion the hospital resembled a medieval castle with battlements and turrets. Despite the huge costs involved in building it, it was never used and was torn down in 1897. The reason for the demolition was given as structural and design flaws. According to early reports, the castle-like building had been constructed over an abandoned coal mine and wide cracks were beginning to appear in the walls. The decay was believed to be caused by the collapsing of the old mine shafts.

In 1902, the Bartonville insane asylum was reopened by Dr. George A. Zeller, a pioneer in mental health. The new hospital implemented the "cottage system" and 33 different buildings were used to house patients.

Dr. Zeller also realized that a system was needed for the burial of the dead at the hospital; a hospital cemetery was created a short distance away from the building. All of the graves in the cemetery were dug by patients of the hospital and some records show that patients died almost daily.

The institution finally closed down in 1972 and has stood vacant until 2008 when the property was purchased by Richard Weiss and was briefly open for ghost investigations and tours before being closed again for asbestos related issues. It was officially reopened again in November of 2012.

Located at: 4125 Pfeiffer Rd. Bartonville, IL. 61607

Telephone: 309-202-1035

Owners: Richard Weiss



Hauntings: Many psychics and ghost hunters alike agree the building is haunted; the atmosphere alone is enough to convince someone. A very uneasy feeling is a common experience upon entering the building. The institute is said to be home to a large number of ghosts, a specific number cannot be given but claims suggest at least 15 different ghosts inhabit this location. This is a classic building for the creation of ghosts due to the practices of the hospital when it was open, electric shock therapy and prolonged isolation were common practice. Many patients died from suicide and being ill treated. The most common reports of hauntings at this location include seeing the apparitions of patients dressed in gowns slowly walking the halls and rooms of the hospital. Unexplainable cold spots are common, as are hearing screams and moans coming from empty rooms in the distance. Also people who have ventured into the asylum have claimed to of been touched by the spirits, with feelings such as a hand being placed on one's shoulder or something gently brushing past as if walking the other way down a corridor. The hospital is now abandoned and trespassers onto the property, as well as those who venture onto the near by cemetery will be arrested.

Attic: sounds of movements are heard, a big tall shadow of a man walks back and forth and people have been cursed at by some spirits. Dr. Zeller used to watch everyone from the upstairs windows but it was mainly used for storage. Black shadows are also seen on the other end of the attic near some stairs where a maintenance worker hung himself. His name could be Ben. Voices are also heard nearby. A spirit named Walt who is not a nice individual and doesn’t like woman is often encountered. Sounds of footsteps and people’s hair being touched a lot frequently happen.

3rd Floor: The room next to the lobotomy room people hear “help” a lot and a woman crying. Paul and Michael are two names associated with this area. In the hallway, shadows are seen moving and once a white light was encountered that rose to the ceiling and seen within the light was the image of a woman. In the observation room, there is a man that needs help. A person once closed the door in the other room and heard an old lady’s voice say, “Don’t close the door!” A man is sometimes heard grunting as well. In the nearby Medication Room, the sound of furniture moving around, footsteps and talking are encountered.

2nd Floor: In the Nurse’s Break Room is where the famous picture of a ghost of a nurse was taken from outside the building; also the sounds of voices and walking are heard.

1st Floor: A ghost named Laura is often encountered here but usually only by females. Men don’t have much luck in contacting Laura who is often seen dressed in a white gown, very pale almost blue face with dark black eyes.

Basement: In a room with a ball as a trigger object, the ball often moves on its own. Two ghosts are said to be connected with this room; Erin, 8 and Sarah, 5 and shadows are seen in the doorways. In the formaldehyde Room, strong smells and twinkles of light seen in the corner of the room are the two most often encountered phenomena. In the Boiler Room, a talkative spirit called Ralph can be found; while just outside of the room two spirits, Dave and Dan have been contacted in the past. At the opposite end of the basement, extreme cold spots and big black masses have been felt and seen in the past. In the Chapel, a spirit called John hangs out there and apparently he’s not so nice. In the Storage Unit, people get creepy feelings, smell a flowering smell and often hear whistling sounds.

The GRS investigated Bartonville Asylum on November 9, 2012 and the team included: Stan Suho, Nicole Tito, Joey Tito, Katy Para, Marge Sucha and Dale Kaczmarek with help from Erica Behringer, Rob Johnson, Ann Behringer, Mandy Mertes, Brenda Allgood, Jeanne Chilton and Mike McElhiney.








Equipment Setup: The Command Center along with G.E.I.S.T. was set up on the 1st Floor near the Gift Shop and cables where ran up and down the abandoned elevator shaft to the 2nd Floor where a static IR camcorder was placed along with an IR illuminator and REM E-pod. In the basement the Full Spectrum camera was positioned along with two IR illuminators.

Experiments Performed: An EVP session was conducted in the attic and the 2nd Floor.

Personal Experiences: While on the 2nd Floor changing a battery on the static IR camcorder both Stan and I suddenly saw a white glob or streak of light traverse from one side of the hallway to the other before disappearing. Later Katy had a similar encounter only this time behind the camera so neither event was recorded.

While in the attic we all clearly heard the sounds of footsteps coming up the stairwell several times and there was absolutely no one there. We even called downstairs to see if there were any “real” people walking around and got no response.

While conducting an EVP session on the 2nd Floor, the sounds of pebbles or small stones striking the floor were heard and recorded right after we asked for someone to throw something at us.

Katy Para: This building was an insane asylum and housed patients from 1902 until 1973. It was then abandoned until very recently when it opened up for investigations to help fund its restoration.

We arrived and started setting up shortly before midnight and stayed until morning. The building is so large (four stories) that even though we were there all night we couldn’t come close to covering the whole thing.

Marge and I started out by spending about fifteen minutes in a first floor room known as “Laura’s room”. I had my recorder going during an EVP session, which came up empty. Pictures taken also showed nothing out of the ordinary.

We then went to help Dale and Stan set up cameras on the third floor and in the basement where many shadows have been reported.

After set up was complete we went up to the fourth floor attic. (Marge, Dale, Stan, Jeanne, Mike and myself.) We experienced several unexplained noises and footsteps all around us. Batteries were draining here, as they were all over the building that night, and cameras were shutting down. Although the footsteps and noises were captured on my recorder I got no EVPs or unusual photos in this area. Also, no K-II activity.

Marge and I went to the third floor to meet up with Dale and Stan to cover this area.. Dale and Stan had just seen an unexplained object move across the hallway. The battery had drained in the camera and they both went down to get fresh ones. Marge and I stayed there and I was trying to get my Ovilus to work since I was having problems with it all night. It was really acting up, squealing and even did countdown backwards from number ten to one. Very strange, but I thought maybe the batteries just needed changing so we decided to go down to the first floor and change them before the others came back up to start investigating. What happened next I cannot explain: I turned to my right to walk to the stairs and I saw something dark on the ground crossing by my feet. Since I already had my flashlight on and in my hand I immediately shined the light on this object. It moved about six feet from left to right and just disappeared. It vanished! My first thought was that it was a rabbit. Seeing it in the light it seemed to have a pattern that looked like a rabbit’s fur, brownish grey. But it had no feet, no tail, and no head. It was just an oblong shape (about 8-10 inches long and 5 inches wide) that just moved (not running or hopping) until it vanished where the staircase turned. I know what I saw because I was looking directly at it and had my light on it the whole time. Marge, who was behind me saw it too but said it looked black to her. She also said her first thought was a rabbit.

Our investigation of the third floor was interesting. Once again I was teamed up with Marge, Dale, Stan, Jeanne and Mike. We had what seemed to be pebbles thrown at us several times and a Tri-Field meter that was on the floor was making noise almost the entire time. Some Ovilus responses seemed intelligent. But as with the rest of the building, I had no unusual photos or unexplained voices on my recorder and no K-II activity.

I have to put this building on the top of my list of places I want to return to.  

Nicole Tito: Team Partners: Joey Tito, Erica Behringer and Rob Johnson

Equipment Used: Audio recorder, K-II meter, flashlight, laser pointer

Impressions/Personal Experiences:

             During the beginning of the investigation, the group roamed around the basement for quite some time.  Erica and I kept feeling like something was behind us or watching us from a distance.  Although it was dark, there was enough ambient light to see down hallways and at times it appeared that shadows darted in and out of doorways as well as unexplained noises.  This is an old building so some of the noise could be attributed to the foundation settling and paint chips falling, but two unexplainable audio clips were captured in real time in the basement.   The first clip was a SHH heard in real time in the basement as the group is discussing shadows they see off in the distance down the hallway.  The second clip is not heard in real time, but almost sounds like a whoosh noise during an EVP session in which Erica is discussing the work that needs to be done for the day. 

            The second floor hallway also proved to be very eventful that evening with the group experiencing many strange noises and yells while sitting in various rooms.  There were several times when there were loud noises that sounded like things getting thrown.  However, with the shape of the building it could be paint chips or other parts of the ceiling falling.  At one point, Joey did see a rock get thrown sideways from an open door and hit Rob in the head.  It appeared that the activity became stronger when Erica and I stood alone in the hallway and Joey and Rob pretended to be locked up in rooms.  One clip captured on the 2nd floor is a high pitch alarm that appears to be originating from inside the building and cannot be explained by equipment.    Another clip from the same area is a male voice heard in real time by Rob, Erica, and I that sounds like, “Huh,” as well as a male clearing his throat heard in real time by several members of the group.    While the group was walking down the 2nd floor hallway after the EVP session, Erica and Rob hear a male yell down the hallway captured on audio that sounds like, a yelp or “Help.”

            The group also had experiences in real time on the 3rd floor as Erica believed she heard Rob call her nickname while walking down the hall.  At one point, all members of the group heard a child yell in real time after a loud bang in the hallway that was captured on audio recorder. 

In my opinion, this location has much history and potential to be haunted.  Due to the many events that happened in real time and strange feelings I do believe this location to be haunted.  I had the opportunity to capture many of the events on my audio recorder strongly backing the occurrences with the group.


EVPs/Audio Evidence: 

Still photos: Nothing out of the ordinary captured in both exterior and interior shots.   

Stan Suho: This was a big old multi-storied building, one of many on the grounds. We were well treated by the host's and provided with a warming room, coffee, and snacks.

I chose not to do a complete setup due to size of the building and the fact that the hottest spots were a considerable distance away and all those stairs. I busied myself walking around taking pictures and assisting Dale with setting up his cameras.

Two paranormal incidents occurred that I was involved in. The first was during the walk through early in the evening. Dale was in the front of the group recording with his Video Camera and I was bringing up the rear with my VHS Camera. In one room of the Basement, one of the Guides said that she had heard a Growling voice once when she was in the room. Interesting but no one reported hearing anything at the time. Later when Dale reviewed his tapes, he heard a low growling sound just after the girl said that. He mentioned that to me, and I re-reviewed my tape and sure enough I heard the same thing. I don't think it was any one in the group.

The second event occurred later in the evening when we went up to the third floor to service one of his cameras. As we turned the corner and I looked down the hallway, I thought I saw a small black and white form come out of the wall and cross the hall to disappear into the other wall. I said Dale did you see that or were my eyes playing tricks on me. He assured me that he had seen it also. We investigated the area and could find nothing. It was about the size of a big Cat. A few minutes later Marge and Kathy came up to take pictures and they reported that a small "critter" had run across the feet just down the hallway. As usual Stash’s third law was operating and no had a camera running at the time. Dale reported a couple of other hits on his tape and I will have to co-ordinate with him to see if we get a match.


Conclusion: This place was very active and I would like to do a follow up investigation "when the weather warms up". Also there were several other buildings on the campus that were reportedly active that would be good places for us to consider.  

Joey Tito: At Bartonville, I spent the majority of the time covering the grounds and the individual rooms with Nicole, Rob and Erica.  I shot very little video while there, but took part in multiple EVP sessions.  I did not see anything out of the ordinary, but I thought I heard a disembodied voice call out for Erica while investigating.  Erica also heard this voice, so I find this more credible as I was not the only one to experience it.  The Asylum is great and would be a place to check out again at some point down the road.


Evidence Collected:

Bullshit.MPG During the initial walkthrough in the attic, very near the location where it was said that spirits curse at you I picked up a whispering voice saying “bullshit” on my hand held camcorder.

Demonic laughter.MPG During the initial walkthrough, while in the basement one guide was telling of her encounter, at the conclusion, in the background you can hear this demonic laughter.

Disembodied scream.MPG During the initial walkthrough, one guide, while retracing our steps noticed an open door and mentioned that it was closed when we went through just a few minutes ago. She closes the door and right after that, you can hear, in the background, this high-pitched female scream.

Footsteps.MPG During an EVP session in the attic, Para picked up the sounds of footsteps on her digital recorder which was clearly heard by all in real time.

Growl.MPG During the initial walkthrough Suho picked up a growling sound similar to the one I captured.

Loud noise.MPG A loud noise was recorded and heard by all during an EVP session.

Me.MPG During an EVP session on the 2nd Floor, a question was asked, “Who was down here throwing stuff?” The Ovilus responds with, “Me.”

More pebbles.MPG During an EVP session on the 2nd Floor the sound of pebbles striking the floor for the second time was recorded.

No.MPG During the initial walkthrough in the Medication Room, the guide was saying, “During a previous time I asked if they wanted their medication and they said no.” Immediately after this a whispering voice can be heard saying, “No.”

Noise2.MPG During an EVP session in the attic a loud noise was recorded for the second time.

Noise3.MPG During an EVP session in the attic, another noise was recorded.

Noise4.MPG During an EVP session in the attic, another loud noise was recorded and heard in the stairwell.

Noise5.MPG During an EVP session in the attic the sounds of footsteps can clearly be heard in the stairwell.

Noise.MPG During an EVP session in the attic, more strange sounds were heard and recorded.

Pebbles thrown.MPG During an EVP session in the attic, the sounds of pebbles being thrown at us was heard and recorded.

Placebo.MPG The Ovilus says, “Placebo.”

Something thrown.MPG the sound of something thrown was heard and recorded.

Weird scream.MPG while on the initial walk through, a guide was describing a personal experience in the basement when afterwards a weird scream was captured.

Whimper.MPG During an EVP session in the attic, a question was asked, “Can you make a noise for me?” In the background a disembodied whimper can clearly be heard and Jeanne reacts to the sound.


Conclusions: Due to the fact that we had so much equipment to set up and only a few to help with it, we were only able to get in two EVP sessions for the entire evening. While I personally did not pick up anything on my digital recorder, others did. Most of what I picked up was on the initial walkthrough using my hand held IR camcorder. A number of strange sounds were captured that I did not hear or notice when they were being recorded. I do not believe that they were contamination from the group and most were pretty quiet as the guides were talking and we were walking through the building.

I found this location to be fascinating and would like to do a follow-up with more people and equipment as I believe it holds a lot of promise for evidence collection.

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