Greek history at this university dates back 100 years, bringing with it a century’s worth of spooky stories and supernatural tales. Prominent university Greek life alumni include politicians, businessmen and journalists — why not add a ghost or two?
Though today’s fraternity and sorority members might not have stories of their own hauntings, there’s a history of spirit stories in the houses they live in, and there’s no telling when tales of another supernatural event could pop up.
Alma Preinkert, who served as campus registrar, co-founded the university’s Kappa Delta sorority chapter, and, since her death in 1954, is said to haunt the Kappa Delta chapter house.
Preinkert was murdered at her home in Washington after an intruder attempted to ransack her belongings, reports say. Though police investigated and more than 500 people were interviewed, her killer was never identified.
Her death rocked the university, and Kappa Delta sorority members have passed the story down year after year, collecting members’ individual tales along the way.
In a 2002 article in The Diamondback, then-chapter President Kerry McClellan described the chapter house as being home to some “crazy paranormal things,” adding that when she was beginning her time with the sorority, one of the first stories she heard about the chapter was about “Alma,” the house’s ghost.
Paranormal experts say it isn’t unusual for a spirit to haunt a location other than where they were murdered, especially after a sudden death, said Bill Hartley, the founder and lead investigator of the Greater Maryland Paranormal Society.
“If a person put a lot of time and effort into something, and they suddenly die, it’s not surprising that they would return there,” Hartley said. “It’s only natural for the being to return to a place of pride and comfort.”
Whether Preinkert does haunt the chapter house is something that remains to be seen – or in the case of supernatural research, something that remains to be heard, said Hiram Henderson, the founder and director of Maryland Paranormal Research.
Henderson and his team of researchers track paranormal events using electronic voice equipment and audio findings. In a previous visit to this university, the team visited the Rossborough Inn and heard repeated mentions of the name Bettie, indicative of a ghostly presence, particularly Miss Bettie, the Civil War-era innkeeper said to haunt the inn, he said.
Though he has not tracked or measured any audio in regard to Alma Preinkert and Kappa Delta sorority, Preinkert said it is a possibility there could be a haunting — the recurring presence of a spirit — taking place.
“These phenomenon are often tied to a location, or to a person, or even to an object that a person has,” Henderson said, describing a necklace from Panama one of his studies found to be potentially haunted. “There is a possibility that these spirits could have a connection to the history of the property.”
Delta Tau Delta, a fraternity on the campus before its departure in 2008 after hazing allegations, has a ghostly history of its own.
The fraternity members believed the ghost of a member who died in a 1955 car accident haunted their chapter house. The university archives describes the deceased member’s cabinet maintaining a consistently warmer temperature than the others, making a 1970s chef in the house so uncomfortable that she refused to speak of him at all.
Alpha Omicron Pi sorority alumnae describe in the archives their own supernatural experiences, including stereos and computers turning on of their own accord and clothing racks falling when no one was nearby.
A 2002 article in The Diamondback relates these occurrences to Julie Renee Peace, a member of Alpha Omicron Pi who died in 1995 “when the driver of a car in which she was riding fell asleep and struck a telephone pole.” After her death, members described supernatural dreams and visions of red eyes staring at them.
Although supernatural occurrences seem absent in the chapter houses today, Hartley cautions that though sightings may not happen every year, it doesn’t mean there isn’t haunting taking place.
“Sometimes occurrences will slow down and pick back up — could be connected to a person, to an activity that’s happening in the house, or to small renovations or changes that the ghost might react to,” Hartley said. “All you need is a small catalyst for something to happen.”
Regardless of the presence or absence of ghosts in the houses, the stories remain, adding another facet to Greek life’s 100-year history.