She’s seen over 50 ghosts during her time working at Ohio State Reformatory, and will likely see many more in the future.
Alayna Ross, sophomore, has been working at Ohio State Reformatory since May, leading tours during the day and ghost hunts at night. While the facility was made famous by being the filming location for the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption, the Ohio State Reformatory is widely considered one of the most haunted places in Ohio.
“Even though you ghost hunt at night, you’re always ghost hunting at the reformatory,” Ross said. “There’s always things going on. I’ve seen things, felt things, heard things, just on my everyday tours, especially on the third floor, that one is the creepiest to me.”
Ross’s original motivation to work at the reformatory wasn’t the ghosts, but rather the significance the reformatory has in her family’s history. She explained that her great-great-grandfather was one of the first guards for the reformatory when it opened in 1886. Her great-great-grandmother was an assistant to the warden.
Many people are doubters when it comes to believing in ghosts, and although Ross is now a die hard believer, she says she wasn’t at first.
“I went in a full skeptic,” Ross said. “My family had worked there for years and never saw anything, and then I went in, I started experiencing things. My first encounter was pretty scary, actually.”
While on the third floor leading a daytime tour, Ross noticed that the rope to a closed area was down.
“I went to go put it back up and make sure nobody was back there, so I walked back but nobody was back there,” Ross said. “Then I heard a creak, but I’m thinking, ‘Oh it’s an old building, or maybe there’s someone back there.’ So, I peeked into a room and said, ‘Excuse me you’re not allowed back here.’”
It was at that moment that Ross saw someone run around a corner.
“I check all the rooms, and no one’s there,” she said. “So I backed up out of the area and I’m thinking, ‘I know I just saw somebody, they didn’t just disappear, what’s going on?’ And as I’m standing there, I kid you not, I start to hear someone running at me. Like, heal-toe boot step, floor creaking, everything. As it got closer, it became louder and I just turned around and booked it out of there.”
After that experience, Ross became a full-blown believer in spirits and dove head-first into the world of finding and communicating with ghosts. Her knowledge of the reformatory’s history, as well as her resemblance to her great-great grandmother, are what Ross sites as contributing factors to many of the encounters she’s had. While some of the experiences she has had have been frightening, Ross seems to focus more on the positive relationships that she was able to form with the spirits.
In the few months that Ross has worked at the reformatory, she believes she has come into contact with over 50 ghosts, most of which she believes have no bad intentions. Since working at the reformatory, Ross feels like her life has changed in significant ways.
“In a weird way, it makes you more grateful every day,” she said. “It’s another day I get on this earth. You realize how short life is. But also, for me it’s kind of promising, because it’s like maybe death isn’t the end.”
For more information about the Ohio State Reformatory and the Ghost Hunts and tours, go here.