Haunted Halls: Even ghosts apparently lamented demolition of old West Jordan Middle School
Oct 28, 2019, 10:43 PM | Updated: Oct 28, 2023, 11:07 am
WEST JORDAN — It’s easy to write off the unexplained.
Mysterious noises always seem to have their source. Over time, though, those who roamed the halls of the old West Jordan Middle School listened closely.
They heard a distinct rattle.
Librarian and former drama teacher Lisa Morey said they were sounds without an explanation that would echo out of quiet spaces like the gym after hours.
“About three or four years ago, I was sitting here,” Morey said during an interview in June as she pointed to the bleachers on one side of the gym. “As you can tell, the room is usually very quiet…”
At that precise moment when Morey uttered that statement, something on the other side of the gym inexplicably began to pop. Shock washed over Morey’s face as she sat still and waited to see if the noises happened again. Fifteen seconds later, they did — only for the gym to grow hauntingly quiet once again.
“Don’t know what to tell you!” Morey said after surveying the room and removing her glasses. “Didn’t expect that to happen right away!”
It was experiences like those that led several longtime workers and even students to believe that the 1950s-era building was, in fact, haunted.
Morey recounted another late night experience in the basement beneath the auditorium where a door violently shook and then shook again moments later. Lauren Flygare, the band and orchestra teacher at the school from 1980 to 2015, also witnessed that event.
“The door was shaking! The door was literally shaking!” Morey said. “It was scary!”
Both women said they ran upstairs.
“That was quite freaky and that did just give us a bad feeling,” Flygare said.
The auditorium and stage also saw their share of the unexplained, including apparent sightings of ghostly presences and shadows.
“When everybody was gone and I would come up this aisle, I would feel like there was someone there,” Flygare said. “One time, I just walked up, walked past somebody that looked like a person. You know, it was just one of those where no, it was not there.”
Morey said she and others affectionately named one spirit believed to be haunting the space, “Archie” — after one of the former owners of the land on which the school sat.
“I’ve also seen him standing on the side of the stage,” Morey said. “He looks like an older man. He’s got dark pants and a white button-up shirt, and he’s just standing.
Often, Morey said she would alert Archie of what she was about to do.
“If I would do that, I wouldn’t have any ghost trouble while I was in here,” Morey said. “It calmed my nerves as well as the ghost’s.”
Archie, though, apparently wasn’t the only ghost to inhabit the school.
“As I would leave the booth in the dark, I could see a shadow run across the balcony as though that bar wasn’t there,” Morey explained. “It’s a boy. His hair flies behind him as he runs, and you just see him go ‘whoosh.’”
Morey said something darker also lurked outside of the auditorium on the second floor near a drinking fountain, and that she and a couple of the custodians had seen it.
“It’s a black, swirly kind of thing,” Morey described. “It’s just there. I’ve seen it twice and I have not approached it. It feels bad.”
With so many stories surrounding West Jordan Middle, KSL and the crew of Ghost Hopping gained permission from Jordan School District to investigate the old school one last time before it was torn down over the summer to make way for a brand new building.
Marcus — a former student at the school in the 1990s — as well as Dani and Ben had investigated purportedly haunted sites around the state and across the country, including Gettysburg. They had also previously guided KSL paranormal investigations at downtown piano bar Keys on Main, the Salt Lake City and County Building, Santaquin’s Leslie’s Family Tree Restaurant, the Rio Grande Depot and Salt Lake City’s Euro Treasures Antiques.
It didn’t take long that night of June 6 for something to make some noise.
KSL TV reporter Andrew Adams was standing next to Morey in the booth above the auditorium balcony when a push broom that was resting up against the wall mysteriously fell over with a loud clap.
Neither person had touched or accidentally nudged the broom.
That began a chain of events and unexplained activity that spanned over roughly 90 minutes of the investigation.
As Marcus began to use a word-generating “Ovilus” — believed by those in the field to be capable of manipulation and communication by spirits and other entities — the device produced the word, “award.”
Marcus happened to be standing next to some old awards, raising questions among the investigators as to whether a spirit was attempting to validate its presence.
Also, as Marcus and Dani subsequently investigated the rafters above the auditorium, Marcus said it felt like something grabbed his hair and pulled it.
“There’s literally nothing!” a flabbergasted Marcus noted to Dani, indicating that there was nothing above his head to catch his hair. “I felt this hair just go like that!”
A few minutes later, when everyone had returned to the balcony, the Ovilus generated another word —“records.”
At roughly the same time, a low-volume but full-toned male voice — believed by the investigators to be an electronic voice phenomenon or EVP — also was recorded whispering, “records.”
Morey remarked that she believed the spirit — if that’s what it was — was trying to direct the investigators to the records room.
That room was next to the other room where Morey and Flygare once experienced the door violently shaking.
As the investigators moved to that underground space, four distinct and notable pieces of potential evidence soon emerged.
Marcus left briefly to retrieve some batteries. When he returned to the locked exterior doors of the school, he texted Adams that he had arrived. Immediately upon Adams telling the others that he had to let Marcus in, the Ovilus generated the word, “outside.”
When the investigators decided to conduct a session with a “Spirit Box” — which cycles across radio frequencies quickly and generates white noise, a male voice came through that device and said, “spirits.” Moments later, the same male voice spoke the word, “sad.”
Also during that session, a night vision camera captured a light anomaly arcing on screen before disappearing, and a separate, laser beam-like light appeared to vanish into Marcus’ hand.
The investigators speculated that perhaps a spirit or multiple spirits were sad in light of the school’s planned demolition.
They arrived at that theory again when, during a separate session in the gym, the Ovilus generated the word, “waste.”
Adams questioned if the possible presence was trying to say that it was a waste that the school was being torn down.
“I mean, we pretty much feel the same way, guys,” Dani shrugged.
Morey acknowledged that it would make sense if the spirits that had purportedly haunted West Jordan Middle School lamented the fact that it was about to “give up the ghost” as well.
“What better place to be than a place that you shined or that you loved,” Morey smiled. “I wonder where they’ll go when the building comes down. They’ll find someplace.”
Though the investigators, flanked by Morey and Flygare, continued to listen into the night, the school grew quiet once again.
Whatever was left to be explained, the old West Jordan Middle School took with it to the grave.