It should come as absolutely no surprise that Newport News is haunted. Given the surrounding area (Jamestown and Yorktown for instance), CNU students have the chance to be chilled by the oldest ghosts in American history. Of course, that’s only if they believe in that sort of thing.
Not many current students know about the Phantom of the Ferguson. “Us theatre people call her Haley, [although] her real name was Rebecca,” said senior Andrew Jelonek, adding, “I don’t know where ‘Haley’ came from. That was before my time.”
Rebecca Sue Fisher was a Ferguson High School student who died of a sudden heart attack when she was fifteen. Since her untimely death in 1968, her high school was transformed into The Ferguson Center for the Arts, which seems to be fine by her. She likes it there, especially the more tech savvy areas behind the curtain. “You always have to say ‘Hey Haley’ when you enter the sound boxes,” said Jelonek. “She likes one of the sound boxes, the one that’s not used as much, off to the side. And if you don’t say ‘Hey Haley’ in the light booth, you’ll start seeing things out of the corner of your eye. It happened to me once. Then I was like ‘Hey, Haley’ and it stopped.”
For those who are still skeptical about the existence of Haley, Jelonek had one more story. “We did an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) session one time last year after a show ended, and I got an EVP from her. She likes this one kid, Alex Wood, who graduated. We were trying to talk to her and [Alex] asked Haley if she’d do anything in the sound booth; he said, ‘We’ll look away.’ On the recording I heard, ‘He’s still looking.’ And it was because I hadn’t turned around yet when she said that.”
A more menacing haunt takes place off-campus at the bridge on Crawford Road in Yorktown, best known as Crybaby Bridge. Stories tell that a young bride committed suicide by hanging herself, and that on some nights you can see her body dangling from the bridge, her wedding dress gleaming in the moonlight. Legend says that she’d had a baby out of wedlock, and drowned it in a pond in the middle of the woods by the bridge. At night, they say, if you turn off your car and stand under the bridge, you can hear the baby crying. Other reports mention recent murders and multiple (and possibly KKK related) lynchings that occurred along the road leading to the bridge. People seek solace in these gruesome facts because they can’t explain why else their car batteries cut out and engines stall when they drive beneath the bridge at night.
“My friends and I went there,” said freshman Carter Robertson. “On the way, they were telling [me about] the ghost stories and happenings there, and one of the stories was about fog. We get there and we immediately see fog and I’m like ‘Nope! Turning around.’” Robertson’s friends, however, convinced him to stay. “We go back to the bridge and just drive under it and keep going along the road. But the stories say that for weird things to happen you have to stop your car underneath the bridge, turn your lights off, and turn your car off, but I was not turning my car off because half the stories said that if you turned your car off, it wouldn’t turn back on.”
Although nothing definitively paranormal happened to Robertson, freshman Meghan Matthews reports to have had paranormal tunnel experience, this one at the Sensabaugh Tunnel in Kingsport, Tennessee. The lore for Sensabaugh is similar: a gruesome crime and the death of an infant, whose ethereal cries can be heard beneath the bridge at night.
“My friends and I had decided to go to this tunnel, and we pull up, and it’s like, the sketchiest thing ever,” said Matthews. “It’s nighttime, there’s graffiti everywhere, and a creek is running through the tunnel, turning the whole tunnel floor into a creek. As we drove through the tunnel, we started to hear this train. We drove as fast as we could out of the tunnel so we could see it. But when we turned around, there was no train whatsoever.”
Matthews and her friends were scared and stranded on the wrong side of the tunnel. “We all freaked out…We had to go back through the tunnel to get home. We drove back through the tunnel, and my friend ended up [not only] hydroplaning, but actually stalling, which was the scariest thing ever. We hauled it out of there.”
There’s also a fairly famous haunt nearby at the Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach. Since it opened in 1927, the hotel has been the scene of multiple grisly incidents. In 1929, Adolph Coors committed suicide by leaping from his sixth floor window, and even 84 years later it has been rumored that any sixth floor guest can hear the sound of flesh hitting pavement at night. As to be expected with creepy hotels, the elevators sometimes run on their own, and toilets flush in the dead of night when the bathroom is empty. There have been a couple accounts about the sixth floor bellhop who warns guests to stay away, but the creepiest part about him is that there is no employee who matches his description. At least, no employee from this century.
Freshman Collin McHugh had his own ghostly tale to add. “I went to the Cavalier with my girlfriend, my sister, and my brother,” he said. “We went to the windows in the archway area, and at first no one saw anything. We were like ‘Oh, it’s just a dark room,’ but then we saw the chairs moving. Not sliding all the way across the room, but they were like wobbling around.” That was all the proof McHugh needed. “We got in the car and ran away.”
On that note, have fun this Halloween, and make sure to watch your back. Ghouls and ghosts are, in fact, haunting.