February 2004 - Orange County History
Center - Orlando, Florida
County, and Orlando, grew rapidly around the
turn of the century and was already on it's
fifth courthouses since 1856. In the mid 1920s,
Orange County needed a sixth, more modern courthouse
as well as a new jail. So between 1925 and 1927,
a new courthouse was built adjacent to the current
courthouse that was built in 1892 . Designed
in the Beaux-Arts style, the five-story limestone
structure included a jail on the top floor.
courthouse was used for seventy-one years. There
were additions and annexes added throughout
those years, one in particular in 1959 that
more than doubled the size of the courthouse,
but by the mid 1980's it was clear that Orange
County had yet again out grew their facilities.
So plans were made to build a four building
complex with a 24-story tower to become the
new home of the Orange County judicial system.
This new courthouse, the eighth in Orlando’s
history, was completed in 1998. The old courthouse
was then restored to it's original appearance
and re-opened in 2000 as the Orange County History
- 1856 Courthouse - an abandoned
- 1863 Courthouse - two-story
- 1869 Courthouse - two-story
- 1875 Courthouse - three-story
- 1892 Courthouse - three-story
- 1927 Courthouse
- five-story structure
- 1959 Courthouse Annex -
- 1998 Courthouse - twenty-four-story
- 2000 Orange
County History Center
Bundy, one of the most well known serial killers
in modern day history, was also tried
in this very courthouse. On January 7, 1980
the Kimberly Leach Trial began. Ted Bundy
was convicted less than a year earlier in
a Miami courthouse for the murder and brutal
attacks on some Chi Omega sorority sisters,
where he represented himself. However in this
trial he turned over the responsibilities
to a defense attorney. Their strategy was
to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.
Ted Bundy became increasingly agitated throughout
the trial, and even went as far as to carve
his name into the defendant table during the
trial, trying to give credence to his plea.
However, exactly one month after the trial
began, on February 7th, after less than seven
hours of deliberation the jury returned the
verdict, "GUILTY." The verdict was
immediately followed by jubilation from the
prosecution team and their supporters.
While very interesting, Ted Bundy
is not stated in the legend to be haunting this courthouse.
However, a little girl named Emily is. Although I
can not find anything solid on this little girl I
did find out that Emily had apparently met a sad end
in the city’s foster care system years ago,
and haunts the courthouse due to the fact it was the
last place she saw her family intact. This could be
why the legend says she seeks out father figures.
Likewise, nothing solid could be
found about frank, other than he was a guard at one
time, or about the criminal that escaped from the
jail. It's a known fact that there was a jail on the
fifth floor and inmates did manage to escape from
time to time, but as legends are, it is very unspecific
as to who, what, when, where, why, or how. If there
is a violent spirit I want to find him...maybe we'll
February 13, 2004:
As part of the Orlando
Ghost Tour, we were granted access to this old
courthouse where many ghost stories abound from. I
asked the guide about the few stated in the legend
and he confirmed all of them, and even added a few
out on the first floor where we were given some
real ghost detecting equipment. The first piece
of equipment we were given was a laser temperature
sensor. The two guides instructed us to point
the sensor in four different directions and
observe the temperature changes, if any. The
temperature did vary many times, but only by
2 or 3 degrees. While they were ecstatic about
this, I knew from my experience of temperature
and humidity monitoring in Cleanrooms, a temperature
variation is normal. Especially only 2 or 3
degrees. This piece of equipment offered no
proof of a haunting or of spirits.
piece of equipment we were given was an electromagnetic
energy detector. They said to hold down a button
and walk around with it. When we happened upon
a ghost, the normally green LED light would
start to turn to yellow, then red. Oh, but wait!
They warned us not to go too close to outlets
because the electrical wires behind the walls
would give us a false reading. We found out
quickly that cell phones and cameras would also
make the meter read red. This piece of equipment
is very unreliable. I think you'd have better
luck finding a ghost using a $9 stud finder
the introduction to the equipment done with, we headed
upstairs to the haunted courtroom on the third floor.
The courthouse is exactly as it was when it was in
use. Immediately we were all drawn to the defense
table where Ted Bundy's name was carved. While we
were in there the guide told the story of Emily, and
he mentioned Frank the guard. He told us to be quiet
and listen closely. He encouraged us to close our
eyes and just take in our surroundings. We tried.
I tried. Nothing.
We were then taken to the jury deliberation
room that is located just down the hall from the courtroom.
Again were were encouraged to be quiet and listen.
Emily apparently likes to hang out here the best.
We had a blind man in our group named Gary. Gary at
one point was being led around by the guide asking
him questions. I walked next to them for a moment
and at the same time Gary and myself felt a rush of
air. However the guide said he didn't. Now, there
were many people walking around the room, but this
was a rush of air, and had far greater velocity than
that of someone walking. I couldn't tell if it was
something from an air conditioner vent or not. It
was dark and no way of telling if the air had just
turned on or shut off. I did go back to the spot and
we used some of the ghost equipment, but nothing was
detected or felt again.
was getting close to wrapping up when someone
found something interesting in the jury room.
There was a dry erase board on wheels over in
a corner of the room. Behind this board was
a mirror. On this mirror was a little imprint
of a hand. Possible a child's hand print. Immediately
the guide as well as some over the top believers
said it was proof of Emily. I couldn't help
myself. I had to point out the fact that in
a room no more than 20 feet away was were they
have many children daily. Then the guide admitted
that they also use the jury room as another
larger activity room where children can draw
and paint. With that said the few of us that
remained packed up and headed out.
completion of this hunt I am willing to say that this
old courthouse is 100% not haunted. We were there
for a few hours and challenged many of the stories.
We, and the group with us, took probably close to
1,000 pictures and countless hours of video as a whole.
NOTHING supporting or even hinting
to a ghost presence or a haunting was found. If that
isn't good enough for you radicals out there and think
I'm just bias in my conclusion, on the way out I ask
the security guard what he has experienced and/or
seen since he spends almost every night in this building
alone, performing many walk through's throughout the
night. This guard said he has seen absolutely nothing!
After laying this legend to rest, this statement from
the security guard, in my opinion, is the nail that
seals the coffin on this legend.