Mansfield Reformatory 2017 Investigation

History: When it was built in 1886, at a cost then of $1.3 million, the Ohio State Reformatory (also known as the Mansfield Reformatory) was the largest in America. It evolved into a state penitentiary over time, and housed over 150,000 individual residents, as many as 3,500 at a time, from death-row inmates to adolescent petty thieves, before closing in 1990.  The state built a modern correctional facility next door, and began tearing down the reformatory, before being stopped by local preservationists. Efforts are underway to restore the building, and it is used occasionally as a film location and for ghost hunts. Portraits of Lenin and Stalin loom over the central guard room, left from the filming of a Harrison Ford feature film, Air Force One. Set dressings from the Shawshank Redemption are also visible inside.

Located at 100 Reformatory Road, Mansfield, Ohio 44905 419-522-2644





On November 6, 1950, Helen Glattke, the wife of the prison superintendent knocked down a loaded pistol off a closet shelf and shot herself through the left lung.  The next day she died in the Mansfield hospital. In February 1959 the superintendent himself died from a heart attack in his office. An inmate hung himself in his cell in 1955 and another burned himself to death in his cell with turpentine and paint thinner stolen from the prison furniture shop. Two convicts were once left in a cramped single-occupancy solitary confinement cell overnight; in the morning only one walked out. The other was stuffed under the bunk. In 1957 a riot put 120 men into the 20 solitary cells for 30 day stints. There is also a bizarre story of a ghostly running man who has been seen. According to historical records it may be a former inmate who's throat was slit so badly that when he ran, his head literally bobbed from side to side gushing blood like a geyser as he tried to get to the washroom. 



Hauntings: Numerous reports of shadowy figures have been seen and recorded in various locations but mainly the East Cell Block and Solitary Confinement. Sounds of prison doors slamming, screams of prisoners, footsteps on the metal stairs and walkways, the ghost of the former warden’s wife killed by a falling pistol has been encountered near the their living quarters, a ghostly figure has been seen on Reformatory Road, people being scratched, equipment manipulation, disembodied voices, numerous EVPs, cold spots and equipment fluctuations.

Cell 17 of the East Cell Block was where James Lockhart committed suicide by dousing himself with paint thinner and turpentine and then setting himself on fire. Prison guards and nearby inmates claimed that after he was put out with fire extinguishers, the flesh from his body fell off of him in chunks. This area today is location where many investigators receive EVPs and encounter a very heavy feeling.

Other reports include shadow people, orbs, unusual mists, voices, slamming cell doors, batteries being completely drained, numerous EVPs and phantom footsteps. 



The GRS investigated Mansfield Reformatory on July 20, 2017 and the team included: Stan Suho, Kathie Para, Jim Piscopo, Michael Wright, Greg, Kos and Dale Kaczmarek with help from Jeannie Chilton from PRIOM, Susan Hartley, Jason Snider, Jason Dickerson, Courtney Mendenhall, Becky Niday and Riley Miller from Crawford County Ghost Hunters










Equipment setup: No Command Center was set up this time around; instead all the investigators used either hand-held devices or set up IR cameras and camcorders in remote areas with no live feed fed back to monitors.  

Experiments performed: EVP sessions were conducted in the East Shower Room, Solitary Confinement and Lockhart’s cell. While in Solitary we used a REM Epod, Tri-Field Natural EM Meter, X-Cam SLS system as well as K-II meters, digital recorders and cameras.  

Personal experiences  

Greg Kos: After a very good tour of the cell blocks and all the additional rooms including the upstairs of the Wardens house and the Chapel, Stan and I decided where to set up our IR cameras. I set my IR camera at the ground floor of the East cell block. My camera was aimed in the direction of the infamous shower room. I had placed the IR camera around 30 yards from the corner of the shower room. I recorded approximately 3.5 hours of film time.

My other equipment that I used that night was my K-II meter EDI+ and my voice recorder. My EDI+ was left by my IR camera but not within view. I have learned now not to keep it out of view of the camera. I picked up no evidence with my K-II outside of the meeting room upstairs of the Wardens house. I had no evidence on my voice recorder; however I wish I could have picked up the footsteps that followed behind me on the 3rd floor of the East cell block during a challenge that was made by our guide. The challenge was to walk all the way around the 3rd floor with no light but we were allowed to carry our voice recorders. This is when I heard the footsteps following behind me.

When I finally reviewed my video I saw what appears to be a head sticking through the bars. Below the head there was a pair of hands hanging from the cross bar of the cell.  

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Mansfield and would consider doing two nights there. A great location even though I'm not a fan of Shawshank!  

Kathie Para: GRS members present for this investigation were Dale Kaczmarek, Stan Suho, Jim Piscopo, Mike Wright, Greg Kos and me. We were also joined by a few more investigators that we occasionally join up with. There were a total of 13 of us in the building that night.

It is a massive building, so unfortunately we couldn’t possibly begin to cover everything we wanted to. Personally, I spent time in the following locations doing EVP sessions: Shower room in the east cell block (I actually did two separate sessions there), first floor of the east cellblock, the basement, the “chair” room on the third floor and the residences on the third floor.

The cellblock areas are somewhat unnerving, as if you are being watched the whole time. We got K-II activity in response to questioning. We also heard unexplained noises.

We heard noises in the shower room as well as a few relevant Ovilus responses.  One in particular was the word “column”, which popped out first thing. There are a couple large Greek style columns in the middle of the room.

 The basement seemed mostly quiet, but after standing there a while I did get the feeling of cobwebs on my legs. I was wearing shorts. At first I did nothing but it soon felt as if the cobwebs were wrapping around my legs and climbing higher. I then bent over to brush my legs and told Greg and Mike what I felt. I then said to please touch Greg’s leg, since he also had shorts on. Greg then started to get the same cobweb feeling surround his legs. There were no spider webs or cobwebs to be seen in the basement. This was just another cool personal experience.

I didn’t really get much evidence anywhere on the third floor, although we did get responses with the dowsing rods. But twice I got turned around and couldn’t find my way out (once with Mike and then again with Mike and Greg.) It seemed every time Mike and I realized we needed to turn around we would hear a noise. I tried not to panic but honestly felt as if we were being led the wrong way at every turn. Kind of crazy, I know but I really felt that we weren’t alone and someone was getting a kick out of us wandering around or maybe playing with us!

Due to having issues with my knee I didn’t get to explore as much as I would have like on the upper cellblocks, which was disappointing. But I would most definitely go back and investigate this great building again.

Pizza and soda along with a couple of great tour guides a big plus!!  

Jim Piscopo: We arrived at the reformatory about 6:00pm. We were checked in and given a tour of the prison. We started setting up about 8:00. I set up my Sony camcorder with night vision on the first floor solitary confinement section.

After set up we went to different sections to do EVP sessions. We investigated until 1:30am and then went up to the third floor guard tower for a challenge. 

This was completely voluntary. Each person had to walk thru a door that led to a prison block and completely walk around the block and back to the starting point. Only one person at a time in the dare with no flashlights or light of any kind. It took between 4-7 min. to complete the task. When I went thru about half way down the first hallway I thought I saw movement in a cell on my left. Two of the halls were very log and started with very little light and then went to total darkness. Just before I reached total darkness it looked like the hallway was getting narrower and at the end I saw what appeared to be a white vail or cape. It was a very interesting experience.  

Stan Suho:  Ah, my second visit to this huge old prison. Walking problems kind of kept me confined to the lower floors, but there was plenty to see and do. Because of the huge size of the complex, I chose not to have a command post station. I teamed up with Greg to do some IR video recordings. Greg set up at the far end of the left cell block next to the shower room. I was at the opposite end of the cell block in solitary. This consists of two wings with me in the left wing and Jim in the right wing. I had the standard camera setup with a very sensitive microphone. The microphone is important because Jim reported picking up a scream and cell door banging shut. I did not pick them up although we were in the same building. When the cameras were set up and recording to DVRs I went into my picture taking mode. Thus progressed the evening.  


Nothing to report on my end, but Greg thinks he may have captured something, as well as Jim.

Michael Wright:  We arrived at the site in the evening, upon arrival we were given a tour of the facility, after the tour we set up and did several EVP sessions, Kathy Para and I did a session on the first floor cell block, there was some activity with the dowsing rods but I did not pick anything on my recorder, the rest of the sessions that night were pretty much the same, It was a fairly quiet night. The highlight was at the end of our stay, those of us that wanted were given the opportunity to walk alone through the cell block, which was an intense experience, I had my recorder on through the walk and the only thing I was able to hear were my hurried footsteps. We only explored a small fraction of the building, I would enjoy going back to investigate other areas that we did not get to.

Dale Kaczmarek: The three locations I conducted sessions at were the East Cellblock shower room, Solitary and James Lockhart’s Cell #17. I only received one interesting sentence in the shower room which said, “I don’t like you.”

In Solitary the Ovilus X was extremely talky in dictionary mode but did not answer any specific questions posed. Two stick figures were observed and recorded. This session was attended by James Piscopo, Jeannie Chilton, Susan Hartley and later Stan Suho. For brief instant, a stick figure was seen sitting on the toilet but more interesting after I made reference that there were two beautiful women sitting in the cell block, I saw and recorded another stick figure that appeared to be masturbating!

Finally in Lockhart’s cell which was a very heavy and unpleasant feeling, I received a very sharp pinch or pain in my left shoulder. Chilton took a look and reported that I had a red mark exactly where I experienced the pain. A subsequent picture was then taken. The X-Cam SLS system and Ovilus X both died in this cell probably due to interference from spirits or battery drain by them. We cut our session short because the participants felt very uncomfortable.  


Evidence collected:  

Door slam mansfield17.MPG – Piscopo’s IR camcorder stationed in Solitary picks up the sound of a door slamming in the distance.  

East cell block noise.MPG – while conducting an EVP session in the shower room in the East Cell block, a faint noise is heard and recorded.  

I don’t like you mansfield17. MPG – while conducting an Ovilus X session in the men’s shower room in the East Cell block, as soon as the Ovilus X was turned on in dictionary mode it says, “I don’t like you.”  

Loud bang mansfield17. MPG – Piscopo’s static IR camcorder stationed in Solitary picks up the sound of a loud bang in the distance.  

Shower bang.MPG – while conducting an EVP session in the shower room in the East Cell block, a loud bang was heard and recorded.  

Solitary1 mansfield17.MPG – while conducting an EVP session in Solitary Confinement, I mentioned about two women were in the prison cell. Almost immediately a stick figure shows up on the X-Cam SLS system that appears to be masturbating.  

Solitary2 mansfield17.MPG – while conducting an Ovilus X session in Solitary Confinement, two stick figures appear outside of the cell on the X-Cam SLS system and then one appears in the cell next to Hartley that almost appears to be hanging from his neck for a few seconds before disappearing.  

Strange sound mansfield17.MPG – Piscopo’s static IR camcorder stationed in Solitary picks up a strange sound in the background that almost sounds like it says, “Hello.”  

Strange sound2 mansfield17.MPG – Piscopo’s static IR camcorders stationed in Solitary picks up another strange sound or snap in the background.  

Strange voice mansfield17.MPG – Piscopo’s static IR camcorder stationed in Solitary picks up a strange voice.  

Whine mansfield17.MPG – Piscopo’s static IR camcorder stationed in Solitary picks up a whining sound in the background.  

Conclusions: This visit to Mansfield was by far the quietest it’s been ever. There were very few relevant EVP, Ghost Box or Ovilus X responses at any location visited throughout the building. There were more reports of weird feelings throughout the locations visited and, in some cases, very heavy feelings that were never encountered during previous visits to the establishment.

Kos did apparently pick up something that resembled a human figure, head and hands poking through a cell near the men’s shower room in the East Cell Block, however due to the fact that it persisted for the entire length of the video, I would assume that it probably was due to something natural like matrixing, simulacra or even pareidolia. Also due to the low resolution and display on the camera’s field, it is more difficult to make out. I have placed it on this report and circled it for better viewing. You be the judge.









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