University of North Texas - Bruce Hall - Jan. 2011
Texpart would like to thank DAPS (Denton Area Paranormal Society), PDAPS (Palo Duro Area Paranormal Society - Amarillo), TRIPP (Wichita Falls), RIP Crew and CTPS (Waco).
Texpart, Denton Area Paranormal Society & guests – University of North Texas – Jan. 1st, 2011.
The search for surviving personality.
Bruce Hall has been investigated several times by Denton Area Paranormal Society, with some Texpart members having participated last year, such as Scott. It was suggested to me that
The clients showed me the areas of interest in Bruce Hall. Of interest during the tour, two spirits were said to haunt the building. The first is “Wanda” of whom many internet stories surround. Wanda was said to have been pregnant, or possibly have given birth, and was hiding in the attic on the fourth floor, perhaps out of shame. I was told that she seems to favor females over males.
The second is the “demon” of the boiler room. An “angry” spirit, it is believed that the boiler room was once the colored showers during segregation. A male was believed to have been hung in the area and still has resentment. Some stories suggest a student, some suggest it was an employee.
Of particular interest is the stories behind the alleged hauntings, and if these are legends or have some basis in reality.
From an article posted online:
Wanda — the most famous of
Resident assistant Edward Wright says that although Wanda is friendly and mainly pulls pranks, she has scared quite a few people.
“Two years ago, we had some contractors come out and work on the bathrooms on the fourth floor,” Wright says. “They were the only people in the building, and when they walked down the hall, doors would slam as they passed them, and showers started turning on by themselves.”
In addition to Wanda, the “boiler room ghost” haunts the building. He stays in the hall’s basement and opens the room’s metal industrial doors.
“When we go down and shut those doors, they’re always open when we come back,” Wright says. “They’re so heavy. There’s no way they could open by themselves.”
Some background research.
The spirit or survival hypothesis suggests that an apparition is a part of a person that survives bodily death.
H. Hart et al., ‘Six Theories about Apparitions. Pp. 153-239; and R. Crookhall, Out-of-Body Experiences: A Fourth Analysis. (New York, 1970)
Perry suggests a similar theory explaining that motivations might include attachment to the location or person they are haunting, a call for assistance (perhaps to deal with unfinished business) or intent on behalf of the spirit to offer comfort to a loved one. 31
M. Perry, Deliverance. (Second Edition.), (
H. Hart et al., ‘Six Theories about Apparitions. Pp. 153-239
Denning suggests that some cases, which she calls pseudo-hauntings, do not entail the active intervention of spirit entities, but rather an ‘energy form created by traumatic events (that) seems to be charged with a powerful energy that continues to exist…for a considerable length of time’ 9p.128 - localized trace or impression.
Tyrell’s idea-pattern. An apparition is a perceptual expression of an idea. ‘the work of constructing the [apparitional] drama is done in certain regions of the personality which lie below the conscious level’ (p101 - 102) and he contends that it involves ‘something between the two extremes of consciousness and mechanism…which is to a certain extent like an idea, and …to a certain extent like a pattern’ - To note, Tyrell was an engineer, and never was able to articulate his ideas fully.
Gauld suggests that the survival hypothesis be approached with the idea that there should be an apparent reoccurrence of personality of a person who has suffered bodily death. He states that the term of personality is the normal, everyday use of the word that includes “characteristic attitudes and emotions, the style of interactions with other people, his manners and mannerisms, his physical and intellectual skills, the sorts of knowledge he has, and especially his characteristic memory-knowledge.” Gauld writes, “Thus cases in which there is simply an apparent post-mortem recrudescence of someone’s voice or figure but no indications of recrudescent “personality” will not count per se as “evidence for survival,” and a fortiori cases just of allegedly inexplicable physical happenings will do so either.
Gauld, Alan. (1977). Survival of Bodily Death: Discarnate Survival. (p577). Handbook of Parapsychology. Edited by Wolman, Benjamin B. Litton Educational Publishing, Inc.
The Philip experiment – In the 1972, a group of parapsychologists lead poltergeist researcher Dr. A.R.G. Owen, attempted to create a ghost. They wanted to prove that the human mind could produce spirits through expectation, imagination and visualization. Using extreme and prolonged concentration, they could create their ghost through a collective thought form. They gave this ghost a life story and a name, Philip Aylesford, to make the ghost as real as possible. He had a tragic story with details of some actions that led to his death. The group began contacting Philip in séance sittings modeled after the classic spiritualist séances. They imagined things about Philip. After several weeks, Philip began to make contact, such as making raps on the table. Philip would answer questions about his made-up history, but could not answer questions about himself beyond that which was invented for him. He did correctly answer questions about real events and people. Objects began to move, such as the séance table which slid around and even occasionally chased someone. Many arguments have been offered to explain this, such as the experiment created an entity or it did summon something up from the spirit world. It is also very possible that the events were simply created through ESP and Telekinesis.
Ghost hunting has become a popular new cultural phenomenon and trend. Many now seek to find evidence of ghosts with pictures, video and audio devices. Often, this evidence consists of EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon), anomalous pictures, and videos of unexplained happenings. Often times this “evidence” is motivationally suggestive and lacks substance, such photographic “orbs” commonly caused by light reflections from dust particles that are attributed to “spirits.” Parapsychology, on the other hand, has long asked the question, “does something of human existence, and even human consciousness, continue after bodily death?” With this question comes the deeper question, “What exactly is it that survives? Can aspects of human personality survive bodily death?” Gauld suggests that the survival hypothesis cannot be supported with simply captured voices or pictures, or random happenings, even if these things would have a paranormal cause. There would have to by signs of a personality that appear to exist beyond a physical death.
In the case of
These three personalities consist of “Wanda” who haunts the fourth floor, the “demon” of the boiler room, and the man in the elevator. Wanda, whose real name is unknown, was a young woman thought to be pregnant and hid in the attic area off of the fourth floor. She has been attributed to apparitions and paranormal practical tricks on the living. Her death may have been an apparent suicide. The residence hall director, Josh, states that she prefers women over men. In the boiler room the activity is attributed to an angry spirit that has even been called a demon. The boiler room is suggested to have been the colored shower area during the time of segregation. One resident is believed to have been lynched in this area. The third personality is more of a mystery. A tragic incident is believed to have occurred involving the elevator. The stories behind this tragedy are less consistent. However, during a previous DAPS investigation, it is reported to me that lengthy conversation was held with this man by means of an inter trans-communication (
Many of the common investigation techniques, some of which is popularized by TV, is for ghost hunters to ask spirits for signs of their presence or to answers questions about their existence, such as “what is your name, where were you born, and how old are you?” The problem with these types of questions is that it does not explore the personality of the person, only data. It has been the experience of several Texpart members that emotions can often invoke a response. Unfortunately, many ghost hunters only seem to use anger to provoke responses from alleged spirits. This brings us the first hypothesis.
Hypothesis 1: Whereas the survival hypothesis suggests that some portion of human personality exists after bodily death, then it would be hypothesized that emotional appeals to a localized spirit would appeal to the personality of the spirit and invoke a response.
Texpart has collected numerous EVPs, as many others have as well. Many of these EVPs seem to intelligently answer a question, such as saying yes or no. While these answers might imply an intelligent consciousness, it does not tell us much about the personality of the individual. In one EVP, a Texpart member asks the question, “Are you married?” The response given by a man was, “she left.” This suggests that maybe there was an emotional component to the response. Perhaps the respondent felt some form of separation, abandonment or betrayal? One EVP captured by Texpart from an unrelated investigation is a woman who has response to dancing, “I hate dancin’.” Of interesting note, the accent of the woman was of perhaps older
Hypothesis 2: During an investigation, can a spirit of a localized haunting be encouraged to give an intelligent response that also reveals something about the personality or nature of character of the individual?
Texpart investigated with a small group of 12 people. This was to help with noise contamination. During the investigation, it was encouraged of members to use information collecting techniques. Questions for EVP responses were to seek basic information. This was to include also mediumship means, dowsing sessions and asking for spirits to demonstrate their presence. But then it was strongly encouraged to rely on various techniques to appeal to emotion. Some of things attempted were to use female only teams, use period music and speeches from MLK, JR and Malcom X. It was intended to use some of these speeches in the boiler room, but as expected, the noise from the machinery made it too loud for the speeches. EVP sessions using live recorders were still attempted in the basement, but the noise made it very difficult.
Several members were listening to recorders for EVPs in real time mode, meaning that they could hear EVPs as they happened.
History research. (completed after investigation)
In regards to the story of an African-American student being hung in the basement, this story does not seem likely. I went to the archives section of the UNT library, where I was given a book about the history of UNT. This book was discusses that the first black student was a female who commuted from Fort Worth in 1956. There were no reports of violence. Although no dates were given, two older black females were admitted in the dormitories, but it would a significant amount of time before any black men were allowed. (p345). However, another article does state that Heman Sweatt was the first black student in 1950, after he filed suit. He then attended classes in the doctoral program for law school. In 1961, one black male was assigned to the West Hall. These were the exceptions, as blacks were generally not allowed to have housing on campus. This was part of the protest in 1969, where several items were being demanded for black students including the right for rooms for black students. 1969 also marked when Kerr Hall was the first dorm to be co-ed. These records did not really indicate when blacks were allowed to rooms on the dorms, or when Bruce Hall was opened to males or black students. The book and the article did indicate details about how the first black students were treated. Although many did suffer prejudice, there appeared to be no reported violent acts. With racial tensions, it would seem likely that if such an incident did occur, it would have caught a lot of media publicity, which there is no media that supports this. The likelihood of a black male student having been hung in the basement appears highly unlikely.
The other version of this story is that the man was an employee. Again, it would seem that if this was the case, there should exist some time type of record some where.
Wanda – Of course this is the most popular story.
Various reports have been given. One story online suggests that she died in the 1930’s from having starved herself from an abortion. This is not likely, as Bruce Hall did not open until 1946. This same story references elevator surfing that took place and suggested that some people were killed in the process. This reports also talks about séances that have taken place. Another report given to this website was that she was pregnant and too scared to tell her parents, so she hid out in the attic over the Christmas break. She attempted to abort the baby herself, but died from internal bleeding. She was not found until three weeks later. Texasghosthunters.com
There was also a suggestion posted in a blog on snopes that the lady had died on a different dorm before Bruce Hall was opened.
One story suggested that starved herself due to a broken heart.
One comment online suggests that a man made homecoming queen was made by residents in 1975. She was named Wanda Skutnick. Her face was made of plywood and her body was a wardrobe body. This was written by someone who claimed to be the Bruce Hall Kazoo queen named Melinda Iley. -- Just a note, its seems a good possibility that this could be the origin of the name Wanda, although this is unclear, as it is uncertain where the idea to name the manikin actually came from. We can see that the name does at least go back that far in time.
A myspace page has been created with Wanda being said to be the creator.
The archive section of the UNT library led me to an article in the campus newspaper from April 18, 1995. In this article, she cites an Ann Rankin who lived in A323. She lived across the hall from a woman who began hemorrhaging. According to Rankin, “She bled through a pillow, and the house mother finally had to call her parents. She went home, and no one ever said another word about her. In 1964, the word abortion wasn’t used, but looking back, I ‘m sure that she had an illegal abortion and that was why she hemorrhaged.” In this article, Wanda was believed to have passed away in the 1950’s or 60’s. However, Dr. Peggy Quinn, then a professor at UT-Arlington, states that she recalls ghost stories when she lived there in 1957, but there is no mention of the name Wanda at that time.
In researching the Campus Chat, I did find an article from April 4th, 1941. “Funeral Rites For Elaine Speight Held Last Sunday.” She was 23 and a senior. She had an acute attack of a blood stream ailment from which she had suffered several years. Ms. Speight died on the college hospital, which she had entered upon returning from a week-end in Waco, where she had been stricken while visiting relatives.” This so far is the only reported death that would seem to match the legend that has been discovered so far. However, Bruce Hall is reported to have opened in 1946. This may however match the claim suggested online that the person attributed to the story died elsewhere on campus.
Elevator surfing. This Legend is not as well known, but it still surfaces. What is said to have occurred was students were elevator surfing, or riding on top of the elevator. From looking inside the elevator, this certainly was a possibility. Inside the elevator, there was no solid door that closed like modern elevators. There is a small space to where you can climb up and see into the elevator shaft. I was able to see in the wall of the shaft a cockroach mascot drawing, which means someone had to either climb into the shaft, or opened the door while the elevator was in between floors, both likely to be unsafe. However, it again seems likely that if a death had occurred as a result of the accident, it would have been reported or it would continue to have more of an oral legend to it. It seems more likely that there might have been someone who was hurt, perhaps not even critically hurt, and that rumors were started as well.
Of course, as expected, youtube has video footage of a haunted house scare prank that occurs just outside the elevator.
What is very clear from all of this is that the legends have been going on for many years. It has become an urban legend based on oral storytelling, which accounts for the many versions of the stories. In fact, there is a story published online discussing the ghost of Don Henley (and Marvin Lee “Meatloaf: Aday and Norah Jones) roaming Bruce Hall, and even feeding off the souls of freshmen. Don Henley is of course still alive.
Wanda is likely a name and story that have been generated from other occurrences, and often used by students to explain things that happen.
I received several clips of reported EVPs from Lance from DAPs. Upon further review, these were in fact the voices of other investigators, and were not EVPs. This was verified by recordings from other Texpart members.
Lance also reported that the wall cabinet on the fourth had its door open and close on command in past investigations. He reported to be seeing it move upon command in this investigation as well. When I walked upon the scene, the cabinet no longer seemed to respond, and I did not see any movement. None of this appeared on video, as Texpart members were still setting up the DVR cameras.
Scott’s EVPs samples. Another EVP that was captured by Scott says, “Doesn’t know who she is.” At one time Scott asked the question, are we getting too personal, and there was a “yes” response. This EVP also appears on the hand held video recorder, just before Diana speaks.
Very late into the night, Tommy, Scott, Josh, Melinda and I were on bottom floor at the elevator shaft entrance shaft. We were listening to voice recorders live. We had some activity where Josh’s flashlight appeared to turn off and on as commanded. Tommy, Josh, Melinda and Ty all heard a “yeah” voice very clearly over the recorders. Scott did not hear it audibly, but it was captured on his video recorder. This was very loud, clear and audible, and could not be associated with any other person. All other investigators had left by this time. Only the resident directors were remaining in the building, in their rooms. This is a definitive EVP.
DVR cameras were set up in the basement and up on the fourth floor. Neither set of camera picked up anything unusual. No unusual pictures were discovered. Some did have unusual orbs, but this could easily have many other explanations.
The following weekend, Diana, Frank and Ty joined and investigation held by TRIPP paranormal, from Wichita Falls. Central Texas paranormal joined in this investigation, have placed their report online.
While the evidence is not overwhelming or extremely compelling, it is believed that there are paranormal events are taking place here. Texpart does utilize mediums in investigations. Although the mediums did pick up on several spirits being present, none of them appeared to be one of the ghost legends or claimed to know about them. Research is still ongoing about the spirits the mediums were talking too. Suspected names of these individuals are not being released to the public. With the lack of evidence for a Wanda actually existing as in the story, it is most likely that these are fictitious ghosts, perhaps born from some true stories. It could be that residences experienced actual paranormal events and named the spirit they believed was haunting them, based on previous stories passed down. It is also likely that residents may be aware of the ghost stories, and likely imagine things or attribute normal occurrences as something paranormal. It is also likely that some stories are simply pranks and college humor. The hypothesis in the experiment were not really met, and really are not likely to apply, if in fact there really was no such persons. None of the evidence is compelling to enough to suggest survival of conscious or a specific personality. If actual paranormal events are occurring, the sources are unknown and possibly vary. Since there are Ouija boards in student check-in sections, reports of Ouija boards, obvious haunted houses, scary pranks and lots of storytelling (which is should be expected in a college dorm), it’s likely that some of the activity could be created by students themselves, such as what has occurred in the Philip case. None of the given EVPs, legitimate or not, offer any real clear sign of an intelligence. It is possible that explanations could relate back to what is referred to as residual hauntings, or ideas in quantum physics that suggest multi-universe or wormholes.
Inside the elevator.
Inside the elevator shaft, you can see an old drawing of the Bruce Hall Mascot, the Roach.
The legendary attic space, where Wanda has been rumored to have hid in, and passed.
Texpart has done several follow-up investigations and tours in 2011.
Old YMCA building - downtown Amarillo
Ty and Scott did a Paranormal Investigation class at the request of PDAPS in Amarillo. Then we helped lead participants in an investigation of the buidling, which is the site of several tragedies. PDAPS has investigated this site several times.
Of course, PDAPS put us up in great ghost hunting fashion. We stayed in the haunted room of the Big Texan Steakhouse.
The Magic Shop and Lifestyle Nutrition
A follow up investigation