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  • Writer's pictureCheré Dastugue Coen

Geauxst Hunting at LSU

The following is an excerpt from “Haunted Baton Rouge” by Bud Steed, published by The History Press.

Pleasant Hall on the Louisiana State University campus.

No book of ghost stories about Baton Rouge would be complete without giving a short nod to the ghosts supposedly haunting the campus of Louisiana State University. The stories are most likely urban legends created during a party to try and scare the girls and nothing more. They run the same gamut as the stories associated with nearly every major university in the country—those of lost love and murder/suicide, accidental hanging during hazing, binge-drinking ghosts and a whole plethora of supposedly ghostly happenings.

I am only going to touch briefly on a few of them, as they really don’t merit much attention, but they are as much a part of the campus as a math book or football and have been told and retold to each successive incoming class by those already familiar with the tales.

Pleasant Hall

As the legend goes, Pleasant Hall used to be the girls’ dormitory back in the 1970s and was the site of more than one campus hookup. Late at night, it wasn’t uncommon for some of the boys to sneak in to spend a little “quality time” with their girlfriends on the weekends. One such couple is the subject of this tale and has been referred to over the years as “Mike and Sue” when the story is told.

It would seem that Sue, although extremely pretty, was a little high strung and had a bit of a quick temper, while Mike was the good-looking all- American boy. It was love at first sight for the two, and they went everywhere together and did everything as a couple. Everyone who knew them had no trouble believing that wedding bells would ring for them sometime in their near future—however, it turns out it would be more like a funeral dirge than wedding bells.

Mike started sneaking in to spend time with Sue in her room on the third floor of Pleasant Hall. It turns out that one thing led to another, and Sue found herself suddenly pregnant with Mike’s child. This is where Mike showed his true colors, denying that the child she was carrying was his and dumping her on the spot. Apparently he wasn’t as in love with her as everyone thought. Completely crushed, Sue slipped into a state of depression and spent most of her time crying in her room. When she did venture out, it was only to attend class, where she would simply sit and stare at Mike.

As it would happen, Mike met another girl who was almost as pretty as Sue and immediately took up with her, giving no thought at all to Sue and how it might affect her. The other girl lived at Pleasant Hall as well, on the second floor, so it goes without saying that it didn’t take long for word to get back to Sue that the love of her life and father of her soon-to-be- born child was shacking up with this girl every weekend. Tempers flared and accusations were tossed about, and Sue made it known to the other girl that if she couldn’t have Mike, then no one could. No one really took the threat seriously; they all thought she was just venting.

One Saturday, Mike was sneaking in to see his new girlfriend, and as they got settled in and comfy in her room, the door suddenly flew open, and there stood one highly agitated and irrational Sue. As the argument began, Mike’s new love interest got between them, apparently to stake her claim and fight for her man. The argument escalated to a shoving match that ended with Sue pulling a rather large kitchen knife from the folds of her dress and shoving it through the other girl’s neck, clear to the hilt. Blood sprayed as she pulled the knife free, and a stunned Mike just stood there as she turned her wrath on him, stabbing him repeatedly in the stomach and chest. When it was over, it was said that he had been stabbed over forty times.

Sue reportedly came back to her senses, realizing what she had done and that her life was over. She ran back up to her room on the third floor, opened the window and leaped to her death.

Over the years, many people have reported seeing a girl falling from a third-floor window and disappearing before hitting the ground. Others have reported waking up to find a blood-covered girl, a gaping wound in her neck, standing at the end of their beds with her arms outstretched and a wild-eyed look on her face.

Pleasant Hall is now a series of classrooms; however, stories are still told about various rooms in the building in which things will move on their own, cries are heard coming from empty rooms and voices will be heard as if someone is whispering in your ear. All in all, it’s just another college love story gone bad.

The Hanging Tree

There is a large, old oak tree on campus (the location of the tree seems to change with each person’s telling of the tale) that was the site of a hazing gone bad. One of the fraternities was inducting a new group of pledges, and one of the trials and tribulations that the new guys had to endure was one of unwavering blind trust in their fellow fraternity brothers. After a night of good-natured but sometimes rough hazing, the initiates were brought to this majestic old tree and were told that they were to be hanged by the neck for a few moments and that they had to trust in their frat brothers to cut them down, the message being that you had to trust your brothers with your life.

The young men watched as nooses were thrown over a huge branch of the old tree, and without a doubt, each of them was feeling just a bit worried at the prospect of being strung up by the neck. As they were blindfolded and their hands tied behind their backs, it was explained to them that the ropes would be slipped over their necks and that a group of their brothers would haul them up for a moment and then let them back down. The ropes were put in place, and everyone steeled themselves for what was to come. A group of three guys per rope would pull the initiate up for a fast three-count and then let him back down, where another guy was waiting to loosen the rope and welcome them to the brotherhood. On a count of three, they hauled them up, and after the quick three-counts, they released the ropes—only one rope didn’t go back down. Apparently, when the rope was thrown over the branch, it laid next to another smaller branch and when it was pulled up, it became firmly wedged, keeping the unfortunate guy in the air, slowly choking to death.

Frantically, they tried to dislodge the rope, several of the other boys grabbing the hanging one’s legs and trying to hold him up until someone could get the rope loose. Finally, someone had enough sense to cut the rope, but by then it was too late. Too much damage had been done to the boy’s windpipe, and he died there under the tree. Scared out of their wits, the other guys quickly removed any trace of the rope and the dead boy’s blindfold, swore each other to secrecy and ran away as quickly as they could, leaving the dead boy laying there on the grass. It would be the next morning before he was found.

People claim that late at night, when the moon is full and bright, you can see him hanging from the branch, slowly swinging back and forth. It’s also been claimed that he haunts the fraternity house, angry that he placed his trust and his life in the hands of those who were not worthy enough to have it.

Want more? The History Press publishes ghost stories from around the Deep South in its “Haunted America” series. Weird, Wacky & Wild South owner Cheré Dastugue Coen writes about the ghosts of Cajun Country in “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana." Cheré is also the author of the Viola Valentine paranormal mystery series and an LSU grad. Geaux Tigers!

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