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)

West Lafayette
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 73°
Kokomo
Partly Cloudy
67° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 67°
Rensselaer
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 63°
Fowler
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 73°
Williamsport
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 67°
Crawfordsville
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 72°
Frankfort
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 72°
Delphi
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 71°
Monticello
Partly Cloudy
71° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 71°
Logansport
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 64°
Very warm to hot & increasingly humid weekend...
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 926604

Reported Deaths: 15083
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1262201958
Lake626901087
Allen52772747
Hamilton43283445
St. Joseph41475584
Elkhart33129488
Vanderburgh29927439
Tippecanoe26589247
Johnson23267415
Hendricks21902340
Porter21473341
Clark17150224
Madison17065379
Vigo15815273
Monroe14298190
LaPorte14108237
Delaware13771219
Howard13635262
Kosciusko11232134
Hancock10637160
Warrick10523176
Bartholomew10341167
Floyd10200202
Wayne9690218
Grant8939196
Morgan8734158
Boone8299109
Dubois7596123
Henry7469128
Dearborn745187
Noble7294101
Marshall7237128
Cass7097117
Lawrence6862150
Shelby6457107
Jackson643981
Gibson6036106
Harrison595585
Huntington591891
Montgomery5706102
DeKalb563591
Knox537599
Miami531983
Clinton527164
Putnam525367
Whitley516251
Steuben486367
Wabash477492
Jasper471961
Jefferson461991
Ripley444175
Adams439365
Daviess4064106
Scott394963
White386257
Clay382356
Greene380189
Wells379683
Decatur379595
Fayette367176
Posey354941
Jennings346356
Washington325847
LaGrange315774
Spencer313034
Fountain309753
Randolph305487
Sullivan299447
Owen279161
Starke272761
Orange272659
Fulton268851
Jay250634
Perry247451
Carroll241127
Franklin233637
Vermillion229750
Rush228930
Parke215220
Tipton206754
Pike202538
Blackford165634
Pulaski158751
Crawford142818
Newton140742
Benton139816
Brown132646
Martin126916
Switzerland123510
Warren113416
Union93511
Ohio77211
Unassigned0468

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events