Savannah, Georgia is notorious for being one of the most haunted cities in the entire country, and for good reason. Locations like the Bonaventure Cemetery, Olde Candler Hospital, and the Moon River Brewing Company have had paranormal investigators planning their next big excursions for years, but before you jump in the car, there’s one haunted hot spot in Savannah that you’ve absolutely got to see: the Old Chatham County Jail. If you’re planning on spending the night, however, only the bravest and most experienced ghost hunters need apply.
The Chatham County Sheriff’s Department is one of the oldest in the country, having established itself in 1737 – around 56 years before the title of Sheriff was even adopted. The department made the move to Montgomery Street in the mid 70s, but for decades the Old Chatham County Jail served as home to nearly 300 inmates each and every day, so as you can imagine, both the building and its inhabitants had seen their fare share of trouble.
By 1989 the prison was closed and the inmates moved to another jail, leaving the building as a makeshift storage center for city archives. It was during this time that rumors about the strange activity inside the building’s walls began to spread throughout the paranormal community. Not only were employees experiencing disembodied voices, phantom footsteps, and the overwhelming feeling that they were constantly being watched, they were also being touched, pushed, and in some cases, even thrown up against walls by an invisible force.
By 2006 the Old Chatham County Jail was abandoned, and it didn’t take long for paranormal researchers to begin asking if they could investigate the ghostly claims.
Over the years, a number of ghost hunting teams have collected paranormal evidence that ranges everywhere from thermal video of ghostly figures, to spooky EVP recording, to full-blown poltergeist activity. In once instance, a 150 pound metal plate flung itself across a room and smashed into an opposite wall in full view of a group of visitors. These strange occurrences have become commonplace in the Old Chatham County Jail, but there’s one spirit wandering the halls that has everyone shaking in their books: the ghost of former inmate Carl Isaacs.
In May of 1973, Carl Isaacs escaped a jail in Maryland, and along with two bothers and a friend, drove to Florida hoping to avoid being recaptured by the police. Unfortunately, when the group ran out of gas, they felt they had no other option than to steal it. They pulled over to a pump in rural Georgia, only to discover that it was dry. It was then that Isaacs noticed the mobile home belonging to the Alday family, tucked quietly behind a building. Carl Isaacs decided to rob them.
As these things tend to work out, the burglary went totally wrong. When the entire family arrived to discover their home in the process of being robbed, Isaacs ordered the Alday family inside the trailer at gun point. Isaacs and his two partners then shot and killed all five Alday men, raping and eventually killing Mary Alday and dumping her body in the nearby woods. Isaacs was arrested in West Virginia a few days later, still in possession of the murder weapons.
The killing of the Alday family went down in history as one of the most gruesome murders in Georgia history. Carl Isaacs spent years locked up inside the Old Chatham County jail fighting the death penalty, but when the U.S. Supreme Court denied his final appeal, he was put to death by lethal injection on May 6, 2003. He still holds the record for Georgia’s longest death row inmate, but those who’ve spent any time near his old cell will be quick to tell you that though his body is long gone, Carl Isaacs is still terrifying people inside the Old Chatham County Jail.
The cell and surrounding areas that housed Isaacs are said to be some of the most active locations in the jail, leaving even the most seasoned paranormal investigators shaking in their boots. Ghost hunters say the evil spirit makes himself known with an overwhelming feeling of dread that is nearly impossible to shake. Many investigators leave this area feeling as though they’ve experienced some of the most oppressive energy imaginable, and when you consider the kinds of evil deeds Isaacs committed during life, he probably hasn’t changed much in death.
The Old Chatham County Jail is so haunted that it drew the attention of ghost hunters Nick Groff and Katrina Weidman, who spent three days locked behind its heavy doors for the season two finale of TLC’s Paranormal Lockdown, airing Friday, March 3 at 9/8c. The episode will hopefully shed some light on the bizarre and often violent activity that is consistently documented inside the walls of the Old Chatham County Jail.
If you’re brave enough, the jail does host ghost tours and paranormal investigations for ghost hunters looking to find some answers of their own, however, for obvious reasons, I would only suggest experienced paranormal investigators apply. If the rumors of Carl Isaacs malevolent spirit are true, this location might be better suited to the experts.