The evening sky glows pink Friday as the sun sets behind Perkins Stone Mansion, the 180-year-old Greek revival built by the son of Akron’s founder.

For decades, the canopy of a sprawling, old tree blocked the view of the mansion from people who live in Saferstein Tower across Copley Road, Leianne Neff Heppner — president of the Summit County Historical Society, which is based at the mansion — tells a tour group.

But when the tree came down, she said Saferstein residents began noticing strange things in the night.

Even now, they call the historical society reporting lights in the darkened mansion or to say people dressed in odd clothing are moving around. Some have even seen dogs lazing between the giant columns that support the roof of the front porch, where on Friday a group of about 16 people waited to go inside.

It’s a chapter of the mansion’s history not shared on most tours. But on Friday, this group signed up for what the historical society calls its psychic paranormal tours — or what most everyone else calls ghost hunts.

What Saferstein residents have observed, Neff Heppner says, matches what dozens of other museum employees, volunteers and visitors have experienced over many years.

The floorboards creak slightly as members of the tour — each carrying a small flashlight on loan from the historical society — walk into the mansion’s unlit entry hallway.

Neff Heppner, who concedes a phobia of the dark to the group, carries a full-size beam of light.

She and local medium Laura Lyn — also known as the “Angel Reader” — have been leading these tours since 2006.

Neff Heppner tells the paranormal history of staff and volunteer experiences: Years ago, for example, Neff Heppner’s boss was on the third story of the mansion with a medium who was not Laura Lyn. That medium told her there was a spirit there who didn’t like her and who wanted to throw her down the open staircase.

And Laura Lyn provides details of what she’s seeing or feeling during the tour: An electrified lantern momentarily turned on to help the tour group move safely from the dark entry hallway to a nearby parlor suddenly goes dark. A surge in spirit activity can sometimes pop bulbs, Laura Lyn explains. “But sometimes bulbs just burn out,” she says, twisting the lamp’s switch.

In the parlor, Laura Lyn pulls out dowsing rods — L-shaped pieces of metal with beads on the short end of the “L.” She holds them so the beads rest in the palms of her hands, allowing the metal to pivot freely from side to side. The rods, she says, can point to where spirit energy is.

Just then, a rod she’s holding swings left. “It’s pointing right at you,” Laura Lyn says to a Beacon Journal reporter videotaping what happened.

The energy is likely behind the reporter, she says, as other dowsing rods point in the same direction.

Slowly, the group moves from room to room, hearing spooky stories of the paranormal that already happened there and looking for new tales to tell.

Neff Heppner says people have seen child­ren running around the table in the dining room. Something musses a bedspread in one of the bedrooms, sometimes leaving a punch mark on a bed pillow, she says, adding that many others have felt a cat rub against their ankles.

“Did you feel that?” Lynda Schumacher of Cuyahoga Falls quietly asks her friend Susan Moodie of Highland Square. They are standing next to each other in a darkened bedroom upstairs where the spirit energy is supposed to be strong.

Schumacher says she felt a hand touch her hair. Moodie said later she felt a brief puff of air on her neck, like someone had exhaled.

If anyone else felt anything, no one says so.

Laura Lyn asks the group to be quiet for a moment and say aloud whatever names pop into their minds.

“Helena,” someone offers.

“Nathan,” someone else says.

Neither had any connection to the mansion that Neff Heppner knew of, prompting the man who suggested “Nathan” to say he must have been hungry for the brand of hot dogs, not a spirit.

Everyone laughs.

Throughout the tour, several people snap photos and take video with their phones, hoping to capture the spirit energy that many believe lives in the mansion.

Nothing shows up during the tour.

But outside, after they turn in their flashlights, Moodie shows Schumacher a picture of what looks like an odd spot of light on a bed headboard in a darkened room.

“What is that?” she says.

Just then, Laura Lyn walks by, heading back to the mansion for the second tour of the night.

Laura Lyn tells Moodie to zoom in on the light on the headboard.

When she does, Laura Lyn, Moodie and Schumacher all see a face or a woman’s head.

A Beacon Journal reporter watching this tries several times to take a picture of the image on Moodie’s phone, but the reporter’s phone malfunctions, refusing to take a picture. The reporter next tries to take a video, but that appears not to work either.

After talking with the women a minute or two, the reporter tries again and is able to snap three pictures of the image with her phone before heading home.

The next day

On Saturday afternoon, as the reporter uploaded videos clips of the tour to the Beacon Journal’s YouTube page, she discovered two brief video clips on her phone she hadn’t realized were there.

The clips — which show no image — must have been recorded when her phone malfunctioned because, in the photo stream, they happened after the tour ended but before she was finally able to snap three pictures of Moodie’s image.

Each recording began and ended with the reporter’s voice, but the sound in between was entirely unexpected and not heard at any time Friday night.

The first clip sounded like a snarling animal; the second like the clanking of bells or chimes.

The reporter shared the clips with Laura Lyn on Saturday evening.

“It’s my totem,” Laura Lyn said, after listening to the first. The snarling, she said, was her spirit animal, a lion who has long guarded her on readings and wherever she goes.

She sometimes hears the lion during meditation, she said, but “he’s usually very shy. I’m surprised he came out.”

She didn’t have an explanation for the second clip of bells or chimes.

But all the energy she’s found at Perkins Stone Mansion over the years has been positive, she said. “And they’re beautiful,” she said. “So maybe that’s all that is.”

Reach Amanda Garrett at 330-996-3725 or agarrett@thebeaconjournal.com.