Ghostly rumors of MSU campus investigated


According to a 2019 survey by multinational market research group Ipsos, just under half of Americans believe in ghosts. Wichita Falls has its own ghostly rumors, such as Witch’s Gate. From an article by “106.3: The Buzz”ask any Wichita Falls native and the stories start spinning with tales of murder, treasure, arson, ghosts and everything in between regarding the infamous, Witches Gate.” The Kell House Museum held haunted tours on Halloween weekend. Texoma is no stranger to ghost stories, and neither is Midwestern State University. These are investigations into the ghostly rumors of the MSU campus. 

Killingsworth Hall Ghost 

Urban legend tells, as cited in this 2013 issue of The Wichitan, “rumors spread like wildfire. On-campus you will hear of the freshman haunting the halls of Killingsworth…Some say she jumped from the chapel, while others claim it was her dorm room where she plunged six stories to her untimely death,” in reference to Jennifer L. Perrin, who passed away in 1996. 

While the article debunks the claims, Perrin was in fact the victim of a car accident. A tree and a plaque were planted in front of Killingsworth to honor her memory. However, even as she rests in peace, students still experience uncanny energies and bumps in the night. Sleep paralysis seemed to be a common symptom, according to the rumors. Rylee Hammond, a resident of Killingsworth Hall, doesn’t believe in the ghosts allegedly skulking about her building.

“No, I don’t think it’s haunted. I’ve lived there for a year and a half and I’ve never had any suspicious activity going on, or anything like that that I’ve noticed at least. I’ve heard of the rumors my first semester, but even watching out, I haven’t seen anything,” Rylee Hammond, physics sophomore, said.

Theatre senior Rebekah Gardner differs from Hammond. Gardner said there is no doubt Killingsworth is haunted.

“So my first semester here at MSU, I lived on the 6th floor of Killingsworth and there would be several times where I would be standing at my sink and I would see the shadow of a person walk outside of my window, and I knew it wasn’t a bird because a bird doesn’t look like a person,” Gardner said. “It was distinctly a person-shape, and a person can’t walk past a sixth-floor window… That’s too high up for a person.”

Gardner also witnessed the sleep paralysis suggested by the rumors. They describe the humanoid creatures that sat at the end of their bed during the episodes as “made of the spottiness that you get when you rub your eyes really hard.” Roommates Christa Pegram, geoscience freshman, and Samantha Acuña, history freshman, testify to ghostly encounters throughout nearly every floor. 

“Me and my roommate are like…’ paranormal attractors.’ Spirits are attracted to us in a way… My first week being here, I just felt an odd energy,” Pegram said. “I would basically have stuff in a certain spot, and I would turn around or leave my room and I would turn back around… and it would be in a completely different spot.”

Pegram said, however, that she did not experience the sleep paralysis that was a part of the rumors. Her roommate Acuña confirmed these experiences and added her own abnormal encounters with the uncanny. 

“When I first moved into Killingsworth… my roommate was Kimberly [who] wasn’t here at first, and I’ve been here since Aug. 14. She didn’t move in until around the 23rd and I would just have experiences. [For example,] my dresser would randomly throw the drawers out, and I would just randomly hear the sink turn on. I would have to go and turn it off, and then my TV would just make static sounds when I’d be playing Guitar Hero randomly,” Acuña said. “When I moved into Christa’s room, it followed me to her room at first. The drawers would be opening up and then closing, and she would be asleep, but I would still hear people talking in the room.” 

Since Acuña has sleep insomnia, she said she is awake long enough to witness other bumps in the night. She describes a backroom on the fifth floor with an unconnected television that would turn on to a static screen, even though the remote control was hung up on the wall with no one to touch it. Acuña described the energy as a collective force: ghosts, rather than a ghost. She described “shadows walking at night” at the fountain in front of Centennial Hall and similar odd experiences to Killingsworth in the next-door building, Pierce Hall. 

“I don’t think people have died within the school, it’s more like maybe there were past events before the school was even built that it just kind of stuck around and something triggered it,” Acuña said.

The Haunted Theatre 

Mark A. Robinson of Broadway Direct writes, “Theater people also like their superstitions and traditions.” They have complex rituals, wish each other well with “break a leg,” and are wary of mentioning the Scottish play by name. Steven Kitner, theatre senior, said no one should be told about the theatre ghost unless they are a theatre major, not even a minor will permit. The consensus seems to be that the theatre is haunted by a spirit named “Brooks.”

“Brooks is 100% real. There’s a few times I’ve been in the cuts. There’s just been some noises and flickering of lights and things,” Reagan Whiteley, theatre junior, said.

Theatre senior Rachel Masters relays a story where she heard growling behind her when nobody was there and cites a sighting of Brooks in the rafters. 

“…something [was] moving up there, and I’d be like ‘hey Ron, peace-up, is that you?’ No. And nobody said anything, so I’m assuming it was Brooks,” Masters said.

The aforementioned Ron Harle, theatre graduate, found a playbill for a 1980s production of Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap” with Brooks’ name listed for the set crew. Harle found this during the 2019 MSU production of the same show. 

“Whatever you feel about ghosts, that’s up to you, but there have been people who have felt like they have been pushed [while] up in the cuts, and it felt as if they had been touched in different places and spaces in the theatre,” Harle said. “There was a former student here who graduated a couple years ago. He was up hanging lights one day and he was walking through the hallway and felt as if somebody rushed past him.”

Harle said that it would be unlikely for it to be a breeze since the air gets hot and stagnant in the cuts. He also said that one of the doors slammed shut with significant force. Harle admitted to feeling like someone else was there even when he knew he was the only one in the building. 

“That’s one of the stories that I know of. And weird things that happen, bumps in the night, that occur here are attributed to Brooks,” Harle said. “And sometimes weird things happen or we need extra help, so we’re just like ‘hey Brooks, could you give us a hand?’” 

One such bump in the night comes from Professor of Communication Sandra Grant. Grant is in tune with the ghostly rumors on campus. Grant said she heard strange noises despite being alone. 

“It was around midnight or so. I was working on something in my office and there were theatre people. They were just running around being silly. And I finally said, ‘you guys! It’s midnight, go home!’ [and] I heard them leave,” Grant said. “So I’m in my office and above my head, I hear…furniture moving. I thought, ‘really funny.’ I came around to the staircase that went upstairs… and I thought I would kinda scare them. I start tiptoeing up the stairs and laughing as I go. I turn to look around the corner. I scream ‘boo!’ Nobody’s up there. I thought ‘okay, so they sneaked down and got away from me.’ I came back downstairs. Nobody’s here.” 

Grant also described a situation two years later wherein she came into the theatre’s greenroom to chat with a maintenance person who was on a break. The maintenance person, whom Grant said had no knowledge of her own experience, asked if Grant heard “weird noises” in the building. 

“I said ‘well, there’s a lot of open spaces and it’s just a weird-sounding building. He said ‘yeah, but the other night, I was sitting right here and I heard the strangest thing. It sounded like furniture was moving,'” Grant said. “I’m sure it meant nothing, but it’s a lot more fun to think that it’s real.”

Grant confirmed that Brooks was a real person. Grant heard the story from Laura Jefferson, who was chair of the theatre department from 1985-2013 and left the school in 2015, according to MSU’s Faculty and Staff website. Also according to Grant, Brooks was a theatre student who had died and wanted his ashes spread across the theatre. 

Grant said, “They had a dinner, got together, very serious thing.  They had a ceremony with the ashes, and they spread them. And she said, what they didn’t spread, they left downstairs in storage. So I have no idea if it’s still down there.” 

Although Grant never said the cause of death, Harle and Gardner both said Brooks died from an AIDS-related illness. The 1980s would have been the height of the AIDS epidemic. According to Gardner, Brooks is a friendly ghost. 

“There have been students who have claimed anytime that they’ve practiced monologues or something while alone in the theatre, they start to smell flowers,” Gardner said. “…as if it’s Brookes throwing flowers on the stage.”