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Capital city frights: A look at alleged Jefferson City hauntings

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — As the weather turns cold and dreary and Missouri families celebrate Halloween, several supposedly haunted locations around the capital city have seen increased attention. 

Jefferson City has been the site of numerous ghost stories over its 200-year history, but a handful of allegedly haunted locations have piqued the interest of visitors from Missouri and beyond. Here’s a look at some of the city’s most enduring Halloween destinations.

Missouri State Penitentiary 

The Missouri State Penitentiary, located less than a mile from the Capitol, is allegedly haunted. (THE MISSOURI TIMES/CAMERON GERBER)

The Missouri State Penitentiary opened in 1836 less than a mile from the current statehouse. Operational until 2004, the so-called “bloodiest 47 acres in America” housed numerous well-known inmates, including James Earl Ray Jr. and gangster Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd.

The penitentiary was the site of a prison riot in 1954, as well as 40 executions between 1937-1989 and several violent events within its walls over its century-and-a-half of operation. 

Supposed paranormal events include laughter rising from within the walls, cell doors slamming on their own, unexplained lights, and feelings of being touched by hands, according to the landmark’s administrators. The penitentiary hosts photography and history walkthroughs through the day, but by night, visitors can explore the decommissioned site on ghost tours and overnight “paranormal investigations.” 

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Missouri Governor’s Mansion

Workers in the Governor’s Mansion have experienced unexplained sightings, according to docents. (THE MISSOURI TIMES/CAMERON GERBER)

Built in the 1870s, the current Governor’s Mansion has been home to more than 30 of Missouri’s first families — and like many old homes, it has its own share of stories. 

The most prominent paranormal yarn is of a maintenance worker who refused to work in the mansion again after claiming to see a child playing upstairs in 1983 during former Gov. Kit Bond’s tenure, though no children lived in the mansion at the time. 

The mansion’s docents often point to Gov. Thomas Theodore Crittenden’s daughter Carrie, the first person to die in the mansion in 1883, as the source of the alleged sighting. The fountain in the mansion’s front yard depicts Crittenden and was added to the grounds in the 1990s. 

The Governor’s Mansion is haunted by Carrie Crittenden, who died there in 1883, according to one employee. (THE MISSOURI TIMES/CAMERON GERBER)

Hobo Hill House

The Hobo Hill House near Lincoln University has drawn visitors over the past few years for its alleged paranormal activity. (THE MISSOURI TIMES/CAMERON GERBER)

Located near Lincoln University, the home locally dubbed the Hobo Hill House has become a destination for those interested in the paranormal.

Aaron Clark and his wife, Erin, purchased and renovated the house in the fall of 2017, but by December, they and their children started to experience unexplained sounds, lights, and appliances turning on by themselves as well as sleepwalking. Certain areas of the home seemed to frighten the family dog, Aaron Clark said, and contractors coming through to work on the renovation reported similar anomalies. 

The family left the house seven months after moving in and turned it into an Airbnb after their story garnered interest from friends, renting it out to paranormal investigators and haunted house enthusiasts. Aaron Clark said multiple guests had reported similarly unexplained activity during their visits. 

“When people stay here we hope that nothing happens — I hope that they have no experiences, but a majority of the guests that stay here are ghost hunters and a lot of them write down the experiences they’ve had for us,” he said.

The house garnered attention after being featured on an episode of “The Dead Files” on the Travel Channel in 2019. Despite the show’s investigation and his own research into historical records, Aaron Clark said the source of the alleged haunting remained unclear.

Guests at the Hobo Hill House often leave notes on alleged paranormal sightings in its guestbook. (THE MISSOURI TIMES/CAMERON GERBER)