Paranormal investigators tell the tales of Virginia’s ghosts, werewolves, and vampires
Written by VPM Digital intern Gabriela Santana
October is typically a month dedicated to all things Halloween. From carving pumpkins to crisp autumn nights made for trick-or-treating, the list of fall festivities is endless. It is also a time when supernatural beings are said to come out to play, and some have chosen Virginia as their stomping grounds. VPM talked to three paranormal investigators to learn more about the ghosts, vampires, and werewolves that haunt the Commonwealth.
One such local haunting can be found in one of Richmond’s most beloved historical landmarks — the Byrd Theatre. Built in Carytown in 1928, the cinema was named after the founder of Richmond, William Byrd II. The magic of Byrd Theatre has touched many souls, some of which decided to remain in the theatre decades after their movie date.
In a phone interview with VPM, paranormal investigator Steve Dills of Transcend Paranormal gave us an insight into the spirits who may still inhabit this building. One of those suspected of occupying the halls is Mr. Robert Coulter, who managed the theatre from 1928 to 1971.
According to Dills, many moviegoers have reported feeling like they’re being watched from the balcony, saying that “either they see somebody sitting there and then they're gone, or there's literally nobody there.” One could say that Robert is simply making sure guests enjoy the theatre he devoted 43 years of his life to.
Dills told us spirits often stay at a place because of an emotional connection. That could explain the presence of a little girl who is said to linger in the women's bathroom. When Steve and his team investigated the theatre in 2012, they were able to pick up the sound of a little girl’s laughter through the use of electronic voice phenomenon technology.
Only miles away from the Byrd Theatre is another historic Richmond landmark, Hollywood Cemetery, where the legend of a vampire began to circulate ten years after a tragic event struck the city.
On Oct. 2, 1925, a train tunnel under Jefferson Park collapsed, killing several men. Just two decades prior to this incident, the same tunnel had earned the nickname “The Tunnel of Death.” Cursed by repeated structural failures, the tunnel proved to be no place for man and was closed off completely. That is until renovations picked up again in 1925.
A city fireman by the name of Ben Mosby and a hired engineer named Tom Mason was amongst those working in the tunnel that fatal day. The crew was only 200 yards from completing the dangerous task when bricks began to fall from the tunnel ceilings. Mosby called out and said, “Look out, Tom, she’s a-comin.” Mason was likely killed upon impact, but a badly bloodied Mosby was able to escape.
Mosby did not survive, but the story of a mysterious man roaming around the tunnel entrance on that October afternoon did. In a phone interview with Beth Houlihan of Haunts of Richmond, VPM learned more about that eerie tale.
Legend has it that witnesses at the 18th Street tunnel entrance saw an impeccably dressed man hovering over Mosby’s wounded body. They say the man left the scene with an unsettling grin and blood-stained teeth. The bystanders cried out, “vampire!” and the chase to find the accused bloodsucker quickly ensued.
The hunt took the mob of angry Richmonders all the way to Hollywood Cemetery. There the vampire is said to have run into the tomb of Mr. William Pool and was never seen again.
This has started a long tradition at Hollywood Cemetery of looking for the legendary Richmond vampire. Houlihan encourages guests to see the tomb today but insists, “It is just an urban legend.”
Another local legend, dating all the way back to the Civil War, is the Henrico Werewolf. The creature is thought to be a spiritual manifestation of a soldier who took the form of a werewolf to ward off people. In an interview with VPM, paranormal investigator Jake Fife shared that many have said the spirit mimics the form of what Virginians call “Dogmen.”
Fife speculates that the howling beast is a hoax, given that the “dogmen” weren’t reported before the early 2000s. Whether the stories of the Henrico Werewolf are true, Fife takes it as an opportunity to better understand the history of Richmond.
Despite the varying perceptions of these paranormal events, the stories behind the Ghost of Byrd Theatre, the Richmond Vampire, and Henrico’s Werewolf continue to connect us to the rich history of Virginia.