Is it really haunted?

Quick Notes:

  • The Witches’ Castle in Utica, Indiana was once home to a coven of witches.

  • It was the site of the murder of 12-year-old Shanda Sharer.

  • Paranormal investigators use the site for experimentations.

According to a historic tale, a coven of witches once lived in a crumbling stone structure resembling a castle in the trees of Utica, Indiana’s riverside. Local residents didn’t trust the women, so they burned down the castle.

Since then, brave teenagers and risk-takers have explored the area, often vandalizing the remains. There are many rumors that the place is haunted, earning it the name “Witches’ Castle.” Paranormal investigators have visited the land, and the castle is one of the most unusual, spooky structures in the United States.

All the rumors

There are many rumors of hauntings at Witches’ Castle. One legend explains that you can sometimes hear a little girl laughing in the woods, as well as loud thumping. People have also seen a white mist moving throughout the castle. Many people have actually seen a girl wearing a white dress with long black hair covering her face.

People believe the castle is haunted by the witches who once occupied the castle. Of course, these are speculations and legends. However, people also speculate that the girl everyone sees is the ghost of Shanda Sharer, who was murdered at the site in 1992.

Middle school drama

Sharer was the girl everyone wanted to be friends with in school. She was a cheerleader and she played on her Hazelwood Junior High School’s volleyball team. She excelled at her studies and she had plenty of friends. Who could have possibly wanted to harm her?

In September 1991, shortly after starting school, Sharer got in a fight with Amanda Heavrin. After the fight, the two managed to become friends. Sharer’s mother, Jackie Vaught, was concerned about the friendship. Sharer’s grades were slipping, and she was getting into more trouble.

Shearer eventually got in altercations with Heavrin’s ex-girlfriend, Melinda Loveless, who was jealous of their friendship. Loveless threatened Sharer, saying she wanted her dead. However, Sharer continued her friendship (sometimes romantic) with Heavrin and ignored the threats. After all, to her, they were just threats. Loveless wouldn’t actually do anything to her. Well, if only that were true.

Her unfortunate murder

Loveless was the leader of the original Mean Girls. On the night of January 10, 1992, Loveless, along with three friends (Laurie Tackett, Hope Rippey, and Toni Lawrence), tricked Sharer into thinking Heavrin wanted to meet with her at the Witches’ Castle. They convinced her they would drive her to the site.

During the drive, Sharer was questioned about her friendship with Heavrin. Were they friends or were they romantic partners? Eventually, Loveless put a knife to Sharer’s throat and interrogated her about her feelings for Heavrin.

Once they arrived at the Witches’ Castle, the taunting wouldn’t stop. Sharer was stabbed repeatedly. When she didn’t die, the teenage girls poured gasoline on her body and burned her alive. Sharer died on January 11, 1992. She was just 12 years old. Many people believe the young girl who haunts the Witches’ Castle is Sharer’s ghost.

Is it haunted?

[[[Matias]]]/Flickr
Jenny Stewart is a medium, and she has used the Witches’ Castle as a grounds for investigation for her Paranormal Research & Resource Society. She has repeatedly heard crying, seen mysterious shadows, and she’s confident that the castle should be preserved. It’s not your typical structure in the woods. In fact, it’s special.

“Take the land and do something with it,” Stewart said, in reference to her desire for the property to be used for educational purposes.

Whatever you do, don’t vandalize it. Indiana’s mysterious Witches’ Castle is an unusual structure. Whether it’s actually haunted or not, that’s up for debate, depending on everyone’s personal beliefs. But if you decide to visit the castle, don’t go alone. You have seen too many horror movies to take any chances.

A deeper dive – Related reading from the 101:

Prison inmates, guards, and visitors at Alcatraz have had many encounters with ghosts. Is it really haunted?

Learn about the spooky tales about the supposedly haunted Madame LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans, Louisiana.