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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