Caples Residence

The Truth

The Caples ghost stories, which seem incongruous with a contemporary high-rise building, grew out of a real incident in 1979, when a student fell down the elevator shaft. He was last seen at 2:30 a.m., coming home from a party in the New Apartments. Another student, who took the stairs, saw him waiting in the lobby for the elevator. The elevator apparently got trapped between the seventh and eighth floors--some say he was on his way to his girlfriend's room--and it's believed he pried the doors open and tried to jump down to the floor below him, falling to the bottom of the elevator shaft in the process. He was found unconscious the next morning by a security guard, and died in the hospital later that night.

The Tales

As the resident ghost tour guide, Tim Shutt has heard many stories from women who once lived in Caples and who woke up to sense someone sitting on their bed or felt someone lying on top of them, immobilizing them, occasionally accompanied by the smell of alcohol.

But women are not the only ones who have had paranormal experiences in Caples. One of the best-documented incidents took place in the summer of 1995, after the students had left and before the summer conferences had started. It happened in the wee hours of the morning, several hours after the building had been checked and locked down for the night. It was eventually filed in the campus safety office as an "unexplained occurrence."

Safety Officer Dan Turner was working the north end that night. When he came on duty at 11:00 p.m., he was told by the afternoon shift to "keep an eye on Caples." Lights and showers had been unexpectedly coming on, despite the fact that security had thoroughly checked the building and found no one. Then, going on 5:00 a.m., Dan Turner got an emergency call from the dispatcher: "All units to Caples!"

The switchboard operator, Jolynn Bryant, had gotten three phone calls in rapid succession from rooms 511, 611, and 711, and each time she heard a woman scream and hang up. The sound was not mechanical, like the screeching of a fax machine, but decidedly human.

Turner was the first officer to arrive and, having been told to wait for the others, he positioned himself where he could watch both entrances. He saw nobody go in or go out. When the three other officers arrived, Troy Steinmetz stayed in the lobby while Turner, Galen Neibarger, and Ryan Pentz went through every room in the building. They even checked the trap door to the roof, which was padlocked. Yet a shower was running on the fifth floor and steam was billowing into the hallway. In the corner rooms on the upper floors, where the calls had originated, the lights were on and every phone was unplugged. They turned off the lights, plugged in the phones, and prepared to leave.

Then another call came in, another scream, from Room 811. When Turner returned to the room, the light was back on. Letting himself in the locked door, he saw that the phone was again unplugged. As he stood there, he heard the whir of the elevator going down. But the Caples elevator stays on the floor it last visited, until someone calls for it. By walkie-talkie, he checked with the other officers. Nobody had pressed the button.

Who was going down in the elevator? They raced down the stairs to the first floor, where they found Officer Steinmetz waiting outside, peering in through the glass at the lobby. He said: "I wasn't about to wait for that elevator door to open!"

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