Is John Wilkes Booth's spirit sleeping in Mudd's bed?

Is John Wilkes Booth's spirit sleeping in Mudd's bed? (Mike Ricksecker)

Mike Ricksecker, paranormal investigator and “ghostorian,” has had a lifelong passion for writing and mystery, which has led him to explore the realm of the paranormal. Ricksecker, 37, lives in Oklahoma but lived in Maryland while serving in the Air Force and, in 2010, published Ghosts of Maryland. He has published other ghost books and has appeared on Animal Planet's TV show “The Haunted.” Now, he shares one of his favorite paranormal experiences in Maryland, at the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House in Waldorf. 

If you’re not familiar with Civil War history, Mudd gave haven to John Wilkes Booth after Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln; Mudd was convicted of conspiracy to murder Lincoln. b spoke with Danny Fluhart, president of the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Society, who said that no one is supposed to touch the bed that Booth once stayed in, but Ricksecker tells b about the spirits who just wanted to get a little shut-eye. 

During my first venture out to the Mudd House with my daughter, I'd taken a number of photographs that I was going to use in my book “Ghosts of Maryland.” Somewhere along the way, however, when I began constructing the chapter, the photographs mysteriously went missing.

It was a Monday, one of those unusual days in which I was off work and the kids still had school, when my wife suggested we make the trip from Frederick to Waldorf to retake the photographs. It was a nearly two-hour drive, so we were disappointed when we arrived at the front gate of the old home and discovered that it was closed on Mondays. I resigned myself to taking a few snapshots from the gate and was reaching for my camera when a truck pulled up next to us. My first thought was that somebody else had made the same mistake we had, but I was pleasantly surprised when the gentleman got out of his truck and introduced himself as one of the curators. We explained to him our plight about the photographs, and he invited us into the house while he opened it up for a private showing that morning.

My wife wanted no part of going past the foyer, standing still with chills at the bottom of the stairs leading to the second floor, while the curator showed me around. He opened window shades as we walked through, and I asked him about his paranormal experiences in the home. He told me of apparitions of Mrs. Frankie Mudd, voices throughout the house and an incident in which electric candles kept turning on in the windows during a Civil War re-enactment. As we ascended the stairs to the second floor he also told me of the human-shaped bed impression routinely discovered in the room where John Wilkes Booth had stayed and how the staff gets aggravated about having to fix it most mornings. I’d heard the rumor before but had never seen anything to substantiate the claim.

When we entered that room he passed by the bed and went straight for the windows, but I looked down and was nearly floored. “So, is this one of the impressions?”

He spun about and his face flushed when he saw I was pointing at a human-sized impression sunken into the left side of the bed. “See! That’s what I’m talking about!”

I asked permission to take a few pictures, which he granted, but he remained visibly agitated. “It’s not like this when we leave the house at night. Then we have to come up here and fix it to make sure everything looks good for the public.”

I was ecstatic with the find. It certainly looked like someone had been lying down on his or her side on the bed, with elbow and feet impressions clearly visible. The whole time, however, my wife had remained downstairs, almost unmovable from the small entrance hall.

It was perfect timing for a perfect situation. If those photographs hadn't gone missing, then I wouldn't have had a reason to return to the Mudd house. If my wife hadn't suggested when she did that we head down to Waldorf, then we wouldn't have been there to follow the curator around while opening the house. And if the Samuel Mudd House weren’t haunted, then there wouldn’t have been a bed impression to find at all.

Editor’s note: We at b tend to the skeptical side. So when we heard Ricksecker’s tale, we called the Mudd house just to see whether any of this was possible. Fluhart did confirm that staff members have found the bed impression at times as well. More information about Ricksecker's work can be found at mikericksecker.com.