Criminal Justice

Exorcism was arranged at old courthouse, former official tells ghost hunters


Construction workers transforming an old jail into office space at a courthouse in New Jersey noticed some strange, possibly paranormal activity, spurring a story about a prisoner who committed suicide.

That’s when family members of the deceased inmate called Joe Manganello, who was a freeholder on the Gloucester County board at the time. The family wanted to perform an exorcism at the Gloucester County Courthouse, Manganello recently told the GCC Ghost Chasers Club. The South Jersey Times covered his speech.

Manganello, now a psychology professor, said administrators decided to leave one cell intact—it had housed the inmate who committed suicide—and that’s where the family gathered. Family members wanted an exorcism because they thought an evil presence might be holding their loved one there. Manganello added that he doesn’t know what happened after the family arrived.

“They were alone doing whatever they did,” he said. Manganello was a county freeholder from 1987 to 1996; the story doesn’t say when the possible exorcism occurred.

For his part, Manganello believes the reports. “Do I believe he committed suicide in that cell? Yes, it happened in the ’80s,” Manganello said. “Do I believe the guys who said they saw weird stuff in there? Yes.” The lights dimmed during Manganello’s speech; the instructor who set up the lighting professed no knowledge about what was going on.

Is there still paranormal activity in Gloucester County? The Jersey Unique Minds Paranormal Society was allowed to investigate at a recently closed county jail on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, according to stories in the South Jersey Times here, here and here. While at the jail JUMPS members reported hearing a big bang after reaching out to the spirits. The bang was similar to a noise reported by a jail staffer. A strange clicking noise was also reported. There appeared to be no earthly explanation.

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