Ghost patrol: The scariest things cops have seen on the beat

Most cops will tell you they’ve seen it all. But what about the paranormal?

By Police1 Staff

Most cops will tell you they’ve seen it all. It’s the nature of the job to be exposed to virtually everything America has to offer – from the weird to the hilarious to the disturbing. But what about the paranormal?

We asked our audience to share the scariest, strangest, or most unexplained thing they’ve seen in their career, and their stories were downright spooky. Check out our roundup of the best responses, and if you think you can top these, share your story with us.


A different kind of evil

Several years ago, I took a 911 call for a family reporting their teenaged daughter was possessed. They claimed no possibility of drugs or history of mental health issues (which I, of course, didn’t believe for a second). Family members were holding her down and I could hear two people screaming at each other in the background. I asked the caller to tell whoever was yelling at her to stop. The caller said, “It’s her.” I responded that I knew it was her but whoever was yelling at her at the same time to stop. The caller again said “It’s her. Both voices.”

I kid you not, it was the creepiest thing I have ever heard. I have been doing this for 25 years and have heard many things, I know of man’s inhumanity and the horrible things people do to each other, but this - this was a different kind of evil. I was clearly hearing a young girl screaming at the same time an adult male was yelling back. I couldn’t understand either language but they were clearly two different voices. The family swore both voices were coming from her, at the same time. It made my skin crawl. The lieutenant listened to the tape later and he looked at me and said “Do you ever wonder...” Yes. Yes, I do. — Meredith Scheirman

cell #1 is empty

I’ve seen a lot of things in my career, things that would make a citizen doubt my sanity. From being dispatched to chase a UFO to responding to calls of ghosts. But the most unusual thing that happened to me was witnessed by several officers and a dispatcher. One evening I had brought in a guy for domestic violence and as he was a bit rowdy I was joined in booking by the sergeant and another patrolman. I’m in the process of booking Mr. Tuffguy when I glanced into cell #1. There was a guy in there, short haircut, glasses, and a white t-shirt just staring at us. I ignored him because I didn’t want him to start banging on the window demanding a phone call or something.

So I finish the booking process and escort Mr. Tuffguy to his cell, walking past cell #1. The guy in the cell just stood there never saying a word or moving. We all then leave booking and go about our business. Some time later sergeant asks me to check the paperwork for the prisoners to see if any were ready to transport to the county jail. I grab the paperwork and go into booking to do a headcount. Cell #1 is empty. I panic and tell the sergeant who also panics and he and I begin to make phone calls to the detectives to see if they had moved the guy or had released him. They all say they didn’t go into booking at all. I then checked the computer and paperwork again and the headcount was accurate, no one had been placed in cell #1.

We go to the dispatch office to check the surveillance video for booking. We rewind the footage to where I can be seen booking my prisoner. We fast forward to the point in the video where we all walk out. As soon as we walk past the door the guy in #1 "blinks" out of existence. We were all freaked out by the occurrence believe you me! When we tried to transfer the video to a DVD and USB drive the guy in the cell did not appear. We still hear and see stuff every now and then and prisoners in the detox tank can be seen talking to someone in the direction of cell #1 even though it appears empty. To this day I’m wary of going into booking alone. — Marco Castillo

welfare check

Answered a welfare check call one night late, between 0230-0300 on an elderly woman who lived next door to the caller and had not been seen for some time. This night we were having a bad thunderstorm without the rain. I get to the complainant’s house to speak to her first, wondering why she called at this time. She tells me the lady next door is in her 90s, lives alone and she has not seen her in weeks. She explained that she has called, went over and knocked on her door but the lady will not answer. I start thinking she is probably deceased and has been for some time. The car has a 3-inch layer of dust on it, the mail is piling up and no lights are on. First I walked to the side door and knock on the door with my flashlight, knocking loud enough an elderly person with some hearing should hear it. After a few minutes of no response I turn around and walk to the backyard looking at the windows and find everything okay. The complainant is with me and is saying she doesn't know of any relatives of the lady. I'm sure by now that she is probably deceased.

I walk to the front of the house and notice that her blinds are up on the front windows and I can see a glow from inside. I am however not tall enough to look into the windows which are probably 7 feet off the ground. The complainant runs next door and grabs a bucket for me to stand on. I get on the bucket and bingo I can see the living room. The glow was from the TV which was on a blue screen and is bright enough I didn't need my flashlight to see in. I looked first at the floor to make sure she had not fallen there, couch, recliner, everything was empty. The telephone home base was blinking red with the missed calls and voicemails. From the living room was a hallway that was dark and I couldn't see down. Using my flashlight I could only see an open door down the hall. Still no signs of life.

I turned around and told the complainant that everything looked ok and nothing was disturbed. I turned back around and an elderly woman is looking back at me with her face right up next to the glass. I couldn't breathe; it felt has if I had been hit in the chest by a bat. I fell backwards and off of the bucket. I hit the ground hard and the complainant rushed to me. I pushed her off as she was trying to help me up and I ran back up on the bucket. My heart was pounding but I had to see. Instinct had my hand on my gun the other was up on the window. I looked back inside and saw a frail elderly woman standing in the hallway wearing a long night gown with her back to me. She turned her head to the side and looked at me out of the corner of her eye and the slowly walked out of view and down the dark hallway. That unnerved me.

I got down and looked at the complainant who was standing there with a puzzled look on her face. All I could say was I saw her. By now the wind had picked up and it began to rain. I began to walk back to my car by the road and I turned back to the complainant and said, don't come back here. I got into the car and drove to the PD. I never found out about the lady who lived there, the complainant didn't call back and the house now has different tenants inside. Some things are better left alone. — Chuck Pheil

no Scent

Over twenty years ago I took an alarm call at the old PTA building across the street from a courthouse in Austin, TX. The alarm had already gone quiet when I showed up with a senior officer. We found an unsecured door slightly open on the east side, so he posted me there while he finished the perimeter and other officers arrived. I was staring right at the door when the alarm activated again and the door slammed shut in my face, loudly. The senior officer ran back to my position and asked why I closed the door. I told him I didn't.

We called for K9 and the dog arrived shortly. I went in with K9 to clear the building. We found nothing, but the entire time the dog was acting very hinky, like someone was in the building but he wasn't picking up a scent. We secured the building and a keyholder showed up. He said, "Well you know the place is haunted, right?" There was a secretary that worked there about thirty years and after she died, she keeps showing up for work. Papers fly off the desks, doors close, sightings, the works. We both told the keyholder the next alarm call there was all his. — Joel Pridg

clark hall

I was working at a college that claims to be haunted. Me and my partner didn't believe any of it. We go into Clark Hall which has classrooms and start propping doors open with desks. This is around 0200 hours. We already walked through and made sure the building was empty. Only two stairwells donut wasn't hard to do.

We are on the third floor. I finished my door and wedged a desk in between the door and the frame. When I finish I shake it to make sure it's in there pretty secure. I go over to help my buddy with his door when behind me the door I was working on opens up and the chair desk combo flings across the room and the door slams. He takes off running, jumping landing to landing. I still don't think he's ever gone in that building again. — Walter Sonnenberg

burglary in progress

Called to a burglary in progress (day time). The owner was in the kitchen and heard someone run upstairs to third floor (old house and wooden stairs).

Set up a perimeter around the house. I came up with K9. Just as I gave K9 warning a perimeter officer saw a hand pull a curtain back on the top floor and relayed the info to me.

Thinking surely we would be making an apprehension with K9, sent my partner in. Long story short nobody found.

Officer was 100 percent certain he saw what he saw. The homeowner was confident he heard the running up of 12 steps. — Josh David

just saying 'hello'

A couple of years back I was patrolling around 0300-0400. I drive by a small airport in my jurisdiction that is in the middle of the woods which has several hangars and one main office building. I drive by it a few times a night, as it has been burglarized in the past. On this particular night, I’m driving by and hear an audible alarm sounding from inside. I was not dispatched and did not receive any other calls about it. I call it in and walk up to the building which is completely dark and not occupied. Every point of entry is secure so I am now waiting on the key holder to let me in to clear the inside. I figure a loose door, the wind, etc. tripped the alarm. The keyholder comes out with his wife in a couple of minutes and they open up the door for me. I clear the entire office, a garage, etc. Nothing is disturbed. The keyholder is confused, as the alarm is not a motion alarm nor an alarm system.

The keyholder explains to me that the alarm is coming from a cash register that was opened inside of the office. The cash register could only be opened by pressing a hidden button, which I’ll say was extremely well hidden without going into too much detail. The only people who knew where the button was located was he, his wife and his deceased father. He told me the cash register closes and locks and without pressing this button, it couldn’t possibly open. It was not an oversight neither, as I had driven by several hours before and heard nothing. The money was not disturbed, however, the register was all the way opened.

The keyholder smiled and told me that his father had created and owned the airport before he passed away and that airplanes and this place, in particular, were his passion and life’s work. The keyholder told me that he believes his father does things like that to bring his family to the airport just to say ‘hello’ and make his presence known. I don’t have any other explanation for it. — Billy Bravo

all alone

I was the Sgt working overtime graveyard at a now-demolished sub. It was my lunch break and I heard someone open the door at the other end of the sub and heard footsteps. I had the light off in my office because the hall lights more than lit it up. I saw someone in the door and when I turned to look, it was a shadow figure standing in the doorway as if to say “Hi Sgt!” It wasn’t something I saw out of the corner of my eye and it was there for a couple of seconds and then went on towards the lieutenant’s office. Later when I asked the guys if they have ever experienced anything strange at the sub, they responded “that’s why we don’t come back until the sun comes up.” I found out about other experiences that others had and it was similar...I’m still a skeptic, but I can’t explain what I saw. — Paul Jacobs

good conversation

I was working at our jail and while doing my watch tour I was heading into medical and heard two people having a conversation and thought it was two inmates in a cell talking. I went to the first cell and no names on the door so I didn’t look in. I went to the next door and had one name on it. I opened the hatch to look in and there was a guy in there. I didn’t say anything at first to him and as in closing his hatch, he asked me if I could move his neighbors over because he was alone and would like some company. I then went over to the previous door and checked in the window just in case someone didn’t put the names on the door. I looked in and nobody was in the cell. I went back to the guy in the other cell and asked him if he had heard people talking and he stated yes they had been talking a lot. I informed him that there was nobody next door and got out of there. — Scott Rowlison

the boy on the bench

Worked security in a med center after retirement. Opened the place one morning at 0500. As I passed an alcove, for an instant saw a boy about 9 years old, barn hair, striped shirt sitting on a bench then he was gone. Anyway out of embarrassment I never told a soul about it. I had eight retired detectives working for me and one day I was having a conversation with one of them. Very sheepishly he asked me if I ever saw anything strange in the place when I opened in the morning. When I asked him why he said that he saw a young boy wearing a striped shirt sitting on a bench then he was gone. The same location where I saw the kid. Other things that happened were coffee pots being knocked over and footsteps late at night when closing. Later found out that the med center was located adjacent to the most haunted cemetery on Staten Island. — Buddy Smith

rural encounter

I work on county roads and I had a Signal 100 at 03:00 and my closest bathroom was 30 minutes out. So, I pulled down a dark gravel road and started my business. I felt like someone was watching me. Look toward the rear bumper of my unit and approximately 20 feet beyond my rear bumper I saw a shadowy figure standing there. I stop and zip up (not finished) and yell out to what I thought was a person. I got no reply from the figure. I start to apologize to the figure – thinking this was the landowner coming to see who was peeing on their driveway – but no response.

I then go into tac mode and demand them to show their hands and identify themselves. But no answer. I finally get smart and use my light to see who it was and as light passes over the area the figure was gone. Keep in mind this conversation was about 20 seconds long and I just saw something there. I look around and I hear no running through the brush. I turn to get make into my unit and I take one more look back and see a shadowy figure move towards me from where I last saw it. Needless to say, I got in my unit and sped off because bullets were not going to stop this spirit. — T.J. Riggs

sound the alarm

The jail had a notorious ghost, Sara Ware, who would play with the lights and set off alarms. Most of the alarms are panic alarms in locked offices where switches actually had to be pushed and slid into a slot to activate. It got to the point where the officers were afraid to go into the courthouse for an alarm. — Aimee Reynolds

secret friends

A little kid on a custody exchange kept telling me about her “secret friends” standing near me. Not really too scary – but creepy, especially when she’s telling me one doesn’t like me. — Jimmy McNulty

hind legs

One year our department started receiving complaints of headstones being knocked over in the city cemetery, around Halloween. The chief advised us on the midnight shift to spend our extra time around the cemetery to catch the person(s) causing damage. Me being sneaky, I found a good hidden observation point about a block away. There were two major well-lit streets providing fair lighting in the cemetery. For several nights I would from time to time stop and check the cemetery with my binoculars and only patrol the cemetery at the start and end of my shift (as usual).

One time checking the cemetery I spotted something that looked like a cat walking on its hind legs. I watched it walk approximately 10 feet between headstones and lost sight of it. I rushed over to the area in my patrol car turning on my spotlight, alley lights and takedown lights. Couldn't find a thing but a track through the dew on the grass that dead-ended at a headstone. To this day I can remember how it moved and its outline in my binoculars. Creepy. I'm an avid hunter and I’ve done plenty of hunting at night. I am very familiar with all the animals in my neck of the woods and I have never seen anything like it. — Arthur Rigsby


Several years back, me and my partner were looking for a kidnapping suspect in some abandoned houses. Around 0330 we go to check a house in a very rural and remote part of the county. The house is extremely large and creepy looking. We make entry and find the inside of this house is like something out of Tim Burton's nightmare. There are walls going halfway up and stopping. There were doorways barely big enough to stick your head through and opening up into massive empty rooms. Every time we thought we'd made it to the top floor, we'd find another staircase leading up. Finally, we make it to the attic and find all kinds of crazy stuff drawn on the walls. Needless to say, we finished clearing the house and got out of there. — Kevin Thompson

entry tools

I responded to a suicide as the co-lead detective. A male had hung himself in the tree in the backyard. We checked the residence and it was locked with a deadbolt thrown on both entry/egress doors. I called for entry tools and a supervisor for a breach because the decedent’s girlfriend was not accounted for and they lived together (possible murder/suicide).

Several patrol officers and I were standing at the back door of the house (south side) which had been checked multiple times waiting on entry tools. I look at the door and there’s a gap in the frame and see there’s no deadbolt thrown anymore. I check the door and it’s now open.

We clear the residence and no one is inside. I even had them clear the attic space.

Inside the door that “magically” opened were multiple notes to family members from the decedent.

We all walk outside and are waiting on NOK to arrive and try to walk back in. The door is secured again with a deadbolt.

It should be noted no one had keys and there were key locks on both sides of the door.

The lead and I were now discussing how we were gonna have to call for entry tools and again the door was open. No one going near it.

I again had the residence cleared and no one inside.

The lead detective and I did not go back into that house that day. — Rob McGinley

a call for help

Calls for service coming from a vacant household twice a night for about a week. The voice on the phone sounded like an elderly at-risk lady with Alzheimer’s barely audibly saying “Please help. Please help.” with coughing. Totally unresponsive to our calls. Confirmed with my shift sergeant that the house’s last resident was a daughter taking care of her mother who was dying from stage two lung cancer. Definitely sent a shiver down my back. — Dalton Hostetler


One cold winter night around 0300 I was parked in the dark doing paper behind a Kmart. Suddenly someone or something banged on my driver’s side window 2-3 times, obviously scaring the hell out of me, but it happens. Except there was nobody there. Business wall 8-15’ to my right, 10’ solid fence to my left, and 100’ open space front and back. Nothing but my own tire tracks in the blanket of fresh snow and no marks on my window or ground indicating a snowball or such. I even got down in the snow and looked under my car. Still a bit anxious whenever I drive back there. — Troy Peterson

he's staring at you

One of our “regular” callers was a lady in her 80s. When she wouldn’t take her medicine she would hallucinate and see children in her house and she would call us to report the children were moving her belongings around, making noise, etc. I’ve been to her house several times for these calls but on one occasion I was talking to her in the dining room of her home and she was getting aggravated because she could “see” the children but I couldn’t. She looked at me with a concerned voice and loudly said, “You can’t see him? He’s been staring at you for 10 minutes now and grinning.” While saying this she was pointing to a spot about 5 feet from me. I know it was only a hallucination but the way she spoke about it with such concern was extremely creepy. — Kyle Broadus

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