Friday, October 6, 2017

HGB Ep. 225 - Asylum 49

 Moment in Oddity - Chinese Guardian Spirit Zhong Kui

Many Chinese households and businesses have the image of a guardian spirit painted upon their gates as a form of protection. That guardian is Zhong Kui and he is a part of Chinese mythology. He is considered a vanquisher of evil beings and ghosts. He is so powerful that it is said he can command 80,000 demons. According to folklore, Zhong Kui traveled with a friend from his home town, Du Ping, to take part in the imperial examinations at the capital. Zhong Kui received high marks, but there was a problem. He was horribly disfigured and so the Emperor stripped him of the title his marks had earned. The young man became angry and committed suicide upon the palace steps by hurtling himself against the palace gate until his head was broken. His friend Du Ping buried him. Zhong Kui was damned to Hell. There, the Hell King saw potential in Zhong Kui when he was judging him. The Hell King gave him the title, King of Ghosts, and he was ordered to forever hunt, capture, maintain and manage ghosts. He returned to his hometown on the Chinese New Year's Eve. To repay Du Ping's kindness, Zhong Kui gave his younger sister in marriage to Du Ping. In America, painting the image of a mythological figure on our homes and businesses for protection against ghosts would certainly be considered, odd.

This Month in History -Tunnel 57 Leads East Germans to Freedom

In the month of October, on the 5th, in 1964, 57 East German refugees ran for freedom under the Berlin Wall and they were successful. This was the largest mass escape at the time, and the most daring. The refugees made their way nervously past a checkpoint and entered a home after giving "Tokyo" as the password. The group removed their shoes and padded silently through the house to a back courtyard where they were directed to enter a disused outside lavatory. Inside was a hole just big enough for a man to fit inside and then that man had to crawl along a tunnel that was two feet high and three feet wide. It was a terrifying journey, but the refugees knew freedom was on the other end. They were fleeing the Communist regime that had taken over East Germany and erected the Berlin Wall, cutting the country off from the world. The tunnel came to be known as Tunnel 57 for the number of refugees who used it that evening to escape. The Berlin Wall finally came down on November 9th in 1989.

Asylum 49 (Suggested by Joe Tamulonis and Robert Foster)

The city of Tooele in Utah has a history of mining, industry and bloody conflicts. The original Mormon pioneers who settled here were not on friendly terms with the local Native Americans. Conflicts arose and much blood was spilled. Over seventy years ago, the Tooele Valley Hospital was built for citizens and military members stationed there. It was closed in 2002 and is now the home for Asylum 49, a haunted house attraction. When the owners of Asylum 49 bought the property with the intention of creating the attraction, they had no idea that their business would literally be haunted. And Asylum 49 is not just a little haunted. It is a lot haunted! The spirits here are friendly, chilling and malevolent. Join us as we share the history and hauntings of Asylum 49.

Tooele (too elah), Utah is about thirty minutes southwest of Salt Lake City. Mormon pioneers were the first white men to come to the area and they used it as a wintering ground for their herds. They arrived in the late 1840s and eventually more families joined them and they set up a city along a small stream. There was an issue though. The Goshute tribe was already here. The two groups were soon clashing with each other and the Mormons accused the tribe of rustling their cattle. They decided to attack and both sides lost much blood. Eventually, the Tooele City Corporation was organized in 1853. During the Civil War, the Goshutes were attacked and killed by soldiers led by General O'Connor and they were forced into a peace treaty. They soon were moved off to reservations. The Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad brought a line to the town in 1905 and with it came industrialization. Soon a smelter was built and immigrants came from several countries to work there. They built a section of Tooele that they called "New Town." In 1942, the Tooele Army Depot was built to store war reserve and training ammunition. In 1949, the Tooele Valley Hospital was built for the Depot.

The Tooele Valley Hospital was the first modern, state-of-the-art medical facility in the city of Tooele. the hospital opened to fanfare in 1953. Now remember that this state-of-the-art was for the 1950s. So medical care had a long way to go. And even though residents got excellent care, the hospital soon took on an ominous nickname, "Hospital of Death." The Tooele City Cemetery sits next door and it took in plenty of people who passed at the hospital. By the 2000s, it was becoming apparent that the infrastructure was falling apart. Nobody wanted to put money into updating the hospital when a new one could be built, so the building was abandoned in 2002. And when we say abandoned, that means that everything was left in the building as though it were still an operating hospital. Part of the building was re-purposed as a nursing home. The rest sat abandoned until Kimm and Cami Andersen, Dusty Kingston and Sonja Andersen bought the property with the intention of creating a Halloween haunt that is full contact. They named it Asylum 49 and it opened in 2006.

Asylum 49 is full of fake haunts during the Halloween season, but year-round, it is full of real haunts. There are many ghosts here. Some of the spirits seem to belong to people who met their final end here at the hospital, some seem to have enjoyed their jobs here so much that they have returned in the afterlife, others may be venturing over from the nearby cemetery and some may be angry spirits that are attached to the land because of the violent past.Visitors and employees alike have all had experiences. The Andersen family, who owns the property, have experienced strange occurrences from the first day of ownership. Kimm Andersen was walking through the property alone when he ventured into the conference room. As he surveyed the remnants of a previous haunted house hosted by the nursing home, he felt a tugging on his shorts. He looked down and saw with his own eyes, his shorts moving outward as though something invisible were tugging at them. Something the size of a child. He ran from the room.

There are child spirits reputed to be at the former hospital. The main hallway of Asylum 49 is carpeted in green and connects the ER to the maternity wing. Several rooms are off the hallway including the conference room. One of them has made the conference room her home base. This specter is said to belong to a little girl and she has not only made her presence felt by touching people, she has been seen multiple times. Customers at the haunted house will remark how truly creepy the little blonde girl in the conference room is and, of course, no children are employed by Asylum 49. Or perhaps there is one that is employed by the haunt. Kimm, the owner, shares an incredible experience he had with a child ghost during the Halloween season.

He was doing an initial walk through one evening before opening and he couldn't find any of the actors in their spots. He finally found them all huddled together at the nurses' station. They said they were terrified and didn't want to work in this area of the hospital that night. They claimed that they had seen a ghost. Kimm went to find this ghost and he was stunned when he really did find the ghost. She was wearing a white lacy gown and she was covering her face with her hands and crying. His paternal instinct kicked in and he asked her what was wrong. She said, "I want to scare people too." Kimm explained that he didn't want her to scare his employees., but that it was okay for her to scare the visitors. She continued to wail and so Kimm thought up a new angle. They were in a room full of hospital beds and so he told her that she could help out and scare people, but that he wanted her to hide and not let anyone see her. He suggested she hide under a bed and grabbed at people's legs. Now, while all you listeners think to yourself, this has got to turn out to be a real kid, Kimm claims that she evaporated into a black mist that floated down under a bed. He returned to his actors and told them that there was nothing out there and they went back to work.

Even more compelling is that a short time later, Kimm was flagged down by a couple of his security guards. They explained to him that two female performers that had been assigned the job of laying on beds and popping up to scare customers had come running to them terrified. They claimed to have seen a black mist floating in the room, moving under the beds. Kimm's wife Cami was skeptical about this story. The next season, she met the little girl when she whispered in her ear, "You scared me." The ghost was referring to an actress at the end of the hall pretending to be a girl possessed by a demon. This actress was saying in a sinister voice, " scared me." Later in the evening, when they were locking up, Cami saw an ethereal light in the hallway. When she turned to see what was causing the light she witnessed something that chilled her to the bone. Richard Estep writes in his book, The Haunting of Asylum 49, "Silently coming up behind them with outstretched hands was the figure of a little girl in a long, lacy white night gown. Her stringy long black hair hung over a pale gray face in a manner reminiscent of the entity featured in the horror movie The Grudge. Then the silence was broken. As Cami strained her ears to listen, she could hear Sara faintly whispering, ' scared me.'"

Sara had been a patient here who died from pneumonia. She is one of the most active and most seen entities. A couple visiting the haunted house claims that they ran into Sara in the hallway and they thought she was an actress until she told them she couldn't find her mommy. The woman grabbed Sara's hand and told her that they would find her mother for her. They pulled her along as they continued to make their way through the house. They were nearly to the end when they realized that Sara had disappeared. They weren't sure if Sara had been a ghost until they decided to do a ghost tour at Asylum 49 the next year. During the presentation, a photo of Sara was shown and the woman gasped. They knew then that the child had not been real.

The hallway has its own spirits. One of them is a shadow figure that people have named Robert. He is tall and broad. The shadow is occasionally seen with a cane when he walks across the hallway. He has cracked jokes on EVPs and playfully jumped out from around corners. He responds to requests to move in order to prove that he is not just a shadow. A psychic has told the owners that she believes Robert is a protective spirit who watches over the child ghosts here like the little blonde girl and another child spirit that is a shy boy named Thomas. He stays in Room One and likes to hold people's hands. He likes to ball-up the sheets on the beds too. There is also Tabitha in the nursery. Tabitha wears a yellow dress and has told a psychic that something was wrong with her brain and that is why she died. She likes to participate in the haunted house and seems sad when the season is over. Members of the staff visit in the off season and bring toys with them to keep the children company.

Several ghosts belong to former doctors and nurses and other hospital staff. Peter Hansford was an X-ray technician at the Tooele hospital. He seems to have loved his job so much, that he has returned after his death. The reason why the owners and investigators are confidant of this fact is that an EVP was captured of a male voice saying Peter's full name when asked what was his name. The specters of a doctor and nurse are said to be in the nursery. No one knows the name of the nurse, but the doctor is named Nicholas. Neither of them seems to be aware that they are dead. They continue to do their work, but not in a residual way. Dr. Nicholas has been seen on security cameras standing behind an actor doctor while the haunt is in full swing. He is probably perplexed as to what the maniacal doctor is doing.

Bonnie is a former patient who died from cancer and now roams the nursery wearing a hospital gown and pulling along an IV tower. She claims to be looking for her husband and wants to see the babies even though the nursery obviously has no babies anymore. The Mirror Maze seems to be the place with the most activity and perhaps this is because of the mirrors. EVPs that have been captured include, "I'm here now," "You'll be mine," "We died here," "Caught a bullet," and "I'm going with you." Eva is an elderly ghost whom has been seen in Room Two. She seems to like to play cards and investigators have used a flashlight to get her to indicate which card she wants to play. She only usually hangs around to play for a few hands as though she is easily bored.

Photos have captured a tall male figure that is creepy as hell. Upon enlarging the picture, one can see that the face is almost cartoonish in appearance with raised eyebrows and a grin that would be at home on a caricature. This is thought to be Jeremy, a burn patient who had to wear a mask to protect his face. He had been covered in third degree burns before he died. Female staff members claim that he is a pervert. And investigators claim that he likes to play the imposter, pretending to be one of the other spirits at Asylum 49. A smoky smell accompanies his manifestations and he prefers to hang out in the staff lounge and kitchen. That is generally how they figure out that Jeremy is not one of the other ghosts he is claiming to be.

Room Six and been renamed Room 666 and it once was home for along-term patient named Westley. He had been suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. He died here when he was 90. Interactions with his spirit are as varied as they were when he was alive. He can be warm and charming or aggressive and confused. Ghost Adventures featured Asylum 49 on an episode and Zak Bagans provoked an extreme reaction from Westley that left Zak pinned up against a wall. It knocked the wind out of him. Others have experienced violence and anger in this room. Whether it is Westley or some other entity, no one knows for sure, but most people find Room 666 to be unsettling.

After the Halloween season is over, the attraction is dismantled and the hospital is returned to its normal state and opened up for paranormal investigation. The stories of haunting experiences are plentiful here. This seems to be one of the most haunted places we have ever talked about on the podcast. Is it possible that this old hospital could really be this haunted? Are there really over a dozen ghosts hanging around? Is Asylum 49 haunted? That is for you to decide!

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