Never talk about strange experiences unless you have a witness. An eerie cop story...
The Phantom Jogger
Cops are supposed to be hardheaded, fact seeking folks who are seldom, if ever, given to flights of the imagination. With that said, I will be the first to admit that on occasion, my imagination has been known to wander a bit. Over the years there have been strange sounds and things that went bump in the night that definitely got my attention and made my eyes grow big, even if only for a moment.
While burglars, drunk drivers, wife beaters and bar fighters can usually be assessed and dealt with using earthly means, there are other things which I have encountered over the years that, shall we say, fell into a "Different" category.
Any cop who has worked enough years of graveyard shifts will inevitably acquire a personal library of such happenings. Along those same lines, no cop in his right mind would ever go around telling those stories to just anyone. Perhaps a midnight chat with another officer or stories told as “fiction” to young children and others around the campfire but never told in such a way as to question the story teller’s veracity or sanity.
I work in a small town and whenever word about "this" or "that" gets out it usually spreads like wildfire. Keeping that thought in mind I could just imagine myself in court preparing to testify about one thing or another. I would start out by taking the oath to tell the truth before seating myself on the witness stand. Questions from the defense attorney, who would probably be someone I knew, would start off something like this:
“Sergeant, isn’t it true that you have worked in one capacity or another for the Police Department for quite some time”
“Yes, sir” I would answer.
“And isn’t it also true that you are under oath and have sworn to tell the truth here in court today?”
“Would it be fair to say that you are a rational person who does his best to observe what goes on around him and to later accurately testify about those observations in court if it should become necessary?”
The attorney would then briefly pause before addressing the court.
“Your honor. I’m sure that the court agrees that credibility is a very important part of any testimony which will be heard here today.”
The judge, whom I would also know, would nod his head sagely.
“With that thought in mind, I would like to ask the court to bear with me while I ask the good Sergeant several questions about some of his experiences as a police officer. I feel that this will be very helpful in establishing a basis for his credibility.”
“You may proceed, counselor” the judge would intone.
Now the attorney would spin towards me with a wolfish grin on his face and ask:
“Sergeant, have you ever heard of a one eyed one horned flying purple people eater?”
“Yes, I have” I would have to say.
“And isn’t it true that you claimed to have actually seen a one eyed one horned flying purple people eater while out on patrol for the Police Department three years ago last June?”
The court would then erupt in laughter as the defense attorney rested his case in regards to my credibility.
No, if cops have seen unusual or weird things, they don’t talk about them, unless: Someone else sees it too.
2315 hours (That’s 11:15pm to most folks) on Halloween night, 1973. I had just finished working a “B” watch, which runs from three in the afternoon until eleven at night. My car was parked out in the lot and I needed to get my shotgun and report case out of it and stow them in the station before going home.
As I walked outside I saw my partner Ed, who had also been emptying his gear out, standing very still by the side of his squad car and staring off towards the south side of the lot.
“Look there” he said, pointing.
Looking off towards where he was pointing I saw a fellow, all dressed in white, jogging eastbound on Washington Street. The guy first came into view from in front of the Fire Station and was running towards an old white office building which occupied the southeast lot off of the intersection of South Broadway and East Washington Street.
It was kind of unusual for anyone to be out jogging at that time of night, even on Halloween and so the guy immediately had my undivided attention. I saw that he was wearing a full white sweat suit with a hood that completely hid his face and head to view from the side, which was where I was standing. In addition, I remember specifically listening for, and not hearing, any sound of his feet hitting the ground. He was moving in total silence.
He was actually in our view for about a block before he crossed South Broadway and headed over to the the south east corner of the intersection. He then ran to the side of the old office building and disappeared behind a small clump of lilac bushes which were growing next to the wall.
It was a perfect set-up for us. The guy had no where to go unless he were to re-emerge from behind the bushes and run along about forty feet of open wall in either direction.
I backed over to my patrol car, never once taking my eyes off of the lilac bushes as Ed got into his car and drove around the north side of the building and circled around behind it to come back out on the far end of the building as I pulled straight towards it. We both simultaneously converged on the same spot at the same time from two different directions. We were confidant that we had this weirdo cornered, whoever he was.
With headlights on high beam and spotlights flooding the area with brightness we approached the clump of lilac only to find no one there. The wall immediately behind the bushes was lined with glass bricks and there were no
windows or doors. The guy would not have been able to have escaped even by going straight up without our having seen him, and yet: He was gone.
Because there had been two of us, we told this story as fact to our fellow officers. Several years later two other officers claim to have seen, chased and lost the same apparition in the same area with him disappearing against the same building. I wasn’t there for that one, and while I am familiar with their story, I will not repeat it here.
I did find out later that the building against which our phantom disappeared had at one time been a hospital. I don't know if that might have anything to do with what happened or not and while I can describe what happened I cannot explain it.
By way of a footnote:
Exactly twenty five years later to the day, hour and minute I was again out on patrol as we usually liked to have extra officers on the street for Halloween. When the appointed time came I parked my patrol car a half block to the north of the building and intersection in question. It seemed logical (if such a term can be applied to anything like this) that if I was ever going to get another look at the Phantom Jogger, this would be my best chance to do so. Blacking out my lights, I rolled down my window, shut off the engine and waited.
And waited and waited.