Do you believe in ghosts? We spent the night in what some call 'the most haunted place in Arizona'

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Do you believe in ghosts? We spent the night in what some call 'the most haunted place in Arizona'

By Liz Kotalik. CREATED Oct 31, 2013

TOMBSTONE (KGUN9-TV) - In a time where cowboys ruled the streets, they ruled the Birdcage Theater as well.

In 1882, the New York Times called it the wildest, wickedest night spot in the West, known for its shows, its liquor and of course, its girls.

It was also home to the longest poker game in the West. 

"That game ran non-stop for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for eight years, five months and three days," tour guide Jaime Mansfield told Nine On Your Side's Liz Kotalik.

At least 26 people were said to have died in the Birdcage from fights with knives and guns, over stolen lovers and drunk antics.

Many believe their spirits are still everywhere, along with others who lived and died in Tombstone like a six-year-old boy the staff call Joshy.

We had our own encounter with him in the beginning of our stay.
Liz Kotalik: "Should I just say what I saw? Okay, we were standing here and [Jaime] asked for Josh to move that table, and you [cameraman] were going and getting the camera and it shook... It shook twice...or even more than that."
And as much as we tried to get the shake on camera, that table would not move again.
At that point, we were just fifteen minutes into our overnight stay, but staff told us most of the paranormal activity happens in the dark.
So they turned off the lights, and we got to work.
"Can you make a loud noise, or make that green light change colors," Jaime asked whoever was in the room with us while we sat around a table in the dark.
Those lights she mentioned are in relation to the K2 meter we had sitting next to us.
It's a common instrument used by ghost hunters on cable shows, and it  measures energy, letting you know if a spirit is close by.
"We brought some friends to meet you...was that over here?"
Jaime heard a noise, the meter went off, and so began our lengthy conversation with a lady of the night.
"The last name that I said was Catherine," Jaime said.

The light went off.
"Okay so we're talking to Catherine."
"Are you having a good night?"
The light went off.
"Well, that's great!"
"Can you make it go to yellow for me?"
The light went past yellow, to red.
We moved back to where the table shook and heard water dripping with no water source anywhere near by.
"Our job is not to convince anybody that they exist," Jaime said. "Our job is to give you a chance to experience something from our residents here."
We were sitting down, and heard a huge bang.
The K2 meter went off. 
"There are snaps and crackles...that's the building," said another tour guide, Patricia Kolsky told us. "Thuds and bangs...that's them."
And we heard plenty of bangs that startled us throughout the night. 
Some people have reported ghosts touching them; one of those people, Nine On Your Side's Liz Kotalik.
"Did you feel like an arm? Yeah, oh my god. Okay wait, okay wait, okay wait."
That was Liz reacting to a weird feeling she got on the stairs going up the stage, and what we notice two weeks later is bone-chilling.
You hear something whisper in a southern twang, "Shut your mouth."
Watch the video to hear for yourself.
Staff told us that was most likely the spirit of the stage manager; a man who died in the Birdcage.
They said he still does his job, stopping people, like Liz, from going behind the curtain.
"Audience members weren't allowed back here. This was for the performers only," Jaime said.
Later in the night, Liz felt something tugging on the back of her shirt.
"Better pulling down than pulling up in this place," Patricia said.
The whole place feels eerie, like a thousand eyes are constantly watching. 
"When somebody comes in, and they experience it," Jaime said. "I mean, a lot of people know, it's reassurance that life does go on."
And for those skeptics out there, Patricia said, "We don't expect it from anybody believe in it 100 percent when they haven't experienced it. And that's what makes our job a little more enjoyable, it's like...well, let me help you, you know..become a believer."


Liz Kotalik

Liz Kotalik

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Liz Kotalik is so proud to work in her home state of Arizona with her KGUN9 family. She anchors the 7 a.m. morning show "GMT Extra" on the CW Tucson every weekday, and also reports for later newscasts.