On Aug. 11 I attended a meeting of the Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee (PIM) at the West Allis home of the group’s founder, Noah Leigh. Noah greeted me at his door with a notebook in his hand, listing the meeting’s agenda. The majority of the items on the list concerned discussing and reviewing evidence from PIM’s out-of-state expedition in July.
While some people use their vacation time to plan trips to Honolulu or Orlando, the members of PIM plot time off to travel to some of the most notoriously haunted hot spots in America.
Stops on their most recent ghost road trip, which PIM termed "The Expedition," included the Mansfield Reformatory (a historic prison in Ohio), Sedamsville Rectory (located in the "armpit of Ohio," according to PIM member Jann Goldberg) and the Waverly Hills Sanatorium (a Kentucky hospital built to accommodate a tuberculosis epidemic).
All of these locations are well-known to ghost hunters as being "active," but the one place everyone was itching to talk about at the meeting was Bobby Mackey’s Music World.
There are a lot of unsubstantiated stories about Bobby Mackey’s, a honky-tonk style bar and country music venue in Wilder, Ky. Bobby Mackey’s, built on the grounds of a former slaughterhouse, is said to have been the scene of a gruesome murder in the 1890s. Two men murdered a pregnant woman, cut off her head and threw it in a well in what is now the building’s basement. The legend is that this was part of a satanic ritual that awoke evil spirits in the building.
In the 1930s, the building became a speakeasy, which leads to the story of Johanna, one of the club’s performers. Her father murdered her lover, she poisoned herself in her dressing room (also in the basement) and her spirit is said to still be hanging around. Bobby Mackey has immortalized her in song, although Mackey himself isn’t much of a ghost believer. His wife is, though. She claims an evil spirit pushed her down a flight of stairs in the building.
This type of lore has drawn in ghost hunters from all over. PIM decided to check it out for themselves, and got a hair-raising night indeed.
It all started in the basement, site of the previously mentioned well, also known as "Hell’s Gate." PIM was getting a tour by Wanda Kay when Noah noticed PIM member Missy Bostrom fall to the ground. Noah thought she had tripped, but after seeing the look on Missy’s face knew something else had occurred.
"It felt like somebody grabbed onto my arms like this," Missy described, clenching the air, "Then it pushed me backwards." PIM had not yet set their video equipment up, but you can hear Missy’s reaction in an audio clip.
Missy: What the hell!
Noah: Are you OK?
Missy: What the hell?
Wanda Kay (from Bobby Mackey’s): Let’s step outside a minute.
Missy: Oh my god!
"You sound pretty (expletive) terrified when it happened," PIM member Tony noted.
In addition to Tony, Noah, Missy and Jann, PIM members Randy, "Gravy," John and Chris were gathered in Noah’s rec room. Missy had a second encounter about an hour later in an area of the basement known as the "Wall of Faces." Although this was caught on video, someone is standing in between Missy and the camera. You can see part of a leg flailing and a shuffle and hear a scream.
"That’s me screaming cause yeah, she was pinned on the (expletive) wall, hanging there," Jann said.
"It looked like someone had her by the armpits by the way her arms were positioned," Noah recalled.
"That time it felt like it pushed me in the chest, up against the wall and that’s all I remember, getting a really hard push." Missy said, still seeming a bit shook up by the events.
"My stomach was in a knot and I felt like I was going to burst into tears," Jann said, describing some of
the strange emotions she felt in the building. She also felt an unnatural anger toward her teammates. "I hated Noah and Gravy. I was begging them to stay away because I was afraid I’d hurt them. I hated them, it was a seething, boiling, (expletive) hatred. And then the next moment I’d be scared they’d be hurt." Jann stepped outside of the basement, and the feeling diminished.
"It was an interesting investigation, to say the least; it’s the most stuff that’s happened on all the investigations I’ve been on," Noah says of the investigation. "Unfortunately, we don’t have good documentation of what happened. We have audio, but the video we have is blocked by someone standing in the way. So we have reactions and clips of body parts moving but we don’t have an end result."
PIM is already starting to plan a return trip to Bobby Mackey’s and despite her manhandling by ghosts, Missy says she "definitely" wants to be along for the visit. Meanwhile, PIM is still reviewing the hours of video and audio they recorded at Bobby Mackey’s and I’ll be sure to post an update if they find anything. Another way to stay connected with PIM’s reports is to sign up for their newsletter at their website, paranormalmilwaukee.com.