before Halloween in 2003, Jake Klinger,
former Lourdes resident assistant, found
himself alone in a cemetery.
He didn’t know what he was going to find
or from whom he was receiving his
All he knew was that he needed to “go
three rows in, five rows over and find
When he came to a sunken tombstone
inscribed “David,” marked with the exact
name and dates that “Ruth” told him,
Klinger knew the evening’s Ouija board
conversation was no fluke.
Ruth, the ghost who allegedly haunts the
fourth floor of Lourdes Hall, had spoken
to him and spoken the truth.
Klinger’s paranormal encounter is just
one of dozens of ghost stories
circulating around Winona State
Andrew Judson, former Lourdes Hall
resident assistant and co-founder of the
yearly program “Ghost Stories from the
Lourdes Attic,” began telling several of
Winona State’s ghost stories as a part
of the residential college in Lourdes
Along with residential college advisors,
Judson began conducting research in the
Winona State archives and within the
Winona Historical Society to uncover any
factual evidence of the alleged
Ruth, the lead character in nearly all
Lourdes Hall ghost stories, is suspected
to have lived in room 4450 in Lourdes in
the early 1800s when the dormitory was
apart of St. Theresa’s college, Judson
According to legend, Ruth, who was
studying to be a nurse, was impregnated
by a catholic priest, Father William,
and hid in the infirmary of the hall
during her term, which is now the hall’s
After the birth of the baby, Father
William, fearful of having his
indiscretion discovered, threw the child
down the hall elevator shaft, forever
haunting the south end of the first
Soon after, Ruth hurled herself down
what is now the third-north stairwell.
Cloaked in guilt, William hung himself
one week later in the church chapel, now
the Lourdes pool.
Today, swimmers still claim to see
William’s body lofting high above the
water and have supposedly felt a
mysterious pull at their leg from time
to time, Judson said.
Klinger, also a former Lourdes resident
assistant, said he asked Ruth to prove
herself by revealing the name of the
current resident in room 4450.
She answered, “Rachel” and then
proceeded to spell out the word “pink”
over and over again on the Ouija board,
That night, knocking on room 4450’s
door, Klinger was greeted by its tenant,
a girl named Rachel, who happened to
decorate her room with pink holiday
Still not believing, Klinger asked Ruth
to prove once more that she was real.
The Ouija board spelled out “ready…now,”
Judson said, and as the game piece slid
across the “w,” Klinger’s phone rang.
No voice was heard on the other end of
the receiver, but the theme song to the
exorcist was eerily distinguishable,
Lourdes Hall is not the only haunted
building on campus, Judson said. Both
Phelps Hall and Richards Hall are
supposedly occupied by spirits.
1970s there was a fire on the third
floor of Phelps, which at the time used
to be a day-care center,” Judson said.
In 2003, a custodian was locking up for
the evening and heard the screams of
three children who were consumed in the
fire, according to Judson.
She has since refused to work evenings
alone in Phelps Hall.
The residents of the second floor of
Richards have claimed to see the outline
of a human going to and from the showers
in the morning, Judson said.
It is assumed that this is the ghost of
a former resident who committed suicide
on that floor in the late 1980s, Judson
No other events have been reported in
Winona State’s thespians also have their
own phantasmal friend.
The story of this apparition, written
and retold by former student Jacque
Reidelberger is even included in the
Winona State student theater handbook.
According to Reidelberger’s tale, a
ghost named Christopher, believed to be
the spirit of former student Christopher
Robb Neidringhaus, allegedly still
haunts the Performing Arts Center.
On Oct. 5, 1973, Christopher was found
unconscious on the floor of the main
stage after falling from the fly gallery
sometime during the evening.
He died from internal bleeding the next
The true cause of Christopher’s death
was never persued, but friends of Chris
claim he was “depressed,”“probably” on
drugs and capable of committing suicide.
To this day, the area of the stage where
Chris died is the only section that is
never disrupted by the leaky roof and
that never has any wasps or bees, stated
Reidelberger also claims that whenever
the ghost fiddles with the lighting
system, the switchboard is always found
in the “C” preset mode.
Unlike Klinger and Reidelberger, many of
those who claim to feel an unexplainable
sudden cool rush of air or see
“something” at the end of a long, dark
hallway do not pursue their encounters.
Perhaps the idea of a ghost hunt is too
far-fetched for even the most intense
Halloween enthusiasts, or maybe the
likelihood of appearing foolish keeps
people from delving deeper into the
Chad Lewis, a Paranormal Investigator
for Unexplained Research LLC and
Research Specialist for the Mutual UFO
Network, agrees that most people are
afraid to report any paranormal
“Most people are worried that they won’t
be believed or that they’ll look crazy,
so they don’t say anything until many
years later or until someone else steps
forward with a similar occurance,” Lewis
Lewis, who holds a masters degree in
psychology, makes his career pursuing
any tips and ghost stories he hears
across the nation and hosts both “The
Unexplained” television series and radio
Lewis and his partner Terry Fisk have
conducted some of their searches in
Winona, but have not found much evidence
regarding the ghost sightings on campus.
“Unfortunately, most colleges can’t
produce the background information for
most ghost stories, so then it just
becomes the same story you hear on every
campus in the country,” Lewis said.
Lewis believes the fascination with
ghost stories is a natural human
“A lot of us ask the question, ‘what
happens when we die,’ and most people
just like the possibility of something
happening,” Lewis said.
Lewis and Fisk wrote The Minnesota
Road Guide to Haunted Locations and
the Web site
highlights some of their trips in search
of the truth behind abnormal encounters.
An adventurer at heart, Lewis encourages
everyone to pursue the unknown, even if
only to experience a thrill and find a
“There’s something to be gained from
getting some friends together, hopping
in the car and heading out for an
adventure,” Lewis said. “No one lies on
their death bed wishing their life was
In his 13 years investigating the
paranormal, Lewis admittedly has
uncovered more questions than answers,
but feels it is his responsibility to
investigate every story as objectively
“I started out skeptical, but the longer
I do this I’m thoroughly convinced
there’s something out there, I just
don’t know what it is,” Lewis said.