HUNTSVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Historic Scott County Jail was built in 1904 and is on the national register of historic places. The building was closed when a new jail was built in 2005. After 16 years of sitting empty, former inmates and law enforcement are said to haunt the historic landmark.

The Historic Scott County Jail operated for a little over 100 years. Its doors were closed from 2005 to 2021. Now it operates as a museum and it’s said to see both expected – and some unexpected – visitors.

The former jail housed some of the worst inmates from Scott County.

“Typically it would hold 50 inmates,” Miranda Young, a Scott County native turned paranormal investigator, said. “That’s what it was sanctioned for. However, due to overcrowding, it could have anywhere to 100-plus inmates.” 

Young and her best friend Dr. Kristy Sumner decided to start their own history, travel, and paranormal business called History, Highways, and Haunts, LLC.

“It’s truly a dream come true and it’s a real honor that the Mayor allowed us to have this opportunity to be able to do that,” Young said. “And to really be able to share what we do as paranormal researchers and share that there is an activity in there and give people that experience but also to be able to make it accessible for people to be able to come in and share that history and those stories with them.” 

(Photo: WATE)

Dr. Kristy Sumner holds a Ph.D. in Public Affairs with an emphasis on Criminal Justice. She now works with a team of paranormal investigators that travels the country documenting the narrative of historic and, reportedly haunted locations.

Both Sumner and Young believe some inmates of the jail never really left.

“We feel that the entire jail itself has paranormal activity but it seems that the third floor seems to be the hotbed for suspicious activity,” Sumner explained.  

The third floor of the jail was used for Maximum Security for inmates like Jerome Boyette.

“One of the spirits that we feel is very prevalent here is that of Jerome Boyette,” said Sumner. “In 1933 he killed Sheriff Winningham and he went on the run and a mob proceeded to chase him down.”

She added, “He was up here on the third level for about eight days. Then a mob of about 25 people, busted through the door when the sheriff wasn’t here.” 

The maximum-security level may have kept inmates in, but it couldn’t keep an angry mob out.

“They came up here to the third floor, they grabbed Jerome Boyette as well as Harvey Winchester, and they took them out about a mile down the road and they lynched both of them.” 

According to Sumner, Boyette’s ghost still lingers,

“There are things that happen up here that kind of lead us to believe that he’s still here. Doors slamming, footsteps on the stairwell, and through the hallway.” 

If an inmate is still there, then a sheriff needs to keep an eye on him. Leave that to Sheriff Richard Ellis.

“One of the stories we’ve heard is of Sheriff Eilis, RD Ellis,” explained Sumner. “He was killed on August 13, 1925, and he was actually killed ambush-style right outside the jail. He was bringing a moonshiner into the jail and somebody killed him from behind. Nobody knows who actually pulled the trigger. So it remains one of Scott County’s most unsolved mysteries.” 

It’s a case Sheriff Ellis may still be trying to solve himself.

(Photo: WATE)

“His spirit still haunts the building,” said Sumner. “We’ve heard humming, we’ve heard voices, we’ve heard singing, we’ve heard footsteps. And we do believe that’s the spirit of Richard Ellis who was killed right outside.” 

For over a century, this jail has seen its fair share of activity. Its former inmates and even those in law enforcement may haunt it for another 100 years.

The Historic Scott County Jail operates on the following days and hours:

  • Sunday / Monday: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Tuesday / Wednesday: CLOSED
  • Thursday / Friday: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

You can also book private flashlight tours, private ghost hunts, and investigations with History, Highways, and Haunts, LLC.