“Everyone loves a ghost story,” said Public Safety Officer John Ciochetty, author of two books, “The Ghosts of Stuyvesant Hall and Beyond Vol.1,” and “Ghosts of Historic Delaware, Ohio.”
Ciochetty is known throughout OWU for his ghost expertise and captivating tales. Each year he leads freshman on the “Ghost Tour,” taking the new students around the haunted parts of campus and presenting electronic voice phenomenon recordings as well as photos of spirits.
Students seem to have a rising interest in the “Ghost Tour.” Ciochetty has had as many as 200 attendees and says that it continues to grow each year.
Ciochetty began working at OWU in 2001, but his fascination with ghosts started much earlier in life at the age of four. When he lived in West Virginia, Ciochetty observed what he calls an “apparition,” or a spirit.
“I ran to my parents in the middle of the night and turned around to see in the other room a spirit run through my bedroom wall through the other wall across the room,”he said.
On his high school graduation night, Ciochetty camped out with friends at the Old Pioneer Cemetery in Belpre, Ohio in search of ghostly encounters.
He brought a tape recorder and called out to the graves, “Hey, is anyone there?”
When he returned home, Ciochetty said he heard a response from a “gutter-voiced” male in the recording replying, “Hello.”
Ciochetty continued to experience paranormal encounters when he joined the army in Fort Bliss, Texas. During his time there, Ciochetty stayed in a housing complex above an old battle ground where the Mexican-American War was fought.
He said he remembers doing laundry with some peers and coming back to find their clothes soaking wet on top of the dryer. Ciochetty said he recalls hearing the lids clanging up and down as well as footsteps at the end of the hall. He said that it was “common knowledge” the place was haunted.
“You always felt like you were being watched,” he said.
After obtaining his graduate degree in Criminal Justice at Marshall University, he was called back to the army reserve, serving as a platoon leader in Kentucky.
When Ciochetty started working at OWU, he began to hear tales of campus ghosts from students, staff and alumni. He also felt that “something was out of kilter” here.
One of the tales Ciochetty is familiar with is that of the ghost of Elliot Hall. Elliot Hall was first constructed in 1833 as a luxurious resort called the “Mansion House Hotel.”
It is believed that a young woman named Laura was murdered at the resort. Ciochetty says that Laura has been witnessed on the third floor balcony, but that he has not personally seen her.
A ghost that Ciochetty said he has personally experienced is that of a previous OWU student, Scotty.
Scotty resides in the Chappelear Drama Center and now “pulls pranks” on the Drama Crew, fiddling with equipment and lights.
“Sometimes I go in there, turn the light on, go back down the hallway and it’s off,” says Ciochetty.
Ciochetty said his most striking experience with a ghost on campus was “Sean,” the spirit of a thirteen-year-old boy in Gray Chapel who Ciochetty said died “goofing off on the top floor” of the building.
“Sean” is “what we call him,” Ciochetty said. During an investigation, Ciochetty recorded the voice of Sean. “From what I can remember, Sean said, ‘There’s a bad spirit, run!’”
Many of the buildings at OWU seem to have their personal ghosts. Sanborn Hall, Hayes, Welch, Ham-wil, University Hall, Mowry Center, Edwards and Beeghly Library are just some of the buildings believed by Ciochetty and others to be haunted.
Of the haunted buildings of OWU, the most well-known is Stuyvesant Hall, which is currently being renovated. Stuy provided much of the material for Ciochetty’s book, “The Ghosts of Stuyvesant Hall and Beyond Vol. 1”
He said he supports the renovation of Stuyvesant Hall.
He said he thinks it will be gorgeous when it is done and he said he has “no doubt” Stuy will continue to be haunted even after its new renovation.
When asked about why our campus is haunted, Ciochetty replied, “I don’t know exactly, but (it) could be a combination of things.”
He said he believes such factors to be “tragic events” that have happened here, and our location above old “Indian land,” upon which much violence occurred.
Ciochetty said he believes ghost experiences on campus happen when they’re, “unexpected,” and can occur at “any time.”
“I don’t go looking for them,” Ciochetty says, although he sometimes partakes in paranormal investigations, often when they are requested.
He is called in when places are thought to be haunted, whether a home or a public building.
When Ciochetty takes on an investigation, he said he first gathers the details people come to him with, and then looks for ways to “debunk” their ghost theories with other possible explanations.
He calls himself a “skeptic,” needing for things to be proven.
When Ciochetty finds something worth investigating, he brings tools such as electromagnetic meters, motion sensors, a digital camera, a recorder and a laser grid to record spirits. Ciochetty has managed to put in print the unique paranormal experiences he has found both at OWU and in Delaware.
“The main reason I write the books is because I’d hear all these stories and never saw them in print,” he says.
His two books, “The Ghosts of Stuyvesant Hall and Beyond Vol.1,” and “Ghosts of Historic Delaware, Ohio” are sold in Barnes and Noble, and other book stores around the nation as well as internationally.
Ciochetty has been on local and national radio stations, book signings and is currently working on his third book about the ghosts of Delaware County.He plans to use some of the proceeds from his second book as a donation to Ohio Wesleyan.
“It is my desire to give something back,” Ciochetty said.
Ciochetty’s books can also be found at Beehive Books. “Ghosts of Historic Delaware Ohio” is due to appear in e-book form in the near future.