From the Daily Kent Stater, March 5, 1999


March 5, 1999
By Shannon Beatty

Don't ever laugh while the hearse goes by,

For you may be the next to die.

"It was a rainy night. Not thunderstorms but a steady rain."

Education major Brad Saylor has worked as a Kent State residential security aide for most of his five-year college career. He was working in Quad, an area of residence halls, on this rainy night three years ago.

It was about 2:30 a.m., and Saylor was on his last round of the outside of the uninhabited Stopher Hall when he "saw something."

They wrap you in a big white sheet

From your head down to your feet.

Like the singsong rhymes and ghostly tales told around a campfire, people see things every day that cannot be easily explained. Kent State is full of these stories. Just ask these residents and staff members who know firsthand that ghost stories aren't just for Halloween.

They put you in a big, black box

And cover you up with dirt and rocks.

Stopher has not been used since 1993-it was closed for renovation and has not reopened.

"It looks like one of those nutty haunted houses they put together for you to walk through," Saylor said. Broken windows and ivy, some of which has made its way inside, set the scene on the dark and stormy night.

"I was checking the perimeters of the building. Looking through a door window into a hallway, I peeked down, and I saw this thing floating in the middle of the hall."

He described it as a medium-sized white blur. He said that whatever it was, it could not be explained logically.

"I took one look at it and said, 'I'm out of here!'" he said. "I just ran."

Saylor said he is not the only person ever to experience something "different" in the empty hall. "Everyone I've talked to who goes there said they've had weird feelings about the place," he said.

All goes well for about a week,

Then your coffin begins to leak.

Engleman Hall, Kent State's current renovation project, was first constructed in 1937. The 62-year-old building was named after the university president at the time, John Ozro Engleman. It has survived through times of war, periods of growth for the university and the May 4 shootings.

The hall has also been known as a site for incidents beyond explanation.

Some residents have just heard the stories.

"I've always been told about the stuff, but I've never experienced anything," said Amy Berecek, a Koonce resident assistant who lived in Engleman her first year of college.

"There were some girls on the third floor who saw some things."

Renee Williams, former resident director of Engleman Hall, said residents would tell her about strange occurrences.

"Everything happened on the third floor," Williams said. "It was really weird.

"One girl said she saw someone standing in the middle of her room. She said it was a dark, hooded figure."

While she is unsure these apparitions are not just imagined, Williams said, "I believe that they (the residents) believe what they're seeing is real. I don't think they're making it up."

The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out.

The worms play pinochle on your snout.

One student didn't experience the "hauntings" in Engleman firsthand but was close by when another resident did.

"I went over to visit my friend Lindsay, and she told me that the girl who lived across the hall lived in a haunted room," James Thompson, a senior criminal justice major, said. "It was the Allison Krause room, supposedly."

Allison Krause was a Kent State student killed by the National Guard in the May 4 rioting. A search of directories and records could not confirm that Krause was ever a resident of Engleman.

"I went into the room just to look around, and it looked just like a regular Engleman room."

He went back into his friend's room to watch television when the neighbor across the hall came over "all freaked out." She told him someone had been knocking on her window.

"At first I thought that could've been anyone until I remembered that we were on the third floor."

He remembered asking her if it could have been anyone else. "I went and asked her: 'Are you sure it wasn't someone knocking on the wall or tree branches hitting the window?'" Thompson said.

"But there were no tree branches because there were no trees around. She said it was a distinct three knocks on the window."

They eat your eyes, they eat your nose.

They eat the jelly between your toes.

Steven Caffrey, assistant manager of the residential security program, had his own experience in Engleman about two years ago when he was a security aide. The incident occurred in the basement boiler room of the hall.

"I'm walking past doing my rounds, and the room is completely dark," he said. "As I'm walking away, I hear the sound of scraping on the floor."

When Caffrey went to investigate the noise, nothing was wrong. He spotted a chair in the corner. He said he was spooked, but he kept going.

"I was maybe a half a step away before I heard the noise again. I shined my flashlight into the room, and there was the chair-in the middle of the room under some pipes on the ceiling.

"That was my last round there ever," he said.

He said the experience was scary enough without the events of the next day. He was having lunch with a friend who was a resident assistant in Engleman.

"I didn't tell her what happened, but I told her some weird thing had happened to me down by the boiler room. She said, 'Yeah, that's where some kid hung himself.'"

Other students have heard different variations of the suicide story. One involves a drowning student, which is said to make the walls wet. Whether it was real or not, it made an impact on Caffrey.

"I didn't know a thing about that until that day."

A big green worm with rolling eyes

Crawls in your stomach and out your eyes.

Koonce Hall is the only residence hall on the Kent State campus named after a student. In 1958, Judith Koonce saved a child from drowning and lost her life in the process.

"She is said to be mainly haunting the 10th floor," Brian Van Fossen, resident director of Koonce Hall, said.

"It's uneasiness, doors opening and closing by themselves, pipes banging up high where people don't usually do work on them. Whenever she gets a little nervous, that's when it happens."

No one has ever had a Judith Koonce sighting, though, Van Fossen said. The staff and residents tried to contact the restless spook last semester in a seance with a psychic from downtown Kent. "We couldn't get her."

Van Fossen is a true believer in the subject. "I come from a very Irish household," he said. "We have little rituals like blessing the house every year. These are mostly Catholic ceremonies these days, but they definitely have their roots in the ancient pagan rituals.

"I believe that there are energies out there and ghosts. I also think that if someone wants to see something badly enough, they can make it happen."

Your stomach turns a slimy green,

And pus pours out like whipping cream.

Saylor has never forgotten his experience in Stopher.

"When I'm doing winter break work and I'm walking around all by myself, I look up into the windows, thinking that I'm going to see someone looking back at me," he said.

Poem excerpts from "The Hearse Song."

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