Phantoms Stalk the Halls of Kemper Military Academy

Chasing Shadows by Larry WilsonFrom Chasing Shadows by Larry Wilson.

Located between St. Louis and Kansas City is one of the most interesting places that I have ever investigated, Kemper Military Academy in Booneville, Missouri. The institution, originally known as a “Boonville Boarding School,” was built in 1845 by Frederick T. Kemper and became a co-ed institute in 1862, when was renamed Kemper Military School. At one time, Kemper was the oldest boys’ school west of the Mississippi River, until it officially closed in 2002.

Kemper Military School was the original choice for the location of several films, including National Lampoon’s Animal House and Taps, but the school turned down both offers. It has been used as the setting for a number of other movies, including Combat Academy (a very low-quality takeoff on Police Academy) and Child’s Play III. During the filming of Child’s Play III, some cadets and instructors served as extras.

In September and October 2007, Kemper’s abandoned campus was used for location shots for the movie Saving Grace, which is about a little girl’s trip back to Boonville in the summer of 1951, the year of the great Missouri River flood. Many downtown Boonville buildings were also used for filming, with Kemper the setting for an asylum. The movie, released in 2008, was directed by Connie Stevens and stared Penelope Ann Miller and Tatum O’Neal. The first investigation in which I was involved there took place in September of 2007 and we were not able to do a follow up investigation until December of that year due to the filming of Saving Grace.

I became familiar with the academy when Paul Robinson and Gary Hawkins asked me to help with the filming of a paranormal documentary about the haunting there. Over the years, many have reportedly seen the ghost of a female cadet jogging around the track, but she seems to disappear when she nears the location where she was killed. According to legend, the girl had broken up with her boyfriend, but he talked her into going for a walk with him. During the walk, he raped and killed her near a bridge located on campus. People driving by have claimed to see the girl walking and then vanish without a trace.

D Barracks is reportedly the most haunted building on campus. Stories have been told about the fourth floor, in which a figure is seen standing in window at night. The fourth floor was closed to students and when I asked a former cadet the reason why, he told me because no one could stay up there. He said there was something about the floor that made visitors feel uncomfortable and even scared.

People also claim to hear footsteps in C Barracks. Several years ago, while the barracks was being refurbished, construction workers reported hearing phantom footsteps. When they investigated, however, no footprints were found even though there was sawdust and dirt on the floor from the construction…

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  1. I was at Kemper from 87-91, this was not long after the girl was murdered at the bridge leading to the football feild. So many crazy stories…! Kemper brings back fond memories. well as some not so fond memories. I wouldn’t trade my time there for anything.


  2. I have been up there; in 1995. If I only had a camera… That is by far the creepiest place I’ve ever been in my entire life. I wouldn’t ever go back up ther, not even in the daytime with 100 people.


  3. Chris Harmon says:

    The girls name was Jane C. Ray 19 from Charleston WV. She was killed in 1987 by her boyfriend Mark E. Johnson who was an MP at the time. He actually was on the search team and lead the police to the body. I was a cadet there at the time and knew them both. See the article below.


    • Scott Greenwood says:

      Hey Chris!=. Cadet MSG here…Scott Greenwood ..I was there I was an M.P. during this..David Thude was my bunk mate then.. G.S.C.H.= God School Country Home..kemper honor cross…


  4. Terry Kliethermes says:

    I was on a Ghost Hunt there approx. 10 years ago with a team of 3 and a member of the Boonville City Council. We heard/felt/smelled/photograhed some unusual “activity” while we were there. One of the oddest and most prevalent was when the four of us sat in the silent and dark cafeteria at midnight. Within a few minutes we could literally hear the sounds of at least 3 people setting up cafeteria tables and chairs. No talking. Just footsteps and the sounds associated with setting up a cafeteria for dining. The sounds lasted for approx 15-20 mins and then the cafeteria fell silent.


  5. Darby Crash says:

    ATTENTION: Writer/Author/ researchers—-Many of your details are WRONG! That guy (Accused & sentenced Killer) you’re speaking of was my bunk mate( when we were new boys/ few years before the murder/ MANY YEARS AGO; when I was a ” new boy” CADET). I am an old boy (Alum) of that HISTORICal place. I can’t believe how you have presented this story! It is amazing how wrong all these commenters are. And to you Chris H—(Chris “Harmon says:”) I am curious about that article you found. How can a Big city newspaper (Chicago Trib.) be concerned with such a tiny little town like BOONVILLE? Additionally, I have a lot of questions for the reporter ( Chris Ganschow, The Tribune). Oh, just in case you have doubt about my credibility; nunquam non paratus- WE SqUIREELS ARE ALWAYS!


  6. Brian Schram says:

    I was a cadet of Kemper 1996-1997.Very unforgettable memories indeed… Heard all the stories while there but never encountered anything,I lived on fourth floor D barracks.


  7. A Bauer says:

    I was a cadet from 1995 to 1997. Always heard it was haunted but encountered nothing as is the case in all places I’ve spent time at that were “huanted”. Fourth Floor of D Barracks was not off limits. During my first year there one of the wings of the fourth floor was newly refurbished (using refubished loosely) and I lived there that first year. The guys on that floor with me would hide whiskey in the elevator shaft, Repel down the elevator shaft and out the window, go into the other wing of the building where there was no electricty to hang out at night and drink. Again nothing there. Had a good time there and made some great friends.


  8. dwayne says:

    I was an old boy from 1985-1987 (college) Jane was my friend very sweet girl. There is more to this story than you can imagine. i will not go into details out of respect for my friend. She maybe gone but not forgotten


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