Ghost Hunting Tales: Okie Pinokie

As promised, today we will briefly talk about Okie Pinokie. Located east of Peru, off of 124 on CR510E, you’ll find a large section of woods, part of the Frances Slocum State Forest, littered with hiking and horse trails, nestled along the Mississinewa River. Isolated, a road leads deep into the woods, ending in a large barren cul-de-sac. It is a very popular spot for trailriders, geocachers, teenagers, and, yes, ghost hunters.

There are innumerable urban legends surrounding the place. Some of the more popular stories describe it as home to a secret “Indian burial ground”, or where the mob used to dump bodies out of Chicago. Still other tales circulate about settlers being massacred by natives, of a young man named Joey murdered in the mid-70s, or a young woman named Stephanie who was raped and tortured in the 60s.

I enjoy hearing stories like these, urban legends that grow up around haunted places. Every community has them. These paranormal hot spots of activity merge with fanciful campfire yarns and grow in the telling, becoming more charged by the energies that people bring into the forest with them.

I had been going out to Okie Pinokie for years, long before I even knew it by that name. I’ve always taken the name to be a bastardization of Okefenokee, as in the infamous swamp rich in Georgia/Florida folklore.

There is an undeniable presence in those woods, all throughout the area to be fair. The Mississinewa is a conduit of paranormal activity. I know, I’ve been exploring here for more than forty years.

In the pictures I’m sharing with you, from September of 2006, you will see an interesting event captured. Note the time stamps.

In this first image, you’ll note what appears to be a whispy figure standing amongst the trees.

Within seconds, another picture taken and the figure is gone, replaced by ascending orbs. I am not here to debate “orb evidence”. I fully understand that most (as in 99%) of orbs captured by digital cameras are dust, water, and/or insects.

For context, I was with a rather large group, a mixture of seasoned investigators and first-time thrill seekers. Moving along one of the thicker trails, an odd feeling began to pass among several of the investigators, with one person feeling downright distraught. One of my colleagues began taking a series of photographs in response, in the direction that seemed to be the source of the discomfort.

Below is an enlargement of the figure from the first image above.

I will leave you with this, a memorial to my dear friend Jack Hill, who left this world for the next on July 30, 2011 at the age of 52. Jack desperately wanted to believe in the existence of spirits, of aliens, and bigfoot, and all the rest, but he had never had an experience. He joined us on that adventure into Okie Pinokie in 2006, skeptical but eager. It was he who pored over all the photos and evp from that evening. It was Jack who spotted the apparition in the photo above.

He was thrilled beyond measure.

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