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The Squirrel Cage Jail Revisit

Case Number: 006-081812

Case Type: Business (Official Website)


Name: The Squirrel Cage Jail

Built: 1885

Stories: 4 Stories + Basement (Basement not accessible)

History: The building was built in 1885 and was used as a jail until 1969. Before The Squirrel Cage Jail was built the St. Paul's Episcopal Church morgue was on the property. The Squirrel Cage was a three level rotary jail. It was inescapable because only one door on each level could be opened at once. One inmate was able to escape by ripping out the lining on his toilet and escaping into the sewers. "This is how it was told to me by Ryan Roenfeld: four men (between 1960 & 1969) broke the radiator causing it to make noises all night. This way the warden would not check on them. Then they broke a leg off the picnic table. They used the leg to dig through the steel and the bricks. These guys even left a note saying we needed a new jail. The four headed over the fence, three made it, the fourth impaled his leg and hung out for 6 hours before being let down. he didn't scream for help because he wanted to allow his three friends a better chance to escape. After three hours the three guys were back in their cells and after about 6 hours they got the fourth guy off the fence.

Now, in going through the actual records, I haven't been able to find all of this but they didn't always record everything. I have found the escape, the only variance is the records say the fourth guy was never caught. The method of escape, the note, the three being caught are all on our records. The bad thing is that the actual state records often times will cover up any wrong doing or mistreatment of inmates.

There is a lot of our information that we end up getting documented accounts from those involved, their diaries and their family. So I'm still checking." states Carla, one of the tour guides at the jail.

Since the cells moved people were worried that limbs could be torn off or heads could be crushed when the cells moved, or the gears could stick leaving many with out food, water, or medical help for days on end. So they shut all the rotary jails down except for The Squirrel Cage Jail.

They also housed children in a different wing who's parents were incarcerated.

More history can be found here.

Reported Deaths on the property: 4 People. One prisoner died of a heart attack, one in a three story fall trying to carve his name into the ceiling, and one prisoner hung himself in his cell. The other was of a jailer who accidentally killed himself in the confusion of fortifying the facility from an angry mob in the 1932 Farmer's Holiday Strike. (As depicted on the website.) Later we come to find that he got shot by a fellow jailer while in a demonstration of how to use a machine gun.

Reported Sightings: Unusual sounds, a lady singing, Unexplained lights, the feeling of being watched or followed, full bodied apparitions on film as well as children's voices on tape, and an occasional ghostly cat.

Reason to Investigate: N/A We contacted them.


Date: August 18th 2012

Time: 8:00pm - 4:30am

Setup: 8:20pm - 10:00pm

K2 (EMF) Sweep: 8:30pm - 9:00pm

Investigation Start: 10:00pm

Take Down: 3:30am

Investigators: Founder - Maggie Beshilas, Lead Investigators - Stephanie Perrine, Stacey Jarman, and Danii Thompson. Case Manager - Aly Vanderboegh. Investigators - Tara. and Investigators in training at the moment - Dyllon, Mellissa, and Alyssa.

Equipment: Maggie: 4-channel DVR (Digital Video Recorder), Hi-8 Video Camera, Full Spectrum Video Camera, EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) Digital Voice Recorder, K2 EMF (Electromagnetic Field Detector), Mel-Meter EMF Detector, and Radios x4.

Mike and Steph: Digital Camera x2

Stacey: Full Spectrum Video Camera, EVP, Parabolic dish, K2 EMF Detector, and a digital camera.

Danii: EVP, and an Ovilus.

Tara: K2 EMF Detector.

Dyllon: EVP.

U.S. Naval Observatory

Astronomical Applications Department

Sun and Moon Data for One Day

The following information is provided for Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie County, Iowa (longitude W95.9, latitude N41.3):


18 August 2012

Central Daylight Time  


Begin civil twilight


Sun transit 


End civil twilight

6:07 a.m.

6:36 a.m.

1:27 p.m.

8:17 p.m.

8:47 p.m.          




Moon transit



8:01 p.m. on preceding day

7:47 a.m.

2:14 p.m.

8:32 p.m.

8:55 a.m. on following day

Phase of the Moon on 18 August: waxing crescent with 2% of the Moon's visible disk illuminated.

New Moon on 17 August 2012 at 10:55 a.m. Central Daylight Time.

Weather Underground



Numbers of hours recorded: 4.5 hours on DVR x 4 cameras, 3 hours on Hi-8 camera, and 1 hour of Full Spectrum.

Confirmed Activity: 2 EVP's on Full Spectrum

Interesting Activity: 14 cases of our DVR Cameras randomly going fuzzy like a VHS player. It only happened on 3 out of the 4 cameras.


Numbers of Photos Taken: 185

Digital Camera: 185

Hi-8 Camera: 0

Confirmed: 0

Debunked: 185

Yet to be Debunked: 0

EVP Recordings: 2

Confirmed: 2

Debunked: 0

Interesting (Not Evidence): 0

EMF Conversations: 0

Mel Meter Conversations or Temperature Spikes:

Conversations: 0

EMF Spikes: 0

REM Conversations: 0


Temp Spikes:


Personal Experiences:

Feeling like your being watched: 9 people

Being Touched: 1

Unexplainable encounters: 7


Encounter 1: Stephanie heard voices while she was in control center (The kitchen) when she went to the door they stoped.

          Encounter 2: At around 9:35pm multiple people in the kitchen (Steph, Mellissa, Dyllon, Danii, Aly, and Alyssa) saw the oven door open a ways then close. "It squeaked and creaked. We were talking about spirituality and mediums. It latched itself again . No one had moved except for earlier the door was slammed about five or ten minutes earlier. (It is possible that is what it could have been.) Mellissa had sat down by the oven about a minute earlier. We she sat down again to try and recreate it and no intentional or repeated movement triggered a repeat event." ~ Aly.

Encounter 3: " It was just Mellissa and myself in the Infirmary on the 3rd floor. (We were the only two people inside while the others were in the courtyard, besides the person watching the DVR.) The time was from Midnight to 1:00am. We heard footsteps and when I asked if they had purposely injured themselves to get out of their cell and come to the infirmary. You could plainly hear a loud YES- like whisper in between Mellissa and Myself." ~ Maggie.

          Encounter 4 Team: Dyllon, Alyssa, Maggie, and Aly. Time: 11:00pm - 12:00pm "I asked the spirits to move the string for the light in one of the second floor cells. It moved heavily then I asked to move it again to be sure it was them who moved it and it moved lightly. I asked if we were bothering them and the Ovilus said "No". ~ Dyllon.

          Encounter 5: Team: Maggie, Alyssa, Dyllon, and Aly. Time: 11:00pm - 12:00pm "The Ovilus said multiple things: Warden, Friend, Robert, and Yes (when Dyllon said would you like to join me in your cell? ~ Maggie.

          Encounter 6: "I thought I heard a cat or other animal make some kind of mewing sound just before a team change." ~ Steph.

          Encounter 7: I heard what sounded like an Ovilus even though it was off and also heard conversations.

~~~~Return to case files.~~~~

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