ATCHISON, Kan. — Atchison, Kansas, is a town of about 12,000 people and who knows how many spirits.
The city's Chamber of Commerce calls it the most haunted town in Kansas.
People come from all over to hunt ghosts, and one of the most popular spots is the Historic McInteer Villa, a 130-year-old home which the owners swear is haunted.
In fact, Stephanie and Jeff Neal said that’s why they bought it.
"I want people to experience what I love,” Stephanie Neal said. “I love this house. I want people to experience the knockings and the footsteps."
"Right before you showed up today, I was in the bathroom on the second floor, and something was walking towards me, and then walked back the other way,” Neal said. “I thought it was my husband, but nobody was up there with me."
Visitors to the house have heard things too, including footsteps in that same second floor hallway. The Neals said tour guests regularly get spooked.
"If we were to leave you up here or upstairs on the second floor, I'd give you probably an hour,” Jeff Neal said. “You'd come downstairs, and you'd have a different look on your face. I can promise you that."
The Neals don't live here, but have cameras set up all over the house. They've caught footstep sounds in the attic at 4AM, and doors opening in the middle of the night. At least twice, audio recorders have captured what sounds like a voice.
"I was working on a chandelier in the main area, one night around 1 or 2 in the morning,” Jeff Neal said. “Stephanie was already asleep in another wing of the house, and as I was putting my tools away, I distinctly heard a faint woman's voice over my shoulder. She actually complimented me on the chandelier, saying, ‘That looks nice.’ It was very faint, but I know what I heard."
The Neals told 41 Action News' Taylor Hemness they get funny looks sometimes, but no one calls them crazy, at least to their face. Stephanie just said that visitors get scared, and then get hooked.
"I describe it as like a roller coaster,” Stephanie said. “You just get really nervous and scared, and once you're done, you want to do it again."
The Neals have researched the house and its history extensively, and know of at least nine people who have died inside, eight by natural causes, and one by suicide.
During our visit to the house, we were joined by Earthbound Voices Paranormal, a married team of paranormal investigators from Kansas City. Jim and Tami Beth have been to the McInteer Villa before, including in the late night hours.
"We actually had balls of light coming down the stairs, like something was walking down them, and that was pretty cool," Tami Beth said.
In the video of that encounter, you can actually see Jim and Tami a few seconds later, coming down the stairs with flashlights.
But during 41 Action News' visit, they offered to go underground, to see if experiences they've had could be repeated. The basement of the home is undeniably creepy, with exposed brick walls and dirt floors in some of the rooms.
Jim and Tami said they've recorded a voice down here telling them to “get out.” They asked Hemness to speak to that presence, while they filmed the room with a thermal camera.
While I spoke, the temperature readout on the camera spiked from the mid 70s, to 119 degrees, just for a fraction of a second. That was one of three times the temperature fluctuated by more than 40 degrees when he spoke to the room. There's no central air conditioning down there, or anywhere else in the house.
The investigation also included motion sensors. The ones Jim and Tami use are small plastic balls, that light up when they're moved. Three times, once when Hemness spoke to the room, and twice when the group played back the recording of him speaking, the motion sensor lit up.
He tried to force the sensor to light up by walking around the chair, and tapping the back of it hard enough to make the ball shift, but neither had any effect.
Jim and Tami have given some of these motion sensors to the owners of McInteer Villa, and the cameras in the house have caught them lighting up in the early morning hours, when no one is inside the house.
During 41 Action News' visit, no voices, or unexplained sounds of any kind were picked up on recordings.
You can see the McInteer Villa for yourself. The owners allow self-guided tours Thursday, Friday, and Saturday afternoons through the first week of November — but you can't go to the basement. You can book the home for an overnight visit, which includes access to the basement, any day of the year.