Elijah Burke's spooky experience
LOUISVILLE -- Elijah Burke was given a ghostly experience on Halloween night when he joined Sci Fi's Ghost Hunters at the Waverly Hills Sanatorium. The ECW Superstar joined Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson and their TAPS team for an all-night ghost hunt at the former tuberculosis hospital, which is known as one of the most active paranormal sites in the United States.
Naturally, Elijah was not nervous before entering Waverly Hills, and the tough-as-nails Superstar was prepared for a supernatural experience.
"Let's realize who we're dealing with here. This is Elijah Burke -- I'm the guiding light, but you can call me the black pope of ECW. So there's really nothing that's going to take Elijah out of his comfort zone," he said. "But I guess until we get in there and add the dark element, when all the elements come together with the darkness tonight, then we'll see what happens. Regardless, I'm looking forward to it."
Jason and Grant were excited to have Elijah on hand to help with the investigation of Waverly Hills, where over the course of 50 years, approximately 63,000 tuberculosis patients perished.
"Elijah seems like a really great guy. It's good to have him here. It'll be interesting to see if he has any experiences, and if so, how he handles them," Jason said. "He'll go wherever we go. We're just covering the whole place, so I'm sure he's going to be in many different locations tonight, some pleasant, some not so pleasant. It comes with the territory."
Grant said he was eager to investigate in front of a live television audience with the ECW Superstar.
"Elijah's awesome, and he has law enforcement experience, so he's not just a wrestler coming in here; he has the right kind of experience, the stuff we look for," Grant explained.
"We're going to stick him in there, and teach him how to investigate. I honestly think we're going to learn something from him," Grant said. "We're going to stick him in the most haunted spots, so he can have an experience, since that's what he's famous for."
Elijah indeed had plenty of paranormal experiences on Halloween night. Before the shoot, WWE.com explored portions of the spooky sanatorium with Elijah. We encountered extra cold temperatures in the morgue wing, heard banging from the empty first floor and saw a child's ball move.
"I saw a ball that they said little Timmy played with. The ball moved, and there was absolutely no wind inside of the building," Elijah told WWE.com. "If I run into little Timmy tonight, I can't give him an autograph, but I'm sure little Timmy will have the experience of a lifetime… or of the afterlifetime."
When Elijah began the nighttime investigation of Waverly Hills with Jason and Grant, they encountered what they believe could have been Timmy. They placed markers by the child's ball, and within minutes the ball moved approximately 16 feet. When they asked the spirit to move the ball to make its presence known, the ball rocked as Elijah looked on, with a TAPS camera in hand.
"All we knew was there was a presence that was with us. There was an undeniable energy surrounding that ball, which everyone witnessed," Elijah said. "We targeted Timmy because we heard of the history of Timmy, one of the young children at the sanitorium. So what we wanted to do was focus in on him and see if we could interact with him with the ball. And well, I think you saw the end result."
On the haunted second floor, where Elijah spent time during the day exploring and taking photographs, he saw phantom shadows and reflections at night. The spirits seemed especially drawn to Elijah here. Master of ceremonies, Josh Gates, also host of Sci Fi's Destination Truth, commented that ECW's ‘Guiding Light' could have been the catalyst prompting the spirits to react.
"In my mind, them knowing me as the Elijah Experience, and not really knowing my spiritual side -- that being the black pope -- I'm very open to this stuff. I'm aware of what's out there," he said. "So going in there with an open mind, I think it encourages and eases the entities, the energy that's in the sanatorium. I think I kind of encouraged them to be themselves around me."
Later, Elijah explored the body chute with TAPS investigators Dave Tango and Steve Gonsalves. Inside the chute, also known as the death tunnel, Elijah and the TAPS investigators briefly smelled an odor of must.
"That was crazy. It was very subtle. It wasn't a stench that was in the place. It wasn't very strong, and it didn't overstay its welcome. It wasn't anything we walked into," Elijah explained. "We were standing still, and all of a sudden, the stench like walked by, as if it came and left. It was very sudden. It happened twice."
The body chute was originally used to transport fresh food and goods up the steep hill to the sanatorium, but during the height of the tuberculosis epidemic in the Louisville area, reports say one or more people died there per hour. To keep the morale up in the hospital's hundreds of rooms, the patients weren't exposed to the deceased's bodies. The corpses were released via a pulley system, down the chute to waiting hearses below, which brought them to the crematorium.
Elijah's paranormal experience reached a whole new level toward the end of the show after 2 a.m. While exploring the fourth floor of Waverly Hills with Jason and Grant, Elijah encountered a Waverly Hills shadow person (the building is loaded with them).
"I was standing there and I motioned toward what appeared to be a window in the door. I was trying to get a reflection, and all of a sudden, I see some trees out there, but there's no reflection and I wanted to be sure my mind's not playing tricks on me," he said.
"It was as if all of a sudden that shadow person said, ‘I'm going to show you this,' and stuck his head straight in the window, covering the lights, covering the trees!" Elijah explained. "All I saw was a silhouette of this shadow person, and then he moved back. I looked back at that door, and I saw absolutely nothing out there. There's no extra floor, or extra room -- there's nothing out there!"
A few minutes later, after several other TAPS members approached Elijah, Grant and Jason, Elijah got seriously spooked by a spirit which made a noise and touched his back. The Elijah Express was in full effect as the startled Superstar jumped and ran down the hall away from the others. The chilling moment was just the icing on the cake of a night of numerous supernatural events that rocked Elijah and the Ghost Hunters team.
"You know, you never know what to expect when you get a guest on an investigation, it's potentially dangerous. Elijah picked it up. He had no issues, it was like he had been doing it a lot," Grant told WWE.com. "He was very respectful. He took what we taught him and put it to use, and honestly, we just had a good time. He's a great guy. We couldn't have asked for a better guest."
Jason said their second investigation of Waverly Hills was obviously a huge success for TAPS and the Sci Fi viewers at home, who logged on to scifi.com and hit the virtual panic button more than 150,000 times throughout the six-hour show.
"It was a great investigation. We had a great night with a bunch of activity. It was also good because Elijah got to have some personal experiences, as well. I think that's really important," Jason said.
And as for Elijah's final creepy experience, the one which sent him running down the fourth floor hallway in a panic, the Superstar claimed he wasn't really afraid of the Waverly Hills ghosts.
"It was quite simple, I was getting a little tense. I needed to stretch out. I wanted to get a little loose there, I didn't want to fall asleep or anything. So I thought, why not go on a quick, two-minute jog?" he smiled.
Overall, Elijah said his time with the Ghost Hunters at Waverly Hills was an experience he won't soon forget.
"One thing I do promise is that whatever I do, our fans know that I'm going to give them 110 percent," he said. "Obviously, I didn't just have an experience at the sanatorium, but the Waverly Hills Sanatorium and everyone that tuned in to Sci Fi's Ghost Hunters Halloween special, they all received an experience like none other, quite frankly, the Elijah Experience."
Tune in to Ghost Hunters next Wednesday, Nov. 7, at 9 p.m. on Sci Fi to watch a recap and the results of the evidence found during the Halloween hunt at Waverly Hills. Also, the TAPS team will reveal the winner of their Hunt for the Hunter contest.