They’ve inspected Tuscaloosa’s Dr. John R. Drish House and the Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion, examined Kenworthy-Carlisle Hall in Marion, scrutinized the 1880s Josephine Hotel, Pauly Jail and Confederate Cemetery in Union Springs. They’ve even searched for signs of the afterlife in the Crooked Creek Civil War Museum and its battlefield in Vinemont.
Now the paranormal investigators of Alabama’s Most Haunted, an independent film crew from Walker County, are zeroing in on Opelika’s Spring Villa Mansion.
The crew will arrive on Sept. 8, equipped with special ghost-detecting gear and cameras to film an episode for their series that airs on WCQT TV27 in Cullman. Episodes are subsequently uploaded to the group’s YouTube channel.
“We are so excited to be able to film at Spring Villa and cannot wait to investigate it,” said crew member Kayla Walden. “We have had so many people from Opelika reaching out to us about Spring Villa Mansion and telling us their own personal experiences.”
To catch a ghost
The decision to conduct an investigation in Opelika emerged after the group, which began its haunted explorations in 2013, set up an Instagram account for its series. Afterward, a fan spurred the team’s interest in the mansion, said crew member Kevan Walden.
“We started doing research on its history and the story and as soon as we posted about possibly shooting there, our Facebook exploded with people sharing memories and stories of times they spent there,” Kevan Walden explained. “It seems like a place that everyone really cares about, and we thought that was awesome.”
Built in 1851 and now owned by the city of Opelika, the historic Carpenter Gothic plantation house is believed to be haunted by its former cruel owner, Penn Yonge, who was stabbed to death by a slave who had hidden in a nook above the 13th step of the spiral staircase, according to historic-structures.com.
A dark red stain, alleged to have resulted from Yonge’s blood, never vanished from the step until several years later, when the rotten wood was replaced. Tourists today are still cautioned to refrain from setting foot on the spot where blood spilled.
Naturally, Alabama’s Most Haunted aims to capture evidence of a ghostly sort. To do this, they plan to use multiple night vision infrared cameras to help spot any spirits roaming the mansion halls, according to Walden. Digital cameras also will be used in attempts to capture still images of wandering ghosts.
“We’ll be using digital thermometers to measure any changes in temperature, (and) a udio recorders in hope of catching spirit voices while recording,” Kevan Walden added. “We’ll also be using spirit boxes. They sweep frequently through different radio waves, and the theory is that a spirit can use the white noise to say words. So if you ever hear a response lasting longer than it takes for the waves to change, it’s usually something trying to make contact.