Ghosts at the Old Lake County Jail

by Erin Egnatz 11 days ago in paranormal

Where John Dillinger made his great escape.

Ghosts at the Old Lake County Jail
Old Lake County Jail

Northwest Indiana is home to Crown Point, Indiana, just 45 miles outside of Chicago. Crown Point is known to me as my hometown, but to the rest of America, it is known as the location of John Dillinger’s infamous jail break in 1934. John Dillinger, a cocky man who was as brazen as he was charming, was arrested for a previous escape out of Michigan City’s prison in 1933. The Crown Point jail was said to be inescapable and authorities made sure to boast that “fact” as often as they could. While at the jail, a press conference was held, Dillinger was of course in attendance. He appeared completely at ease during the press conference and even leaned his arm on the shoulder of the prosecutor, smiling and laughing as if he were at a party. Not long after he was captured, a little over a month, he made his escape from the jail while using a fake gun carved out of wood. To add to the embarrassment of the local officials, he escaped in none other than the sheriff’s car. He remained on the run for a few more months until he was gunned down in Chicago in July of 1934, just outside of the Biograph Theater (another location to be featured very soon).

Today, the jail, and sheriffs house, still remains. It sits on the edge of the square of Crown Point. About six years ago, I got the chance to go on a ghost hunt throughout the old jail. This is one of those places where you can feel the activity. There were orbs in many of the pictures we took. What really surprised me was the shadow people seemed to be all around the jail cells. Other investigators have reported evp’s, shadows and even full body apparitions. Footsteps with no source are a common report as are inexplicable doors slamming and flashing lights from on to off. Most people who have investigated here feel that this place is the real deal in terms of haunted locations.

So, who are the ghost that still haunt the old jail? Of course, many like to claim John Dillinger himself is one of the spirits here. Maybe they are right, but he has also been rumored to haunt the Biograph Theater where he was killed, as well as the cemetery in Indianapolis where he is buried. Other theories are that it is other inmates who were housed in the jail, still stuck almost a century later. Who ever the ghostly residents are, they sure like to make their presence known.

I have investigated at the old jail twice, both times have led to quite a bit of paranormal activity. Investigation one was in July of this year and here are the results:

We started our investigation at 9PM. We walked through the various cell blocks recording and snapping photos as we went. There were only two of us investigating, so we had a lot of ground to cover.

Our first hour was not very active. We walked around, grabbed pictures and videos of the cells as we went. After about an hour, we decided to take a break and sit on the second floor of the jail. This was the only spot with lights on, and it had been redone by Universal Studios when they filmed the movie Public Enemies starring Johnny Depp as Dillinger, so it was the best place to take a break. I quickly got antsy and wandered off to explore while my husband, my co-investigator for the night, sat it out.

As I went upstairs, I noticed one thing, this place is much darker without two flashlights. This was the solitary confinement area, and the spirits here are a bit more angry than your average jailed offender. It was very dark, and very VERY quiet in this spot so I took it slow and cautious. When I reached the end, I took a few pictures, didn't see anything, turned on my recording device and began to walk back. I walked a bit quicker in my retreat because this was one of those spots where you just get the feeling you are being watched. As I was about to exit the cell block, I felt a distinct poke right in the middle of my back. It was quite noticeable and it made me move just a bit quicker out of that spot.

I caught up with my husband back on the lit cell block, where we decided to sit for a little longer and just listen. About two minutes after I sat down, the banging from upstairs started. It was LOUD. This was coming from directly above us, in the solitary cell block that I was just walking in. The banging went on for a bit so I grabbed the recording device to see if I could catch it on video....I did. As you can tell in the video below, it was pretty distinct. I don't know if they were putting on a show or just mad that I went up there, but they were definitely making themselves known.

After the banging calmed down for a bit we decided to head over to the cell block where John Dillinger made his great escape back in 1934. Though it was a pretty similar looking cell block to solitary, it did not have that intense feeling, so I felt better to explore a bit longer. I walked all the way to the end, to where Dillinger's cell was and just gazed in for a bit. As a history nerd (and a Crown Point native) this was awesome to see.

After a few pictures, I began my walk back to the front of the cell block where general population would get out of their regular cells and would congregate a few hours a day. There is a long table with cigarettes, cards and other tokens people have left for the ghostly inmates over the years. Sandy, the board member for the Jail who was nice enough to let us escape, said that the inmates love cards, so I asked them if they wanted to play. In return, my flashlight mysteriously turned off. I took that as a yes. I asked a few questions and my emf meter went crazy with answers, though no evp was detected. After a few minutes of holding the cards, I realized I had no idea how to play any card games and apologized to the spirits hanging around. They must have grown bored with me and left.

Shortly after that, I met up with my husband, and together we went down in the booking area of the jail. If you are a Dillinger fan, this is where he stood for his big interview after being caught. The famous photo of him with his arm around the prosecutor and next to the sheriff is a pretty famous picture. My husband stood next to me as I recorded the spot, but we didn't get anything in the area...or so we thought. The next day, when I was combing through evidence, I caught footsteps (loud footsteps) that we did not hear in real time. Those footsteps are what you hear in the video above.

We then went back into the jail and wandered for a bit. My husband was becoming a bit unnerved by this time and decided to hang back a bit as I walked up and down the cell blocks. I took pictures of each cell as I went, hoping to get something, though I wasn't getting anything and was a little dismayed. Again, it wasn't until I went through my evidence the next day and caught a light anomaly in a picture from my Iphone. Since Iphone's have the "live" option, it gave me a clearer view of the light's movement and formation. I have also posted that evidence to the video above.

Speaking of "live" pictures, this is where I caught my only evp (electronic voice phenomena) of the night. This evp was when I was wandering the solitary cell block alone and taking pictures as I went. In the clip, you can hear the voice say, what I think is, "huh." I also added that to the video above.

After taking another break in the lit cell block, the banging started up again. We then started to hear footsteps circle around the floor. Every time I would try to follow the sound, the footsteps would resume, in another location on the opposite side as where I was. It was a fun little game...for the ghost. As I turned back to the table where my husband sat, he was looking like a deer in headlights. I asked what happened and he said he has chills and no idea why. His whole arm was covered in goosebumps (which was weird because it was at least 80 degrees in the 130 year old jail that definitely does not have A/C.

After that, I figured he was about over his first (and I am assuming last) paranormal investigation. We went down to the attached sheriff's house and stood in the former kitchen for a few minutes. We immediately heard loud crashing from the floor from which we just came. It sounded like furniture was being moved around and/or cell doors slamming. It was loud. I had just started to tell my husband it was late and we should go when I heard an intake of breath right at my ear, and then felt air blow on my face. This thing just blew in my face! My husband was standing about 6 feet away and saw my hair lift off my face, he was stunned. I was stunned. I was ready to leave after that, I was done.

When I went in, I wasn't expecting much. After 20 years of paranormal investigating, it is hit or miss with any location. Sometimes the spirits want to be noticed and will put on a show. Sometimes they want nothing to do with you, so they ignore you. This was not the case at the old jail in Crown Point. It turned out to be the most active place I have ever been. I will be going back. My husband says he will not.

Investigation 2

As anyone in the paranormal field will tell you, investigating is unpredictable. You can investigate the same place twice and get entirely different results. Our two investigations at the old jail was no different. A tale of two investigations. The first investigation was heavy on the sounds; loud banging, footsteps, jail cells closing etc. This investigation was heavy on the visuals and feelings.

From the moment we walked in, you could feel that the energy was charged and ready for a night of ghostly activity. For this investigation, it was myself and a co-investigator for the night. I like to investigate in small groups because I always get better results. But less people and more activity is not always a good thing when you're in an old, extremely haunted jail.

From the moment the door closed behind us and we were alone in the jail, it felt like there was something right next to us. Last time it took about an hour and a half before any activity began. I tried to get my cameras up and working but none of my electronics were working properly. I gave up on the cameras and grabbed my phone, flashlight and emf reader and we headed to the nearest cell block. This cell block has two rows of cells running parallel to one another. My co-investigator stood at one row while I stood at the other. I didn't see anything on my block but she did in hers.

She quietly called me over to show me that a mist had formed at the end of the cell block and was slowly moving to the up right corner. It was quite the show. She was able to catch a photo of the mist as it lifted up and out of sight.

About an hour later, we were honored to have the president of the jail preservation association and another member join us for investigating. We were also relieved. Last time I felt fine and explored the whole jail without any feelings of anxiety. This time, I was anxious the whole time. The energy felt a bit heavier. A bit more negative. So I was happy to have two more people with us. They, of course, knew everything about the jail and where the most haunted locations were which was incredibly helpful.

We came to a stairwell and stood for a moment to listen. Just then we heard something on the old metal stairs. Being as we were the only four people in the whole building, it was clear it was not us. The president asked if the ghost could bang on something to let us know they were there. They did. Loudly. A loud bang on the stairs happened again, this time closer. We waited a few moments but nothing else happened so we proceeded to John Dillinger's old cell block. The front of the cell block has a large community cell where the inmates would play cards or whatever they did. Earlier in the night, I had discovered there was a spirit in the cell but it was closed so we didn't go in. The ladies opened the cell for us and we all went in for an EVP session in hopes the ghost was still around. Turns out, he was. We had three different k2 meters the we spread out throughout the cell. I stood at the back so my phone would not interfere with the meters as I recorded the session. As you can hear from the recording below, he was all too happy to answer our questions. For many questions, he lit up our K2 meters on correct answers. On some of the questions, you can hear his ghostly voice respond to the questions asked.

We were able to determine that this was George Brown, a former inmate that was housed at the jail in 1956-57 before escaping with other inmates. George, also known as the Dunes Slayer, clearly wasn't a nice person as he murdered two women in addition to other crimes he committed in his free years. He was seriously a bad guy.

After our evp session with George was over, we moved on to other portions of the jail. Everything was calm until we reached the federal and solitary confinement portion of the jail. A lot of investigator's are good at picking up on energy shifts when around the paranormal. Three of the four of us investigate quite often and knew something wasn't quite right. The energy had shifted to a much more negative feeling.

We quickly left the area and the two members of the association needed a break so they walked outside. My co-investigator and myself returned to the area where they filmed the movie Public Enemies. We sat for a few minutes before the real excitement began.

As we sat at the table I noticed out of the corner of my eye a black shape flying. I knew there were bats in the building so I pointed it out to my co-investigator. She didn't see it where I was pointing but she got quiet for a second and then asked, "Do you mean that?" Pointing to the other side of the room. There it was, or another one. She told me that's not a bat, but I wasn't convinced. I thought it was. I noticed that it was a bit bigger than when it first appeared, almost the sized of a soccer ball. Then it started flying faster, circling us from the outside of the cell block. That'd be an extra large bat, but I was now beginning to understand, that this was no bat. A real feeling of dread started to spread. The black mass was a blur, and it was completely soundless. It was making the whole square of the cell block in seconds now, an impossible speed and I just watched, completely dumbfounded. I never grabbed my phone to record because at first I thought it was a bat but by the time my brain caught up with reality, I was stunned motionless. I looked at her and said as calmly as I could, without feeling calm at all, "We need to leave. Now." We got up and darted out of the cell block and down the stairs in record time. I have never ran away from an entity, never been scared enough to. But, at this moment, I felt I could break land speed records to get out of there.

We didn't really go back into the jail because it just didn't feel right. Instead, we sat and talked with the president of the jail for a long while. She told us stories of other people's experiences and we enjoyed hearing them. Right after a particularly creepy story, the front door to the old sheriff's house busted opened. The three of us (the other lady had left by this point) jumped up and clearly panicked. My co-investigator hid behind a door, the president ran a different direction while I stood frozen to the spot, apparently lacking the good sense to hide if it were an intruder. We guessed (hoped?) it was the wind; but since my blood pressure had probably reached max levels by this point, we decided to call it a night.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Old Jail in Crown Point, Indiana is one of the most haunted locations in America. I have been all over the country and investigated hundreds of places in my 16+ years of investigating. There is only the 3rd time I have felt that I could not handle a location. Last time I investigated here, it wasn't like that. Sometimes the ghosts are okay with you there and sometimes they want you out. They were not wanting visitors this time. There can be times where angry spirits, especially at jails, prisons and asylums are present. If you are interested in paranormal investigating, be sure to trust your instincts. If you feel there is something not wanting you there that night, it's best not to push it. Come back at a different time, work in groups, and until you feel comfortable, work with an experienced investigator. Like I said, this was only my 3rd time dealing with an angry spirit, they are rare, but they do exist. In this instance, I feel it was the angry spirit we all felt up on the federal block, that had followed us down. Coincidentally, the last time we were there, the loud banging was coming from the exact same spot.

Erin Egnatz
Erin Egnatz
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Erin Egnatz

I love writing about and investigating haunted places throughout the US as well as the history behind them. Follow me on Instagram and Facebook @hauntingsaroundamerica as I go on investigations and explore these places in real time.

See all posts by Erin Egnatz