002: Can’t Get Out – A True Old West Ghost Story

Tonight’s story is about a man that lived in a historic bank building that was robbed by the notorious American bank robber Jesse James in 1876. Now this isn’t what makes his story interesting. What makes his story interesting is the tenacious entity he encountered that physically wouldn’t let him leave.

“I don’t know what it was. It was terrifying. And there’s no explanation for it. I have no explanation for it…”

RYAN AZEVEDO: You’re listening to Terrifying true stories. Can buildings hold the memories or imprints of the things that happened there? You’re about to meet someone that lived in a historic bank building in 1876. It was robbed by the notorious American bank robber Jesse James. Now this isn’t what makes his story interesting. What makes his story interesting is the entity that he encountered that wouldn’t let him leave. I call this one “Can’t get out.”

ERICK SOMMERS: My name is Eric summers. I was working and living in a small town called Northfield, Minnesota. I was working for the Northfield News. About this this town, this little town of Northfield, Minnesota. It has two really high end, liberal arts universities in St. Olaf College and Carleton College.

Carleton is kind of a Midwest, Harvard, to a lot of people. It’s really tough to get into a really expensive school. That other school is no joke either. It’s a little bit different than like your average town of 12,000 people. One of the things that is sort of unique about it is it had this bank early on in the expansion of American history. and that’s kind of the lead into the story here because this bank got robbed in 1876. By Jesse James and his game, Justin Frank James and his gang. I lived upstairs in the old bank building, it looks quaint. Now, it does. It’s the it’s the first word that comes to mind. But that’s because the town has gone to great lengths to make itself especially its downtown. Very quaint looking. It’s got this really pretty square in front of it with a you know, a sort of civil war victory statue right next to a dammed river that has, you know, an old mill across from it. So it has all these old trees around so it looks really quaint.

But if you get up close, and you can sort of take out the 1930s popcorn wagon and the happy smiling people and the you know, sort of faux 1930s lighting fixtures on the lamp poles if you can take all that out and just look at the building. It’s really imposing. Even though it’s only two storeys tall. There two really tall storeys, immensely high ceilings, really tall sort of deep set windows it was it was just just great. But the building itself from the outside is built like a fortress to have apartments upstairs. And I was living in one of them being upstairs at night, you know, the building sort of creeks and settled sort of ornate chandelier type lighting and I came home one night it was late at night I came home went upstairs ate, fed, the cat changed, decided to take out the trash and took out the trash a pump.

So coming out of my apartment, there’s these big wide hallways, but then there’s a really steep and fairly narrow stair going straight down and in the hallway widens out and at the bottom of the stairs, you can either sort of go outside or make a U turn and go back along what is the west wall of the building to the trash room where there there’s a steel door there and it’s kind of under the stairs at this point.

It’s not really under it but it feels like it’s under it because the stairs are rising so steeply beside you and then it’s just a regular old steel door at the treasure had one of those doors that you could not lock from the inside like it closed automatically behind you and you needed a key to enter it from the outside you needed the same key like you know, any apartment building, but you couldn’t lock it behind yourself like there was no way to actually lock the door. And there were motion sensor lights in the trash room. This is all standard equipment in American apartment buildings. You know, you don’t have to fumble around for the light switch you open the door and the light turns on. You go in drop your trash off then turn around and leave. I did the first part but when I turned around to leave I couldn’t get out.

Why isn’t the door working doors are always supposed to work. And then the lights went out. And nothing I could do would make the lights work. No motion. Nothing. It was weird… and then it got cold.

As I said it’s one of those doors that you can’t lock so you you kind of walk into a door like that right like all one motion. I was turning the handle and taking a step with my left foot at the right at the same moment and then the door didn’t open and I you know kind of banged into it and came to a complete dead stop. Like that’s really weird.

Why isn’t the door working doors are always supposed to work. And then the lights went out. And nothing I could do would make the lights no motion. Nothing. It was weird. And then it got cold.

I was up here a lot as a kid, I lived here for a while as a child. I know cold, it got cold in that room, man. And then I did start to freak out. If I’d been able to see anything, there’s no windows, of course it’s pitch black in that room, if I’d been able to see I’m sure, you know, my breath would have been coming out as vapor clouds if you’d been able to see it I still can’t account for that.

There’s there’s no physics that you know, allows for that localized phenomenon of climate, just in a six by 12 foot room. I can’t think of one anyway. It was the middle of the night was late at night, you know, started shouting. Nobody could hear me that I didn’t think anyone would be able to hear that woman was married and the whole way from the apartment in a thick old stonewalled building. That didn’t make it any better. And I don’t know I kind of lost it there’s no real words to describe what I felt like, at that moment. I’ve never really been able to fully express in English or even any language what that felt like But was this at the ground opened up under my feet for a second. And I was reduced to almost tears really. I was losing it.

The halfway confident person you hear talking now it was absolutely gone from the scene and I was shaking massive, terrified jelly man. By the end of it there I was like sobbing with fear. And then the lights came on and the door opened and I bolted out of there. Boogie Down the hall ran straight out the door on the bridge square. There’s a little sort of town square right there. Obviously, where the bank is, is where they built the town square in the 1900s and I just I just cruise out. Found a convenient bench and just sat there and I was blue dude, I was so cold.

My skin was not its normal, translucent white, but I was blue and I was I was really cold. And my girlfriend came out the door a few minutes later. She could see something was crazy off camera enough put our arms around you Okay. What happened was what’s going on? It was all I was all well again, back on planet Earth, but for a second there, man. I don’t know what it was. It was terrifying. And there’s no explanation for it. I have no explanation for it. But why the door didn’t work. Why the lights didn’t work. They started working again right away. Why it got so cold.

RYAN AZEVEDO: Years later Eric returned to the scriber building in Northfield. He was looking for answers about what happened to him in the trash room that night. The old bank had been turned into a museum and Eric found a museum docent willing to answer his questions.

RYAN AZEVEDO: So what did you ask her?

ERICK SOMMERS: I asked her to take me around through the museum like moment by moment like then the robbers were here and then they went here and held a gun at the person’s hand and then they let that guy go and by this point, they were over here in the building one of the bankers actually did die during the attempted bank robbery it’s kind of a key point he was murdered in a specific spot within the building it turned out later that that was a spot where it’s kind of a weird almost a disrespectful irony about it but that was where our trash and recycling was stored. When it was turned into an apartment building, the place where the man died was literally where the trash room was.

They left the blood on the original bank floor for a long time, just as they just as they displayed. The Robber was just named Charlie Pitts I think was the guy’s name who died the one of the bad guys the bad guys. I’m talking like it’s a movie. One of the one of the gang who tried to rob the bank died, you know, they left their dead guy behind that and the blood stain on the floor. The possible possibility humans are quantum state machines and maybe the intensity of anguish and pain of a murdered honest soul. like that could leave some sort of imprint in those newly quarried stones. Yes, if there’s a science behind it, it would have to look something like that. But we’re not close to making those measurements yet man.

This is the scariest thing that’s ever happened to me there’s no question about it. I’ve been in some tight spots as a journalist here there in the world and I’ve been in some other tight spots with weather and you know, like sailing or surfing where things didn’t go quite right or I got a bit far from short and you start to wonder like how many actual seconds you have left but nothing that ever really scared me in this way. I don’t believe in ghosts. Just just as a general thing. I’m I am a rationalist.

RYAN AZEVEDO: You have been listening to Terrifying true stories. On our next episode, Can animals be possessed? We’ll hear from a woman who may have truly had a Cat From Hell. This episode has been brought to you by 1031365.COM because Halloween should be every day. I’m your host Ryan Azevedo. See you on the other side

The Body of Charlie Pitts

The Body of Charlie Pitts

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