Nov 12, 2009 10:46 AM by Natalie Herbick
Wellsburg, West Virginia's sprawling Aspen Manor mansion was built in 1895 by the Vandergrift family as a boys' getaway that hosted gambling and cockfights.
Later, the Catholic community took over and turned it into an assisted living home where nuns and priests once lived.
Most recently it's been converted to a bed and breakfast.
Now the historic Brooke County mansion is at the center of a police and paranormal investigation after skeletal remains were found hidden in a wall.
The discovery was made Friday night when the Brooke County Paranormal Society visited the mansion to conduct what they call a paranormal investigation, something they do frequently at different locations.
While there, some members of the group said they sensed someone was buried in a basement wall and said they followed the voice to the area.
"A couple of the psychics that were part of that group got physically sick when they went down there and they couldn't figure out why," said Gene Valentine, who owns the building.
The paranormal group came to the 76,000-square-foot mansion in search of spirits, but had no idea what they would find skeletal remains.
"It wasn't what we actually went in looking for," said Kathy Larntz, a member of the group.
Larntz said they found a bone on the floor, so she picked it up thinking it was probably an animal bone.
She kept digging, and as she did, she found more and more bones.
Sheriff Richard Ferguson said the bones had "been chopped up into pieces" and had saw marks on them.
The remains were removed from the wall and are being sent to the state medical examiner, who will determine if they are human or animal.
"They found some questionable bones and I still cannot confirm or deny that they're human," Sheriff Richard Ferguson said. "They appear to be very old, but still intact, and we have no time frame. We're actually looking back into the history of this area."
In the meantime, in the former nuns' quarters, Larntz said she, her husband and another investigator made another paranormal finding.
She said the trio was using electronic voice phenomenon equipment and heard clicking sounds.
"Nuns would use these clickers when kids would get like really loud and wouldn't settle down, they'd start clicking," she said.
She said with such a long history behind the manor, there are many possibilities of who or what the bones belong to.
"It's exciting," she said. "This is a find for our group that's really major."
Valentine is restricting access to the mansion until the sheriff's department gets more answers, but members of the group said they hope to go back inside with other paranormal investigators to see what else they can discover.
Valentine said he isn't surprised by the findings.
"I've had a few psychic friends walk through here and they've had really bad reactions in the house," Valentine said.
Valentine said he is in the process of remodeling, but said if officials determine the bones are human, he will let them do whatever is necessary to investigate and find out what else might be hidden on the property.