- Grove City, Pennsylvania

Local News

July 5, 2012

Haunted SRU frat story airs Aug. 1

SLIPPERY ROCK — A former Slippery Rock University fraternity house holds some stories that might make visitors think twice about stepping inside, and SyFy Channel viewers will soon hear about the spirit that's said to haunt the third floor.

"We thought we were crazy," SRU graduate Adam Kimmell, of Grove City, said of the strange noises he and fellow Alpha Sigma Phi frat brothers heard while they lived at 133 Kiester Road.

He and his friend Daniel Hooven, also an SRU graduate and frat brother, visited the home and campus Tuesday as they talked about their experience with "School Spirits," the SyFy show that explores legends at six universities including Slippery Rock.

"That's it, right there: the Thunderdome," Hooven, of Edinboro, said, recalling the home's nickname as he and Kimmell walked toward the now-privately-owned rental property across from the campus' main entrance.

Local legends have led the home's past residents to believe it's haunted by the spirit of Samuel Mohawk, a Seneca Indian who in 1843 murdered the family of James Wigton: his wife Margaret and their five children.

According to a marble stone at the Muddy Creek Cemetery in Clay Township, Butler County, where the family is buried, Mohawk brutally murdered the family at their home near the Old Stone House, which is in Brady Township, because he had been seeking revenge against the white race.

Mohawk was caught and hanged, the first hanging in Butler County, but the connection between him and the frat house isn't very clear, said Dr. Aaron Cowan, assistant professor of history at SRU and curator of the Old Stone House.

Detailed accounts of the murders and Mohawk's capture don't place him near the frat house or even in the borough, and the house was believed to have been built in the early 1900s.

SyFy consulted Cowan for the show and the producers decided to emphasize the "thematic linkages" between the students' paranormal experiences and Mohawk, Cowan said in an email.

But some of those experiences seem to parallel parts of Mohawk's confession: slamming doors, people being confined or restrained and footsteps upstairs.

"I suppose anything's possible," he said, also noting Mohawk was hanged in the jailyard of the Butler County Courthouse in Butler.

"If you believe in paranormal hauntings, are such things necessarily bound by geography?" Cowan asked.

Hooven and Kimmell lived at the five-bedroom fraternity in 2006, but neither heard any stories about the house being haunted before they moved in.

"I wasn't really a big believer," Hooven said of his thoughts on ghosts and spirits at that time.

But unexplained things started happening, mostly in the chapter room near Hooven's bedroom. Hooven, Kimmell and others heard loud bangs coming from the room, often checking it to find no one, but discovering the fraternity's wooden paddles scattered on the floor.

"They got pulled down and thrown," Hooven said.

Kimmell once ventured upstairs with a butcher knife to investigate some creaking and again found the room empty.

"It got to a point where we couldn't deny it," Hooven said.

Fraternity pledges and members soon shared their experiences, which included hearing children singing and little girls laughing, perhaps the spirits of the Wigton children, Kimmell said.

The spirit thought to be Mohawk was dubbed "Ted" at first and he didn't feel like a threat, but his behavior turned aggressive after a pledge said he didn't believe in ghosts and was going to "haze" Ted, Hooven said.

"The mood changed," he said of slamming doors, like the spirit had been provoked to act out.

Kimmell and Hooven shared their story with SyFy and the SRU episode of "School Spirits" was filmed in Manhattan with actors portraying them and others in a dramatization of the hauntings.

They're thrilled SyFy chose SRU and five other colleges out of so many other stories that came in from across the country because each hour-long episode is devoted to one school.

They were last in the house earlier this year and the students living there at that time also reported unusual activity, like seeing "shadow people," Hooven said.

"I have a feeling we opened a portal," Kimmell said.

When asked about people who don't believe in spirits, Hooven said a rational person is a skeptic like he was, but living in the house changed his mind.

"You'll believe when you see," he said. "This story is very important."

"Frat House Phantom," the SRU episode of "School Spirits," airs Aug. 1 at 10 p.m. Eastern time.

The show is produced by New York City-based Jarrett Creative Group, run by owner and executive producer Seth Jarrett, who has worked for MTV and currently produces "Celebrity Ghost Stories" for the BIO Channel.

Published June 30, 2012, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.

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