Mysterious Miami: A guide to secret campus haunts
Published: Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 01:10
Halloween offers a night of mystery and horror and a time to recall the multitude of spooky disappearances, murders and urban legends in Miami University’s past. Miami’s 200-year history is full of strange occurrences at different sites that the university has acquired throughout time. “I heard about all of Miami’s urban legends even before I arrived at school,” junior Stephen Bowman said. “Some of them are really freaky, and I could definitely understand why students would be scared in certain dorms after what happened there.”
According to the Miami’s “History and Tradition” website, one such incident transpired the night of May 9, 1959 when Roger Sayles, the Resident Assisant (RA) in Reid Hall, which was demolished in 2007, disrupted a fight between two residents. The events after that are unclear, but eventually a gun went off, killing Sayles. As the legend goes, Sayles fell backwards against a door where his bloody handprints were said to be visible for years after. The assailant then fled to neighboring Ogden Hall where he committed suicide using the same gun. “I first heard about this story freshman year when a group of friends were telling scary stories about Miami,” Miami junior Maggie Babuder said. “I thought it was really cool that people still pass down stories like this today because it helps to keep out schools history alive.” Another well-known story, according to “History and Tradition,” is the disappearance of Ron Tammen Jr, a sophomore who lived in Old Fisher Hall. Before Miami acquired it in 1952, Old Fisher Hall had previously been the home to Oxford College for Women and was then converted to a mental asylum.
Tammen, who was heavily involved on campus, was a member of the wrestling team, and the Delta Tau Delta fraternity. He was last seen around 8 p.m. on the night of April 19, 1953. Tammen’s roommate came back later that evening and discovered his psychology book laying open on his desk with all of the room’s lights still on. No one thought anything of it until the following day when he did not return. Today, Tammen’s whereabouts are still unknown, as some believe he ran away, while others think he was murdered.
“History and Tradtion” also tells one of Miami’s most notorious spooky stories, one that took place in Peabody Hall, which had originally been a part of the Western Female Seminary.
The hall’s namesake and head of the school, Principal Helen Peabody, was very protective of her female students and was suspicious of the male Miami students wandering onto her campus Upon her death, she has been said to still guard Peabody Hall, as many students have seen the image of a ghostly female figure floating through the halls. Since then, the dorm has caught fire twice, and was remodeled each time before the women’s school merged with Miami in the 1970s. Today, it is said she is present on occasion to watch over the women who now live in the dorm, and to scare away the men who she sees as trespassers. Junior Alex Windsor, who lived in Peabody Hall her freshman year, said she first heard about the ghosts who supposedly resided in the dorm the summer before starting school through the “Accepted to Miami University,” Facebook group.
“There were many rumors about what actually happened there as different people said they had seen ghosts,” Windsor said. “A lot of times during the year if you were in the hallway in the night, the lights will flicker on and off which reminded me of a scene straight out of the horror movies.”
According to a Miami Student survey of 100 students, 36 percent said they have experienced paranormal activity on campus. Whether that activity is rooted in Miami’s rich past is unclear; however the university’s 200-year history is riddled with spooky encounters and haunting incidents that will endure into the future.