“You might ask what is my association with the place, and I will tell you that there were two men who killed six people in a two week period back in 1948 and they met each other while serving sentences there. Their names were Robert Daniels and John West, and that two week rampage is the subject of my book, The Mansfield Killings.”
And if you happen to be in the Mansfield area on Aug. 30-31, meander over to OSR to meet Scott during a book signing and maybe, just maybe, you may see a ghost.
The Ohio State Reformatory (OSR) has been a landmark in this part of Ohio for over a century.
Located about an hour’s drive north of Columbus, the reformatory boasts two features that make it famous throughout the United States. The first claim to fame is the number of movies shot within its walls which include The Shawshank Redemption and Air Force One among others. The second feature of the Ohio State Reformatory that has made it famous is that it is quite simply haunted.
OSR is considered by many to be in the top ten of the most haunted places in America. Not only has the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures visited the reformatory; it has been explored twice by Syfy channel’s Ghost Hunters show. It has also been featured on Fox Family Channel’s Real Scary Stories, Scariest Places on Earth, and Most Terrifying Places in America.
The prison opened its doors in 1896 to its first 150 young offenders. The doors to the prison closed in 1990 after housing over 155,000 men. Since then it has remained intact by the help of donations and volunteers by the hundreds. Guided tours are conducted throughout the summer months but come to an end in September due to the fact there is no heat in the building.
I have conducted many book signings in my life. Some were good and some not so good, but I never experienced anything like the signings that I have done at the OSR.
I had heard about the eerie things that people had experienced. I believed some but dismissed most of the stories. But that all changed when I sat there and listened to actual witnesses to such events. Even my own daughter had two experiences and she has only visited it a few times.
I think the most astounding story that I have ever heard was told to me by an older man while I was conducting a signing. He pulled out a photograph that he had taken of his brother standing in the aisle next to the empty prison cells. Standing directly behind him was the image of a much bigger man. The man, or ghost or whatever you want to call him, was posing for the picture and standing so close it looked as if he was touching the man. You can clearly see him.
Once a month, about a hundred people are allowed to spend a night in the place. They can come and go as they please looking for ghosts. A friend of mine said that he and his wife decided to spend the night sitting quietly at a table and wait for something to happen. Suddenly a figure poked its head around the corner of a window. They spoke to it and it pulled its head back. It soon reappeared then disappeared. This went on for quite some time until my friend had had enough. He walked over to the window and stuck his head outside to find no ledge, no floor, nothing to stand on.
I was next to my daughter when she took a picture of a window from the outside of the building. It was a part of the building where nobody is allowed. When we looked at the photo, there was a figure standing in the window, and I know for a fact that it was not there when she snapped the picture. She also took a picture of a cell and caught a large pink circle on the wall. We were both staring at that wall and did not see it. She immediately snapped another picture to find nothing there.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. Even the Ghost Hunters from the SciFi network have been there several times.
Do you believe in ghosts? I do.
Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: Outer Banks Publishing Group (October 24, 2012)
Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.4 x 8.4 inches
MANSFIELD, OHIO – The Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society hosted a book signing this Labor Day weekend for Outer Banks Publishing Group author Scott Fields, author of The Mansfield Killings at the historic and haunted Ohio State Reformatory.
Scott said he sold approximately 60 copies of his best selling novel, The Mansfield Killings, based on true events about two ex-cons who went on a 2-week killing spree in the summer of 1948.
The spree attracted national headlines back then ending in a dramatic shootout with police on Route 224 where one ex-con was killed and the other captured.
“I just had to write this book. It took me only four months to finish it,” he said earlier.
The killing spree is part of Mansfield, Ohio’s dark lore, where the state erected an historical highway marker on Route 224 where the killers were confronted and stopped. It’s like the town fathers wanted future generations to remember the horror of that summer more than 60 years ago.
The book signing was held at the Ohio State Reformatory, reputed to be haunted by former prisoners and the location of the filming of the 1994 The Shawshank Redemption, starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman.
Scott’s book signing was part of the 20-year-reunion party of The Shawshank Redemption where fans were treated to a Hollywood tour of the rooms and areas where the movie was filmed.
The Mansfield Killings is available from Amazon in both ebook and print versions and in fine bookstores everywhere.
It was the worst two-week killing spree in Ohio’s history. On the night of July 21, 1948, Robert Daniels and John West entered John and Nolena Niebel’s house in Mansfield, Ohio with loaded guns. They forced the family including the Niebel’s 21-year-old daughter, Phyllis, into their car and drove them to a cornfield just off Fleming Falls Road in Mansfield. The two men instructed the Niebels to remove all of their clothing, and then Robert Daniels shot each of them in the head.
Scott Fields of Mansfield, Ohio was so intrigued by this true story that he turned the horrific events into a page-burning novel that you cannot put down until you turn the last page. During a recent book signing in his hometown of Mansfield, Scott was approached by a man he had never seen before. The man introduced himself and Scott’s jaw dropped.
By Scott Fields
Author of The Mansfield Killings
I had just begun a book signing when a dignified, older man walked through the door. He stood in the back of the room as I finished with the person in front of me. He then approached me and shook my hand introducing himself as Roger Winger. I had no clue as to who he was in spite of his obvious pause as he waited for me to take heed of his presence.
“You don’t know who I am, do you?” he asked.
“No, I don’t,” I said. “Sorry.”
“In July of 1948, I saw the dead bodies of the Neibel family lying in a cornfield off of Flemming Falls Road.”
For several seconds I stood there with mouth open trying to comprehend what he had just told me. “What did you just say?”
“I actually saw the dead bodies.”
I grabbed him by the arm and led him into another room. “How could you have seen such a thing?”
“I was six years old at the time. I lived next to the cornfield where the Niebels were found. That day was like any other summer day. I had seen the group of boy scouts marching down Flemming Falls Road earlier in the day. I hardly gave notice because boy scouts on that road was a common sight to see. Later that day, I stepped outside my house to see find police cars, ambulances and even fire engines all up and down the road. Out of curiosity, I walked down to the cornfield. There were men rushing back and forth but seemed to be concentrating on a spot about 50 feet into the field. I cautiously walked through the corn stalks until I was within a foot or so from the spot where the three people had been shot.”
“Did you see the bodies?” I asked.
“Yes, I did. Their bodies had turned white and were extremely bloated.”
“Was there signs of blood?”
“No. I don’t remember seeing any blood.”
“One of the policemen saw me and yelled at me to get the hell out of here. I took off running thinking they were chasing me.”
“Daniels declared that they did not rape twenty year old Phyllis, and yet the bodies were found completely nude. The first coroner stated that there was no evidence of rape and yet the coroner at Daniel’s trial stated that she had been raped. Why do you think Daniels would admit to everything but deny raping Phyllis?”
“I’m not sure,” said Roger. “I personally think he did it. Back in those days, murder was one thing. Rape was another.”
Small talk followed, and soon we said our goodbyes. I did manage to get his phone number and address, because I have many more questions for him.
Publication Date: December 3, 2012
ISBN 10 – 0982993137
ISBN 13 – 978-0-9829931-3-2
Binding Type: US Trade Paper
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