Something wicked this way comes
Something wicked this way comes
October 20, 2010
By Steph Greegor
The Other Paper
The Syfy Channelâ€™s â€œGhost Huntersâ€ promo for last nightâ€™s premier of â€œThe Chopping Blockâ€ was simple: â€œSomething is terrorizing the workers,â€ at the Bissman Building in Mansfield, Ohio.
Viewers of the popular ghost-hunting spooktacular watched Wednesday night as the showâ€™s paranormal-detecting team got pushed, pulled and poked by the many different haunts of the 50,000-square-foot warehouse.
â€œTheyâ€™re the doctors of that crap,â€ said the buildingâ€™s owner, Ben Bissman, the great-great-grandson of Peter Bissman, who built the warehouse in 1886. â€œWe told them, â€˜Somethingâ€™s happening here,â€™ and they came to tell us what.â€
We wonâ€™t spoil the fun for you if you havenâ€™t yet seen the showâ€”you can still watch the full episode on syfy.com or on the Syfy channel when it re-airs Oct. 31 at 4 p.m. to find out what the ghost hunters discovered in Mansfield. Or, you can go experience it for yourself by calling ahead for a tour of the Bissman Building or, better yet, taking part in a six-hour lock-in, offered throughout the Halloween weekend Oct. 29-31.
â€œI was pretty skeptical in the beginning,â€ said Bissman of various ghost huntersâ€™ interest in investigating the warehouse. â€œBut then there was a lady who did a tour and I was up there with her and a group on the third floor. She was talking to my grandfather. And Iâ€™m like feeling hokey-pokey doing this crap. And a little embarrassed.â€
He said it was more than 100 degrees in the upstairs attic as the woman was apparently communicating with his grandfatherâ€™s spirit, asking it to give the group a sign that he was there when all of a suddenâ€¦
â€œWe heard a lug nut roll across the floor above us,â€ he said, explaining that he knew for a fact no one was on the floor above them. â€œAbout two minutes later, I got hit in the side of my neck by a softball-sized burst of cold air that rolled off my shoulder and then hit my wife. We both looked at each other and I thought, â€˜Holy shit.â€™ It was really weird. I was signed, sealed, delivered. I appreciated the evidence.â€
The stories of ghosts and paranormal activity from those who say theyâ€™ve experienced it at the Bissman are legendary, from reports of the murdered girl to the lady in the white dress, workers in the haunted warehouse swear they get terrorized regularly.
â€œOne guy is scared shitless, heâ€™s seen so many things that freaked him out,â€ said Bissman, explaining that the warehouse currently is home to Bissman Properties, a real estate development corporation, as well as to Pirate screen printing, a wholesale custom screen printer; and a 25-piece classic car collection that includes some Mustangs, Model-Ts and VW buses. â€œHe saw a whole stack of sweatshirts go right off the table. Just slide off and hit the ground. Heâ€™s like 6-2, 280 pounds and heâ€™s scared to go in the basement or upstairs by himself.â€
Bissman said the warehouse, which has been in his family for six generations now, has always been the stuff of ghost-story legend since he was a child helping his grandpa pack groceries.
â€œHe used to tell me, â€˜Stay away from that elevator or youâ€™ll end up like â€˜Old Man Simon.â€™ I was always worried about this â€˜Old Man Simon,â€™â€ laughed Bissman. â€œI was half scared to death.â€
Legend has it that â€œOld Man Simonâ€ was a worker at the building who, on his last day of work, was riding down the freight elevator, missed a switch, and lost his head on the 3rd floorâ€”literally. Whether or not his death was accidental is debatable, said ghost hunter and former pro soccer player Ellis Byrd who now runs the ghost tours for Bissman at the warehouse.
â€œHe either missed the stop button or he may have been pushed,â€ said Byrd, who co-founded his ghost-hunting avocation, Gussethunters Paranormal, with Nicole Wallace a few years ago.
Byrd, based on accounts of psychics who claim to have spoken to ghosts in the building, believes that â€œOld Man Simonâ€ may have murdered 8-year-old Ruthie Bissman in the basement, left her body there, and was later discovered, fired and then killed by other workers upon leaving the building.
â€œThe ghosts here may be angry or negative, but thereâ€™s nothing demonic here,â€ said Byrd, who said he experienced a violent interaction with one of the specters two years ago when he started investigating the warehouse.
â€œIt was the second time we went into the building. I started to provoke this thing. I was yelling at it. â€˜If youâ€™re this tough you come and get me.â€™ And it did,â€ said Byrd. â€œIt pushed in on my right side. It felt like it went inside of me. It choked off my wind pipeâ€”I couldnâ€™t breathe and I passed out for about two seconds.â€
Needless to say, said Byrd, â€œWe donâ€™t provoke anymore.â€
Byrd said he believes the ghosts arenâ€™t annoying the Bissman Building workers just for funsiesâ€”he thinks the apparitions are trying to tell the living stories that only the dead know.
â€œRuthieâ€™s remains may still be buried in the building because sheâ€™s not in the Bissman graveyard or family plot,â€ said Byrd, who, incidentally, said heâ€™s terrified of horror movies and has never watched one in his life. â€œMaybe that has something to do with some of the activitiesâ€ he and others have experienced.
In particular is the calm and random appearances of the woman in the white Victorian dress, believed to be named â€œAnabella.â€
â€œMaybe sheâ€™s trying to draw attention to certain things,â€ he said.
Whatever the purpose, Bissman said, folks have been saying the phantoms there have been interacting with humans for as long as he can remember.
â€œAs kids, we used to build these forts out of bags of sugar in the basement,â€ he said. â€œWeâ€™d be playing and Iâ€™d say, â€˜What did you say?â€™ But no one had said anything. It always felt like someone was playing right along with us.â€
Six-hour lock-ins at the Haunted Bissman Building will be given Oct. 29-31, beginning at 9 p.m. and that must be reserved ahead of time by calling Ellis Byrd at 740-972-5400. The haunted building, located at 193 N. Main St. in Mansfield, is also available for paranormal investigations throughout the year by calling Byrd. For more information, visit www.bissmanbuilding.com.