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State Press Play: Is the Matthews Center haunted?

Making sense of reported ghost sightings with a local paranormal investigator

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"Hello? Is someone there?" Illustration published on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018.

Halloween once again gives the ASU community an opportunity to remind ourselves of the laundry list of reportedly haunted buildings around campus. 

Rumors of ghostly encounters and other strange happenings in Matthews Center are still prevalent amongst students and faculty to this day. These hauntings are typically attributed to unconfirmed stories of the deaths of a librarian and firefighter around Great Depression era.

Jaime Veik, case manager and investigator from the Phoenix Arizona Paranormal Society, details some of his knowledge and experience with supernatural sightings, similar to those reported in Matthews Center.

Alfred Varela: As Halloween is once again upon us, what better way to engage the holiday spirit than to remind ourselves of the most supposedly haunted places around campus. Just north of the Hayden Lawn lies Matthew Center. Initially the first library to be established at ASU, this historic building has served as a focal point of academic life since its inception. However, the Matthews Center is also infamously known for unconfirmed reports of paranormal activity. For years, rumors of mysterious and otherworldly experiences have plagued the facility and continue to do so to this day. Supposedly the building is haunted by several different ghosts, including a librarian and a firefighter who died in the building stairwell during a fire nearly a century ago. In addition, reports of other ghostly encounters around the building from late night maintenance workers are still common. Assuming these reports have validity, how could one distinguish what places may or may not be haunted, so to speak? In other words, why would a building like the Matthews Center be haunted while other places of reported deaths may not?

Jaime Veik: Well, it just depends on what kind of deaths they were. If somebody died somewhere, and it was sudden death, the theory is that a lot of times those souls don't realize that they're dead, so it might linger around and try to talk to people, you know, and try to get their attention. They might think that the location they're at is still theirs, so they're going to occupy it. Some other souls, if they've died maybe of just natural causes, and they're at peace with themselves, they'll cross over or transition. They're going to go into the light and not really stick around as a ghost if that makes sense – and a lot of places and homes and stuff where there have been sudden deaths or really horrific deaths. Like maybe murder? Usually if there's a murder or maybe a suicide or something, we see that maybe those souls tend to stick around longer because if they maybe cross into that light to the other side, they might be condemned, and they don't want to be condemned. Like on Earth, they still have free will, so they don't necessarily want to go into that light, so they might just stay earthbound. 

My name is Jamie Veik, and I am one of the investigators and case manager for the Phoenix Arizona Paranormal Society. Basically, our role in the community is not to help people rid their ghosts but to help verify or validate that they have some sort of paranormal activity going on in their residences. 

Alfred Varela: But how could we know the reports from Matthew Center have any legitimacy. Rather, if one were to experience a paranormal encounter whilst roaming the halls, what sorts of things could we expect to happen?

Jaime Veik: Everybody has their intuition. You know everybody's born with this intuition. More often than not, you just kind of know something's there. You can feel it. There might be a little higher energy in the building, your hairs on your arm might rise a little bit, or the back of your neck. You know those are just your gut feelings. If you hear footsteps, you see shadows or hear voices, sometimes ghost can manifest energy quite a bit where when they're talking to you, you might be able to hear it just a little bit. Those are the number one reasons why people think that their house or location is haunted because they hear stuff, see stuff and feel stuff. 

Alfred Varela: The litany of ghost movies produced over the years certainly don't cast ghosts in a positive light. Lingering souls almost always have a negative connotation attached to them. As a result, most assume that ghosts are almost always malicious. But in the experience of a paranormal investigator, is that always the case?

Jaime Veik: I've been on a lot of different investigations, and I think ghosts for the most part are benevolent. You know, they don't really mean any harm – they're just there. Some of them we think just need help. They might be trying to capture our attention. We've never really come across what we call a 'dark entity' that's trying to hurt anybody. You know, none of us have ever been scratched or anything like that. We've all felt the tugs and the pokes, and grabbed at the legs or arms or hair, but nothing really mean or malicious at all. This is not to say that that's not the case ever – you know, there's been cases, a lot of cases out there, where older properties and older buildings where people were massacred, stuff like that. You're gonna find probably more cases like that where you can have malicious intent with the spirits. More often than not, you're not going to find anything negative. 

Alfred Varela: So hypothetically, if as a collective, the ASU student body wanted to rid the building of its ghostly occupants, is that something that a paranormal investigator has found to be possible? Or are these souls bound to stalking unsuspecting maintenance workers for eternity?

Jaime Veik: I don't think it's a proven fact that anyone can move a spirit or ghost along towards that light or just have it go away. You can have a ministry come out and bless the home, but a lot of times that just doesn't seem to work. They might just think that's laughable. A lot of people will burn sage and go around the house with it. It seems like that might work for a couple of days, and then they'll see the activity start up again, so it's just hard to say, in my research that I've done, that we've done as a team. It just seems like the most spirits that are able to be helped cross over and go away are done by really good mediums because a medium can contact the other side, so they might be able to have "a one-on-one conversation" and make them realize that it's time to go.
Nobody really has the answers one hundred percent – we just kind of speculate what happens.

Alfred Varela: From the perspective of a paranormal investigator, Veik leaves all of ASU, skeptics and believers alike, with this.

Jaime Veik: Keep your mind open about anything paranormal or even about the spirit world. You can just try to get out of your mundane day-to-day life and just know that there's something else going on that's bigger than all of us. There's a lot of groups out there, (and) there are a lot of people that think their homes are haunted, so a lot of people scoff at it or are skeptical. I get that everybody needs to be skeptical. Even when we go and investigate the property, we're always skeptical. We always think that with everything we get, we're going to make sure that we try to debunk it 100 percent. After we tried everything we can to debunk it and using what's left, we have to maybe just deem it paranormal because there might not be any other explanation. Doors open on their own, toys just turn on and off on their own without any batteries in there, so what's causing that? Keep an open mind about everything in your daily lives.

Alfred Varela: So the next time you're forced to pay a visit to the Matthews Center, remember that while all of these supposed deaths and hauntings remain unconfirmed, don't be surprised if you join the ranks of many who have experienced something seemingly inexplicable.

For The State Press, I'm Alfred Varela.

Previous episodes:

State Press Play: Where do ASU's homecoming traditions originate?

State Press Play: The creation of ASU's monument to Pat Tillman

State Press Play: The subterranean world just below ASU

Reach the reporter at and on Twitter @avstatepress.

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