The Investigators

Nov 1, 2013 12:12 AM by Matthew Schwartz

News 4 Tucson Investigators: school spirits?

TUCSON - If you believe those who study paranormal activity, ghosts roam the halls in several Tuscon schools.

At Bloom Elementary School, the spirit of a dead principal wanders about. Doors lock and unlock.

At Bonilla's Elementary, a young girl in an old fashioned flowered dress and a matching bow is seen in a restroom. At Tucson High, a condemned vocational building is haunted by a student who killed himself. People have heard footsteps and tapping on doors.

Maybe the most famous school ghost story in Tucson Catalina High. In the 1970's, a custodian, Martin Valencia, died of a heart attack while working there. Valencia was beloved by the staff. He often scolded colleagues who tried to steal school supplies. Mr. Valencia's ghost has been seen cleaning the restrooms, especially before graduation ceremonies. Trash containers and cleaning supplies disappear and turn up in other places. Doors slam shut, lights turn off.

We wanted to go inside Catalina High to see the supposedly haunted hallways and rooms. But Tucson School District officials declined to cooperate with us on this investigation. Perhaps they were "spooked" by the subject.

Hector Barragan, Jr. is the founder of the Southern Arizona Ghost and Paranormal Society, and a 1994 graduate of Catalina High. He says, "I certainly wouldn't put it out of the question of him (Valencia) still roaming the halls. Spirits tend to stick around wherever they had a lot of emotional ties."

Many current Catalina High students have heard the ghost stories about Martin Valencia.

One freshman told us, "Every now and then, if the girls bathroom is dark, some girls come running out screaming, 'Oh my God, it's Martin Valencia.'"

Dr. Jerry Hogle is a Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Arizona. He has taught many classes having to do with ghosts in literature, and says students are fascinated with them.

Hogle said, "I think there's a desire to believe in them. You know, we like to think that there's something beyond this life. And that we have an afterlife."

Hector Barragan of the Ghost and Paranormal Society has a suggestion for anyone at Catalina High who comes across the ghost of Marin Valencia.

Barragan says, "My advice would be to get your cameras out, and try and capture some evidence because until we see something, you know, proof, in front of us, it's all going to be just ghost stories."

Happy hunting.

If you have a story you would like us to investigate, email us at


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