Is the Cracker Barrel near Collier Boulevard haunted?
As Halloween approaches, ghost stories are to be expected. The crime that took place years ago at the Cracker Barrel just off of Collier Boulevard has sparked some of its own ghost stories.
Nearly 25 years ago, three employees of this Cracker Barrel were murdered in the early morning hours. The tragedy seems to still keep some awake.
“It’s one of them scenes you’ll never forget,” said Steven Riley, a retired Collier County Sheriff’s deputy.
Riley was one of the first on the scene at Tollgate Boulevard on Nov. 15, 1995. “When they couldn’t get in, they called us,” Riley said. “The employees knew something was up. We started doing a search and that’s when we found them.”
They found three Cracker Barrel employees murdered and locked in a freezer. “It was very shocking to hear that a tragedy like that occurred here,” said George Gibbons with the Haunted Apparition Hunters.
Since 1995, this Cracker Barrel has appeared on numerous websites and in books as a haunted place.
“As time went on, strange things were happening in the kitchen area in the Cracker Barrel,” Gibbons said. “Lights going on and off, things moving on their own.”
Gibbons is a paranormal expert and says his team tried to do an investigation years ago but the restaurant denied their request.
“When you have a tragic occurrence like this happen, it’s very traumatic and what happens is that energy can actually be trapped,” Gibbons said.
The reported strange occurrences include rocking chairs moving on their own and winking pictures.
For Riley, his own memories are haunting enough. “I personally don’t believe in it but you hear a lot, you see a lot, you never know,” said Riley.
Memories of the victims live on as well.
WINK News Reporter Gina Tomlinson also spoke to some former employees about their unusual experiences at the Cracker Barrel but they didn’t want to go on camera.