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"Myths of Paranormal Activity and Factual Horrors”

Ohio University has developed quite the reputation as one of the most haunted universities in the nation, but can these paranormal myths be proven or even explained with rational reasoning and factual evidence? The following myths were published in the October 31st edition of the Ohio University paper titled The Post in 1978. The articles that will be referenced are: "What Haunts Wilson Hall?" 4:1; 10/31/1978, and "Missing Patient Discovered Dead" 1:2; 1/12/1979. These articles were found in the Ohio University Mahn Center through microfilm. Most of these myths have been passed on through generations of students and are still alive and terrifying those who attend Ohio University till this day.

We will begin where the basis of most of these myths derive from, Wilson Hall. The horror stories of paranormal activity in Wilson Hall have drifted throughout the campus since the dorm first opened in 1964. One of the most famous myths is the unconfirmed Jeane Dixon prediction that on All Souls' Day, numerous female freshmen were to be slaughtered by a man wielding an ax. There are no records proving that murders as such have ever happened, yet when Halloween rolls around, women are still terrorized till this day by fake-ax-wielding pranksters looking to liven up the myth. There have been numerous myths regarding levitating and moving objects in Wilson Hall as well. This includes horror stories of books flying off shelves, bricks falling to the ground, and jars shattering on the dorm room floors, all of which supposedly happened without the interaction of visible outside forces. Of course it does not end there. Over the years people have heard noises, which turn into footsteps, which turn into whispers and so on. There has even been a circulating myth of a haunted rug. This rug was stumbled upon in a Wilson Hall storage area while a student was sleuthing on a trail of a ghost. She took the well-kept blue shag rug and moved it to her second floor room, thinking nothing of it. That night, she apparently saw an image of a very large, disproportioned woman combing her hair in her mirror. She only saw this apparition momentarily as she was dozing off. Obviously, she was not in the clearest state of mind and most likely imagined this image in a near-sleep state. The following day she demanded to be moved to from the second floor single to a fourth floor double. There have been numerous myths regarding this student and her new fourth floor roommate following this so-called paranormal experience. It is said that they practiced witchcraft and studied parapsychology, fooling around with the psychical method of astro-projection. Again, nothing has been recorded or documented proving that either of these female students made contact of any sort with paranormal entities.

Ohio University has been falsely recognized as “One of the most haunted places on earth” according to The Society for Psychical Research. Once again there is no proven documentation of the British Society for Psychical Research even creating a world-wide ranking of the most haunted places on earth. This is yet another myth that has brought much negative attention to the campus and city of Athens, Ohio. There is one factual statement that reigns true among all of the myths haunting Ohio University. Parts of Ohio University were built over ancient burial grounds and the university is surrounded by over fifty cemeteries within a ten to fifteen mile radius. A select few of these cemeteries do form a pentagram, a common witchcraft symbol, which with some imagination and creativity places Wilson Hall directly in the center.

A large contributor to the myths of haunted grounds and paranormal activity can be focused on the Athens Insane Asylum which was once home to the infamous lobotomist Walter Jackson Freeman II. Dr. Freeman, along with the asylum as a whole, were known for numerous gruesome lobotomies as well as their unorthodox practices with patients. These practices ranged from electroconvulsive therapy to being submerged into ice-cold water for extended periods of time. Sometimes the true stories are more horrifying than the paranormal myths.

One myth that is most commonly heard among the students today in regards to the Athens Lunatic Asylum is the story of Margaret Schilling. Schilling, 53 at the time of her death, was a patient at the Athens Insane Asylum, simply known as the Athens Mental Health and Retardation Center at the time. After missing for six weeks, she was found dead in an abandoned ward. She was bare, frozen to the floor, with her clothes neatly folded on the windowsill. It is documented that she was approximately dead for four to five weeks before she was discovered and needed to be scrapped off of the floor. At the time the autopsy revealed no foul play, but the true story has been circulating amongst faculty and students for years. Ward N. 20 where she was found had not been used in “quite a number of years” according to the superintendent at the time. Ward N. 20 is a split-level floor located on the top of the three story wing of the asylum. The doors are locked from the outside and getting up to this ward required unlocking numerous doors on the way. It was first speculated that Schilling most likely entered the ward through the window, but this particular ward had been searched within a week of her initial disappearance. Only a select few people know this, but Schilling was a chain-smoker. It has been said that she would exchange sexual favors with the guards for cartons of cigarettes. It is believed that one guard in particular was tired of “sharing” Schilling with two of the other guards, and as a result he took her up to the abandoned N. 20 ward to have his way with her. Although it has never been publically released, faculty and individuals in the archives have shared that she had strangle marks upon her neck when she was found dead. Today, there is still an outline of Margaret Schilling’s body located on the floor of the closed off N. 20 ward. Although there has been much graffiti added over the years, the outline still unexplainably remains on the floor.