A Real Halloween Treat
Written by Heide Crabtree Sunday, 02 January 2011 00:32
A Real Halloween Treat
By Heidi M Crabtree
I had not lived at Fort Bliss long. The past year saw me get married to an Army officer and away from Ohio, where I was born and reared. My new husband had just left for a five-month rotation to Saudi Arabia, and I was alone in a strange town. Fort Bliss stands in the harsh desert of West Texas, a few miles form the Mexican border. Here, Pancho Villa met General “Black Jack” Pershing. Buffalo soldiers trained in the still-standing barracks. The US Cavalry, with its beautiful and proud horses, would parade the grounds. I was learning the local history.
Fortunately, I had a few acquaintances, other historians like myself. Through some of these people I had managed to chase down some ghost legends about Fort Bliss. I even wrote an article for the Fort Bliss MONITOR in 1998 about a particular building, and that article was popular. I had taken a photo of that building and something unexplainable appeared in one of the windows. Several professional photographers have not been able to explain it.
It was Halloween 1999, and I had four other persons accompany me to Building 4 on Fort Bliss to set up videocameras and tape recorders. The legends were certainly compelling, and we hoped for “success,” whatever that would be.
Building 4 was built in 1914 as an isolation ward for sick and dying soldiers. One hospital and a small morgue stood nearby, as they still do today. Tuberculosis was common, and the Influenza Pandemic of 1918 would soon claim thousands of lives in the area. We do know that building 4 was used as an overflow for the little morgue when the latter was full. Certainly many people died here, and one cannot imagine the horror at being brought to the Death House, knowing you probably would never come out alive. Soldiers may have wakened to find the bed next to theirs empty and their comrade in the basement, dead.
Getting the keys was no problem. Jim Litzau from the Real Property Dept. thought I was a bit nuts to spend the night there, but he gave me the keys anyway. I assured him that we would not be drinking and that we would be careful on the rickety stairs. He had already told me why the building stood empty; no one wanted to work in it! The former employees demanded to be moved somewhere else due to footsteps, disembodied voices, and even the occasional ghost sighting. Stories have circulated since the building was last occupied in about 1996. Radios would turn on by themselves, without being plugged in. Toilets flushed on their own, and a doctor in an old cavalry uniform has been seen in the basement. A girl in a bright blue flapper style dress has been seen by at least four people, standing on the outside of the building, apparently waiting for someone.
I arrived at the building early, but was not about to unlock it and go in alone. Even in the daytime it looks sad and foreboding. It’s numbered sign was hanging askew, vines were starting to creep around the door frame, and a few upper windows were busted from pigeons.
Soon Edward and his cousin arrived, and another sergeant and his wife showed up a little later. The five of us set up shop in the front room where the odd object in my photograph was. We placed his camera in the basement and mine on the second floor. A tape recorder with external microphone hung on the stairwell. We made small talk for about an hour and a half, and then it started.
We smiled as we heard faint footsteps above our heads; we all had had some experience with this sort of thing before, and none of us thought that anything really horrifying would happen.
As we sifted through leftover Halloween candy and whispered to each other, something made us freeze in our seats. Directly on the other side of the wall of the room we were in was the stairway leading to the second floor. Heavy footsteps were making their way down the stairs! The soldier with us was standing in the doorway, and he, like the rest of us, literally froze. The footsteps reached the bottom of the stairs and then…stopped. Finally the soldier’s wife yelled, “Get the cameras!!” We grabbed our cameras and dashed out of the room, and were immediately at the foot of the stairs. Nothing was there, nothing turned out on our photographs, but Edward had an EMF (electromagnetic frequency) meter with him, and the needle maxed out, with the machine giving off a high pitched squeal. Something was there…
We decided that this would be a good time to go outside for a smoke break. We were outside for a good 30 minutes or so. We went back in to change tapes in the videocameras, and I heard Edward ranting in the basement. We went to see what was up, and he was mad because his camera had recorded nothing. We had that camera rigged through a small TV set and plugged in so we would not have to consistently worry about batteries running down. The camera kept shutting itself off. We never could get any footage of the basement.
After the soldier and his wife left, the three of us starting feeling very uncomfortable. We decided that we really didn’t want to stay the entire night after all!
The air became thick as mud at about 9:30pm, and we had to force ourselves to gather up the equipment at 10:00. I honestly felt as if something were about to burst open.
I held off on watching my tapes for a week, since I really didn’t think that there would be anything on them. I finally sat down to do so, and after a few minutes of it I had to turn it off. Something was going on. The heavy footsteps were not heard, but a metallic banging sound was. Voices can be heard when the volume is turned up, and something actually “thumps” the microphone on the camera. Other noises are heard as well. We had written notes on where we were at various times, and these sounds weren’t us. Visual interference runs through the tapes, coinciding with the noises. The camera even shakes at times.
This would not be my last experience with building 4. I have many first hand accounts of former employees who swear they would never go into that building again. My husband had a brush one night and doesn’t like driving by it. In February of 2000, he went for a late night bicycle ride. He came home drenched, sweating and scared. He told me that he turned around in the large parking area near building 4 and glanced up in time to see a doctor, in cavalry boots, white lab coat, and Stetson hat, walking by the building. He did not stop pedaling until he made it home.
I was driving by it one night on my way home and saw a car pull over near it. I went over to investigate, and found a couple of military policemen wandering into the basement. The basement door was unlocked for some reason. Once I told them that I was the one who had written the article that drew them to the building, all was well. We barely went into the basement, when I heard a doorbell ring. One man turned to me and asked if I had heard it. The other man heard it as well. I took them upstairs to show them the antique, and long ago disconnected, doorbell. They turned white as…you know!
In May of 2000 I took some more people into building 4. Again, we had a camera, but this time it was an infrared, night vision, digital videocamera. Seven of us stood in total darkness (the electricity had since been turned off due to lights going on and off by themselves) and watched in fear and disbelief as orbs of light floated up and down the second floor hallway. The lights were only seen when we looked into the camera’s viewer. They could not be seen with the so-called naked eye. We did not stay very long.
I have not been into building 4 since that night. Unfortunately, ghost hunting became a rage when my articles were published, and now the poor, old building is boarded up completely, due to break-ins.
Other buildings on Fort Bliss have a haunted story here and there, but this is the most haunted place that I have been into in a very long time.