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By Alison Oborn

The Old Adelaide Gaol

We all know what it is like. You are trawling through hours and hours of footage of that corridor or wall, trying desperately to stay awake and alert, because you know it will be the moment that your eyes droop that something will no doubt tap dance quickly across your screen. You are having a déjà vu, as you seem to remember having done this many times before without success, which is in fact the true reality of the life of a Paranormal Investigator. Suddenly, there it is!!!!…. the Holy Grail of your hours of hard work!!!…. a piece of footage that is ‘IT’… the bit you have been waiting to get all your life!!! The excitement courses through your veins and immediately you must show it to the world… well.. at least to the other team members!!

How many times, over the years, have we all experienced this? However, how many times have we also gone back through our evidence from years ago, and re-analysed it only to come to a different conclusion?

Several years ago, whilst investigating the Old Adelaide Gaol, PFI caught what we believed at the time to be a remarkable bit of footage of a shadow person coming through a door.

At the time, one of our investigators had been sitting down in the Remand Centre on his own, quietly taking photographs. As he sat there on his own in the dark, he heard in the cells above him the sound of snoring and a person moving as if in a restless sleep. He noted this as unusual, as the gate leading up to the 2nd floor is always locked due to the floor above being unsafe and actually rotting in places. For this reason he knew it couldn’t have been a team member up there. However, we are all used to unusual noises in the Gaol, so he wasn’t too concerned at this point. But the atmosphere in the Remand was starting to change.. it was starting to get decidedly uncomfortable and very unwelcoming. It was when he witnessed what appeared to be the dark shadow of a person moving around at the other end of the block, that he decided that maybe it was time to meet up with the rest of the team, who were on a break at the time, and get some backup.

The Remand Centre

Finishing their coffee, Jeff and Patrick decided to take a stroll down with a video camera and see what was happening. As they were about to enter the Remand, Patrick mentioned that he would REALLY like something to happen, as he had never experienced anything personally on any of our investigations.

“They could at least slam a door,” he stated to Jeff glumly.

With that they entered into the Remand Centre. Immediately they felt the tension in there. An area they had walked through many times before without a problem, now felt a lot more foreboding. Yet still they moved forward knowing also that this then was where they were meant to be. Briefly they heard something down the other end of Remand Centre…

“Hello???!!!!” called out Patrick, believing that maybe somebody was down there.

BANG!!!! They startled as the door in front of them slammed shut as if on queue. What got their curiosity more was when a previously ‘sticky’ door that normally had to be hip and shouldered open, freely opened to over 90 degrees in front of them. . If that wasn’t enough to get their attention, they both witnessed a dark shadow of a person moving up the wall towards them before disappearing. After they regained their composure and discussed what they had both just witnessed, Jeff asked what it was that Patrick had said at the time it all occurred.

“I just shouted hello” Patrick replied.

“HELLO??” Shouted Jeff….. nothing. The door remained unmoved.

“HELLO??!!” Called out Patrick once again…… BANG!!!! The door slammed shut once more.

“Ok….” Patrick faltered…… BANG, BANG!!!!

This time not only did the door slam again, but another door behind them slammed shut and a large laminated cardboard poster near the whipping rack lifted up and slammed violently back to its usual resting place on the wall… a feat hard to achieve… trust me as I have tried to demonstrate many times on the Ghost Tours!!

At the end of the investigation, home we went and over the coming days we checked the footage carefully, and there it was… the capture!!!. What appeared to be a definite figure flitting through the door as it re-opened!!.. Wow!!!

Below is the Stateline story run on the Old Adelaide Gaol at the time. The footage is included in this story.


But… moving 5 years forward… let’s have a closer look at this footage. As PFI have evolved, so has the software that allows us to look at evidence in more depth and I believe, before we have the right to look at other peoples and offer advice, we must first look at our own very carefully.

We have shown this footage many times on tours, and it has never failed to impress people. On closer inspection though, it appears to be no more then a trick of the eye. Like a magician’s trick, it is an unintentional misdirection that allowed ourselves and these people to see this shadow coming back through … but NOT the shadow that goes out, as the door originally closes. People are told to watch for the shadow coming through the door as it re-opens… which they do, intently waiting for that moment… and so totally ignoring the exact same shadow as the door closes. a good experiment in peoples perception in itself!!!… although not intended.

So lets look more closely at some still frames from the footage itself.

Door in closed position showing no shadow on wall

Frame 1 - Door In the process of closing and Frame 2 - Door In the process of opening - Shadow starting to appear in both.

Harder to see the shadow as we enlarge but the pink marker shows the rough height of it in both the sequence of the door shutting and then opening.

Frame 2 of door closing and Frame 2 of door re-opening – Shadow in both photos now clearly visible. The pink marker indicates the same point and height of shadow on both door opening and closing.

Frame 3 - Door Closing - 'Shadow figure' is now clearly visible And again when the door re-opens in Frame 4

And the shadow clearly shows the same shape and the same height on the wall as the door both closes and re-opens.

Clearly this is nothing more then simply the shadow of the door itself on opening and closing. The mind cleverly fills in the gaps and connects the coincidences… plus of course… that ‘Wanting to Believe’ that we all foster deep within ourselves.

So yes, even in the early days we were deceived by our own footage and only just dragged it out to have a closer look with the tools available to us now. As you can see from above it is a simple process to do.

How do we feel about this??? After all we have just lost our greatest bit of footage!!! Well… yes the secret part of us deep down, wishes we had just let sleeping dogs lie… after all it makes a great addition to the incident lol!!!… But the larger, more rational side of us is very happy that we looked at it once more and now have an answer to this… even though it turned out to be a natural answer. If we had continued to turn a blind eye then first of all we would have been lying to ourselves… and that isn’t why my team nor myself entered into this field!!

But at the end of the day…. Just because we have dismissed the ‘shadow’ coming through the door… does it REALLY mean we can dismiss the footage as a whole too??? Maybe not, as we believe the footage still has some importance. It captured an event that was happening at the time. We still can’t explain WHY the door slammed shut on queue and only in response to Patrick. We also can’t explain how a door that gets stuck at the best of times could freely swing back open again after slamming so hard. And what of the shadow figure that the investigators saw coming up the wall towards them? Finally the two doors slamming around them simultaneously and the poster violently slamming back against the wall cannot be so easily explained either, especially on such a still night.

So… like many other possible paranormal occurrences experienced on investigations…. it comes down to this one thing alone… and that is the personal experiences of the investigators, part of which seems to have been caught on video. Sadly, as often is the case, the camera turned out not to have captured the shadow figure that the investigators witnessed but It is certainly an experience and a night that they won’t forget in a hurry!!

So the moral of the story is… don’t be afraid to go back over that old footage or look more closely at the new. And never feel afraid to admit you were wrong. The more we can find natural answers for and be able to dismiss… then what we are left with possibly becomes much more solid and important evidence!!

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