Attacked by a Ghost: Investigating Ohio State Reformatory with Nick Groff

We Investigated Mansfield Reformatory with Nick Groff and Got Attacked by a Ghost


When you chase monsters for a living, you start to become accustomed to the strange and the unexplained, but every once in awhile something happens that slaps you across the face and reminds you that when it comes to the paranormal, things can get hairy when you start to get comfortable. Such an event happened last weekend when Planet Weird found themselves lucky enough to join the Nick Groff Tour at Ohio’s amazing Mansfield Reformatory. What started as a fun meet and greet with the star and executive producer of Ghost Adventures ended up being a night of scares, strange whispers in the darkness, and an attack by an unseen force… so you know, just your average night on the Nick Groff Tour. 



Before we get to the spooky evidence that left us rattled, it’s necessary to step back and take a look at the history of Mansfield Reformatory. 


Built between 1886 and 1910, the Ohio State Reformatory served many purposes during its life as a functioning prison. Initially used as a camp to train Civil War soldiers, the reformatory was an awful place to spend your time behind bars. 154,000 inmates passed though the massive gates during its 94 years as a working prison, though quite a few never made it out alive.

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Mansfield was a violent place, and the stories of abuse, torture, and murder have become part of its legendary history. Known for its “brutalizing and inhumane conditions”, it’s no surprise that Mansfield Reformatory has an infamous reputation as one of the most paranormally active buildings in the entire state of Ohio.

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Everyday life for the inmates included living in absolutely deplorable conditions, rampant sickness, and in some cases, even premature and preventable death. Shankings, vicious beatings, and even cases of men being tossed over the six-story catwalks are just a few of the violent stories that make up the disturbing history of OSR. 

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Over the years there’ve been a handful of places throughout the jail that have managed to become synonymous with paranormal activity, but for the purposes of our own personal brush with the angry spirits of Mansfield Reformatory, we’ll stick to the Cellblock, “The Hole”, and a small space on the 3rd floor known as the “Chair Room”.


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I’ll say it up front: if you haven’t been to one of the events on the Nick Groff Tour, you’re missing out. Nick Groff, host and Ghost Adventures exec-producer (2007-2014), and creator of Destination America’s Ghost Stalkers, is one of the nicest people on the planet, and every one of his events have proven to be a blast. If you get the chance, grab some tickets and GO

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Once night settled on Mansfield and we’d sufficiently creeped out all the guests with our Traveling Museum of the Paranormal and the Occult, we grabbed our gear and headed off to begin an investigation on the cellblock. If you’ve never been to OSR, you might not understand the overwhelming feeling of oppression you get looking up at 6 tiers of stacked cells. It’s easy to let your imagination get the better of you when you consider that each cell held some of the most violent men in the state.

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Walking the catwalk in the pitch dark, you’re sure that you can hear the faint sound of footsteps following along behind you, or you might think that your vision has caught something shuffling around inside a darkened cell. Of all the stories of death and misery to come out of OSR, one particular piece of history kept popping into my memory: the horrifying suicide of Inmate #54673.

James Lockheart was an inmate who doused himself with turpentine and paint thinner, set himself on fire, and burned himself alive in his cell. According to another inmate, his body pealed off in chunks as they pulled him along the catwalk to the infirmary. To this day, Locheart is said to be among the most violent spirits still trapped on the cellblock.

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Our next stop was “The Hole”, two rows of never-ending cells where prisoners would be held in the darkness from day until night. As you’d expect from a place nicknamed “the hole”, many men died here, often in unimaginable ways.

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During our exploration of “The Hole”, myself, NG Tour Staff ninja, Donnie, and the Weirdest Man on Earth, John E. L. Tenney, separately (and without each other’s knowledge) felt drawn to a single, particular cell. At one point, we all huddled around the darkened bars to conduct an impromptu EVP session. When we played back the digital recording, the audio appeared to capture a man whispering the answers to our questions See the video below.


Later on in the evening, myself and Week in Weird Editor-In-Chief Greg Newkirk found ourselves tagging along with Michael Humphrey, a former Ohio State Reformatory inmate-turned-tour-guide, to a room simply known as “The Chair Room”. Little is know about the chair room, aside from the fact that over the years, the relatively small, windowless room has been the center of some very strange activity.

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According to the stories, the room is home to a dark entity who hates it when people sit in his chair. As Mike tells it, if you move the chair away from the center of the room, the entity will move it back. In fact, Humphrey told us that he experienced this phenomena himself one day. After sliding the chair to the back of the room, he made his way to the floor below, and just as he reached the landing, he heard the unmistakable scrape of the chair moving back to its original spot… only there was no one else in the building.

As we each took turns sitting in the chair, Michael did some light provoking. Ok, maybe not so light. Alright, alright.. so he might have told the entity that he was going to drag the chair outside and smash it up into firewood. Week in Weird doesn’t exactly condone yelling at ghosts, but we were in Michael’s house, so we observed. The fact is, whatever he did worked. Maybe a little too well.

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After 10 minutes of absolutely nothing out of the ordinary, Greg suddenly stumbled forward, nearly falling to the ground. Visibly shaken, he explained that he’d felt something push on his back, as if he was in a crowded room and someone had bumped into him in an attempt to get by. After a few minutes of trying to figure out what had happened, he began to experience a burning sensation on his back. The below video documents the entire experience.

Interestingly enough, none of the skin on Greg’s back was broken, and while the mysterious marks looked like scratches, they actually appeared to be welts.

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Our experience at Ohio State Reformatory was a very strange one. After the scratches appeared on Greg’s back we tried to decipher how it could have happened. Did he lean against something hot? Had he scratched himself unconsciously and forgotten? His un-scuffed jacket and shirt argued that he hadn’t leaned against a wall and mistakenly scratched himself on a nail or a piece of drywall. The positioning of the scratches themselves would have made it very hard for him to have reached back to cause the marks himself. Very strange indeed.

Was Greg attacked by a ghost? Were the mysterious welts the sign of a damned soul reaching out from beyond the grave? An evil entity upset at a former inmate’s taunts? We aren’t exactly sure what happened, and to be honest, we’re okay with that.

For more information about the Nick Groff Tour, including upcoming investigations, tickets, and video recaps of past events, head to The tour recently announced a trip to Pennhurst State School and Hospital, which is pretty much guaranteed to be amazing. There’s also whispers of a Labor Day getaway at Virginia City…


Join the Traveling Museum of the Paranormal and get awesome perks!


  1. LeAnn Shultz

    04/20/2015 at 5:53 PM

    The chair room is where myself and another person were “attacked”. I was hit by what felt like a very wide belt across my thigh while I was sitting in a chair. There was a white mark about an inch wide across the top of my leg near my knee. The other person was lucky enough to have the scratch/welt marks down her back.

    • Dana Matthews

      04/21/2015 at 9:00 AM

      Very strange. Greg’s marks were also much like a welt, each was a different size and shape. What a weird room.

      Thanks for sharing your story!

  2. Cara

    04/20/2015 at 6:23 PM

    I do belive in the paranormal. I got attacked by a demon in my own apartment

    • Greg Newkirk

      04/22/2015 at 8:03 AM

      You should share your experience with us, Cara! Email us!

  3. Laura Westenhaver

    04/20/2015 at 7:22 PM

    At the end of the video showing where he was scratched, after he says wow, I hear a voice say “oh my god”. Is it the woman in the video? Because it’s a woman’s voice. But it just sounds so weird. Like it isn’t meant to be there.

  4. Coppertop

    04/20/2015 at 7:53 PM

    Okay, normally when I’d hear stuff like this, I’d think “I need more evidence, I don’t trust these dudes 100%.”

    But you guys? You guys I trust. And holy hell, that’s effin’ creepy. Are you planning on releasing the EVPs in mp3 format for download?

    If you guys ever come down to the DFW area, I’ll take you to the Stockyards for a beer and a crazy haunted night at Miss Molly’s. Welcome back!

    • Greg Newkirk

      04/22/2015 at 8:07 AM

      Thanks for the vote of confidence, Coppertop. I’ve been mulling over writing my own post about the scratch itself, because it was such a strange thing to experience.

      I’ve been chasing ghosts for nearly two decades, and in all that time I’ve seen a few strange things – books levitating, people choked by invisible forces, strange voices from the darkness… but I’ve never been physically touched by anything, so it’s always been easy for me to think that it could be reasonable I was just remembering something wrong. Now, I can’t say that anymore.

      After we posted this article, a whole bunch of people have come forward and mentioned that they received some strange marks themselves that night… in the same room. I’ll have to share the pictures I’ve been sent.


  6. Opinion8ed76

    04/20/2015 at 11:49 PM

    Great story! I am a believer in the paranormal and I always have been. This looks like a great location for interaction! I’ve seen investigations here before from other groups that have spent the night inside. I live in West Virginia and I haven’t even made it to the Trans Allegheny State Hospital but I did see it once while it was still in operation years ago. My cousin grew up in Weston. I’d be happy getting to check out Moundsville during Halloween! I think I live closer to Athens,Ohio than anything though so maybe I should try to join an Investigation there. Its definitely a goal and it sounds like you get to do this on a regular basis and that’s AWESOME!

  7. Jimmy Rustles

    04/21/2015 at 4:51 AM

    This is awesome

  8. Paul w pierson jr

    04/21/2015 at 5:36 PM

    The man that was burned to death was not dragged to the infirmary ,He was wrapped in a blanket and carried away
    unless you have worked or lived their u can only imagine how bad it was ,If we had prisons like that today there would not be many returns ,inmates are baby sited today compared to then

  9. christina

    04/21/2015 at 7:19 PM

    I think Ghost Adventures invisgated that place before Nick left for unknown reasons

  10. spanky

    04/22/2015 at 3:19 PM

    BEFORE i saw these pics, i said to myself, there will be three scratches that are curved!! because its fake! seen it on EVERY ghost hunting bs show….self inflicted. hoax. sad really…oh no its demonic!!

    • Greg Newkirk

      04/22/2015 at 3:41 PM

      That shit’s easy to say from your armchair, spanky. In nearly 20 years I’ve seen weird shit, but I’ve never been touched. Frankly, I know people really well who swear they’ve been attacked, and I never believed them. Well, now I’m not so sure.

      • JK

        04/23/2015 at 5:21 PM


        It’s pretty common to get touched on an investigation in very haunted locations. At the Birdcage Theatre in Tombstone, AZ, I was with a team of 5 investigators conducting an EVP session in the basement when all of a sudden my shoulders and my neck felt numb then ice cold. I had my co-investigator take readings from a laser temp gun on my shoulders and it registered a nearly 20 degree drop in just a few seconds then the feeling went away. This was witnessed by 4 people.

        I had my hair pulled back once by an unseen force as I was testing the strength of a power box with an EMF meter. It totally took me by surprise as I thought an insect was in my hair and when I checked the left side of my head, I felt the yank and then my hair flop to the side. The room I was in used to be the site of an old bordello in the 1800’s.

        It just happens sometimes if you investigate many haunted locations.

        Welcome to the club!!!

  11. G. Marie

    04/22/2015 at 8:34 PM

    I’ve done 2 overnight tours at Mansfield. My friends and I experienced activity both times.

    One room in particular was extremely active each time (asking direct questions and receiving responses, i.e. turning on flashlight for “yes” and flashing it a specific number of times as asked, knocking twice for “no”, etc..) This happened consistently and only in the one room. I believe it was the old chapel, as a creepy chipped painting of the Virgin Mary is still on the wall.

    Cameras malfunctioned in the cells, only to work perfectly directly outside of the cell. Piece of advice: ask for permission before taking the photo.. and I don’t mean from a Mansfield employee.

    I’ve done several “ghost hunting” tours and I’d classify them all as being for entertainment purposes only. Except for Mansfield; whatever you think you know about life/death.. this place will challenge you. If you go, treat this place with respect.

  12. Victoria

    04/22/2015 at 10:38 PM

    Interesting article, and I really enjoy your style of writing. You write well, and wittily, and that’s rare these days.

    Just sayin’.

  13. LisaNYC

    04/23/2015 at 7:04 AM

    Great piece and reporting. Thank you for a fascinating article.

  14. Shelly Dornbach

    04/26/2015 at 8:40 PM

    I would love for yall to contact me i have a very psychic intuition and there are alot of great spots here in tennessee.

  15. Peggy

    08/17/2015 at 12:08 PM

    So now I can add one more item to my list of places to never visit. Thanks!

  16. Maria

    03/29/2016 at 1:02 PM

    I witnessed spirit of a man in my first home. He put his jacket on, shoved his satchel over his shoulder and walked out the bedroom window upstairs

  17. Maria

    03/29/2016 at 1:09 PM

    Myself and daughter, separately have been swung from our beds. Names growled right in ears too.

  18. Jennifer Keen

    06/15/2016 at 4:57 PM

    We recently visited the Mansfield prison & experienced some freaky encounters. My son says he saw a big, dark figure in a cell. Later it was just the 4 of us walking back past the cell when I felt someone pull my hair. The most freaky thing that happened was in a pic. I took a pic of the electric chair that is on display. Later when I was looking thru my pics I noticed that pic of the electric chair was all neon green & glowing & trust me it was not photo shopped. Wish I could post for you all to see!

  19. emma

    06/29/2016 at 9:28 AM

    my friends and I recently visited and had a few experiences.

    we heard a lot of random bumps and bangs coming from all around when we were going to the bathroom across from solitary confinement.

    we also walked up a flight of stairs but when we walked back down there was a very strong wind current that was shaking the tour sign.

    we were also walking through one of the last hallways were they were doing renovations. there was a part gated off with paper behind it but there was no construction going on that day. we stopped to look because there was a sign and all of a sudden the paper lifted up followed by a loud bang. we sprinted out so fast!!

    it’s a very scary place. I felt uneasy walking through most of the building.

  20. Polargal

    07/09/2016 at 11:10 AM

    Mansfield is number 1 on my bucket list. As I write this, I am currently on my way there for a private overbite investigation. I’ve been doing this for nearly 28 years. I am extremely excited! Feels like I’ve been waiting for this all my life!! Thank you for this article! How long did the welts remain Greg?

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