Author’s note: In From the Shadows 54 (October 2007) and 88 (July 2008), I brought you two of the better-known haunted buildings at Northwest Missouri State University. In this first of a two-part series, I explore two ghost stories that aren’t as well known … but just as spooky.
The Northwest Missouri State University campus, a usually tranquil garden of well-trimmed grass that stretches under the 1,300 trees of this state arboretum, is home to its share of triumphs – including a pair of Division II football national championships.
But it’s the tragedy that lingers long after the seasons are over, and students have gone home for summer. Like at any school, students have died while attending Northwest, but here some still walk down its majestic halls.
The dormitory was quiet the night Resident Assistant Shane Sherwood, a friend Rachel Ost, and a smattering of others were posting homemade decorations on doors welcoming new students to Northwest. Students would arrive in a few days, on Aug. 26, 2007, but as Sherwood and Ost discovered, someone was already there.
Ost pealed Scotch tape off a role and attached another piece of colored paper to a door, the rip on the adhesive loud in the lonely hall. Ost was the only person on the floor, an odd enough feeling when in a building that would soon house hundreds of students, but she soon found she wasn’t really alone.
“Shane and the other RA were on rounds, or something like that,” she said. “There was no one on the floor except for me.”
Nonetheless, something moved and Ost froze as she watched it move past her.
“I was hanging up door decs and there’s this pair of legs,” she said. “This pair of legs runs by. No torso. There’s just feet. I said, ‘what the (heck) was that?’”
The translucent legs ran down the hallway and disappeared. Although Ost never told Sherwood of the encounter, he would soon meet his new hall mate, too.
The night before hundreds of freshman would pour into Phillips Hall, Sherwood and the other RAs worked to finish posting door decorations. Sherwood was alone on the sixth floor, the only other person authorized to be on the floor was his fellow RA, but he was on the opposite side of the building and out of sight.
That’s when Sherwood saw someone move.
“I just saw something walk behind me,” he said.
He looked around, but there was no one in the hallway. Sherwood started looking into the nearby rooms and found nothing – until he walked toward the open door of Room 626. Something there was different. The windows in the room, like in all rooms in the dormitory, were closed and the air conditioning was still off for the summer, but the air in Room 626 was cold – cold enough to staple a note onto Sherwood’s memory.
“I went into Room 626 and there was somebody sitting in the corner,” he said. “I couldn’t really make out his face.”
Startled, Sherwood backed away from the room, and it’s inhabitant, and went to find Hall Director Aimee Rea.
“I went to see if she knew anything about it,” he said. And she told him the story.
In April 1999, Northwest student and Phillips Hall resident Kevin Bayer, 19, of Sutton, Neb., died from injuries received in a car accident, according to the campus newspaper archives. And, according to the culture passed from RA to RA over the years, Bayer is supposed to haunt the dormitory.
Rea said it’s people who keep the ghost story around – not a ghost. She’s not convinced the story’s true.
“Supposedly, his spirit resides in the halls and spends a lot of time in the (hall director) apartment,” she said. “I have not experienced anything paranormal and believe that my friends made up the stories just to see if I would get spooked.”
But people have encountered strange things in Phillips Hall, like cabinets opening and shutting on their own, pets reacting to something their owners cannot see, and the feeling of being watched. Many people have reported seeing Bayer’s ghost – like Sherwood.
“There’s a picture downstairs in the trophy case of a student who died in a car crash,” Sherwood said. “He was wearing the same clothes as the guy I saw.”
Next week: Wells Hall.
Copyright 2008 by Jason Offutt
Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt c/o The Examiner, 410 S. Liberty, Independence, Mo. 64050, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”
Jason’s book of ghost stories, “Haunted Missouri: A Ghostly Guide to Missouri’s Most Spirited Spots,” is here. Order online at: tsup.truman.edu, www.amazon.com, or visit Jason’s Web site at www.jasonoffutt.com.