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Halloween has passed, but hauntings continue

By Lindsay Liquori
On November 18, 2004

Although Halloween has come and gone, it is not too late for a campus ghost story. Shelley L. Sperling enrolled in Marist College 30 years ago this fall, in 1974 at the age of 17. According to the Poughkeepsie Police Department, Sperling's former boyfriend Louis O. Acevedo, III, 20, shot and killed her in the campus cafeteria on Feb. 18, 1975.

The New York Times said Sperling and Acevedo were high school sweethearts, but that Acevedo had been reluctant to accept Sperling moving on with a new college life. Sperling was walking to the cafeteria when Acevedo chased her and her roommate to the office, where Sperling picked up the phone to call campus security. Police said Acevedo fired at least three shots from a .32 caliber revolver while inside the office. Police found Sperling dead on the floor. She died from a fatal shot to the chest.

Sperling lived on the third floor of Sheahan Hall during her freshman year. Ever since her death, there have been persistent rumors that her ghost continues to haunt the entire dorm. Christina Hope, Marist class of 2003, was the third floor Resident Assistant (RA), of Sheahan from 2001 until 2002. Hope said she did extensive research about the shootings and created a Web site revealing in-depth details about the tragedy.

Hope said that in creating the Web site, thereby compiling the facts about Sperling, she expected the haunting of the dormitory to stop. Another theory is that the haunting stopped when the building was renovated in the summer of 2001. However, many say the haunting continues.

The Web site Hope created, the Shelley link, on, has educated incoming freshman for the past three years, and seems to explain any suspicious behavior residents seem to notice. This Web site may have publicized the ghost story, keeping it a part of today's campus legend.

Caroline A. Moore, a Sheahan third floor resident, said she learned about the Web site Hope created within the first two weeks of school and followed up on the information. Shortly afterwards, Moore said she noticed strange things happening.

"One night when my roommate wasn't home I heard a loud crash at 3 a.m.," said Moore. "When I got out of bed I saw my doorstop knocked over in the middle of the room."

The door stop Moore refers to is a short gnome figurine. She said that its weight makes it something that would not just fall over by itself. Moore also said her printer has started printing by itself on occasion.

Lauren K. Goodwin, another Sheahan third floor resident, said she learned of the Web site within the first two weeks of school as well. Goodwin said her unusual experience happened in the bathroom.

"One night I was in the bathroom and the toilet flushed and I waited for someone to come out," said Goodwin. "But, no one did."

Bathroom incidents have been happening since the summer following the renovation. Katie E. Wachob, Marist class of 2005, lived in Sheahan from 2001-2002. She also said the toilets would flush by themselves, among other incidents.

"One of my roommates and I were laying in our beds and were really hot and were talking about how we wanted to turn on the fan, but neither of us wanted to get up and it turned on," said Wachob. "[Shelly] used to plug in my curling iron and turn it on."

Some residents like Haleigh M. Schellinger, who also lives on Sheahan third floor , say they believe the dorm is haunted.

"I think she is still here," said Schellinger. "I don't think she is a mean ghost and almost feel protected by her as a female."

Schellinger said that the ghost would be more likely to haunt a male resident since Sperling's assailant was a male. She said she would be more scared if she was a guy.

Maraysa G. Schwartz, Champagnat resident, said she does not see specific occurences, but is still apprehensive.

Even though I don't think the dorm is technically haunted it is still eerie," Schwartz said. "Maybe because it's the furthest away dorm or maybe it's because it is surrounded by the only woods on campus."

While Marist students are concerned with Sperling's ghost, it is not the only haunting that is talked about on Route 9. Michael W. Woods, a Sheahan security guard, worked at the Culinary Institute of America before his employment at Marist. Woods said that supposedly the fourth floor of CIA's Roth Hall is haunted.

"It used to be a monastery and now it's haunted by Father Murphy," Woods said. "The fourth floor used to be a crypt where they kept dead priests."

Woods said that he has always been skeptical of ghosts, but one night on duty at CIA he saw solid metal doors open by themselves. He said they did not creak open or blow open by the wind, but enough as if a person was walking through. Woods said the only thing that has happened to him in Sheahan is an occasional clicking noise interrupting his radio program. Woods said he believes ghosts never leave the place they haunt.

"Once they're here they are here pretty much to stay," Woods said.

The idea of a ghost lurking through the dorm still intrigues most students, and many think it will be interesting to see if more strange occurrences take place as February approaches, the 30th anniversary of the shooting.

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