Moundsville Penitentiary Shadow Man
This story & photo was featured on the ghost hunter paranormal show "TAPS". Surprisingly the TAPS people slammed this photo & allegedly debunked it as a fake in the show. Mountaneer Ghosts Paranormal Investigators who took the photo were surprised by the TAPS people & believe that they can debunk the TAPS theory.
"My name is Polly Gear. I am from Clarksburg, WV, and co-founded Mountaineer Ghosts Paranormal
Investigators with Misty Davis, and on May 7, 2004, I captured a photograph of a shadow person in the
West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville, WV.
The experience happened that night around 1:30 am - just a few hours after a severe thunder and
lightening storm. I was walking south toward the lobby in the north hallway when I heard a noise from the
doorway to the cafeteria behind me.
I walked back to the doorway and turned on the flash light to see
what the noise could have been. When I reached the doorway that enters the small hallway between the
big hall and the cafeteria, I flipped on my light and saw a black form of a human shadow walking toward
me; but it was looking out the windows to its right as it was walking.
The light from my flashlight shone right
through this shadow person. At this time, the shadow person saw that there was some light on itself.
looked at its arm (where my light was on it), then it looked at me and dashed behind the door frame of the
smaller hallway it was in. I said to myself, 'This is paranormal! I have to get a picture of this!' So as the
shadow dashed behind the door frame, I started slowly walking backward down the big hallway. I threw my
flashlight to the floor as I kept slowly backing off - walking backward. As I was doing this, I got my camera
ready...turned it on and waited for it to be ready to flash.
I some how knew that I had to keep walking
backward or the shadow would leave. As soon as my camera was ready, I held it out and took one photo
shot. It was so dark in the hallway, so I was seriously afraid that I had missed the entire doorway where
the shadow man was. As you can see from the angle of the photo, I nearly missed my opportunity, but my
prayers were answered that I could capture a photo of it.
A little detail on what this shadow person looked like at a distance of 10 feet between it and myself when I
first saw it in the small hallway...this shadow was a perfect outline form/shape of a man - a big man. Inside
the shape, as my flashlight was on it, was really black vibrating static - such as you would see on a TV set
that is off channel...only black! There were no facial features, no hair...no sounds from it.
while walking were somewhat animated - hard to describe it for you to understand. It was definitely a
sentient being; it knew I was there...it looked at me. I was NOT afraid of this shadow...no evil or dark
feelings happened with this. I felt it was just as curious about me as I was of it. I feel that is why it chose to
partially step out into the hallway where I was - to check me out. With the hallway being so dark, I did not
know that it had stepped out until I looked at the photo on the camera right after I took the shot.
saw I had a photo of it, I ran back down the hallway to the area and checked every inch of the cafeteria,
the other hallway, another room off the big hallway and even outside around the cafeteria. There was NO
ONE in the area. I want to mention that on this night we had rented the penitentiary on a private basis and
there were only 15 people there...and 13 of us were women.
Neither of the two men there that evening
were large men. They were men that I knew personally, so I know positively that I did not mistake this for a
real person. I would also like to say that if I had any doubt at all about this photo being a real shadow
person - one that I SAW with my own eyes at a distance of 10 feet, I would not have put this photo out in
the public to be seen. I am showing this photo and telling my story of this experience and swear it to be
truthful in my own words."
Below is the transcript from Angels & Ghosts LLC in which they debunk the debunking of TAPS. I believe that Angels & Ghosts LLC have a very valid point.
On the television show Ghost Hunters, TAPS took Polly’s shadow man photograph and tried to
“debunk” it. As Jason of TAPS stood about ten feet in front of the yellow door, his partner Grant shined
a light from his camera to create a shadow on the door which looked similar in size and shape to the
shadow man image.
They hastily reasoned that the shadow man’s left arm was up, because it was
really Polly’s shadow on the door with her arm holding a camera in the air. This was their proof that the
shadow man ghost picture was most likely not a ghost at all. If one were to use TAPS “anything goes”
guidelines for “debunking,” why not just re-create Polly’s shadow man picture in a photo editing
program? It would be easier and just as plausible as what TAPS did on national TV, but would that
prove her photo was not real? Absolutely, not…so we set out to investigate TAPS conclusion and see
just how good a job they did at discrediting Polly’s photo.
First, when we looked at the un-cropped shadow man picture, it was immediately apparent that Polly
was not standing ten feet away from the door. Carefully, looking at the wall to determine just where
Polly stood, we were easily able to use a tape measure and determine the distance to be around 110
feet from the door. Therefore, TAPS was off in their re-creation by an astounding 100 feet!
better, had Polly’s shadow been cast down the hallway toward the door, it would not have been
contained only on the door, but would have filled the entire wall behind the door and been very light at
best. Our experiments of casting Polly’s shadow down the hall 110 feet proved this.
only other people in the hallway that night who could have possibly cast some light to create such a
dark shadow, were at least another 100-200 feet behind Polly, only armed with small digital cameras.
So, TAPS re-creation was looking more like a hasty, somewhat dishonest examination of the shadow
man picture; but let’s look a little bit closer at the evidence first, shall we?
Second, we noticed something in the shadow man picture that TAPS had also missed. We actually first
saw it on their TV show, so it should have been just as apparent to them. On the right side of the wall,
is a white pipe. It extends from floor to ceiling and if you look at Polly’s photograph closely, you will see
that part of the shadow man was behind the pipe. So the shadow man’s arm was partially cut off from
being behind the pipe! This further proved that Polly’s shadow was not cast onto the door, or it would
have been on the pipe, too. TAPS obviously did not look close enough at the evidence before
discrediting it. We’re still not impressed with TAPS conclusions, but we won’t stop here, for we also
found something else.
Third, we had to place Polly less than ten feet away from the door with a light behind her to create a
shadow that equaled the shadow man in height and darkness. This is why Jason from TAPS stood so
close to the door, also. When looking at Polly’s shadow, it was clear that she has long hair (unlike the
shadow man), and her shadow projected very short legs. Plus, had she snapped a picture of her own
shadow, the flash from her digital camera would have erased it from the door. This would further prove
she could not have taken a picture of her own shadow if her camera’s flash was on. If you notice in
Jason and Grant’s re-creation photo, it was dark and produced with infrared light using no flash. They
knew if they had used a camera with flash, that Jason’s shadow image would have disappeared. It is
nauseating for TAPS to pose as professionals, interviewing Polly for their program; using her
photograph to gain viewers and then falsely discrediting her evidence and story, without any regard for
The shadow man photograph is as authentic as it gets, and TAPS and SciFi’s Ghost Hunters should
not have used guests and their evidence to gain viewers only to discredit them later in the program.
If you have a paranormal photograph or video, you best beware before allowing them to use it on their
Special acknoweledgement to Angels & Ghosts LLC where this transcript was obtained.