The last leg of PIM’s July 2019 Summer Mini Expedition was Poasttown Elementary School in Middletown, Ohio. It was a beautiful clear day. Marilsa, Noah, Brandon, Tom, Chris, and Gravy arrived at 3:00 pm. At 3:15 pm, we were met by the owner Darrell Whisman. After a few pleasantries, the team was introduced to a personal friend of the owner, associated with the ex-school on and off for over 10 years, who is currently acting as tour guide and manager of the property. We were shown our sleeping quarters with air conditioning.
From 3:30 to 4:10 pm PIM received a tour of the building, which included personal experiences and paranormal claims made by other investigation teams. During the tour, baseline measurements of electromagnetic fields (EMF) and temperature were recorded.
More details were asked directly about Sarah, the famous spirit, purportedly, of a young girl reported by paranormal investigators as enrolled in the school who fell down a stairwell to her death. PIM members were interested in uncovering who she was, how she died, and when and exactly where in the school this tragedy occurred. PIM was interested in getting more information as an extensive search of local and state newspapers covering the entire time the school was active (1935 to 2001) yielded no articles about the death of a child in the school or following an accident in the school. An interview with a local historian also yielded no results. It was acknowledged that the name of the student was not known and that Darrell came up with the name of “Sarah” as it could be said in a creepy and scary manner. It was also disclosed that it is not known if there was an accident of a student falling down the stairs and thought that perhaps the rumor was begun by teachers to stop children from playing in the stairwell. However, there are experiences reported from a young girl and that now the entity seemingly responds to the name “Sarah”.
At the end of the tour the team met in the break room, one of the few air-conditioned locations, to map out a strategy for the investigation. At 5:00 pm, the team unpacked the van, placed personal belongings in the sleeping room, and began setting up equipment for the overnight investigation.
An EVP session is the practice of asking questions and leaving ten seconds of silence in between, in the hope of capturing a response via an audio recording device.
The first equipment each member activated was their personal control recorder. Control recorders serve two main functions: they act as another recording device during the investigation and they capture sound contaminations that investigators might create during an electronic voice phenomenon (EVP) session. An EVP session is the practice of asking questions and leaving ten seconds of silence in between, in the hope of capturing a response via an audio recording device. Rarely is a response heard by the investigator’s ears, but when a response is heard by human ears it is called a disembodied voice. The recorders were timed stamped from a designated atomic watch to create a point of reference for better cross-referencing during evidence review. The recorders were also placed in individual Faraday Cages to block radio signals that might interfere with the audio recorders and cause a false positive EVP. The team used Zoom H1 digital recorders.
Along with control records, every PIM member is equipped with an Extech RHT50 data logger which was also started. The Extech data logger measures humidity, temperature and barometric pressure at one-minute intervals. This device allows us to graph these changes and compare data to other devices that might have measured or recorded an event.
Most PIM members began setting up equipment throughout the school while others photographed the location and collected outside environmental data. The team that was outside collecting data noted that the school is on a relatively busy road, next to a busy Dollar Store and near a gas station, suggesting that environmental noise contamination could be a factor in the investigation. In addition, the team could hear the not too distant sounds of train and propeller airplane traffic.
Inside the school, an EDI+ datalogger, which records EMF, Barometric pressure, temperature, and vibrations, was placed in the 2nd Floor hallway near Room 207. Two shadow detectors were placed at opposite ends of the 2nd Floor hallway, one near the Library, and one near Room 207. The audio equipment included three stationary (static) Zoom H1 audio recorders in Faraday Cages: one was placed in the Basement by the gym, one in the Hallway of the 1st Floor by the Teachers’ Lounge, and one in the 2nd Floor hallway near the Library. The video equipment consisted of Sony HDR-CX160 Full Spectrum cameras (Basement Hallway, 1st Floor hallway to Teachers’ Lounge / Principal Office, 2nd Floor hallway one pointing towards the Nurse Station and one away from Room 207, and Special Needs Room) and Ghost Pro Full Spectrum cameras (one on a trigger object bank near Room 207 and one on a chest plate worn by a PIM member during the investigation).
Two Trigger object banks were created, one in the Hallway near Room 207 and one in the Hallway next to the Special Needs Room. The trigger object bank near Room 207 consisted of: cigar, Bible, cigarette, rosary, crucifix, magnetic levitator, touch flashlight pointed towards the camera, and the EDI+ data recorder. The trigger object bank near the Special Needs Room consisted of: cigar, bullet, whiskey, cigarette, magnetic levitator, obsidian orb, Ouija plate with freely movable pointer, and dark matter detector. Each bank was covered by cameras.
At 7:37 pm, the PIM team finished setting up the equipment, turning it on and time stamping it. The team took group photographs, made some last-minute adjustments and, at 8:08 pm, left the building for dinner.
At 9:13 pm, the team re-entered the building and went to the Boiler Room to use as a back-drop for a Facebook Live event. At 9:50 pm the team began its investigation of Poasttown Elementary School.
9:50 pm – Basement Cafeteria and Kitchen
The team began this session with two minutes of control silence to listen for normal noises created by the building so as not to mistake those noises as responses to questions. Toads, frogs, and beetles were noted in the Basement, along with a slightly open window, which allowed outside noise to bleed in.
During the EVP session a light flop sound coming from the Gym was noted at 9:49 pm
A short shifting sound was noted at 9:56 pm and 10:00 pm coming from the Cafeteria
At 10:10 pm, sounds of footsteps were heard coming from the Gym.
Near the end of the session, outside noise was noted to echo in the Basement and the PIM team believes that the sounds heard during the EVP session were contamination from outside sources.
10:24 pm – Gym
The team spread out in the Gym for a new EVP session. The team began control silence once they settle into their positions. The gym windows are not covered and so light play occurred from passing traffic. No activity was noted during the session. Voices were heard coming from the neighboring Dollar Store.
10:37 pm – Principal’s Office
The team was located in the lounge that became the Principal’s Office, in the Hallway outside the office, and in the room opposite the office reserved for the custodial staff (no claims reported for that room).
The session began with control silence and no events were noted during the EVP session.
At 10:42 pm, Brandon, who stated that he was a trouble-maker in school, decided to sit at the desk of the Principal.
At 10:47 pm, the session was terminated when high-pitched squeaking sounds were noted coming from outside. Upon investigation, the sounds were found to be coming from a radio-controlled car someone was racing around the parking lot of the school.
10:48 pm – Base camp
The team took a break. Later, they got together and met at Base camp to discuss the night’s events and allow the equipment to run without human interaction.
During the break at 11:05 pm, Marilsa thought she heard panting in the Bathroom but her control recorder yielded no such sound. Later, the sound was heard again and was noted to originate from outside the building.
11:11 pm – Doll room, 2nd Floor
The team began control silence once they settled into their positions.
At 11:45 pm a noise in the hallway, where no PIM member was located was heard. The sound was difficult to describe, perhaps some light footsteps. The noise was later attributed to the linoleum tiles that clicked with the change in building temperature.
12:04 am – Punching bag room, 2nd Floor
While entering the room members noted that the play of light and shadows from the individual flashlights made the optical illusion of the punching bag moving. To test whether the bags were really moving or if it was just light play, the team taped a downward-facing laser flashlight to a punching bag and drew a small chalk circle, about 3 inches in diameter around the point of light on the floor. The process of taping the light to the bag did make it sway in a regular circular and pendular motion but the point of light remained inside the circle.
At 12:07 am, the team began with control silence, followed by an EVP session. Numerous prompts for an entity to move the bag did not result in the light beam leaving the circle. In fact, a cargo train passed by during the EVP session and the swing of the bag was not altered. During the session the sounds of the linoleum tiles stretching and contracting in the hallway made PIM members think they could hear footsteps. The sound of the tiles was replicated by one member quietly walking in the hallway and making the tiles pop.
12:27 am – Girls’ Bathroom (2nd Floor)
At 12:27 am, the team decided to test the claim of the disembodied voice in the Girls’ Bathroom, so only males went into the room with Marilsa staying in the Hallway. The team began control silence once they settled into their positions.
At 12:28 am, an EVP session started.
At 12:32, the EVP session ended. No events were noted.
12:41 am – Special Needs Room, 2nd Floor
The team began control silence once they settled into their positions.
At 12:43 am, an EVP session started.
At 12:50 am, the sound of sneaker shoes was heard in the Hallway and Noah went to investigate but could not find a source for the noise.
At 12:51 am, the EVP session ended and PIM members moved to a different location.
12:54 am – Hallway near Nurse Station (2nd Floor)
At 12:54 am, the group began controlled silence. Noises were noted from the far end of the hallway where no member was located, so Noah went to investigate. While Noah walked down the hallway other PIM members who were stationary noted that sounds of him walking echoed such that some of the sounds appeared to come from a different location. In addition, the sound of him walking was noted to be more rhythmic and consistent than the other sounds that were described as walking. We concluded that the original sounds were related to the contraction of the building as it cooled during the night after a hot day.
At 1:04 am, a soft whistle was heard but no source could be identified.
At 1:08 am, a loud “thud” was heard in the Hallway. No other events occurred and the team moved to another location.
1:16 am – Hallway (2nd Floor)
At 1:16 am, the team began control silence once they settled into their new positions.
The sound of a sigh was heard at 1:21 am but no source or repetition of the sound could be elicited.
At 1:24 am, the EVP session ended.
1:24 am – Base camp
The team took a break. They checked their equipment and replaced SD cards as needed. Later, they got together and met at the Base camp to discuss the night’s events and allow the equipment to run without human interaction.
1:57 am – Hallway (2nd Floor)
Each member sat in the threshold of a door to a different individual room.
At 1:57 am, Gravy felt a sting but no mark was noted on his skin. During the control silence random building noises, mostly clicks, were heard from the different rooms.
Nothing else of note occurred during this session and the team decided to move back to the Basement.
2:22 am – Basement Boiler Room and Individual Isolation Session
All team members went to the Boiler Room except for Brandon, who volunteered for an isolation session on the 2nd Floor. No events were noted during the EVP session in the Boiler Room.
At 2:35 am Brandon left the 2nd Floor and re-joined the group in the Basement and reported no events during his isolation session. It was noted that when Tom stationed himself near the door of the Boiler Room he could hear Brandon talking on the 2nd Floor.
No other events were noted and the team moved to the Cafeteria to continue the investigation.
2:40 am – Basement Cafeteria
At 2:40 am, the EVP session started.
At 2:42 am, the team heard a knocking sound. It was not heard again.
No other events were noted during the EVP session.
At 2:46 am, the EVP session ended. As the team re-entered the Basement, the door to the Cafeteria was noted to squeak, sounding almost like a cat.
2:48 am – Dry Good Storage Room (Basement)
The wooden door to the room was swollen and would not close completely. At 2:48 am, the team began control silence once settled into their new positions.
At 2:51 am, one person claimed to hear a boy’s voice. No other member heard the sound and no sound was noted upon review of the control recorders.
No other events occurred and at 2:57 am, the EVP session ended. The team decided to end the investigation at this time as well.
PIM broke down all their gear, stopped their control recorders and packed their equipment in the van before heading down to the sleeping quarters for the night.
Most of the events noted during the investigation were easily explained as outside sound contamination, as building noises, or as the distorted echoes of these sounds. The outside noise contamination included traffic noise from the nearby road and railroad as well as voice contamination of patrons of the local late-night stores. The building sounds were mostly clicks that were somewhat consistent but not quite as rhythmic or as loud as a live person walking the hallways. Theses sounds could easily be misinterpreted as footsteps, and their lighter quality as compared to an adult investigator walking the hallways could be interpreted as the footsteps of a child.
There also was some light play from the vehicles passing by the school at night that could explain some of the shadows noted by other investigators, especially on the 2nd Floor where headlights of passing cars, trucks and motorcycles are visible. The movement of the punching bags on the 2nd Floor appeared as one such case of light play, as a more careful investigation using laser lights revealed no unusual movement of the bags.
Some events were not readily explained, such as the squeak of sneaker shoes, the whistle, the sigh, the pinch / sting of a member on the 2nd Floor, and the boy’s voice in the Basement. All were noted by different members, but could not be corroborated during the review of the data. As such, it may be worth a return visit to Poasttown Elementary School to further investigate this interesting and historic building.