Thursday, May 10, 2007

Running on Fear

This is merely an observation I made when I spent an evening at a notoriously haunted location in Alton. Originally printed in 2005.

How many times have we viewed a scary movie only to hear noises within our room or see shadows moving on the walls? Are those noises or shadows actually there? Probably, but they are not paranormal activity. If your mind was not “running on fear” you could easily see the shadowy figure is just the hat on the bedpost and the noises are just the old house settling.

The effects of fear on the body are well documented. Fear can cause body temperature to rise and fall. It excites the brain and stimulates chemicals within the body which can cause hallucinations and lead to the brain misinterpreting events. Normal effects of fear on the body include: a sudden rise or fall of body temperature, sweating, stomach aches, goose bumps, shivering, hallucinations, and feeling touched.

I have read many stories of amputees who claimed to feel their severed limb. In one case a man lost his leg in a war but could still feel his foot itch, and could still move his toes but there was no foot to scratch and no toes to move. This could also explain how people claim to be touched by an invisible presence. The mind is mysterious so it is important to be aware of this before you start your investigations.

I have a theory that telling spooky stories, having séances, using Ouija boards and such before or while entering a suspected haunted location will condition your mind to be susceptible to encounter things or see things that are not really there. So when conducting a paranormal investigation listen to all of the “spooky” stories beforehand so your mind is not clouded with negative or fearful thoughts.

Our brain is a filter. It receives data from the eyes, ears and other nerves within the body and presents it to us so we know what is happening. The problem is when emotions like fear cloud the mind and cause the brain to interpret events in a way that generate false readings. This is why it is important to have scientific devices to document strange changes in the environment. Cold spots can be attributed to the body’s response to a fearful situation; but if you have a thermometer and can measure the falling temperature, you have proof of something happening. Never investigate alone because you want a witness to verify events you see and hear. Take cameras and recorders to document events so you can replay them to verify situations. It is important to investigate with a digital video recorder, a digital camera (5 mega pixel or higher) and a digital voice recorder.

Know the history of the haunting in advance of your arrival so you can enter the location fear free. You should always enter a location with a neutral, peaceful mindset free from emotional baggage so you can avoid your brain giving false interpretations of your surroundings.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Paranormal Investigations - More Detail

Reprinted from 2005

I recently ran an add in the St. Louis Post and the Riverfront Times advertising if people were under a spiritual attack to email me with details. Well I have received several leads but one in particular is quite disturbing. The entity is supposed to have contributed to the death of one of the members of the family. I quickly pushed this haunting to the top of my list and will hopefully get a chance to investigate this before the end of the year.

Needless to say the family is scared to death and I do not blame them. I really want to help this family. I cannot explain this but I feel this is what I am supposed to do with my life - protect people from spirits. I have been protecting people from things my entire life and this is the one area I feel I can be of service the best. I think I will investigate this one alone - if anything happened to one of my friends I could never forgive myself. I can deal with it if my ass gets kicked but not if a loved one is touched.

When I was in college I saved a classmate from an abusive boyfriend that would show up at her dorm and beat the shit out of her. So the school threatened to expel her if it happened again and they did not want the police called because it would make the school look bad. How screwed up is that!!! Expel HER because she is being abused – what a dumb ass school!!!

So she calls me crying, not knowing what to do and embarrassed to show up at school with bruises all over her body, so I took care of it. Anyway I hid in her closet one night trying to catch him in the act and sure enough he starts pounding on the door trying to get in. She opens the front door and as he goes to hit her I jump out of the closet and beat his ass out the door, down the hall and into his car. He drove away and never returned.

So now I want to do these paranormal investigations to see if I can help people with this. My coworkers think I will get possessed or even worse, killed by a demon. I say bring it on!!! I’m not scared to die and I am not scared of any invisible force hurting me. If its my time to die then its my time to die.

The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long. I must have an adventure in my life in order to have fun. I cannot just sit around and let life pass me over. My marriage sucks and I’m not sure how long it will last so what have I got to lose. Anyway below are a couple of my favorite places I have investigated and a brief synopsis of each one. I will post more in the coming months – unless the demons kill me. LOL!!!

Cheney Mansion
Investigated in 1999 and 2000

My first paranormal investigations were in the Cheney Mansion. I was just learning and did not know anything. During the first investigation, lights would come on and a chair was moved. We did not see it move but we know the chairs were positioned perfectly around the dining room table and when we went back to the dining room one of the chairs was moved away from the table.

This was also the place I made my first psychic reading. Everybody entered one of the spare bedrooms but I just could not do it. When they asked me why I said I felt like if I did I would get trapped inside and it freaked me out. Later on we met the caretaker and she told us when Mr. Cheney would come home drunk they would lock him in this bedroom until he sobered up because he would destroy things. He would pound on the door all night long trying to get out.

During our second visit we actually used a Ouija board which I recorded the entire event with a video camera. The temperature dropped about 10 degrees from the moment we pulled the Ouija board out until we put it away. That night was the most active I have ever seen a Ouija board.

The Unitarian Church
Investigated twice in 2005

The Unitarian Church is the only place that terrified me. I hate to admit this being a paranormal investigator but I did go back a second time to conquer my fears.

Although I did not know it at the time, during my first visit to the Unitarian Church I was under attack from the moment I set foot inside the place. I felt drained upon entering and as the minutes passed I got to the point of near exhaustion. I felt something was following me the entire time and have some very disturbing orbs in my photos to prove it. The spot were the priest hung himself was a bad spot but nothing compared to the basement.

I am almost six foot five; I used to play football in December in my shorts so I never get cold. When we went into the basement which was built in the late 1700’s, I was so cold and I could not stop shivering. I also felt this enormous pain in my stomach that did not subside until I left the building. When I did leave I was VERY pissed off at myself for being scared; so I went back a second time within a few weeks with a much smaller group.

I had to conquer my fears so I took three of my friends during a very bad thunderstorm, and finally faced the force that terrified me. It was the perfect night for an investigation, the thunder and lightning was shaking the Church like an earthquake and four idiots were tempting fate in one of the notorious hot spots for ghosts in the Midwest. Plus we were just a few days short of the date of the priest's suicide. So while my friends were telling stories in the chapel I was wandering around just daring something to jump out at me.

A psychic friend of mine told me if I ever felt threatened to imagine myself in a beam of light, with the light being my protection. I laughed at the time but it really works. So I am walking around throughout this church by myself in complete darkness picturing myself radiating light like a sun. I was also thinking that if this ghost materialized I was going to run through it like some dumb ass wild berserker. I was still pissed off from being scared the first time and I remember thinking, “Come on you son of a bitch I dare you to show yourself!"

Well nothing happened this time. No attack, no sickness, no cold…nothing. In fact, the caretaker which had many encounters in this church commented; except for the storm, that night was the quietest he had ever seen it. Chicken shit ghost!!! Below are pictures of the mansion and the church.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Paranormal Investigations: The Beginning

Many people have asked how I got started with the paranormal investigations. Well, here is my story:

It all started when I was a little kid about 5 years old. While looking through the records I found this scary album titled The Chilling Sounds of the Haunted House by Disney. The picture on the cover scared the crap out me but I had to have it. So where does a kid go when he really wants something? You guessed it, right to grandma; she hardly ever said no to me. Well I played this record so much I wore the grooves out. Today I own about 5 copies of it. Whenever I am at flea market or an estate sale and I run across one in good condition, I can’t resist paying fifty cents for another copy.

I remembered staring at this cover listening to the scary sounds thinking about how I wished I lived in that house. I always wanted to explore the attic and find out who left that light on. It would be a stormy night and I would cross the graveyard in front of the house while the thunder roared and the lightning danced upon the horizon. The wind would howl with the waist high grass bowing in unison to the unseen horror that waited for me within the house. Incidentally, the house on this album cover resembles the McPike mansion except for the attic room.

The album peaked my interested in all things scary but it was the Chiller Theatre where, as a kid, I honed my paranormal skills. Every Saturday night my little brother and my mom and I would gather under a blanket, pop some popcorn, and watch the Chiller Theatre spooky movie of the week. I was scared to death but I couldn’t look away. When my mom and brother would hide under the covers I would stare at the TV with my heart getting ready to pound out of my chest.

The movie that used to do the most damage was “Die! Monster, Die!” starring Boris Karloff. After watching that one I had to change my routine for getting into bed. I would stop at the edge of the doorway and run towards the bed jumping to avoid any monster hands which attempted to grab me from under the bed.

My mom was awesome and always catered to my fascination with new age stuff. I still enjoy watching a scary movie with her.

Halloween was always a big event when we were kids. Every year my brother and I would attend all of the haunted houses in the neighborhood Churches, schools and where ever. Those used to scare the crap out of me but I would go to them every year. I remember one time I was about nine years old I got so scared I just started running through the house screaming, “I gotta throw up! I gotta throw up!” Needless to say all of the ghouls cleared a path for me to exit quickly.

In second grade I was accused of being possessed by the devil by one of the nuns. It all started during my First Communion when I received the Host for the first time. As soon as it touched my tongue I vomited it back all over the priest along with the Fruit Loops I ate earlier. The nun, which was the principal of the school, called my parents and insisted I was a demon child. It was a good thing the parish priest did not agree with her about me needing an exorcism; that might have gotten ugly.

In high school I read JRR Tolkien, HP Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe and Stephen King books regularly. I listened to bands like Ozzy Osbourne, who was my favorite rock star, also Rush, Triumph, Motley Crew and Black Sabbath.

When I was a freshman in high school, one of the nuns who taught science liked me because I was good with the experiments and got good grades. She asked me what I was going to do when I grew up. My response to her without missing a beat, “I want to solve all the mysteries of the world. I want to find a Bigfoot, live in a haunted house and talk with a ghost. Maybe even take pictures of a UFO too, but I gotta buy a camera first.” She smiled awkwardly at me and only managed to get out an “OOOOHHH!” She didn’t talk to me much after that.

Then in 1999 came my big break. A friend of mine, who was assisting with her sister’s book about the paranormal, invited me to attend an overnight at the Cheney Mansion, one of the local notorious haunted houses. At the time I knew nothing about orbs, EVPs, or any of the actual science. But in the following years I immersed myself in research and investigations. I wanted to find out everything I could from everybody who had ever visited or lived in a haunted house. I showed up with a video camera and filmed as much as I could. Right away I knew this was where I was supposed to be. I had no troubles walking into the dark basement or climbing into the crawl spaces.

This was also when I had my first psychic experience. There was one particular bedroom I refused to enter. When the group asked me why I stayed at the door I confessed to having a feeling like if I entered the door would slam and I would be trapped. The next morning when we met the curator she asked us if we felt anything strange. I told her about that one bedroom. She smiled and said that was the room they would lock PD Cheney into when he came home drunk. He was a mean drunk and would often break things so they choose that bedroom because there was nothing valuable in it. He would pound on the door for hours before passing out.

My second psychic experience came when I took a trip to Bowling Green to do some antiquing. I remember feeling the presence of a very unhappy old lady standing right next to me. She was unhappy because I was in her home. I could actually smell her!! As we were leaving I asked the owner of the store if they had a ghost. They sure did and when I found out it was an old lady, I knew something was going on with me.

We eventually went back to the Cheney Mansion a second time and then other places. I carried my video camera and filmed everything. I was Ghost Hunters before Ghost hunters existed. I wanted us to do a show on the local access cable channel in which we would play back our footage of the investigations. But the team at the time was not as committed to the research as me.

One of the best investigations involved the old funeral parlor at the top of the street where I grew up as a kid. I remembered the place was a big scary mansion and I always seemed to be in the alley when they would bring in the bodies. The old dark garage door screeched opened and the hearse slowly drove through, I knew what was happening and it scared me. It was like having Phantasm at the top of the street. When it was sold by the original family, they allowed us to spend a night investigating it. This house, which terrified me during my entire childhood and now I was going to spend the night there. I’ll post pictures of it later and show you what it looks like today.

In 2004 I started running ads in the local newspapers querying for stories about hauntings. I interviewed people, developed theories and now I ‘m ready to test some of them. I want to take paranormal investigations to the fringe and go places very few investigators want to go. I want to dissect a haunted location and make contact with spirits on a whole new level.

I believe I was “called” to do this work. There are people that need help and protection from bad spirits. I believe I can help them. It could be the “knight in shining armor” complex I have had my entire life or maybe it’s something else. Whatever it is, I know I’m good at this because I feel comfortable in these environments. Just like Steve Irwin was comfortable jumping on a crocodile, I feel quite the same when confronting a spirit. I live for this!!