Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Choosing my path

When I first set out to join a paranormal group, I didn't really have any idea of what my purpose was other than to find more proof of spirits. I joined a group thinking that we would share a similar mindset and that, in the end, we'd spend our nights walking around with flashlights and recorders while asking questions in hopes of catching something. I soon learned that this wasn't the case, and that everyone in the group had a role. I felt a bit out of place not knowing what I wanted to do with my own investigations other than find paranormal activity.

At first, I thought I would join our tech team. I've always been a lover of gadgets and all things having to do with computers and electronics; but I couldn't dedicate enough time to their research of new equipment. Case management didn't exactly seem to be the place for me, either. I was too nice to tell someone that we couldn't take their case no matter how outrageous their claims were. I undoubtedly would have had a team of twelve sent out to investigate a haunted microwave if I was in charge of managing our cases! While research intrigued me, the girls that set out to do that were never on cases -- and I certainly wasn't about to pass up a chance to find more paranormal activity. Feeling more like a tag along instead of part of the group, I faithfully went to every investigation and learned as much as I could while hoping to find that one, special thing that I, too, could focus on.

It wasn't until after a year with the group that I found myself at a large Victorian house much like the one I had grown up in. The clients claimed to have slamming doors, moving chairs, and would occasionally smell strong perfume. They mentioned they had an eight year old daughter named Heather* who claimed to hear voices in her room, and felt as if she were being watched. During setup, I asked why no one had talked to Heather and was told that children are far from a reliable source, and that they preferred to simply stick to the claims reported by the adults.

This answer frustrated me because I had experienced activity for years in my house before my parents ever noticed it. I asked if I could talk to Heather, and was told that I was wasting my time, but that, if I wanted to, I could. I decided that, despite the groups protest, I was going to speak with her. I simply didn't feel right not talking to a person who had experienced the same things in the house the others did.

Sitting on Heather's bed, she told me that sometimes she heard voices in her room. Often times, it would be before she was in the room, and once she opened the door, they seemed to stop. Other times, though, they would start while she was in the room and then fade away. I asked her if she thought they could be coming from out on the street (as she had two bedroom windows that faced the road). She assured me she would check out the window from now on, but admitted to having never done so before.

Much like me as a child, Heather wasn't scared by the activity that was happening in her house. She told me that she thought it was her Grandmother coming back to say "hi," and letting the family know that, while they could no longer see her, she was still around. Heather also told me that no one ever really believed her. She had told a few people at school about it; but they all thought she was making it up, so she had simply stopped talking about it. It was in that moment that I was able to see so much of myself in Heather, that I decided I had found my spot in the group. While everyone else was focused on the adults and their claims, I was going to focus on the children.

At the next group meeting, I expressed my interest in working with children and was met with less than enthusiastic responses. I was reminded that children aren't always truthful and that they can be unresponsive to strangers. I was determined to do this, however. I knew that I was much more likely to relate to what a child was going through, having gone through it myself. In the end, the group founders supported me in my decision.

For the next year, I took several child psychology classes in order to get a better understanding of how a child's mind tends to work. I learned about how easy it is for children to have such a strong imagination, and what is "make believe" to us they may perceive as real. I also learned that parents can strongly influence their children into believing that something -- such as paranormal activity -- is happening, when in reality it's not. I knew that I had chosen a difficult path in the paranormal world; but I always thought back to Heather and the little girl that had no idea what was happening in her own home. While she wasn't scared, I knew that there were children who were terrified of the unexplained happenings in their home, and I was going to dedicate myself to helping them.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Finding a Group

After my experience at John’s house I knew I wanted to investigate more places. I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about doing more investigating but I was pretty sure I couldn’t just go around knocking on doors asking people if their house was haunted. I went back to the internet forums I had been previously searching and much to my dismay, everyone I talked to suggested that I join a group. Since my first ever contact with a group lead to my evidence being stolen, I wasn’t very happy with the answers I had received from fellow investigators.

For almost a year I tried doing my own investigations and, while I had some hit and miss success on outdoor sites, I was annoyed at walking around graveyards hoping for something to jump out at me. I finally gave in and went about searching for groups in my area. I found three different groups (which was a little surprising given that I lived in a small town). The first group I found was out of the question - they had stolen my evidence and I wasn’t about to trust them again. One of the groups was huge, with nearly a hundred different members spread out over a tri-state area. Their website was filled with video and audio evidence of things they had caught and pictures of equipment I had never heard of. It was overwhelming, and I was certain they wouldn’t want someone with almost no experience. The group I settled on was made up of five people who were looking for a sixth person. I went to their open meeting where a few other people had showed up - possibly join the group as well, but none of them seemed overly interested in doing so.

Like the rest of the people that had shown up to check out the group, I wasn’t sure I really wanted to join. I looked over the small amount of equipment they used and studied their mission statement. I knew it was either this group or, I would be back to wandering around the same graveyard night after night. So, I signed up for their training. During my time in the group, I learned how to have better EVP sessions and how to use an EMF meter. While what I was learning was incredibly useful, I didn’t like how we conducted investigations. I was convinced not everyone had a haunted house and, yet, even the smallest floorboard creek seemed to verify a haunting to this group. After six months I decided that I was better off on my own and left the group.

While telling my tale of frustration on the forums I had become a regular on, one of the members of the large group I had passed up suggested I join them for a guest investigation; he also mentioned that I might like their theory of “debunking” hauntings, instead of going in believing every location was haunted. After much thought, I agreed to join the group on their investigation.

Immediately, I knew that this group was going to be much different than the one that I had just left. It started with the fact that we were going to be investigating the location during the day. Expressing my confusion to the founder, he simply looked at me and asked if I had ever heard of spirits having a bedtime. Oddly enough, it was the exactly the answer I needed. My house was active at all times which meant others most likely were, as well.

For nearly four months we didn’t find any hauntings. That was certainly a lot different than the last group that found every location to be haunted, and reinforced my original belief that the house I had grown up in had been a rare occurrence. Once an opening for an investigator came open, I took the spot, knowing that I had found a group that I could learn from, and eagerly advance passed the knowledge I had gathered just from being a guest investigator.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Second Time

Once I left my parents house I didn’t expect to experience the same things that happened in my house going on in another one. I figured the chances of that were pretty rare; after all in 19 years I had been in plenty of houses and none of them seemed to be haunted. However, I soon started dating a guy named John* that seemed to be experiencing the same things I had previously experienced.

John and I had been dating for nearly six months and I had never seen his house. Growing suspicious of why this was, I started asking him questions. All my friends told me he must be married and I was starting to think that they were probably right. John assured me it was nothing like that and finally agreed to take me to his house. The house was extremely old, once belonging to his great grandfather. Three generations of family had grown up in the house and now it belonged to John.

On the first visit to John’s house I couldn’t see why he was wary about inviting me over. But on my second visit the atmosphere of the house seemed different. I couldn’t explain it back then, but the energy of the house had seemingly changed. Within thirty minutes of being there, my almost fully charged cell phone had died and despite turning up the thermostat twice, the living room seemed chilly. John told me that batteries draining and random cold spots sometimes happened and I joked to him that maybe his house was haunted. The look he gave me told me that he believed just that.

Seeing that John believed his house was haunted, I told him the story of my house and what I had grown up experiencing. It was nice to finally share my story with an actual person and not just the internet and it seemed that John was relieved that somebody actually believed him. Upon telling John of my investigation of my own home he asked me if I wanted to try and see if we could get anything at his house. He told me he believed his grandfather was still in the house and it would be great if I could confirm that.

Once again I found myself armed with a video camera and tape recorder. Time and money had allowed me to upgrade to a HandiCam and Sony digital recorder and it wasn’t long before I found myself wandering around John’s house trying to catch something. I had seen on TV that paranormal investigators asked questions in hopes of getting a response so I started doing the same. After about an hour of walking around, both John and I went over what I had recorded. While I didn’t catch any voices, I was able to catch what sounded like somebody whistling a tune. It was very soft but it was there. John told me that his father often walked around the house whistling.

On video, I found some things that I couldn’t explain. A white mist seemed to show up suddenly at the bottom of the screen and then disappear, then white streaks of light about knee height would appear randomly. I was confused, and confident that I had caught something paranormal. A little research on the internet led me to a small local paranormal group. The group had three people and their evidence page seemed to be strictly graveyards and other public places. I was convinced that they could help me understand what I had caught, if anything.
I emailed the group asking for help and they responded with a PO Box for me to send my tapes to. I quickly sent them my tapes and never heard from them again.

After never hearing from the group, I was left a little put off with the paranormal community. I assumed they were out there to help people and instead my evidence was taken and never returned. I was torn between believing I had caught something great and thinking I hadn’t caught anything at all and that was why they had never responded. Either way I was hurt and decided that I would not associate myself with other people who were out there investigating things that were happening.

For months after that, John’s house seemed to lack any activity while I was there and I found myself being disappointed by the fact. I was always hoping for something (even something small), while John seemed happy, if not relieved, by the quiet. Then one day while visiting his house, I became very sick. I went upstairs to lie down while he went outside to mow his lawn. I was just starting to drift off to sleep when I felt a cold hand press against my forehead as if checking to see if I had a temperature. I opened my eyes thinking I would find John checking up on me but there was nobody there.

It seemed from that day on, whatever was in John’s house seemed to open up to me. I never could shake the feeling of being watched after that day, and sometimes I would hear footsteps behind me as if I was being followed. At one point I grew frustrated of feeling - but not being able to see - whatever it was that was seemingly following me around. I demanded that whatever it was show itself and immediately following, the front door slammed shut despite no one being there.

Though John and I long ago broke up, he continues to live in the house and will sometimes email stories about something he has no explanation for going on in the house. Now, with more equipment and a much clearer idea of what I am doing I have offered to return to his house. But, he has always turned down my requests, telling me that he is happy in believing that his father is there with him and he doesn’t need any further proof one way or another.

*Name has been changed

Monday, December 7, 2009


Hello and welcome to my new little spot on the web. I’m certainly not new to this neck of the woods, having spent the better part of my teens and early twenties designing and writing for blogs, but I’ve never had my own. I have started this blog at the request of friends who have an interest in my research as a paranormal investigator. I have spent most of my life researching paranormal activities all starting in my own home. I joined a professional group when I was 22 but after 4 years I recently left the group. I am continuing my research on a much smaller scale these days as my career as a writer and a very demanding toddler now take up most of my time.

I was born in the town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas where even the trees are haunted if you ask the locals. Living in Eureka Springs taught me to be open to all aspects in life and people. Main Street was home to the religious shops where you could buy any sort of I Love Jesus shirt you were looking for while the side streets were filled with people claiming to be psychic and tarot card readers. If that wasn’t enough of an eclectic mix of people; you didn’t have to look far to find the gay district with the waving rainbow flags.

When I was eight years old I was uprooted from the small tourist town to an even smaller town in Central IL. I was an outsider from the beginning, with my strong Southern accent shining like a spotlight. Teachers and students alike not only viewed me as the new kid, but as someone they couldn’t possibly understand them or be understood. When the entire grade school has only 400 students, the idea of someone moving in from a new state where they spoke differently wasn’t something they saw very often, if ever.

My parents bought a large Victorian house, the largest house in town, although we didn’t have much money. My father was a deckhand working down on the boats at the riverfront making minimum wage. The house was very cheap, the asking price dropped several times because it couldn’t sell. My parents never asked why, desperate for a place to live.

A year went by in the house and I slowly began to make friends in the small town. My father was able to get a raise and because of this my parents decided to start repairs to the house. It wasn’t long after this that the house seemed to take on a life of its own.

I have never been much of a sleeper, often staying awake until the early hours of morning and because of this my parents bought a TV for me to have in my bedroom. Late one night I heard voices drifting out of the floor vent that lead to the living room below. With a house so old, sound traveled easily, especially through the vents. There wasn’t much that was a secret in that house. I turned on the TV and flipped through the channels trying to match the voices with what my parents were watching. Unable to do so, I decided they must be watching a movie and went downstairs to see if I could watch it with them. Instead, I found the downstairs dark, my parents having gone to bed. This was my first experience with something paranormal though I didn’t know it at the time.

As the days of renovating wore on, we discovered hidden rooms in the house. The half bath downstairs had a fake wall directly behind the toilet and behind the wall was a shallow cement room. Downstairs there were several places where the bricks could be removed and small storage spaces were found. Upstairs in my bedroom closet we found that the wall actually slid away and entered the large hall storage closet. The closet always had a lock on the inside of the doors and we could never figure out what the purpose of that would be until that day.

Always a bit of a research nerd, I quickly found myself at the library researching anything and everything I could find about the mysterious house I lived in. I was able to find that the house had been a generation house, passed on from family member to family member until the last family member that wished to live in the house died in 1980. I was never able to find the reasons for the secret rooms and any attempt I’ve made at contacting family members in regards to the house since then have never returned my phone calls or emails.

For years the voices drifting up through my vent seemed to be the only thing going on in the house. There could have been more, but I was an active kid with little time to consider the odd happenings going on in my house. But eventually the activity became so obvious, it couldn’t be overlooked.

First there was the strong smell of cigarette smoke in the upstairs hall. No one in my family smoked and with my dad now a pilot on the boats he was gone for several weeks at a time. My mother would accuse me of smoking but the smell was only in the hall, never drifting to the bedrooms. Soon after the smell of smoke came the unexplained banging. It would sound as if something heavy had fallen or was thrown but we were never able to find anything. The banging was rare but the smoke and voices were starting to be a daily thing.

One evening I had a friend spending the night. We were in my room watching TV when the door handle on my door rattled as if somebody was having trouble turning it. Thinking it was my mother; I opened the door only to find that nobody was there. I walked down the hall thinking my mother might have moved on to another room before coming back but was unable to find her upstairs and there was no possible way she could have made it down the steps without us hearing her, not in that old house anyway.

Through all of this I was never scared although I should have been scared out of my wits! I couldn’t explain it then and to this day I still can’t explain why I wasn’t scared. I knew there were ghosts in my house but the idea seemed more interesting than scary to me. I also never spoke of what was going on in my house to any of my friends. It had taken me 5 years to stop being the outsider and starting to be accepted, imagine if I was the crazy kid with the haunted house!

One day while watching The Travel Channel they had a show on about ghosts and I stopped to watch. On the show they had paranormal investigators who walked around houses with fancy gadgets asking for the spirits to communicate with them. From there, I was determined to find, and communicate, with who or whatever was in my house.

The next night found me armed with my parents’ video camera on night vision and an RCA cassette tape recorder. It wasn’t exactly like what I had seen on TV, but it was certainly better than just a flashlight and hoping for something to jump out at me. My “investigation” lasted all of thirty minutes before I rushed to my room eager to see what I had found. Of course I found absolutely nothing but that didn’t stop me. Instead, the next night I put the tape recorder downstairs in the room we had found in the half bath. It was now filled with our holiday decorations so I simply left it on top of our Christmas tree box and went the bed.

In the morning I woke up early and hurried down to get my tape recorder. I found it on the floor next to the box and saw that the tape had only recorded half way through. I quickly rewound the tape and sat in my bedroom listening wide-eyed to voices, hearing the occasional word that could easily be made out. I didn’t have audio editing equipment back then, I didn’t even know it existed, but what I did have was evidence that I wasn’t just hearing things at night. I had caught something, and I wanted more.

When I was 14 my parents got us a computer and a few months later came the internet. Most of my friends were surfing web sites about boy bands while I was surfing sites about paranormal research. I learned that I was not alone although it still felt that way. Nobody I knew talked about ghosts, especially living with them. I felt as if I had this secret that I couldn’t tell anybody and I was starting to retreat from the friends I had tried so desperately to make. They couldn’t possibly understand something that was such a big part of my life that I felt as if I wasn’t able to really connect with them.

When I was 16 my internet surfing lead me to sites about cleansings and I decided that I was going to do one in my house. With no one to guide me in the right direction I found myself reading about tortured souls and that all ghosts needed to “cross over” or move on. Within days of finding my first cleansing site I felt that I was educated enough, and prepared to do one in my house.

Until the day I did the cleansing, nothing in the house had bothered us. The house was a mix of living people and people who had yet to accept that they were dead. While I knew they were there, I doubt that they knew of us. Using the instructions of a random website claiming to be the number one experts in cleansings, I sat up my candles and sage stick and went to work while my parents were out one night.

For a few days, nothing happened, the house returning to silence. I was a little sad that the activity I had grown so use to was gone, but I felt positive the cleansing had worked and that I had done the right thing. Then, while standing in the same room I had done the cleansing I was talking to somebody when I noticed what looked to be a white feather or maybe dust coming toward me. I swiped at it and thought it must have gone away because I didn’t feel anything. Soon after a welt showed up just under my eye, staying for several days. Following the scratching, the banging that had only happened off and on became louder, doors slammed, cabinet doors slammed so hard the glass broke, candles would be blown out and things would move. My parents were confused over the activity, my mother seeming more willing to accept that our house was haunted than my father. Then, just as suddenly as it had started, it stopped. The house went silent and several years later I moved out.

I have never forgotten the wide-eyed curiosity that living in an actual haunted house brought. I have also never forgotten what it was like to feel as if nobody would understand me or believe me. Children have wild imaginations and teens often look for ways to get attention. I was neither, but I always felt as if I would be treated as such.

As an adult my research has continued. I know that there are spirits walking among us and I’m always curious as to where and why. While my equipment has changed and my knowledge has grown by leaps and bounds deep inside I’m still the wide-eyed kid putting a tape recorder on a Christmas tree box hoping to catch something.