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Haunted Lafayette: Inmates may still haunt old Benton County jail

In the small town of Fowler sits an old jail with a big story.

Posted: Oct 28, 2020 3:46 AM
Updated: Oct 28, 2020 7:09 AM

BENTON COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — If you take a short drive out of Lafayette, you'll find the small town of Fowler.

Built in 1876, just 3 years after the town of Fowler was established, the old Benton County jail is home to years of history.
The jail housed numerous inmates through 1997.


Paranormal investigators pick up a "growl" while in the women's wing.

The most infamous, Jacob Nelling, may have stuck around long after his time behind bars.

"In 1883 he had brutally murdered a 15-year-old girl." My Haunted Fowler's Dwight Snethen explained Nelling's crime. "She was strangled and stabbed to death with a pocket knife."

According to history, Nelling never had his day in court.

"Some concerned citizens broke into the jail, dragged him out, and they hung him about 200 yards from the family home," Snethen told News 18.

Many people believe Nelling now haunts the jail ever since the day he was lynched.

The activity isn't confirmed to be Nelling, but paranormal teams often pick up strange sounds when recording in the building. Those sounds often consist of strange voices and growls.

"I've been here in a lot of those instances and been in the near vicinity. I didn't notice anything." Snethen explained to us.

"They [investigators] pick up a growl; they pick up a sound. I can tell it wasn't anybody in the room. It just came from somewhere else."

Snethen also told News 18 he's seen and heard weird things in areas other than the cells. That includes the living space that used to house the sheriff and their spouse.

"We have consistently had motion-activated devices going off in the middle of the night." Snethen described.

While News 18 was covering this story, the paranormal investigative team appeared to capture a growl coming from the former women's wing.

At another point in the night, the team may have visually picked up on a spirit using one of their devices.

Although the former jail holds some heavy moments, the Fowler community has adopted the stories as their own American haunting

"There's not been a lot of doubters. In fact, it seems as if the town embraces the kind of "haunted-ness," if you will." Snethen told us.

Snethen says if you ever hear something odd while in Fowler, be open to the possibility it could be "something else."

To learn more or book an investigation at the old Benton County jail or the Fowler Theater, click here

Watch previous "Haunted Lafayette" stories below:

Top Notch Bar (2020)

Pierce Cemetery (2019)

The Fowler Theater (2019)

New York Street Murder (2018)

Amelia Earhart and Hangar Number One (2018)

The Pythian Home (2018)

The Tippecanoe County Triple Execution (2017)

The Lahr House Guillotine (2017)

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