The Haunted Hardeman? The Ram Page’s dark past

The bone chilling murder of a freshman is still felt by some years later

By Mbulelo Maqungo
On October 31, 2020

Conceptual art by:
Ngoc Tieu My Ta

 

English writer and playwright Agatha Christie once said that “the science of tomorrow is the supernatural of today.” Like many institutions and places, Angelo State University has been the home of a metaphysical legend that has created believers and skeptics out of the ASU community for nearly four and a half decades.

On April 27, 1978, yearbook photographer Robert Mark Wagner murdered freshman Leandra Morales with a pair of scissors in what is now the Hardeman Student Services Center building.

According to a 1978 Ram Page article, the two Air Force ROTC students were in the photo development room when Wagner began to kiss Morales. According to San Angelo Standard-Times archives, Morales spurned his advances and attempted to force him away before she was killed by her fellow student. Wagner then proceeded to drag the body of Morales throughout the halls and rapped up the bloody scissors in a copy of the campus newspaper in an effort to hide his deed. The article then said Wagner was a sophomore when he was sentenced to 25 years in prison on June 13, 1978, and Morales was laid to rest in her hometown of Eagle Pass, Texas.

“That is such a crazy story,” senior Hattie Hale said. “I never knew there was a murder in that building!”

The Hardeman Building, once known as the Business Administration Building, used to be home to the Ram Page. In the subsequent years, many student journalists and faculty complained of noises and bizarre occurrences in that building.

2000-2004 Ram Page writer Winston Hall said he heard a woman’s voice in the middle of the night while he was with the newspaper’s then editor Julie Schlabs. According to Hall, they both searched the building and did not find anything.

Hall, years later in a video uploaded to YouTube, said that the elevator near room 200 in the Hardeman Building was known for traveling between both floors without anyone operating it, and that on one occurrence, a secured stack of newspapers flew off a bookshelf whenever the editor passed by.

“I very much believe in ghosts,” senior Abby Lucas said. “But I had no idea this was real.”

Current ASU employees in the Hardeman Building who wished to remain anonymous said that they have never experienced anything strange and consider the stories of ghosts on campus to be nothing but legends, but in 2014, Assistant Security Studies and Criminal Justice Professor Mark Pullin said he also experienced encounters with what he believed to be the ghost of Morales.

According to a 2014 Ram Page article, in 2011 Pullin said he heard a man and woman screaming in the second floor hallway of the Hardeman Building, but when checked, he was the only one in the building. Pullin also said that three days after that, he was speaking to Dr. Monica Koenigsberg when “someone or something physically brushed my arm. It startled me, and I turned around and there was no one in the hall.” the article said.

A look through Standard-Times and Ram Page archives throughout the years have shown that a true consensus may never be met, but many have worked to make sure the supernatural discussion will always continue and potentially unravel more to this story.

“Since the Ram Page moved to the library, I feel like this story has had the potential to kind of disappear over time,” Hall said. “Leandra’s murder is such a tragic and intriguing part of the Ram Page and Angelo State’s past.”

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