November 30, 2023

A team of modern-day ghost hunters from Hub City Paranormal Research embarked on an eerie adventure to test their instruments at the site of a former New Brunswick jail believed by many to be haunted by the spirit of a convicted axe murderer.

Before Janet Clouston, managing director of Albert County Museum, walks into the old jail, she says she always knocks before she enters, convinced that the spirit of the convicted murderer hanged outside of the jail over a century ago still lingers inside, “I think he is here, and I think he is confused,” Clouston said.

Ghost hunters from Hub City Paranormal Research explored the former jail on Sunday, focusing their efforts on the cell where the convicted axe murderer, Tom Collins, spent more than a year locked up in the early 1900s. Collins, 22, was tried three times for the same crime, a legal rarity in Canada.

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“They put him on trial three times for the same crime and never in Canada had anybody been put on trial three times for murder and it was him,” Clouston said.

She said that Collins was found guilty during his third trial and hung behind the prison in November 1907. For a period of time, his body was buried in the woods next to the jail.

She said she believes that his spirit never truly left, as she and many others had experienced unexplained signs of his presence over the years: “People hearing footsteps and a Nickelodeon record player upstairs will just start suddenly start playing.”

The paranormal investigators set up night vision cameras and used radio frequency recorders to capture the voices of the dead, all while working in near-complete darkness with the actual murder weapon, the axe, mounted on the wall in the next cell.

“In the back cell, where he spent the last year of his life, there is definitely a presence,” said Rachel Desmeules, one of the investigators.

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She claimed she detected a presence during the investigation, hearing the voice of a man on her instruments that said: “I hear you.”

“It was a male’s voice, and it was very much louder and clearer than anything else,” she said.

But the team said that capturing evidence of Collins’ unsettled soul would require hours of reviewing video footage.

Clouston said that many people still believe to this day in Collins’ innocence.

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