Law Enforcement's Tales of the Paranormal - Part 3

Oct. 28, 2018

In celebration of Halloween this year, we requested law enforcement to send over their paranormal experiences. Enjoy Part 3, a single story from an officer's frightening encounter while working for the Virginia Capitol Police.

The Virginia Supreme Court Building

Paul Hope first experienced the paranormal during his childhood in the Isle of Man, British Isles. In 1996, at the age of 20, he emigrated to the United States; serving in the U.S. Army, and later becoming a police officer in Virginia. It was as a rookie officer that Paul once again encountered the paranormal while policing some of the most haunted and historical locations in the U.S. 

Although he left law enforcement for several years in late 2010 to pursue opportunities as a private security contractor in Afghanistan, Paul returned to law enforcement and is once again a police officer. He lives in Central Virginia with his girlfriend and continues to explore his lifelong interest in the supernatural. 

Paul is the author of “Policing the Paranormal: The Haunting of Virginia's State Capitol Complex” where he writes about this experience, other testimony from officers and more. 

During my first few months working for the Virginia Capitol Police, the Supreme Court Building became like a home away from home. During a regular five-night work week I was probably assigned to the Supreme Court Building at least three out of the five nights. Therefore, I became very familiar with the location’s interior, including its sub-basement levels that still house the money vaults, safes, and bullet-proof guard-turrets that were installed during the building’s previous tenure as Richmond’s U.S. Federal Reserve Bank. 

When it comes to creepy destinations, I rank the Virginia Supreme Court Building amongst the creepiest. During my time with the Virginia Capitol Police, hardly a week would go by without someone reportedly experiencing unexplained phenomena within the centuries-old building. Most of the activity was reported either in the sub-basement levels, or on the sixth floor, so it became commonplace for some officers to deliberately avoid these levels during their nightly patrols of the building. And, eight hours during the darkness of night is a long and lonely time to be locked inside a building that possesses such a chilling reputation for paranormal activity. 

Laying credibility to the claims of ghostly goings-on in the sub-basement level of the building is the story of a killing that occurred in February 1972, while the building served as the Federal Reserve Bank. The tragic killing of a bank security officer resulted from a disgruntled member of the bank’s security force going berserk with a gun. The ensuing gunfight ended with several security officers being shot by the deranged man, with one reportedly dying at the scene.  

It is not clear from old newspaper reports if the guard who initiated the violent confrontation is the person who was killed, but I’m sure that whoever did die from the gunshots experienced a rather unexpected and untimely death; a factor considered by many paranormal experts to be a major precursor to classic haunting cases.  

To this day, the evidence of the gun battle still remains in the sub-basement of the building. Several of the reinforced guard-turrets display bullet holes in their thick glass and steel and a couple of other holes can be found in the surrounding concrete walls; providing a chilling reminder of the events that occurred during that fateful day in 1972.  

Several months into my service as a Capitol Police Officer, I found myself once more on graveyard shift duty in the Supreme Court Building. It was a weekend, and the building had been closed for business since Friday evening. The only people who had been in the building since Friday were the cleaning crew and members of the Capitol Police. And, on that particular night, I was again alone within its walls for another long and lonely eight hours. 

As usual, I began my shift by double-checking all of the exterior doors and the security system. I then made my way to the sixth floor, where in the kitchen area I switched on the coffee maker and made a fresh pot of coffee. Located opposite the elevators, the kitchen was the only one in the building and was equipped as a break-room for the numerous state employees who worked at the Supreme Court during the day, and contained seating, vending machines, a microwave oven, and various other break-room fixtures. 

For me, the kitchen provided not only a place to acquire a fresh cup of coffee, but it’s well lit and modern decor also provided a reprieve from the rest of the building’s age-old and traditional interior design. Walking through certain sections of the interior of the building was like traveling through a time warp, as modern design and color contrasted the much older looking designs and colors of the courtrooms, chambers, and judicial offices. In places, the building truly showed its age. 

 After starting a fresh pot of coffee, I began my patrol of the sixth floor. Much like the mundane job of a security officer, Capitol Police Officers were required to perform regular checks of the interior of buildings they were assigned to. So, with flashlight in hand, I was required to walk every dimly lit corridor of the building, checking every floor and every door. 

Leaving the kitchen area of the sixth floor and proceeding past the freight elevator, the corridor suddenly narrows and leads into the older looking part of the building. Many of the lights in this area of the building are of course turned off at night, so it is always good practice to have a flashlight handy to lead the way. The maze of corridors and hallways within the building can be confusing and it takes several nights to learn the building’s layout, which stretches the entire width of a city block. 

I proceeded past the freight elevator and began to enter the older portion of the sixth-floor level when, all of a sudden, I noticed something move about 30 feet in front of me. I did not have my flashlight on at the time, but something moving in the dimly lit corridor directly ahead of me definitely caught my attention. Not sure as to what it was, I stopped and stared straight ahead. There was not enough illumination from behind me to cast my shadow so far up the corridor, nor was there a window or open door close by that could facilitate a moving shadow. 

I didn’t see the shadow long enough to describe it with any detail, but it was definitely a dark mass that appeared to quickly dart from one side of the corridor to the other, from right to left. Momentarily startled, I stopped walking and stood still, listening for the sounds of anyone moving up ahead. As I stood still, my senses now alerting to the presence of something out of the ordinary, I suddenly detected a strong whiff of cigar smoke. Not so strange considering that some of the building’s employees still smoked in their offices, but strange enough considering there was no one other than me in the building at the time. 

The air was still, as I stood in the middle of the corridor, but I noticed a cold draft lightly passing by me as I began to walk towards the area where I had observed the moving shadow. The reason I noticed the draft was because it was unusually cold, in fact, quite chillingly cold, and I began to shiver. But again, trying to find a rational explanation for what I was experiencing, I reasoned that the unusually cold air was likely produced by the building’s air conditioning, even though it was wintertime and the air conditioning was probably off. 

I continued slowly towards the end of the corridor, and as I did, the odor of cigar smoke became increasingly present. At this point, I assumed that there was possibly someone in one of the many adjoining offices who was smoking a cigar, and I called out to whoever was there. Receiving no response, I called out again and as I did I experienced one of the most intense and unnerving feelings of paranormal presence I have ever felt. I can only describe it as a chillingly cold static electric charge that engulfed my entire body, causing every hair on my body to instantly stand on end. My heart skipped a beat and I was overcome with the feeling that I was not alone, as well as the overwhelming desire to immediately leave the area. At this point, the odor of cigar smoke was so intense that it almost seemed like someone had blown the smoke directly into my face, but there was no smoke visible, nor was there anyone else around. All I knew was that I felt that I was most definitely not alone in that area and it would be in my best interest to postpone my journey down that particular corridor. And so, I turned and walked hastily back towards the elevator while suppressing the urge to break into a run. 

Once back in the light of the kitchen area, I managed to regain my composure and persuaded myself to venture back down the corridor from where I had just come. I convinced myself that whatever I had just experienced at the location could not hurt me and it was my duty to continue my rounds of the building. So, after a couple of minutes in the kitchen, I walked cautiously back down the corridor to the area where I had just experienced what I strongly suspect was paranormal phenomena. Only, when I reached the area of my strange encounter, the atmosphere had completely changed. There was no longer any odor of cigar smoke, nor did I experience anything resembling the unnerving sensation  

I had moments ago experienced. The temperature of the corridor now felt normal, and I did not at all sense any fear or hesitation at continuing down the corridor.  

But, as a duty-bound precaution, I decided to check the interior of the offices in the close area to verify that there was no one present and no cigar accidentally left burning in an ashtray. 

I checked the interior of all the offices in the immediate area but could not locate anyone. I also could no longer detect any trace of an odor of cigar smoke.  

The whole scenario just seemed completely strange. Surely, after detecting such an intense odor of cigar smoke, there would remain at least some trace of the odor for several minutes, but I could no longer smell anything but the usual musky smell of the building’s interior. And, after sensing the presence of whatever it was that had been with me in the corridor, I could not believe that it had dissipated so quickly. 

I later considered that the experience may have resulted from actually passing by an invisible ghostly entity as it too walked down the corridor. Whatever it was, it had left a lasting memory with me. Never before had I experienced such an intense feeling that I was in the presence of something paranormal, nor have I since. 

Enjoy more stories with Part 1Part 2Part 4, and Part 5 of our collection.

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