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Who ... or what ... is the entity known as The Sergeant?
And what's with the disembodied voices, sounds of approaching footsteps and chairs being thrown against windows by unseen forces?
We spoke with Jay Yates about patrolling the haunted halls of "The Jail," as portrayed in Paranormal Witness Season 5, Episode 10.
How did you become a corrections officer?
Well, nobody ever grows up as a child saying they want to work in a jail. The job was available and they needed people. I guess I thought I would eventually become a peace officer, but I lost motivation after years of getting used to working in the jails.
You mention having heard rumors about the prison before you started working there. What had you heard?
I had heard that the jail was haunted and it was pretty much a dumping ground for officers. Once you were assigned there, it was difficult to transfer out.
Before all this started happening, had you ever had a supernatural or paranormal experience?
I grew up having unexplained things happen to me, but my time at this jail and the experiences there far surpassed any of my experiences in the past. There was no escape. I felt trapped.
You mention that D Tower wasn’t well-kept. Is that a common occurrence in prisons?
D Tower was a dumping ground for inmates with behavioral issues from other units within the jail. The inmates were not those who follow rules such as cleaning their cells or practicing proper hygiene. Fits of rage generally resulted in their throwing trash outside their cells or flooding their cells to either get attention or get back at the officers who work there.
Have you ever had a moment where you tried to find non-paranormal explanations to what happened? What were they?
I looked for natural explanations for every possible paranormal situation I encountered. I would check the lighting and put in work orders for repairs. I physically inspected nearly everything and had other officers inspect areas of concern as well.
Can you describe the changes you started to feel as all of this was happening?
I became withdrawn from fellow officers, family and friends. It was just an overwhelming sense of depression, with mood swings both in and outside of work. Over time, I found myself completely desensitized to any emotion.
When other people started seeing and feeling this presence in the jail, what was your thought?
I thought they were all joking around, possibly playing jokes on each other to pass the time. After I realized we were sharing some of the same experiences, I came to feel a sense of comfort in knowing that I wasn’t the only one.
Have there been any occurrences at the jail since this happened that you know of?
I imagine the haunting continues. I have lost contact with all those that still work there, but I can only assume that whatever's doing the haunting is looking for its next victim.
Has anyone ever expressed skepticism in the story? What do you tell them?
Of course there are skeptics. I can't blame them because seeing is believing. I would not have believed it had I not experienced it first-hand. Officers are trained to focus on naturally occurring dangers of the job, so it is hard for many officers to accept the existence of ghosts.
Did you ever experience any kind of paranormal activity after all of this happened?
I struggle daily with paranormal phenomena, but I have learned how to live alongside the dead due to my own experiences.
What kind of advice would you give someone who finds themselves in a similar situation?
I would suggest getting in contact with a reputable paranormal investigation team for assistance. Set up several interviews with multiple teams and find which one best fits your needs. Don't be afraid to reach out to religious organizations to potentially provide you with peace of mind.
How is everything now?
This haunting has changed both [my wife] Marie and I. These days we lead a team of experienced paranormal investigators into some of the most extreme hauntings that Arizona has to offer. We assist families that struggle with the paranormal and seek only truth, understanding, and proof of the paranormal by any means necessary.