At a University with nearly 230 years of history, there are bound to be some seemingly ghostly encounters from time to time. Between the legend of the Gimghoul Castle ghosts, a haunted room in The Carolina Inn and various academic buildings and residence halls leaving students with strange experiences, UNC has a wealth of spooky stories for Halloween season.
One building in particular, Hinton James Residence Hall, was the site of several strange encounters for junior Melanie Krug — but she believes the haunting actually began shortly before she moved into Hinton James her first year.
“I am convinced I’m haunted,” Krug said. “The summer into my freshman year, my family and I took a trip to St. Augustine, and we did a ghost tour. And then ever since that ghost tour, I’ve been haunted.”
In an Airbnb shortly after the ghost tour, Krug's and her grandmother’s beds started banging against the walls. Krug said she felt something get into bed with her. Once home in Holly Springs, unsettling activities continued to occur. Krug and her brother heard a knock at the door. There was no one there, and her dad, who had been in the front yard, said no one had been there at all. Every time Krug said "ghost," the lights would flicker. She would wake up in the middle of the night to her white Christmas room lights changing colors.
But the story didn’t end when she moved into Hinton James. On her birthday in August, Krug came home from her Lifetime Fitness class, hoping to take a nap. She lived on the seventh floor. Two of the elevators were broken at the time, so she rushed to catch the last one. It was then that Krug believes she saw a ghost in physical form: a woman with long black hair, wearing all black.
“I walk into the lobby and I see the elevator open and I’m like, 'No, I have to catch that elevator,'” Krug said. “So I yell at the girl and I’m like, 'Hey, can you hold the elevator?' She doesn’t say anything. She doesn’t look at me. Nothing happens. And then she gets into the elevator and the elevator starts to close. It opens back up because I hit the button, so it closed very quickly. There was no way for the elevator to have moved, so I walk into the elevator, and no one was in there.”
She said the woman seemingly disappeared. Krug experienced many other strange occurrences similar to what happened in her house during her time in Hinton James as well, prompting her to believe a spirit had attached itself to something she had. Krug would wake up with slit marks on her arm and bruises of handprints that didn’t match her own.
“It wasn’t consistent,” Krug said. “It was a knock at the door. It was the shaking of my bed. It was lights. It was bruises on my arm. One time it destroyed my room. My roommate hadn’t been in town, and I walked into my room and everything was not where it was supposed to be. And I was like, I didn’t do this. My roommate’s out of town. We’re the only two people who have a key to this room.”
Because UNC is so old and many people have died on campus, Krug believes there’s a lot of energy at the University. After moving out of Hinton James, the strange activity stopped, and Krug has been free from any perceived hauntings.
Gimghoul Castle is one of the more iconic locations near campus steeped with mystery and intrigue. The legend goes that Peter Dromgoole died in a duel with another man over his love for a woman named Fanny. Dromgoole was allegedly buried under a rock stained with his blood.
Senior and former Daily Tar Heel staff member Molly Horak had her own creepy tale at the site of Gimghoul. On Halloween night her sophomore year, Horak and her friends wandered to Gimghoul Castle after walking through Franklin Street.
“We were walking around, and we didn’t really see anything or hear anybody and then all the lights in the castle turned on, and we heard organ music like 'Phantom of the Opera' kind of organ music going,” Horak said. “We sprinted out from there, but we didn’t see a single person in the castle or outside of the castle so like, where did this come from? We ran away as fast as we could.”
Another student’s ghost encounters occurred off campus in a popular student apartment, Lark Chapel Hill.
A year ago, senior Kayla DeHoniesto started thinking her apartment might be haunted. Forks and knives would mysteriously disappear, never to be found again. While she was alone in her apartment, the pantry door opened by itself and slammed shut on its own 10 minutes later. A different night, while in bed, DeHoniesto heard the front door open and slam shut, and none of her roommates were awake. Recently, DeHoniesto’s TV remote will be far from her, and Netflix will pause or exit seemingly by itself.
But DeHoniesto and her roommates have reacted to the occurrences with more than initial fear. Now whenever something strange happens in the apartment, they blame the ghost, who they call Agatha.
“When the knives started going missing, we were scared, but then now we're kind of just like, we just laugh about it, whenever she does anything,” DeHoniesto said.
DeHoniesto has a theory on who the ghost is, believing it to be of a furrier, more benevolent nature. She thinks their ghost is a dog that lived in the apartment years back and died. Sometimes, DeHoniesto, notices her own dog will start staring into space, not responding until she says “Agatha.”
While some alleged ghost stories are more frightening than others, they all comprise a long-lasting and special aspect of Halloween for UNC students and beyond.
“I think our ghost just wanted friendship,” DeHoniesto said. “I think it's a friendly ghost. I think it's just playing tricks on us.”