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Phoenix Ghost Tours tell downtown’s haunted past

Take a walk along Central Avenue in downtown Phoenix, and there probably wouldn’t be anything noticeably otherworldly.

But dig a little deeper into the history, and one might start looking for ghosts.

“When we get some sort of indication of who died in downtown, then we try and figure out their personalities,” said Joe Atredies, of Phoenix Ghost Tours.

This is the first year of the tour for Atredies and his researchers. Every weekend, Atredies takes groups of about 25 people through a few blocks of downtown, telling spooky stories about unusual deaths that happened at various landmarks.

One of the most recognizable spirits lives on at the Hotel San Carlos, according to Atredies. Leone Jensen jumped off the roof of the hotel in 1928.

“In the Hotel San Carlos, people have seen the spirit of Jensen on the seventh floor,” Atredies said. “She has a tendency to appear before men more than anybody else.”

According to Atredies, the Orpheum Theatre, Westward Ho, and Heard Building are some of the buildings haunted by ghosts.

Downtown’s haunted past goes all the way back to the late 19th century. It’s up to Laura Stentzel to do the research, and dig through historical death certificates.

“A lot of people died here from tuberculosis,” Stentzel said. “So I’ll be going, ‘tuberculosis, tuberculosis, pneumonia … gunshot wound. Yes!’ ”

Stentzel and Atredies said they don’t know why spirits exist but both believe they’re out there.

“It’s like I’m finding these people,” Stentzel said. “And I’m giving life to them after death. It’s kind of a cool thing.”