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Man’s death prompts town legend

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Leo Montgomery was the projectionist at the Ritz over 50 years. Leo Montgomery was the projectionist at the Ritz over 50 years.
OKPRI's first investigation of The Ritz produced many EVP's. OKPRI's first investigation of The Ritz produced many EVP's.
The Ritz is the center of a Shawnee legend. The Ritz is the center of a Shawnee legend.

By Christian Price, News9.com INsite Team

SHAWNEE, Okla.--The Ritz Theater in Shawnee, Okla. had a loyal projectionist who worked there for 52 years.

The sound of an empty projection reel spinning led to the discovery of 83 year old Leo Montgomery, who passed away from a massive heart attack.

The death of the projectionist and unexplainable activity within the theater fuels local rumors still.

Shawnee resident Clara Sanders has heard the stories about Montgomery and The Ritz all of her life.

"It's rumored that he just still walks up there today," Sanders said. "He is still there and sometimes there are random times where the projector is rolling."

Charlotte Patterson is the president of the committee wanting to save and restore the building. She has even had things happen she can't explain.

"I've been in and out of this building all hours of the day and night for 10 years now," Patterson said. "We would notice things not being quite the same way, and there are only three people that have keys to the building."

Patterson allowed Oklahoma Paranormal Research and Investigations, a paranormal investigating team, to spend the night at the Ritz. The team's investigation produced several electronic voice phenomena, which they showed Patterson.

"I thought they were pretty amazing," Patterson said. "To hear what they picked up, I mean, it was pretty amazing."

Patterson wasn't the only one surprised by the team's findings.

Amanda Gire is a newspaper reporter for the Shawnee News Star, who was invited to participate in the investigation of The Ritz with OKPRI. She will never forget what she experienced that night.

"I heard when they asked questions of the ghost, ‘Knock twice for yes and once for no', I could hear popping," Gire said. "I could hear two pops, or I could hear one pop regarding the question."

‘Knock' answers to questions weren't the only thing heard by Gire.

"When we were upstairs in the old boarding house, I heard laughter at the other end of the hallway where no one was at," Gire said.

OKPRI is doing a follow up investigation on The Ritz, because of what they found on their first investigation.

"Just about everyone that ran audio on the team actually pick up EVP's," OKPRI team member Kendal Swinney said. "We actually had one investigator see an apparition. It startled her a little bit."

The results of this second investigation will be reported in a future story once the collected evidence is reviewed.

www.okpri.com

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