Listen: Ghost hunting with Dennis William Hauck

Dennis William Hauck, author of ‘Haunted Places,’ joins MPR’s Greta Cunningham to discuss Minnesota ghost hauntings at the Guthrie Theater, the State’s Capitol, and St. John’s University.

‘Haunted Places’ by Hauck is a guidebook to help you find those ghostly abodes.


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DENNIS HAUCK: This is the story of Richard Miller, an 18-year-old who used to work here as an usher. He attended the University of Minnesota, and lived in Territorial Hall. But he grew up as a nerd and didn't have many friends actually. And it was a tragic tale. He ended up committing suicide at the Sears parking lot on Lake Street here. Blew off his head, he wasn't found till Monday morning. But he was wearing his usher's uniform here.

And he was very proud of his job here. It was one of the recognition he got. And he wanted to be buried in his usher's uniform and very connected to this site. And that was February 5, 1967. About a year later, his ghost started being seen by dozens of people, employees, and patrons of the theater, walking up and down row 18, his old section. And they described his ghost right on down to the mole on his cheek, and very good sightings.

At that time, there was a Ouija board seance here to try and contact him, which proved successful, I suppose. And the sightings went on for many, many years, until 1993, 1994, first part of '94. The theater, I believe, had a Native American Indian in it who performed a spiritual cleansing. And since that time, to my knowledge, there hasn't been many sightings of his ghost.

SPEAKER 2: Well let's walk into the theater and head down into the section where supposedly the Guthrie ghost was residing, at least until 1994. So can you tell us a little bit about how this ghost would manifest himself here in the theater?

DENNIS HAUCK: Well, like all ghosts, they seem to tap into our natural energies or our surrounding energies. That's why there's cold spots associated with ghosts. Well, there's also electromagnetic effects, electrostatic effects. It's like they're manifesting using energy on our side. And the temperature drops and things like that can be recorded, which is what I do. I go around and try to document this stuff. I do have some portable equipment today that maybe we can get some effects.

This is called a TriField meter. And it measures electrostatic and magnetic effects, even radio and microwave effects. And it sums them all, and they're very, very sensitive. So I'm trying to adjust it now to background there. And another instrument I have is electrostatic detector. That's the background electrostatic effect. So if we have any effect, we'll get a big wailing sound, like if I rub it through my hair, where the static electricity is. So these two instruments should pick up anything. So we'll just walk around and see what we can find.

SPEAKER 2: OK. So Dennis Hauck and I are walking through the Guthrie Theater with his portable equipment. And we're looking for some hot spots, I guess. Or is it cold spots?

DENNIS HAUCK: Well, these cold spot, I don't have any temperature monitoring equipment, but a cold spot would be an indication. Along the same lines, any variation in the electromagnetic background or the electrostatic background would also be an indication. At least that's what we found in a lot of ghost cases. And we're not getting much as we walk through here. It's staying pretty steady.

SPEAKER 2: Who developed this equipment?

DENNIS HAUCK: This particular TriField meter was developed especially for ghost investigators right here in Illinois. And it's popular instruments with-- right now, we're getting some things right in here. I don't know if that's your tape recorder. Right in here, about 712 near this exit door.

SPEAKER 2: Maybe it's picking up the chill that's running through my spine.

DENNIS HAUCK: Yeah, we are getting a little bit. It's about 50% above scale, which is something here. It might be a transformer underneath. We just have to look around for that kind of stuff. A lot of times, I'm out with psychics. And they're very good at detecting electrical panels. I know that behind mirrors or something, I'm with someone, and it'll be a panel. But I don't see anything electrical here. And this is getting up, although we're not getting any electrostatic effects. But that's interesting. There, it's kind of settling down.

SPEAKER 2: So this TriField meter is showing what, that there's possibly something going on right here?

DENNIS HAUCK: Possibly something going on. What it's monitoring is the electric, magnetic, and radio microwave signals that are low enough to be manifested in similar ghost cases that we worked with.

SPEAKER 2: And I understand there are some other haunted areas in the Twin Cities City Hall, as a matter of fact, appears in your book, Haunted Places.

DENNIS HAUCK: Yes, City Hall is a good case in Minneapolis. In fact, both city halls in Saint Paul and Minneapolis are haunted and have common source of this because back in the turn of the century, people were hung inside the buildings, instead of outside, like in other states. And for instance, in the City Hall in Minneapolis, on the fifth floor, the hangings took place.

And there was one particular hanging of a man, occurred in 1897. And his ghost has appeared numerous times over the years. It was in the old chapel courtroom. The hanging site on the fifth floor was turned into a courtroom. And the judge who had the courtroom actually had it shut down because of the ghost appearing and disrupting his hearing so much that it was actually remodeled out of existence.

But still, even today, custodians and workers on the fifth floor there report mysterious cold spots, and things moving around, and even a ghost once in a while. And over in Saint Paul, the city hall there, recently, psychics were in there and detected 15 ghosts, different ghosts of men that were hung there. The hangings there took place in the basement. And that's where all the odd energy is at.

SPEAKER 2: Some people are very skeptical when it comes to this area of ghosts and psychic phenomenon. What do you say to people who are skeptics?

DENNIS HAUCK: Well, I work with a lot of skeptics, a lot of skeptics groups. And this is a very difficult field. It's hard to go in and investigate a case, takes a lot of resources. And I welcome skeptics. And in fact, skeptics have come up with some hoaxes, revealed hoaxes, and things like that. So it's very valuable.

SPEAKER 2: Well, we are in the Twin Cities talking about some of the ghosts in the Twin Cities. But there are also ghosts in other parts of Minnesota, according to your book. And one of them is at St John's University, which is where Minnesota Public Radio started. So maybe we should talk about that ghost.

DENNIS HAUCK: Yeah, that's a ghost of a monk actually, a young monk who died in an accident. I think he fell from some scaffolding or something. And his ghost started appearing. And his mother actually got involved because she was very suspicious of the circumstances of his death. And by her presence being there, we think that it generated some of this activity too.

But in any case, she was a very stubborn lady who went in and just harassed everyone there, the fathers and the custodians. I mean, she talked to everyone. And she thought that there was foul play in her son's death. She never really uncovered any evidence. But just her presence there kept this thing going on for many years and disrupted things at the college for just many years.

There's a lot of colleges and universities in Minnesota that are haunted. But there's Moorhead State University in Moorhead has a ghostly presence of a workman who fell to his death in Weld Hall. And Concordia College in that same city has another ghost at Hoyem Hall, an unidentified presence that even today terrifies students, especially in the tunnels that run between the buildings during the winter time.

And just in Winona, there's another ghost who-- it's another Catholic university. I believe it's Saint Mary's, yeah. Father Letias is the guy's name, Richard Letias, who murdered Bishop Heffron. This was in 1915. And he actually snuck up behind the bishop while he was praying and shot him in the head because the bishop wouldn't give him his own parish. So the guy was obviously a little wigged out and a very terrifying presence. But his ghost is still seen there.

And in fact, in Heffron Hall, which was named after the bishop, his presence is seen and has been blamed for the deaths of other people who were on his hate list that he had over the years. So it's a recurring ghost. It's a very deadly ghost. All kinds of neat stories about ghosts and Catholic universities, especially here in Minnesota.

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