The Rest of Us: Paranormal Investigators Who Aren't on TV
My First Investigation
O nce while doing the laundry one winter afternoon, I was looking through a local paper called Seven Days. Originally I was searching for office space where I could set up my tarot reading business, but I was surprised to find an add in the "Free Stuff" columns.
Vermont Spirit Detective Agency. We're the Private Eye for those who've Died. The ad was calling out to anyone who believed they were experiencing paranormal activity in their home.
I called the number and spoke to Matt, the team founder and we came to find out that we were on the same page about alot of the basics. I sent an e-mail detailing my resume along with a promise that I would not flood his e-mail with pictures of dustbunnies and rain drops. (Also known as "orbs" to the amateur crowd) Matt said he'd be happy to have me along as his girlfriend Gloria, co-founder of VSDA had been bugging him to get someone else to help out with research.
Well the winter months were slow but I kept in touch. Finally, after I had sent a few leads their way, Matt invited me to my very first investigation. A house in Underhill, Vermont.
The house in question was owned by a couple who had several children, including a four month old baby. Historically this spot was a stop on the Freedom Train, a train that brought runaway slaves from the South on up to Canada. The train would stop here and they would pump water from the swamp to keep it going.
On the day of the investigation I met the group. Matt and Gloria, the founders, and Brian, the group's main skeptic and debunker. On the drive out we shared the experiences which led us into this field. We shared opinions on different aspects of paranormal activity and of course we discussed episodes of Ghost Hunters, the Sci-Fi channel program.
On arriving at the site we went on the tour of the property. I immediately went into debunking mode.
First thing I noticed were the pentacles decorating the house. An insense burner on the banister beside the door, one on the wall, etc. The wife, who I'll call Carol, announced that she was a practicing Wiccan. When I say Wiccan, I mean that her tone was basically, "I'm a pagan and therefore so much more open minded than you mere-Christians."
Of course, her husband, "John" was a Catholic. John seemed to be the more pragmatic of the two. An electrician by trade Matt's impression of him was that he had only called us as a last resort, more or less to get Carol off his back.
Their claims ranged from objects moving in the house, to full bodied apparitions outside. The major ones are as follows.
1: Carol claimed that there was a cross on the wall next to her husband's side of the bed and that flies tended to gather on that side. She believed it to be paranormal.
2: John claimed to see a full bodied apparition of a man standing behind the shack he had built at the edge of the property. He had been sleeping on a lawn chair and when he woke up he saw the image through the windows of the shack.
3: Campers and hunters who traveled through the property claimed to see a woman down by the swamp. You could clearly see the swamp from where his shack was built.
In the beginning of the investigation I went with Brian upstairs. He showed me how to use the EMF detector.
"When you sweep an area you're always trying to find a base reading," he said, slowly moving his up and down the closet where a group of cables were hanging. "Move it slowly, because if you jerk it the reading goes up and you get a faulty reading. See here, we have a base two."
"What about that one," I asked, pointing to an exposed wire that was hanging from the ceiling of the children's bedroom.
"Gloria and I checked that one and it's pretty low." Brian pointed to the alarm clocks on the dresser in the main bedroom. "Those tend to give off very high readings."
He was right. Each time I held the EMF detector near the clock I got about thirty to forty on the guage. It's a well studied theory that high emissions of electro magnetic fields can cause anything from nausea, feelings of being watched, moodiness and other symptoms.
"Well, I think I can debunk the claim about the flies." I said, noting that the master bedroom had its own bathroom. The bathroom didn't have a door on it and there was an open window into the main staircase, presumably for ventilation.
"There's the other reason." Brian pointed to a space between the wall and the ceiling just above the cross. "The flies get in there for the warmth."
First claim was debunked. Among other things was the cross, which I found interesting. It wasn't a traditional cross that I could tell, but rather a novelty cross with a skull engraved into the bottom half. You could buy stuff like this at Spencer's or Hot Topic.
Later in the evening I had a chance to look at the shack and the swamp from the postion of the shack.
From what I could piece together when you looked down at the swamp it was really easy to mistake a bare tree for a person. And when the trees were fully flowered and green any shadow could be distorted in your mind.
As for the black man that John claimed to see when he woke up, I thought of the number of times I woke up, blurry eyed and still half asleep. Conditions that could lead to mistaking your own reflection in a window for someone standing on the other side.
All in all, we didn't get much. But for my first investigation I was told I did quite well. I took advice, I didn't jump at every shadow. And now I'm looking forward to the next time I will be able to go on an investigation.