At the end of June my ghost group, The Hot Flash Honeys, went on a road trip for a bucket list type of paranormal investigation. We drove to Mansfield Ohio to investigate The Ohio State Reformatory. The place where some of the movie The Shawshank Redemption was filmed. Here’s what happened.

The Hot Flash Honeys haunted Airbnb in Mansfield, Ohio.

Up until recently, we usually get a hotel room to stay in but we started getting houses through Airbnb to rent instead. This house was great. It was just a few miles from the reformatory and while it wasn’t walkable to any restaurants like the listing said it was, this place was pretty sweet. It had enough bedrooms and best of all, it was haunted!

The Hot Flash Honeys in front of their Airbnb in Mansfield Ohio.

In fact, for us that weekend, this place was way more active with spirits than the Ohio State Reformatory was. Now, it was not listed as haunted. I asked the owner who was there as we got there about the history of the house and tried to ask as slyly as possible if there were any activity there. He said no.

A strange and mysterious cage in the basement of the Airbnb.

We explored the fairly large house up and down and discovered this super creepy and very strange lockable cage like room in the basement. It really had a weird vibe. We all laughed about it and made up funny stories as we all took turns taking hilarious photos in front of it.

Wondering what is up with this strange, lockable room in the basement of our Airbnb in Mansfield Ohio.

We had the place for two nights. Now, for this rowdy gang of women a howling game of Mexican Train is our entertainment for the night before the investigation. First we hit the local Kroger grocery and bought our snacks and a few adult beverages. Then we hit a sweet little ice cream shop and went back to the house to relax and play dominoes.

The Hot Flash Honeys playing Mexican Train in their haunted Airbnb in Mansfield, Ohio.

This is the beginning of our night. We’re all ready for a night of games and we start getting so many feelings from a certain part of the house that we decided to set up our ghost hunting equipment. Most of us are sensitives, so we can feel when there’s a spirit near and all of us were on high alert. The equipment was going nuts the entire time. It was pretty fantastic. Finally, we were tired and ready to go to bed. Many of us had visits in the night from the spirits, including me.  Nothing harmful or scary, not to me at least.

The next day, we finally get into the reformatory about 6. Took lots of photos and got the history tour from the resident official ghost hunter.

The left side of the reformatory. The right side of the reformatory.

Me goofing off the day before our hunt.

Jaime behind bars.

During the tour, we found props left from the movie the Shawshank Redemption. Below, is the prop from the tunnel scene.

The tunnel prop from the movie the Shawshank Redemption.


Here’s a photo op prop of “Red” (Morgan Freeman) from the movie. The history from the movie was pretty interesting.

Standing next to Red, Morgan Freeman's character in The Shawshank Redemption.

Finally, the tour of the actual reformatory. We could sense a little bit of activity during this time.

Walking in the prison during the day.

Here’s the chapel for the reformatory. There were tales of construction guys having all kinds of pranks being played on them by the spirits as they restored the chapel. I could feel fleeting spots of spirit and then it was gone. It’s like they were checking out the new people. This is not uncommon for an investigation. Many times all the activity happens when you first arrive and then they seem to be bored of us.

The Chapel in Ohio State Reformatory.

The reformatory was in decay, but it was beautiful. Just look at the scroll work of the iron near the bottom of the photo. There were bits and pieces of craftsmanship everywhere, you just had to look. I don’t think I’ve ever climbed so many stairs in my life. My knees were screaming.

The beautiful and intricate stairwell at Ohio State Reformatory.

There was this area that had the scene set up just like the movie of the room that Brooks got after he was released. His cutout is there as well.

The set up for Brooks' room in the Shawshank Redemption movie.

It was told to us that those windows were sealed while there were inmates and that they would throw stuff at the windows to try and break them to get a breeze. It must’ve been horribly hot and dreadfully cold in the winter. There were only fireplaces here and there for heat. They had to have the cages go all the way up in the hallways. That’s what you see here in the photo below. That stopped the inmates from jumping or throwing others over. But they still had people that fell to their death, or were thrown.

The east wing of the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield Ohio.

There was a lot of death here. This sign is to mark the cell of Inmate James Lockhart. He was just 22 years old, serving 1-15 years for assault when he took his own life by setting himself on fire. How horrible. We came back here and investigated in front of cell 13 but there was no response and very quiet.

A sign on the door for Cell 13 where James Lockhart took his own life by lighting himself on fire.

In fact, it was pretty quiet the entire night with the exception of the attic. The attic was supposed to be a temporary home for inmates from another prison which caught on fire. There were like 300 inmates brought into this attic. It had no windows, you can imagine the heat and stench. We were told the guards wouldn’t go in there, they just closed and locked the door. Can you imagine what went on in there? They were there for a few years. Things were written all over the walls and there were a lot of drawings of naked women. It was a pretty sad place, actually.

There were lots of noises in the attic, like rocks being tossed. The spirits played with the emf lights that my friend Jody had. The spirits answered questions by setting the lights and rimpods off. They basically are a string of lights that light up much like a rimpod when spirits are in close proximity. They gave us quite a light show, but wouldn’t really come too close to us for the most part. When we first sat down in the back and were talking to each other, we did have the sensation that someone was next to us. I felt it, then it would leave and go to someone else. This finally stopped.

Setting up a camera with ir lights for the paranormal investigation in the attic of the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio.

We had to be packed up and out of there by 3 am. Here we are taking a break from the investigation.

taking a break outside during our investigation.

I took this photo from the outside break area. The lights you see are from the actual prison in use now. We weren’t allowed to take any photos of the prison from the windows or even driving by anytime of the day. I thought this would be fine since it only shows the lights. The new prison was built because the inmates complained and filed a complaint that it was cruel and unusual punishment in the old reformatory. They won. There were too many people to a cell and the conditions were intolerable, I guess even for criminals so the new place was built. Another one was built in this same area as well. One is maximum security! But the closest, that you can see the lights here was minimum security.

Nighttime outside the back of the Ohio Stat Reformatory in Mansfield Ohio.

All in all, it was a bit disappointing evidence wise. I didn’t really get any evp’s through my recorder. To be fair, I haven’t gone back and listened to my recordings either though. That’s the way it goes sometimes. You can investigate a place that is supposedly run with ghosts and spirits, but you end up with nothing. No experiences, no evidence.

I’ve been to Malvern Manor in Iowa and to this day, the night I was there is still the most active and I had the most experiences that I’ve ever had and it’s hands down the most haunted place I’ve been to. In fact, it nearly stopped me from ghost hunting altogether because I brought something home with me that really scared me, and I never get scared.

But a couple of years later, time makes you forget so I go back for three nights. This time with two friends and it was dead as a door nail. Pun intended. So you just never know. I know what I experienced the first time and even though the second time was a bust it doesn’t change the fact for me that it’s haunted as all get out.

This could be the case with Ohio State Reformatory. Maybe it just wasn’t our night. We had lots of people tell us about their experiences and just because it wasn’t the same for us doesn’t mean that it’s not haunted.

These large places are pretty expensive to rent privately so it sucks when we don’t get the activity we hope for. But that’s the only way we go. You can’t control anything in a public hunt, we’ve learned that. Would I go back to Mansfield? Yep.

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paintings by Jaime Haney

A few paintings I’ve created

Learn more about me on the ‘About’ page under the additional links menu. I’m an artist – a painter mostly and an avid gardener. I paint a variety of subjects including birds, koi fish, my gardens, ponds and flowers as well as anything having to do with nature especially trees and tropical scenes. I also enjoy painting abstracts and have started created more and more of them. My most favorite thing to try to achieve in my painting is is mystery and telling mystical stories.

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