Lowcountry Haunt: The Secrets of Charleston’s Old City Jail
CHARLESTON, SC (FOX 24 NEWS NOW) — In the heart of Charleston lives some of the area’s most famous ghosts, waiting to show you a screaming good time at the Old City Jail.
Tag along with Bulldog Tours for a spooky experience that blends history with the paranormal. “When people come on a tour we cannot guarantee they will encounter spirits, but it is not unusual for people in our tours to catch – on video or on their phones – images of spirits or orbs, which are disembodied spirits floating around in these haunted places,” said tour guide Randy Johnson. “This is one of our primary sites – the old city jail. – regarded as the most haunted building in the state of South Carolina.”
From the moment you walk inside, the feeling is dark, cold and eerie. Standing inside and talking about some of the potential spirits floating around or the people who were actually inside many, many years ago will bring chills to your skin.
But who are some of those residents?
“The most famous resident here would be Lavinia Fisher, who was regarded as America’s first female serial killer. According to her legend, she is a controversial figure. It is believed she was responsible for the deaths of over 120 men between 1818 and 1820,” explained Johnson. “She and her husband were involved in this together, like a Bonnie and Clyde, madly in love. They ran a hotel about 6 miles outside of the city which catered to traveling wagon men coming into the city to sell furs from as far away as Kentucky or Tennessee. They took advantage of this and over a period of about 18 months they murdered these men and buried them around their hotel called Six Mile Wayfarer Inn.”
Eventually though, Lavinia and her husband were exposed. “They were poisoning these men with oleander tea and during the night, in a special room, they would pull a lever causing their beds to fall down into a pit where they would be waiting to finish them off.”
Johnson said for them, it was a surefire method for murder. He says the pair was eventually arrested and brought down to the Charleston City Jail.
“Back in that era of the jails history men and women were not separated. Lavinia was allowed to be with her husband in a cell on one of the mail cell blocks. At one point they were eventually tried and found guilty, making her America’s first female serial killer.”
Once convicted, Johnson said they were brought upstairs and thrown into a cell called Mount Rascal, Charleston’s death row until 1911. The husband, John Fisher, was hanged first.
“When she (Lavinia) was hanged, she was supposed to have been wearing a white wedding dress on the day of her execution – because of an old law in South Carolina that said you couldn’t hang a married woman – after her husband was hanged they brought her up, she’s single again hoping a man would marry her which never happened. So he met her death after saying these famous words: ‘Charlestonians, if you have a message for the devil give it to me now. I’ll pass it to him when I see him tonight.'”
But, she is not gone. Her spirit remains at the old city jail today.
“Many people feel her presence,” said Johnson. “They will feel tingles on their skin.” He says people will also hear her screams or the screams of other women who were kept inside the jail.
“They will also at different times be scratched. Lavinia was famous for scratching people.” Johnson says they have photographs on their Facebook page of people who have been attacked.
“She takes three fingers, her signature, and she swipes people on the back of their necks.”
If you would like to tour any of Charleston’s haunted locations, like the old city jail, and learn about the haunted history associated with them, you can book a tour will Bulldog Tours, just click here to learn more.