The Crime & Punishment Museum, the historic jail in Turner County, GA, has added paranormal and ghost hunting tours to the regular tour experience.
Ghost hunting tours are available on Friday and Saturday nights. They are conducted by the Paranormal Society of Middle Georgia (PSMG).
“The old jail in downtown Ashburn has plenty of activity. We’ve done many investigations and even our worst night saw some pretty amazing activity,” said Jeffery Vaughan, leader of the PSMG. “We’ve had a few nights with almost nonstop activity.”
The old museum was ranked No. 2 in a top 5 most-haunted and most-accessible list of places to investigate by another paranormal group from the Central Georgia region. Mr. Vaughan said he certainly understands why.
“For one, it is an old jail. It was built in 1906. It was a working jail until the mid-90s. Two people were executed in the death chamber,” he said. “If you know much about the history of jails, then you can imagine what went on inside those walls. We’re certain other people died within those cells. Was it natural causes or were they murdered? We just don’t know.”
As for the access, he said that’s a major point in the jail’s favor too.
“If you can’t manage stairs, then yes, you will have a problem. The cells are on the second floor. But we have found plenty of things on the first floor. Other groups have reported activity, including an attack and a brick being thrown in the basement. We’ve not experienced any violent encounters, but we do have some audio recordings of threats,” Mr. Vaughan said. “Except for the second floor and basement steps, it’s very easy to maneuver in the building.”
The jail is in three basic sections. The first floor has been remodeled to resemble a small courtroom in one room, a sitting room with period furniture in another, a dining area and a small kitchen. The upstairs, except for repainting and an HVAC system, is pretty much like it was when the last inmate moved out. The cell door locks have been disabled to keep people from being accidentally locked in.
Graffiti in the cells was recreated by a local artist. The original graffiti was too obscene to show to children. The Chamber of Commerce across the street does have archives of the original art for those who want to study the images.
The basement has a dirt floor and a few items of storage. Otherwise, it is the same as when the jail was closed.
The old jail has been a museum since 2002. In that time nearly 40 paranormal groups have toured the jail. Ben Baker, one of the museum directors, said every group has reported activity.
“A lot of people ask me if I believe the place is haunted. I don’t know. I have never seen anything there I can’t explain,” he said. “Doesn’t mean there is paranormal activity there. Doesn’t mean there is no paranormal activity.”
Mr. Vaughn said he got the idea for offering tours after investigating the old jail a few times. He approached the museum’s directors and they gave an enthusiastic yes, he said.
“Could not ask for a better working relationship,” he said. “The directors love the idea of ghost tours and love the idea of PSMG handling the tours.”
Tour fees are split between the PSMG and the museum. All money collected by the museum goes toward maintenance and upkeep.
To schedule your ghost hunt, please call 478-508-2645 or visit the website. For more information about the museum, visit TurnerChamber.com. Paranormal groups wishing to schedule an independent investigation should call 229-567-3655.
About The Jail Museum
The original Turner County Jail doubled as a home for the sheriff on the first floor and in later years house offices for the next door courthouse.Inmates were housed upstairs. These days the jail no longer keeps inmates. It’s operated as a museum, open 9 am-4 pm weekdays and weekends by appointment by the Ashburn Historic Preservation Commission.