Return to Alcatraz: A Night on The Rock

Alcatraz at Night

Los Angeles Paranormal returned to Alcatraz in mid-September to participate in an event that few have the opportunity to experience – an overnight investigation of the infamous former penitentiary. Yes, we spent the night on The Rock! Special thanks to Mark and Debby Constantino for allowing us to tag along, and also to the crew from Altered States Paranormal Radio (Dave Harvey, Kristin Baalman and Tom Durant). Thanks also to comic Mike Brody and to Terry Campbell of the Haunted Wolfe Manor for joining us during part of the investigation, which led to the capture of some really cool EVPs.

Alcatraz Gun Gallery
We began the evening with a comprehensive, behind-the-scenes tour of the island (graciously led by Ranger John and his accomplice, Ranger Roger), the highlight of which was being allowed access to the basement of the former Citadel — the oldest part of the prison (left over from ‘Fort Alcatraz’ days), and which includes the original and infamous ‘hole.’
citadel basement - the hole

Our official investigation later took us to various other parts of the prison, such as the isolation cells, the dining hall, the showers and the infirmary, along with the main cell blocks. It was cold, it was windy, and late in the evening it started thundering and lightning. It was intense. Alcatraz Cell Block

It was during the storm, later in the evening in the infirmary area where we captured the following evps:


Alcatraz Infirmary CellIt was late, it was stormy, and there were 5 of us in our group, wandering the old infirmary hallways at Alcatraz. We had found our way into an infirmary room known as the ‘bug room,’ where mentally unstable and/or rowdy patients were kept. We were setting up and getting ready to do an EVP session, and Layla happened to have her recorder on, resting on top of a backpack. Here, you will hear the investigators talking in the background, but throughout the clip there is a loud, breathy, angry sounding, whispery voice or voices in the foreground. It’s difficult to make out everything with the various layers of sound, but we can hear a loud whispery voice say, from the beginning “op-en uuuup”, and then “out!” Then you hear investigator Mike Brody in the background saying ‘close the door’ and then Layla saying ‘yeah’ but with an angry whisper over the top of her voice. Finally a clipped, electronic-sounding, female whispery disembodied voice says “Get…out!” So the whole clip plays out like this: ‘Op-en uuuupp’ ‘Out!’ (‘close the door’ with whisper over it) (‘yeah’ with odd whisper over it) ‘Get…Out!’ You will likely have to listen several times in order to hear everything, but the disembodied voice/s seems to be talking over our background chatter throughout this entire clip.

Alcatraz Surgery RoomLater, as we walked through the infirmary hallway, Mike saw a shadow in the surgery room, so we went in and conducted an EVP session. During the session, Layla stated, ‘we know you’re here, Mike saw you,’ at which point we all audibly heard what can only be described as a loud, disembodied breath or breathy outburst, like scream or yell. It sounded similar to the breathy voices we had captured in the bug room. Luckily, we were able to capture the strange sound on our audio. The recorded sound is less breathy but very obviously some type of outburst, and you can hear us immediately react to what we heard.

Alcatraz Hydrotherapy RoomThe final clip was captured during a session in the dark room (x-ray developing room?) off of the hydrotherapy room. Robert Stroud, aka ‘the Birdman of Alcatraz’ had his own cell in the infirmary. During this EVP session, Mike had just finished asking, ‘Did you know the Birdman?’ at which point Terry asked, ‘What was he like?’ – the response sounds to us like “baaad…” *headphones required for this clip

Alcatraz YardAs with the first time we set foot on Alcatraz Island, we again set out on the ferry back to the mainland with a feeling that whatever grief, terror, pain, anger, loneliness and despair had been felt on this island many years ago – some piece of that energy remains behind, imprisoned forever on this rocky outcrop of land. We were fortunate to be going home – not everyone who’s been to Alcatraz had that chance.

*For further reading, check out Mike Brody‘s account of the Alcatraz overnight at

and visit Mark and Debby Constantino’s website:


The Ghost Hunter’s Dilemma

A Lost Life

Anyone who considers herself a paranormal investigator–that is, anyone committed enough to spend the entire night in cold, dark and often disturbing buildings/ships/homes/hospitals, knows one fact above all else: whatever we find, or whatever finds us, is frustratingly vague. We catch snippets of voices on digital recorders, but we often do not hear the same words; we find anomalies in photographs, but someone usually offers a natural explanation; we see spikes or sharp drops in temperature, or watch the EMF meter light up like a Christmas tree, but we really don’t know what it means.

Interpretation of such oddities is often treacherous, since elusive or inconsistent findings create opportunities for self-delusion; even though I try my utmost to maintain a professional and scientific approach, there are times when I have defended a piece of “evidence” far beyond what it deserved. At one point, my pride and joy as a ghost hunter was a picture of a menacing face in a window at the Olivas Adobe. I sent that picture everywhere, showing it to as many people as possible. Almost everyone was impressed by photo, convinced that I had indeed captured something amazing, something out of this world. It wasn’t until several weeks later that Ty saw something I had not: the face was actually my own hand, contorted in such a way as to mimic the features of an angry specter. As soon as he pointed this out to me, my entire perception of reality shifted. I had no longer captured an incredible piece of evidence; I had, instead, taken a cool picture of my own hand. Such an elegant metaphor for the self-involvement of a deluded investigator. However, in my defense, I learned a great deal from that incident. My interpretation, no matter how convinced I am that what I have recorded is paranormal, is still simply my personal impression, my own experience. This is why a team of investigators is essential to finding anything approximating the truth: someone will tell you, gently, that your ghost is simply your own reflection.

We all have stories about the amazing evidence for the paranormal that turns out to be nothing more than a hand or a moth. And yet, there are those moments where the entire team is collectively in awe of a shared experience with no known normal cause. There are those snippets of audio that leave us all speechless: the inhuman voice at the Glen Tavern Inn, the photo of the transparent man at Alcatraz, the responsive pipes at Camarillo, the collective feeling that we are being watched, the heavy footsteps in the bushes by the bridge at La Purisima . . . as a team, we’ve been utterly astounded at what we’ve experienced, at a loss for an explanation.

So what do those moments mean? Are we going to find an answer to the ultimate questions of life after death, the significance of ghosts and spirits, the identity of the watchers in the dark? Probably not. Assuredly not; for that is not the point, nor do I think we are meant to know with any certainty what is, to my mind, the greatest mystery of the universe: what is left of us after we have moved through death? Where do we go? What meaning does our existence possess for us, and those who loved us?

There is a quote from Allan J. Hamilton in the chapter “Soul Survivor” that states it perfectly:

“God could make it obvious, but at a terrible price.” . . . we must content ourselves with this oblique glimpse and trust that, for now, as much has been revealed as we can withstand, for our own good. We cannot grasp it. Or measure it. Or map it. But maybe it has to suffice for now.” (202)

A good ghost hunter doesn’t quite believe that “it” cannot be measured or mapped; we have too many tantalizing hints that appear to point in a certain direction. The adventure is too promising to abandon, even if the answers will always be partial, or inconclusive. The whispered voice that said my name at Camarillo might mean nothing at all; but then again, it could be telling me that I need to keep looking. We all do. And so we pack our paranormal kits and head out to the next mystery.

In the middle of the night, huddled over our digital recorders, surrounded by shadows, we know something is out there; although we can’t tell you what it is, it’s powerful and it’s strange.

We will find something close to the truth; and we will have the wisdom to know that it isn’t simply our own reflection. That is more than enough for now.