It’s past midnight as I sit in the infamously haunted Gribble House warehouse. Our tour guide Ted has long since packed up, locked the doors, and returned to the safety of his own home. I can faintly hear the cars passing outside on Martin Luther King Boulevard, unaware that I am now second guessing my journalistic endeavors staying in one of Savannah’s top paranormal sites. As I quietly chat with my boyfriend to remain distracted, he whips his head around to inspect the far left corner of the warehouse.
“What is it babe?” I ask not entirely wanting to know the answer.
“I could’ve sworn….someone said… John.”
We both begin nervously talking again, but once more John’s head turns to face the former 401 West Perry Street address.
“There’s something in there. It sounds like someone’s walking around on leaves.”
While John has never been dismissive of the supernatural, he has also never shown total belief in it. He always remained respectful when I detailed my first-hand accounts growing up in a haunted revolutionary house in Pennsylvania, but not having an encounter himself, it was exceedingly hard for him to believe in the invisible presences. However, the tour only a few hours ago, seemed to have made the theory irrefutable for both of us now.
Although the actual house is no longer standing, today’s warehouse stands exactly where the triple homicide took place one afternoon in 1909. When the police arrived on site, Eliza Gribble was found dead after her skull had been repeatedly hacked by an axe and daughter Carrie Ohlander was also discovered lifeless with her throat slashed open. The third woman, Maggie Hunter, rested in a pool of blood by the front door and even though she suffered from both a cranial beating and throat laceration, she was miraculously still alive. Maggie would only live three more days in the hospital, but during that time she identified her husband JC Hunter as the culprit.
JC was found guilty and sentenced to hang after bloody rags were found in his house. Continuously pleading his innocence, JC was given a reduced sentence for life in prison. After only serving a few years, he was surprisingly released.
The house was eventually torn down to build a warehouse for building World War II ship components, then serving trucks, and most recently, storing trolleys. When the trolleys moved to a more spacious location, the current owners investigated the supernatural elements for six months before opening it to the public with a safe conscience.
The first “hot spot” our tour visited was the exact spot Maggie Hunter was located when police arrived. Ted began asking who was with us. To our disappointment, our equipment showed no sign of paranormal activity. John decided to hand me the spirit box.
This tool continuously scrolls through radio stations and is the easiest way for the spirits to communicate with the living. I in turn handed John the EMF detector. Electricians typically use this gadget to locate concealed electrical components, but the tools can also identify the electromagnetic field spirits typically possess. EMF detectors hidden within dolls or stuffed animals specifically target children that have passed on. Although paranormal investigative phone apps do exist, the agency prefers to use instruments that have had a long history of credible interaction.
Again, Ted asked who was with us. No response. Trying a new tactic, he suggested we introduce ourselves. Then, interrupting the rapid station scanning, a male voice said “John.”
Did you hear that? He just said your name,” I whispered to my boyfriend.
Again, “John” was spoken so clearly on the speaker, it was as if someone were standing right next to me.
“He just said it again,” I stated in disbelief.
“Again.” The same male’s voice said repeating me. I could feel goosebumps spread over my body.
Even if I wasn’t a believer, it was too remarkable to not consider someone else was in the room. While I had supplied the owner and tour guide my name for the reservation, I had not provided my boyfriend’s since I wasn’t certain of his availability. The spirit appeared to be practicing his speech by repeating select words we used! Perhaps the man had been deceased for so long he had forgotten the linguistics to communicate full sentences?
Ted mentioned how much energy it demands for spirits to contact. We sat there for a bit longer, receiving more names including “David” (JC Hunter’s real name). We began to get quiet before a spirit requested us to “speak”. When we inquired what they wanted to talk about, the spirit simply said “speak” again before going quiet.
Walking into the former slave quarters, I could feel the mood significantly darken. Without any windows, I was grateful for the two small electric candles flickering against the brick wall. Ted again began asking who was with us. Suddenly a deep male’s voice crackled through the speaker “Get out!” and a different male saying, “Run!” My body tensed up and I no longer wanted to remain in this cold, unsettling room.
Following Ted around as he packed up for the night, I listened to his chilling encounters from working at the warehouse. Finishing up his last hair-raising story, he pulled a hat box out from one of the storage rooms.
“We don’t usually show people this, but I feel for your story it might help.” It was JC Hunter’s weathered, black top hat. The warehouse also stores the century old carriage that was found in the Gribble House. Typically, the guides will not pull these items out since the owners would like to preserve them.
When we left the warehouse, we decided to go to a bar for a beer. We thought it best not to bring anything directly home with us and it made a good excuse to stop for an IPA. This wasn’t exactly what John probably had in mind for date night, but by now he knows this isn’t going to be the typical relationship.