By Stephen Day
A gust of wind on a windless morning distracts you from the man wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase walking toward you in the Quad. As you look back to the man, he’s gone.
Walking toward your car on the first level of the nearly empty parking garage a whirlwind of voices surrounds you that seemingly come from nowhere.
Stories like these have long been told around the Riverside City College campus, a destination for paranormal investigators and home to many supposed ghosts who endlessly wander the inbetween of the mortal and spiritual planes.
Many stories you’ll hear center around the on-campus murder of Cheri Jo Bates on Oct. 30, 1966. Almost sixty years ago.
While never definitively connected, many believe that she was the first victim of the infamous Zodiac killer. Bates was killed in a parking lot where the Digital Library now stands, and many around campus have claimed to see Bates or feel her presence around them.
Another famous ghost around campus is Ira Landis, the namesake of our Landis Performing Arts Center.
Jodi Julian, theater director, recounts the story of a 9-year-old girl who came with her family to watch her sister perform in the production of “Les Miserables.” After the show Julian says she asked the young girl how she liked the show, she was shocked when the girl talked about a man in a suit who was on the stage that ruined the show for her. The little girl pointed out a picture of Ira Landis in the lobby and said he was the man she saw.
“That freaked me out!” Julian said through a chuckle.
Dorie Couture, audio engineer and auditorium specialist, laughs and says, “Everyone sees Ira, he’s everywhere, but he don’t hurt nothing.”
Couture also recalled the paranormal investigators who came to the theater to try and interact with the ghosts. In the upper levels of the theater, they encountered a ghost who prevented them from entering the two rooms Couture had told them they couldn’t have access to.
“That’s when I realized that (the) ghost is a protector ghost, so I am not afraid of him anymore,” she said.
Ashly Calia, photography major at RCC, said she has had “spooky encounters,” in the women’s bathroom in the art building.
“When I open the door it always sounds like there is someone on the toilet, but no one is,” she said.
Sergio Ballon, groundskeeper, laughed when asked if he’s ever seen a ghost on campus, but then turned serious as he recounted the time he was landscaping near the Math and Science Building in the early morning hours.
“I am running my blower and I have my headphones on so I can’t hear anything, but all of a sudden there is a man walking next to me.” Ballon said.
Then, after a brief pause he admits: “I think it was just some guy sleeping here.”
Whether it’s doors opening on their own, lights turning on and off, or ghostly figures and voices wisping through the campus, RCC has no lack of spooky tales and goings on. On Oct. 28, the campus will be even more spooky as Halloweentown once again takes over the Quad, and this year, the theater is putting on a haunted maze. Maybe you’ll get a guided tour from our very own ghost host, Ira Landis.