Millikin University - Aston Hall

1184 West Main Street, Decatur, Illinois 62522

On February 1, 1927, Bernice Richardson horrifically ended her life in Aston Hall.

Bernice was a freshman at Millikin University. She was known as a pretty young woman that could not resist the lure of the speakeasy's that flourished in Decatur. Even during this time of prohibition when a hard drink was hard to find, Bernice succumbed to its call. Bernice's studies soon took a back seat to her quest for adventure on the bustling streets of Decatur's downtown area.

The good times ended abruptly, however. Millikin's president, Mark Embury Penney, requested a meeting with Bernice, and his news was harsh. She had failed too many courses, and she would not be allowed to register for the next term.

Bernice felt the world crumble from underneath her. All her plans now lay in ruin. She had planned on rushing for a sorority the next, it could not happen. The thought of telling her parents of how she failed was too much for her. She decided to end her life instead of disgracing herself.

She had acquired a bottle of carbolic acid for a science class. She knew little about the acid, only that the bottle was imprinted with the word 'poison' and an image of a skull and crossbones. Bernice decided that this would be her instrument of death. She shot the bottle down like so many shots of whiskey, and she immediately regretted it.

The burning was excruciating. Intense heat pulsed through her body. Naturally, she vomited, but this only resulted in allowing the acid another pass at her esophagus. The pain was horrific, she tried to scream but the acid had destroyed her voice. She could only wheeze as she desperately tried to make her way out of her room to the hallway and find some help.

The acid did not work as quickly as she hoped. As it burned away her insides, a friend of Bernice's made her way into her room. What her friend saw was terrifying. There Bernice lay, wheezing, her eyes yellowed, her lips blue and burnt. Bernice finally died after an hour of agony.

Today, Bernice haunts Aston Hall, the oldest residence building on campus that houses 100 women. Residents have been startled by the apparition of Bernice. They have described her as a very ghoulish vision. Her eyes are darkened and the burns around her mouth are visible. Some have described her lips being totally burned away, revealing bone and teeth. Adding more to the fright is that Bernice's ghost is visible only from the waist up.

Many have reported seeing her on the third floor where she floats through walls, room to room. In fact, the frightening ghost of Bernice was so disturbing that the third floor was actually closed for a time during the 1930's.

In addition to the ghost of Bernice there has also been disturbing poltergeist activity reported. The most severe activity being that some residents have said that they have been hit or bitten by something unseen. Many have been bitten hard enough that it leaves a mark. Many that have experienced this have found off campus housing the next day.

Other poltergeist activity includes the slamming of doors, and the sounds of scratching and knocking on the walls and the floors.

Tags: Millikin University

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6 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.

Brynn Traughber
Jul 31, 2007 6:24pm [ 1 ]

I lived in Aston, and I can vouch that some creepy stuff DOES happen....I was never bit or slapped, but I was touched, and that was creepy enough for me.

Lauren Robertson
Oct 31, 2007 3:00pm [ 2 ]

I haven't been here for more than a few months, but I have heard knocking on the wall next to my pillow at night, and I've also heard horrendous screams at night, a few times, and they sound like its coming from directly above me. Last night, I found out that she lived in the end of the hall, right above my room, but on the third floor. If it helps, a girl in the room next to me heard it too.

Feb 17, 2009 9:48am [ 3 ]

i was sleeping in bed when i heard realy loud foot steps like horses i went to look when i saw a lady i shouted who are u but i folowed her and when i went to the 2nd flour she just looked back then i got afaried and i ran back spooky

Mar 27, 2009 10:05pm [ 4 ]

I lived in Aston on the first floor during my freshman year at MU and never saw or heard anything scary. I was worried I would, but I never did...

Nov 29, 2009 11:58am [ 5 ]

ive seen many ghost as a medium but the most frightening was proberbly when i was walkin to school with a friend and this lad dressed in a black old fashioned dress. she ran towards me screaming, i turned to my friend who had been talking and said "what the" she had no idea what i was talkin about later that day i told her and she freaked out tellin me there was a story in that area sayin that a lady in black comited suicide running in front of a a horse and cart when her husbend left her for a younger lady. she now roams the area in search of revenge apparently lookin for he unloyal husbend, as i had never heard of this story i freaked out. i never took that route to school again in case i met this ghost again

Oct 21, 2011 12:04pm [ 6 ]


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