It wasn’t just the distinct gunshot captured on a digital voice recorder, the heavy footsteps behind a locked door or the three misty images that appeared in the infrared video.
It was a combination of all the sights and sounds picked up by their electronic devices that convinced members of the Southern Paranormal Investigators Inc. the 128-year-old Historic Floyd County Courthouse is haunted.
“But we’re not trying to make you believe in ghosts or spirits,” SPI co-founder Barry Caudle told a group of about 30 employees gathered in the former courtroom Monday night for the “reveal” of the findings.
“We’re here to show you, and it’s up to you to believe or not to believe,” he said.
Tax Commissioner Kevin Payne spent nine hours — from 6 p.m. July 16 to 3 a.m. July 17 — in the courthouse with the investigative team. He was noncommittal about possible ghosts but said he witnessed some unexplained phenomena.
“I didn’t think it was from anything outside, and it wasn’t any of (the SPI team),” he said about three humanoid-shaped blurs recorded flitting across the face of a wall sign.
An Oct. 10, 1951, shooting in the courthouse lobby was the focus of some of the investigation.
Nellie Mae Bosworth, estranged wife of Rome barber Harry Bosworth, gunned down her rival, Eurcell Haney, during divorce proceedings. A jury later acquitted Mrs. Boswell because of her “mental torment.”
Caudle said the gunshot that showed up on a lobby recording and a tiny sound like “Nellie” that came in response to requests for identification could be connected with the crime.
There also were raspy sounds amid recording static that could have been the words “get down” and “run.” A rustling of chains was picked up near the old basement holding cell.
A few noises such as footsteps and loud banging were heard the night of the paranormal investigation, Caudle said, but most were evident only after the recordings were played back later.
Most of the audience left unconvinced, but intrigued by the presentation.
Mary Casey, amused and skeptical, said nothing was proven either way.
“I don’t know if the courthouse is haunted — but no, I’m not scared,” she said with a grin. “There are gargoyles around the outside of the building to protect us from evil ghosts.”
Caudle said SPI investigations at Chieftains Museum and Fort Norton on Jackson Hill turned up much more convincing manifestations.
“They really didn’t want us there at Fort Norton at all,” he said.