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Reward offered in Sanatorium break-in

StAlbans2-webBy TRAVIS HANDY
travis@southwesttimes.com

When you hear about the supposedly haunted St. Albans Sanatorium, images of ghostly encounters and “Haunted Collector” reruns may come to mind. Early this week, instead of catching evidence of ghosts, the security system picked up another kind of presence in the building.

The once abandoned boys’ school turned mental hospital has become an attraction for Halloween thrill seekers and ghost hunters who show up seasonally or for private or group “paranormal investigations.” At 1:33 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12—during daylight hours—security cameras caught two people exploring on their own after breaking into the building and avoiding alarm sensors.

The intruders reportedly gained entry to the building through a side door at the top of the steps leading to the basement bowling alley, where their images were captured on film. Chuck Thornton, the sanatorium’s head of security, said two white males can be seen on the film looking around the bowling alley with flashlights.

“To us, it seems like they’ve probably been in the building before, because they were able to avoid our alarm system by not tripping any sensors,” Thornton said. He added the building was also broken into last Valentine’s Day, but since installing an alarm system they haven’t experienced any security problems until now. There was no evidence of damage or that anything was stolen from the building.

“When they came into the bowling alley, they both had flashlights,” said Thornton. “One appeared to have a video camera. One had a baseball cap on, turned around backwards. He turned, and when his flashlight shone on the camera, I think they realized that they were on video and they left the bowling alley.”

Roughly 30 seconds of video posted on the attraction’s Facebook page show what appears to be two white males in their mid-20s to 30s, both carrying flashlights and one using what appears to be a cell phone camera. Thornton said it is unclear how long the two were in the building, as they were only spotted less than two minutes in the security video.

The crime has been reported to Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office and an investigation into the incident is ongoing. St. Albans Sanatorium is offering a reward of $100 for each alleged trespasser, if positive identification can be provided. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact either Pulaski Sheriff’s Office at 980-7800 or the sanatorium at 540-260-3111.

“We have an answering machine, so (people are) welcome to call 24 hours a day and leave any information they have, their phone number and contact information,” Thornton said. “If it pans out, we’ll be happy to pay.”

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