The group arrived at Eastern State Penitentiary at 6:00 pm and brought gear into the Rotunda where they established a Basecamp Area. The main structure of Eastern State Penitentiary is in the shape of an asterisk with the Cellblocks radiating from the Rotunda.
The group decided to focus on Cellblocks 2, 4, and 12, as well as the Operating Room, the Rotunda, and the Klondike. The Klondike is the name of the solitary confinement area of Eastern State.
In the Cellblocks 2, 4, and 12, cameras were placed in the center of the long corridors facing each end for maximum coverage. In Cellblock 12, another camera was placed facing into the shower as there are many paranormal claims made about this area.
In Cellblock 2, a Zoom H1 audio recorder was placed in the center of the Cellblock. Cigarettes were placed on a bench as trigger objects in the center of the Cellblock. Trigger objects are items that may be of interest to spirits in a location. These items are placed within view of a camera in hopes of eliciting and recording paranormal activity.
An Extech RHT50 Datalogger was positioned near the trigger objects. The Extech RHT150 Datalogger takes temperature, humidity and barometric pressure readings at set time intervals. Fluctuations in these factors, particularly drops in temperature and barometric pressure, are thought to occur concurrently with paranormal activity.
In Cellblock 4, the Rountree Voice Phenomena Recorder was placed approximately 2/3 of the way down the corridor. This device uses a Tascam DR40 Audio Recorder and two Behringer XM8500 Dynamic Microphones. Condenser Microphones are only able to pick up sound waves, while Dynamic Microphones are able to capture sound waves and Electromagnetic Fields (EMF.) This allows for the comparison of the two types of audio by looking at the wave patterns on audio software systems such as Audacity or Adobe Audition. Differences would indicate that audio was recorded from an EMF signal. EMF is hypothesized to be associated with paranormal activity.
In the center of Cellblock 4, a Bible, a touch-activated flashlight, and some cigarettes were placed as trigger objects. An Extech RHT50 Datalogger was positioned near the trigger objects in this area along with a PIM pump. A PIM pump is an EMF pump which is a device that emits an Electromagnetic Field. The energy emitted by the PIM pump is thought to provide spirits with the energy needed to manifest.
A Mel-8704REM/ATDD/SDD Single Axis EMF Detector was placed in front of the camera in Cellblock 4 that was facing the Rotunda. This meter detects EMF and temperature, and also has a shadow detection feature. A GQ GMC-300 Datalogging Geiger Counter was also placed in Cellblock 4 to measure radiation levels.
The area of Cellblock 12 that is open for investigation is on the 2nd Floor. At the top of the stairs is a large landing where a bullet and some playing cards were placed as trigger objects. Near the trigger objects, there was an EMF pump, and a geophone. A geophone is a device that detects vibration.
There is a shower at the end of the corridor. A bar of soap, a Bible, a shiv, and a telephone were placed in the shower as trigger objects. A Zoom H1 audio recorder was placed midway down the hall.
Zoom H1 audio recorders were placed in the Operating Room and the Rotunda Area, and trigger objects of a bottle of whiskey, a cigar, and playing cards were in the Dining Hall. Dog Toys and Treats were in the Rotunda Area in hopes of attracting the spirit of Pep, the Cat Murdering Dog, who received a life sentence at Eastern State for allegedly killing the Pennsylvania Governor’s cat. The actual story is that Pep was chewing the sofa cushions on the porch furniture, and after seeing therapy dogs used at another prison, the governor decided to move Pep to Eastern State for this purpose.
At 8:13 pm, Jann took baseline weather and ambient temperature and EMF readings of the areas to be investigated. At 8:45 pm, Tony, Noah and Missy checked illumination in the various areas equipment was setup. While checking illumination, the bullet in Cellblock 12 hit Tony’s foot. This was not captured on camera and thus it could not be determined if Tony accidentally brushed against the bullet as he went by or if it moved by itself.
As noted prior, we were joined by PIM-East Coast who also had a large amount of equipment used on this investigation. An additional equipment list will be provided at the end of the report.
During the first half of the night the Investigators decided it would be best to form two groups since the building is so large. Noah, Tony and Jann formed Group 1 and Michael, Josh, John and Missy formed Group 2.
Death Row – 9:05 pm
The first area Group 2 investigated was Death Row. This area is located outside of the main prison building. The group settled themselves throughout the area. The group observed a few minutes of controlled silence.
The first thing they noticed is that a lot of street noise could be heard in this area along with a strong smell of food coming from the local restaurants. The group began an EVP session and asked many questions and tried to communicate but had no response. It was then decided to move on to the next location.
END TIME: 9:15 pm
Cellblock 4 – 9:06 pm
Group 1 spread out in the Cellblock and each sat with his or her back to the entrance of a cell. The group did five minutes of control silence during which time a female voice was heard. Noah thought this may have come from a walkie talkie. There were several guides from Eastern State on the grounds during the investigation which made it difficult to determine the origin of the voice. The voice was not captured on any recording devices.
At 9:13 pm, the group began an EVP session. At 9:26 pm, Tony and Noah both heard either a voice or a noise. Once again, it was not captured on a recording device. At 9:28 pm, Noah felt a breeze at his back and heard a noise like something fell in the cell behind him, but this was not captured on any devices and nothing was noticed out of place. At 9:30 pm, Tony heard a sigh, but unfortunately this was not captured on his control recorder or any other devices.
At 9:35 pm the group finished the EVP session and moved to Cellblock 2. Once in Cellblock 2, the team spread out and gave five minutes of control silence.
After the control silence the team conducted an EVP session beginning at 9:40 pm. A short time later the other team radioed Noah to let him know they were moving through the Rotunda. Noah decided to end the EVP session and meet the other team in the Rotunda to switch areas.
END TIME: 9:48 pm
The Hole – 9:19 pm
The next location Group 2 visited was The Hole. This is literally located underground with tiny cells along the wall. The group situated themselves with John and Michael outside of the cells and Missy and Josh both in separate cells. The tour guide that was accompanying them turned off the lights and it became pitch black. The group took a few minutes to get a feel for what it would have been like to be in the blackness and cold of the underground cells for sometimes weeks at a time. For the amount of noise that could be heard outside it was very quiet in Death Row.
The group began an EVP session at 9:22 pm. Shortly after Missy heard a low “humph” sound coming from behind her in the cell she was sitting in. This was the only occurrence during the group’s time in the hole and Missy was the only one to hear it. Unfortunately this noise was not captured on Missy’s control recorder.
At 9:29 pm it was decided to move on to the next location and end this EVP session.
END TIME: 9:29 pm
Exercise Yard of Original Solitary Cell – 9:36 pm
Next Group 2 visited the very small exercise yard of a solitary cell that was still in existence. In the first years of the prison (in the early 1800’s) the prisoners would be confined to their cells and have no interaction with other prisoners or anyone working at the prison. This cell that the group visited had very low doorways and gave a good feel for what it would have been like to be a prisoner there during that time. The yard basically is 4 solid walls and no roof.
The group started an EVP session in this space. Unfortunately, the wind, street traffic and the night life of downtown Philadelphia could be heard making it very hard to conduct a proper EVP session. It was then decided to end this session and move on to the Baseball Field that was located outside of the cell.
END TIME: 9:39 pm
Baseball Field – 9:40 pm
Group 2 decided to try their luck at the Baseball Field. This was an area that was added once the prison was converted from the solitary confinement incarceration system to a more traditional congregate incarceration system. This was a very quick EVP session as it is also outside and the outside noise proved to be too difficult to hold an EVP session.
END TIME: 9:46 pm
Mess Hall/Soup Kitchen – 9:49 pm
Group 2 made their way back through the main building of Eastern State, through the Rotunda and back outside to the Mess Hall. This area is not accessible due to deterioration but the group could look into it. Michael and Josh did set up a motion light inside the Mess Hall too. The group began an EVP session at 9:49 pm.
Michael was asking about the food that was being served that day and the motion light went off. That was the only time that occurred that evening and no cause was located to make the light go off. No further events occurred and at 9:53 pm they ended that EVP session.
END TIME: 9:53 pm
When Noah’s team (Group 1) reached the Rotunda the other team was nowhere to be found. It was decided to continue on to Cellblock 12 to continue the investigation.
Cellblock 12 – 9:54 pm
Group 1 began an EVP session at 9:57 pm with five minutes of silence. At 10:08 pm, Tony reported that he heard mumbling. This was not captured on his control recorder or any other devices.
The inmates used to bang on pipes to communicate with each other. At 10:28 pm, Tony went into a cell to bang on the pipes in hopes of eliciting activity. There was a high pitched knocking when Tony did this, but unfortunately it was not repeated when he tried to get it to happen again. Tony and Noah also tried to entice activity by offering to play a game of cards for cigarettes.
At 10:22 pm, Noah moved into the shower. At 10:25 pm, Tony saw a small, faint light from the cell at the end of the hall on the same side as the shower. It was not determined what caused this light and it was not captured on video. No other activities occurred and the team returned to the Rotunda.
END TIME: 10:27 pm
Eating Area – 9:55 pm
Group 2 then decided to move across the way from the Mess Hall to one of the Eating Areas. This area used to be exercise yards during the Solitary Confinement Days and was converted to an eating area. The ceiling is very low and the area is very narrow and tunnel like. The group conducted an EVP session but had no responses. It was then decided to head back into the prison and visit the surgery area.
END TIME: 10:12 pm
Operating Room/Surgery Recovery Area – 10:16 pm
Group 2 held an EVP session in the Operating Room and Recovery Area. This area still has the original beds, lights, and chairs in the rooms but it is beginning to deteriorate. For that reason the group was unable to go into many of the rooms in the recovery area but could stand outside of them. Although the group attempted to communicate there was no response and it was decided to end this EVP session and reconvene with Group 1.
END TIME: 10:24 pm
The groups gathered in the Rotunda Area for a break until 10:55 pm. The groups decided to stick together and move to the Dining Hall. On the way, Tony saw what looked like a guard walking in the Guard Tower which is one of the claims of activity at Eastern State. Unfortunately this was not captured on camera.
Dining Hall – 11:00 pm
The Dining Hall has collapsed almost completely on one end. This was problematic as there was much outside noise audible. The group conducted a passive investigation of this area during which the guide described the food that was served to the prisoners. At 11:09 pm, the group decided to move to the Klondike.
END TIME: 11:09 pm
The Klondike (Solitary Confinement) – 11:19 pm
The group spread out in the Klondike as in other areas with each person seated with his or her back to the entrance of a cell. Five minutes of control silence was held prior to beginning an EVP session.
At 11:32 pm, John gave Tony some handcuffs he had brought as trigger objects so he could use them to tap on pipes to try to communicate once again. There was no response during this time.
END TIME: 11:42 pm
Cellblock 4 – 11:50 pm
The group held five minutes of control silence before beginning an EVP session. There was a lot of noise contamination in this area from cars outside as well as the Eastern State guides despite numerous pleas for them to stay silent.
The group held an EVP session until 12:01 am at which time they decided to move to Cellblock 12. No events occurred during this time.
END TIME: 12:01 am
The group moved to Cellblock 12
Cellblock 12 – 12:08 am
Noah and Tony were seated in the shower, and Missy, John and Jann were seated in the corridor with their backs to the entrance of cells. An EVP session was held until 12:17 am. Tony once again tried to communicate by tapping on the pipes, but unfortunately received no responses. At this point the team had to stop as the investigation only lasted until 1:00 am and gear still needed to be collected.
No evidence was collected during this investigation
Eastern State Penitentiary was a giant in its day. Architecturally, the building is amazing and beautiful. The history of this location is enough for anyone to come and visit and take the daytime tour. However, as far as doing an investigation at this location, PIM would advise against it.
PIM came to this location with high hopes based on the reported claims and stories that surround Eastern State, but unfortunately the truth about the prison leaves much to be desired.
First we can talk about some of the claims. Besides Pep, who was not sentenced to life for killing a cat, there was also the claim about Al Capone’s cell. We were informed by the staff that the cell that is made up to look like a luxurious cell is actually not the cell that Al Capone stayed in nor does anyone know if Al Capone had any more luxuries than any other prisoner as no record was kept to denote that. The location of Al Capone’s cell is actually unknown and the mock-up is made mainly as a tourist attraction.
Then there is the “Mad” chair where supposedly inmates were strapped to a dental chair and tortured. The staff also informed us this never happened and that the “Mad” chair on display is in fact an old barber chair. There is no record of prisoners being tortured and this story was made up by the Ghost Adventures team when they investigated the prison.
Next we have the video that the TAPS team captured on the catwalk of Cell Block 4. Through a personal communication with Kenny Biddle, who is a paranormal investigator and skeptic who lives near Philadelphia, PIM was able to find out that a previous manager at the prison actually staged this video for TAPS. It is unknown if TAPS knew about this or not at the time.
Beyond the false claims that come from Eastern State, there is the simple condition of the building that makes it difficult to investigate. First, this location is in downtown Philadelphia. You can hear street noise from people to cars to animals clearly. This problem is compounded by the fact that there are no doors on the ends of any of the cell blocks and many cells have the roofs caved in so they are open to the environment. This introduces another problem which is the local wildlife. The prison is infested with bats and birds and many cockroaches. You also don’t have access to a lot of the prison due to the decrepit status the building is in. These are just a few of the issues you will encounter if trying to investigate this prison.
The last issue was unfortunately one that could have been avoided. The prison requires that they have guides in the building with you at all times and that you can’t go anywhere, even the bathroom, without an escort. This is understandable to an extent due to the run-down nature of the prison. However in our case the guides we had were quite disruptive to our investigation.
The first issue was that there were too many guides there. It states on the website that there will be one guide for every five people. There were seven people there for this investigation so two guides right? Wrong. There were five guides there. When the team split into two groups, one guide went with each group and the remaining three guides remained in the Rotunda. The guides in the Rotunda could not stay quiet despite continued requests to do so and completely contaminated any audio that we captured during the investigation. I will say that the guides that came with the groups were very well behaved and stayed quiet the whole time but the guides left behind simply talked amongst themselves the whole time.
The last issue involving the guides was the maturity level. It seemed that most of the guides that were there were young and inexperienced at being a guide at Eastern State. A few of the guides didn’t know where certain locations in the prison were and needed other guides to help them find the locations so we could place equipment. Some of the guides also were terrified of bats and cockroaches which resulted in screaming and running once it got dark and those things came out. In PIM’s opinion this behavior is unacceptable on an investigation.
To be fair, the guides were very helpful in allowing us to get all the lights off, even turning off the music that plays in Al Capone’s cell which they told us was never turned off as far as they knew. However, the lack of professionalism during the investigation and utter lack of respect for a paying customer severely soured our impression of this location.
Although this building is historic and has many claims, without some changes to the structure for private investigations PIM would not suggest investigating this location. The time and cost involved is not worth the end result you will receive. Take a day tour to visit but head home at night.
It was unfortunate that the Penitentiary guides had a tendency to be noisy and disruptive during EVP sessions as it makes it very problematic when trying to review audio recordings. We have contacted Eastern State, and hopefully they will address this issue with their staff. The location is very historic and definitely worth a visit during the day.