Boulder County Paranormal Research Society

Investigation - Macky Auditorium, C.U, Boulder

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Debunking an urban legend




Investigation Report:

Macky Auditorium, University of Colorado, Boulder (Room 304)


Wednesday, May 14th, 2008                 20:00MT until 23:30MT


Weather:      Calm and cloudy between 40-60 degrees with a light rain during the last hour


Moon phase:   Waxing gibbous with 75% of the Moon's visible disk illuminated


Present:       Miranda Armstrong

                   Brad Carstens

                   Nichole DePass

Richard Estep

                   Laura Sutcliffe



Macky Auditorium has a colorful history that spans most of the twentieth century. The building underwent thirteen years of construction, culminating in a 1923 opening. Boulder-based gold prospector, pioneer, and banker left $300,000 to the University of Boulder in his will. Macky was a self-made man of humble origins, who believed passionately in the value of education.


Over the years, a plethora of big names from the worlds of entertainment and culture have appeared at Macky. Rather than provide an exhaustive history here, readers are referred to visit for further information.


Sadly, Macky is renowned for a tragic event that has spawned an urban legend. Elaura Jaquette, a deeply religious 20-year-old zoology student, was known to her friends and family as “Lauri”. She was last seen alive during the summer of 1966, eating lunch on the CU campus grounds.


Her body was found later that day in room 304 of Macky auditorium’s western tower, used as a practice room for music students at that time. Reports state that the walls were covered in blood, reaching a height of seven feet. The murder weapon was believed to be a piece of wood which was also found at the scene. Subsequent autopsy by the Boulder County Coroner determined that sexual assault had taken place. Elaura had been repeatedly battered with the wooden board, sustaining numerous skull and facial fractures, and losing several teeth. The Coroner also recorded contusions and lacerations on Elaura’s neck, throat, and buttocks. Based on blood trails, detectives concluded that Elaura had tried to crawl out of the room, but was swung by her feet, striking her head on the walls.


Following an extensive investigation, police arrested a Longmont man named Joseph Dyre Morse, aged 37. Morse was employed at the CU campus as a janitor. Suspicion first fell on Morse thanks to his own daughters, who witnessed him carrying bloodied clothing in a bucket on the day of the murder. Once Morse was in custody, a palm-print made in blood on the murder weapon was found to be his. Morse was convicted and sentenced to 888 years in prison, where he died in 2005. Despite protestations of innocence, Morse confessed to the crime in 1980.


These are the facts of the case, as far as they go. At this point, we enter the realm of urban legend, rumor, and fanciful storytelling. Ghost stories have sprung up around the murder, including claims of organ music playing from the deserted music room in the dead of night. When asked about such claims,  Technical Manager J.P. Osnes soon set us straight.


Mr. Osnes has worked at Macky for many years. During his time spent in the building, he has never experienced inexplicable activity in the building, nor does he know of anyone who has. The stories of “ghostly goings-on” at Macky seem to be the usual myths that spread among new student intakes at educational institutions around the world, attempts to scare and chill those of a nervous disposition. Osnes stated that squatters and students have been found attempting to break into room 304 (now serving as an office), particularly around Hallowe’en.


A visit from the C.U. Police, who were extremely helpful and supportive of our research efforts, corroborated this information. Although lights had been reported on in the building during night-time hours, the source frequently turns out to be a break-in of some kind, carried out by thrill-seeking students. Macky Auditorium staff are quite understandably tired of hearing about the so-called haunting, and of dealing with illegal incursions.


Our investigation began at 20:30 hours. Campus police provided access to the locked western tower. A touching memorial message to Elaura Jaquette is scrawled on the wall outside room 304 in pencil. The room itself is stacked with boxes, cartons, and various storage containers. It is extremely dusty. The room does have a live power supply.


We carried out baseline readings and photographs first. Temperature readings were consistently in the 72-75 Fahrenheit range. EMF readings were normal throughout the course of the investigation, with apparent anomalies being traced to the electrical wiring. Geiger counter readings for alpha, beta, and gamma particles did not exceed background at any time. At no point during our investigation did any of these measurable parameters exceed normal tolerances.


Several EVP sessions were conducted. Our first session involved all members of the group. The second was composed of only the female investigators, whereas the third and final session involved only the men. A possible EVP captured on the 3rd session saying “Hello” 14.31 minutes in on the recording has been traced, we believe, to being Nichole’s voice. A whistling which was captured on several digital voice recorders was traced to being the voice of J.P. Osnes, who entered the building at the end of the investigation to conduct a guided tour for us and to answer questions.


Nichole believed she experienced a cold spot on two occasions, but we were unable to verify this objectively as our thermometers detected no variances in the air temperature around her or on her skin itself. Even should such changes have occurred, the most reasonable explanation would have been a draught in the room.


Our investigation closed at approximately 23:30 with no appreciable results. We uncovered no evidence whatsoever of paranormal activity taking place in room 304, which is hardly surprising when taking into account the flimsy testimony and “friend-of-a-friend” eyewitness accounts on which the legend has been based. There is not a shred of objective data to support the contention of this room being haunted. Despite this, the ghost story continues to proliferate across both the C.U. campus and the Internet. Flamboyant Boulder tour guide Banjo Billy incorporates the story into his guided bus tour. In reality, this is almost certainly nothing more than a fireside ghost story that has grown up out of a very real tragedy. Our deepest sympathies lie with Elaura Jaquette and her family, and we would like to extend our thanks to Mr. Osnes at Macky Auditorium and to the C.U. Police.


Richard Estep

Director, BCP.


 A frontal view of the main auditorium entrance.


A view of the tower and connecting room in which the murder took place.


A nocturnal view of the front, or "A", side of the auditorium.


Richard is rather disconcerted to find a 1980-vintage copy of "Prison Life" magazine.


Residue of the crime can still be found on the walls.


A touching and poignant epitaph, scrawled on the wall outside room 304


Looking down the tower staircase from the doorway of room 304


Loud rustling and scratching noises from outside the building indicated the presence of an uninvited guest...


Room 304 is kept locked, and used primarily for junk storage.