Stranded – West Virginia State Penitentiary – S01E03

The formula is quite simple, take a skeptic, an on the fence believer and true believer, drive them out to an isolated and rumored to be haunted location, let them investigate any way they see fit, watch them panic and lose their minds, then check back in to see if their opinions and attitudes have changed.

For this adventure we have Tyler, the skeptic who’s former military and police. Amber, his sister, is the true believer of the group. And on the fence, but falling mostly into the believer category is Chris, her husband. Their destination is West Virginia State Penitentiary, a place just about all the paranormal shows have investigated. Ghost Hunters, Paranormal State, Ghost Adventures and Paranormal Challenge have all been there. They all claim it’s a place that will make you soil your pants. So how does this group fare?

West Virginia State Penitentiary was founded in 1866 for 250 inmates. By 1960 it had 2000 men in less than 750 cells, that’s 3 men to a cell. It should come as no surprise that conditions were pretty poor. 998 men died while the prison was open with some of that coming from inmate violence, some from medical experiments and some from the electric chair. The prison is known for the Sugar Shack where inmates got away with anything and everything. There is the death of RD Wahl down in The Hole. There is also the Psych Ward. It’s enough to mess with your head under the best of conditions, let alone being stuck there for 5 days.

So let’s jump right in and go over what they found.

Over the course of their investigation they hear plenty of bangs, clangs and bumps. Some of it even sounds like someone rattling the bars of the cells. Down in the Hole, in conjunction with all the noises, Tyler feels something hit his foot. He’s excited and ready to investigate, but Amber, the true believer of the group is ready to tuck tail and run like hell. In fact, that’s exactly what she does. Why does this always happen? People want to have a paranormal experience then run away screaming from every noise. When they review their evidence it’s possible they captured the words, "Behind you."

They may have caught a figure on the thermal imager, but they don’t follow it up so who knows. It’s also possible they simply caught some lights. It’s not like the prison is in the middle of nowhere.

As Tyler and Chris play basketball where the electric chair used to be, Tyler’s watch stops at 2pm, the same time the lights would dim from the executions. Did his watch just break or is there something more to this?

They also perform the old, make the flashlight turn on trick and just like Jason and Grant they are astounded when it goes off.

When the trio heads down to the Sugar Shack things get interesting. Amber says she feels something touch her face. Tyler says his flashlight gets hot. Strangely, the air is hot down there. We get the impression something is messing with them with anger filling the room when all of a sudden Chris and Tyler are ready to throw down with each other. Every word coming out of Chris’ mouth is bleeped out. Tyler is taunting him like he wants to have a fight. It looks like they’re mere seconds from tearing each other apart.

For the final night there is a rainstorm sweeping in and while Tyler reads about the murder of Red Snyder by another inmate, he feels something flick him on the back of the neck. Twice. And yes, he practically jumps out of his skin.

How does the evidence stack up? There was a lot going, but did they capture enough to truly say this place was haunted?

There are plenty of bangs and thuds. But is that indicative of the paranormal? The building is old and riddled with metal. That can make all sorts of noises and the temperature changes. The thermal image really isn’t conclusive of anything on it’s own. They don’t really capture any substantial EVPs. They say they hear a lot of voices, but where’s the audio? Like the others before them, they will swear to the personal experiences they had. The eerie feelings, being touched, and freaking out at all the noises. But is that really enough? If the name of the game is tangible evidence then I don’t think they have much.

I have to say, Tyler seemed to be the only one who wanted to pursue this investigation. Whenever there was a noise or bang, Chris and Amber wanted to run away. The constant, "Oh my God" and "I’m not going back in there" were tiresome. Why the hell are you on a paranormal investigation if you don’t want to investigate the paranormal? They start off acting like nothing can rattle them, but on the first night they are already coming unglued. I think Chris and Amber would do well to just stay home from now on. Perhaps they should just go back to hiding under the covers. It seems like a lot of what their reacting to is built up in their minds.A creepy place, plenty of violent stories and lots of being on edge for days on end. It can make you believe anything, no? It’s really disappointing to see people given such a great opportunity to investigate a location, but run screaming in the dark.

But the experiences are enough to make Tyler change his views on the paranormal. He felt something against his foot, heard voices and was touched twice on the back of the neck. He may have even channeled some dark energy when he tried to pick a fight with Chris.

I find the premise of this show very fun and exciting. I think it’s great they investigate for more than one night. I like the raw footage and the unpredictable nature. What I don’t like is people running from the very thing they’re going after. Stop running at every bump and sound. Stand your group. Ask questions. Debunk something. Stick around to grab some evidence. That is why you came all this way, right?

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