Ghost hunters investigate Sandusky's Hotel Rieger

SANDUSKY As it waits for new development, the Hotel Rieger stands empty in downtown Sandusky.
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

As it waits for new development, the Hotel Rieger stands empty in downtown Sandusky.

Or does it?

Paranormal investigators called in from Fort Wayne, Ind., spent hours in the building the evening of Oct. 25, checking reports that it may be inhabited by ghosts.

Rob Stone, an investigator for In Nomine Paranormal Research of Fort Wayne, says he and another investigator, Megan Price, were called in to check out rumors that a ghostof a small child and other spirits haunt the hotel.

Jason Snyder, In Nomine's lead investigator, is a Sandusky native and 1996 Perkins High School graduate.

He decided to send in Stone and Price after talking to two old friends who are members of Erie Paranormal.

Because of the Hotel Rieger's history as a nursing home, he said it seemed like a good place for an investigation.

"It's pretty much no surprise to anybody hauntings are found in places where death occurs," Snyder said.

Armed with video cameras, digital cameras and other equipment, Stone and his team came back with photographs from many rooms in the old hotel.

Price said at one point she heard footsteps outside of a room known as the waiting room. The sounds could not have been made by other members of the team, who were in a separate area of the hotel.

She said she serves as a photographer and "sensitive" for paranormal investigations.

"I'm able to feel things that normal people can't," she said. "That's how I help them find all of the hot spots."

Another interesting incident occurred when a video camera captured a moving orb, or transparent ball. Stone notes that an orb is on the left in the video and says that instruments showed a burst of electrical energy.

During the rest of the night, "we got no electrical interference at all," Stone said.

"It's almost like something hurled some kind of energy at the camera," he said. "I'm not saying it's paranormal."

Investigators have to be careful about attributing orbs to ghosts, Stone said. About 99.9 percent of the time, orbs in photographs are produced by dust, insects and other natural phenomena.

Skeptics say there's plenty of justification for Stone's cautious attitude.

Ben Radford, managing editor of The Skeptical Inquirer magazine, is particularly critical of recordings of electronic voice phenomena, alleged voices from the beyond.

In theory, the noises capture communications from ghosts.

Radford, interviewed last year by the Register after ghost hunters gave a presentation at the Clyde Library, contends that EVPs are meaningless sounds and any apparent content is supplied by the listener.

"There has never been an EVP that has given any information," Radford said.

Stone said his group tries to follow the scientific method, looking first for natural explanations for alleged ghostly phenomena.

He said the group would like to return to the Hotel Rieger for a more thorough investigation.

If it has any ghosts, the Rieger had plenty of time to acquire them.

According to an article by Helen Hansen and Virginia Steinemann, printed in "A View of Sandusky -- Volume II," John L. Rieger opened a 60-room hotel at 232 Jackson St. in 1912. By 1926, it was up to five stories and 130 rooms. The Rieger became the Erie Inn Motor Hotel in 1964, then became a nursing home, then was turned into a bed and breakfast before closing in the 1990s.