Shocktober Part two: Haunted houses

In keeping with the spirit of October, this week, we sat down with Facility Services employee and former Campus Safety Officer Scott Breyer to get a first-hand account of a ghost story on campus. Breyer, who also helps out with the Haunted Lawrence tour organized by University Archivist Erin Dix, has had a few standout experiences in buildings on campus that he cannot explain.

The encounter Breyer recalls took place in International House. “That’s one that we always locked up around one o’clock in the morning,” Breyer began. “And what happens with that house is that after one in the morning, it’s still open to students, but for the most part, if there was no one in it, we would lock it up around midnight.” “It was always Monday nights. I would lock up International House, turn off all the lights, make sure there was no one in there. I’d go do my other locks, come back and I’d see lights on upstairs. So I’m like okay, this is weird, it’s only on Monday nights. So I’d walk in the house, clear the whole house from attic to basement, turn all the lights off, go on the rest of my duties.”

“Next week, Monday night, same thing happened. I’d lock it up at midnight, come back at one in the morning, all the lights are on upstairs. I didn’t think anything of it, because I’m not one to jump to conclusions right away, so I’d go through the whole house, check everything again, lock it up, and go on my way. Third week in a row, Monday night again, so starting to think there’s a pattern here. I had Kat with me, she was one of the officers at the time, and we go driving past International House and I had locked it up earlier, but all the lights are on again. Only this time, we thought we saw someone in the second floor window, like a head or something.”

“So we split up, I took the back staircase and she took the front one, we went upstairs at the same time, we didn’t find anybody. This is really getting weird, so we decide it’s time to search the whole building again. Now, as security, we weren’t allowed to go into professor’s offices or anything, unless it was an emergency — well, we kind of figured, we’re searching this whole house. So we did everything — every closet, every bathroom, every shower, any place that was big enough for someone to hide, we checked out. We got downstairs [and turned] all the lights off. We’re walking down the front walk, turn around and looked and we watched every light on the second floor go on one by one. So I went back in the house, but never found anything. And after that, it never happened again.”

These kinds of experiences are not just unique to Breyer — he also recounted a tale told to him by fellow staff members.

“The following summer, Jose [Salvidar], who still works at Lawrence — who used to be security, [but] is now doing our fire safety — and another gentleman, Rory, had an incident that they couldn’t explain. It was the middle of the summer, Sabin House was closed and they were doing a walkthrough [when] they heard footsteps upstairs. Sabin House has two staircases, so Jose goes up one staircase and Rory goes up the other, and they didn’t find anybody. They searched the whole house, had it all locked up. Then they’re standing by the front staircase and they hear footsteps upstairs again, but they didn’t find anybody.”

Despite his own experiences and what he has heard about secondhand, Breyer is still not sure where he stands when it comes to the paranormal. “I’m not sure if I believe in ghosts or not, but around this place, it can make you a believer after a while … I don’t know whether I should believe in them or not.” However, regardless of what his ultimate conclusion would be, Breyer still volunteers his time to help Dix recount ghostly tales, and he is more than happy to share his own experiences.