LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The State Capitol is one of the most well-known buildings in Arkansas. Not only home to lawmakers, it houses memorials and has been featured in several major movies, but that historic building is hiding a secret, one that’s never been unveiled until now.
Our crews were granted exclusive after-hours access with a group known as Sweet N Sour Paranormal. What they found may make you think twice the next time you walk through those huge bronze doors.
The State Capitol is known as the place where laws are created and history is made, but what happens when the sun goes down and the halls are empty? Whispers of spirits floating inside the Capitol walls are common among staff, whether it’s the custodian cleaning the basement or Capitol police on the graveyard shift.
“These are big guys, old time cops who were serious about their work. They had heard things, they could swear up and down they had seen things,” State Historian David Ware said.
Ware said to understand those stories it’s important to know that the grounds didn’t always host those making the laws but those who broke them.
“The old site of the state penitentiary,” Ware said.
He talked about the mess of a prison that up until 1899 sat on what’s now the home of the Capitol.
“So, between disease, the violence that you found when you have convicts locked up in very close quarters my bet is there were quite a few deaths,” Ware said.
That begs the next question, where did they put those bodies?
“Certainly, the prisoners were buried on what would today be known as the Capitol’s grounds,” Ware said.
While there was an effort to remove the remains, ware said there could still be remnants.
“I believe if there are any skeletal remains, they are fragmentary,” Ware said.
With that in mind, Sweet N Sour Paranormal set off to see if they could put these haunting tales on record. Immediately clairvoyant Michelle Martindill got an eerie feeling.
“They screamed my name then they screamed Chris’ name then they said to leave. I’m just saying they know we’re here that’s all I’m telling you,” Martindill said.
As she walked past the elevator, something drew her back to it.
“One death we do know of though is the death of a gentleman named Ira Gurley,” Ware said.
Gurley was the Secretary of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. He was planning a run as Secretary of State. Ware says in june of 1932, his political aspirations came crashing down.
“Gurley was getting on board the elevator. The elevator took off, Gurley was in the doorway, the elevator went up he was crushed in the frame,” Ware said.
From that spirit to the next, the hunters knew they’d be in for a spooky night.
Getting out their gear and going to work, it didn’t take long for the spirits to make their presence known. Just as our photographer was setting up in one of the hallways, they caught a woman’s scream on camera. Near the stairs Chris Counts was walking up as Martindill noticed he wasn’t alone.
“There’s someone beside you,” Martindill said.
Using thermal imaging cameras, they could see the silhouette of someone else but there was no one next to Counts. Later on, Counts took his recording device to the basement. While he was asking the spirits questions he picked up another voice.
After five hours, it was time to pack up and leave. While Ware has never had his own paranormal experience in the building, it makes him wonder who or what could be lurking around the corner.
“Do I discount the possibility of there being spirits in the building or someone having heard a woman scream with no explanation? I don’t,” Ware said.