The Investigation Part 2

Chautauqua Ghosts Investigations

Once you have your equipment in hand and location picked out it is time for you to begin your investigation.  Of course you have to have a plan of action.  Many people have very different ways of going about finding out if there is activity in the site and it all depends on what you have in mind and what results you want to achieve.  You can do all the research in advance and walk into the home armed with all the ammunition searching for specific places and occurrences.  However, I like to go in to an investigation a little blind.  It prevents me or my group from making inferences about already known information and creating scenarios to support those inferences.  

For example with EVP’s if you listen to it for the first time you have no idea what it says.  You can make the observation and translation without the preconceived idea of what it says.  I have played many in the past and the people listening have come up with very different translations.  However, if I tell them what I think it says prior to me playing it they often agree that is what they heard.  Sometimes the knowledge of what is before you taints the results.

This is not to say I go into the investigation without knowing everything that I can. I ask if the occurrences are regularly in the same place, if they are mild or intense, if the people experiencing them would consider themselves in danger.  These types of question do not taint my results but allow me to know what type of investigation I am going on.  If the activity is intense and I go into the hunt not knowing this I could be putting my team and I in jeopardy.  In cases where I need to know things that have occurred I prepare everyone on what they would be required to know but keep specifics from them.  This way I can control the activities but allow the other investigators to come to their own conclusions. In the past this has worked very well.

To show the proper methodology I will relate a specific ghost hunt that I went on by myself.  The problem with solo investigations is you do not have someone else to corroborate occurrences.  This risks evidence and compromises results so there should always be at least two on an investigation.  I am in no way saying these results are untainted but it allows me to show you what, when done properly, and investigator can come up with.

The home in question was a three bedroom one bath typical suburban residence.  The street was as unassuming as any other within a twenty block radius.  There was nothing foreboding or abnormal about the house itself or of the neighborhood around it.  The occupants in their early thirties held average jobs locally and had kids about the age of ten.  Again everything was average save for their complaints about a possible supernatural presence in the house.  I investigated the house in mid 2003 when the weather was mild and started the investigation during the day about 9am.  I knew something was going on in the house due to the complaint.  I also knew that there was some mild aggression with the manifestations and that the occurrences were semi regular but that the occupants felt they were in no immediate danger.  Other than that I did not know anything about the house or what had happened.  I asked them a few minor questions about the house so I knew where I was going and if I should expect anything from the structure itself.  With that completed I grabbed a 35mm camera, EMF meter, infra-red thermometer, and cassette recorder and did a broad sweep of the home.  Checking for any abnormal EMF readings or orbs, which I would discover later, and if I picked up anything on the audio. Starting downstairs and moving to the second floor yielded mild EMF readings.  In two of the upstairs bedrooms I got substantial readings on the EMF and felt a draft or cold spot with my infra-red thermometer in one room and the closet.  I did not pick anything up on the audio later but did pick up orb activity in the room with substantial EMF activity and cold spot prior to me entering.  The third bedroom and bathroom upstairs yielded no activity at all.

Finishing the sweep after about a half hour I came back downstairs and gave my results.  I had told them everything and they looked shocked.  What they then told me was that the specific locations I picked up the heightened readings on the EMF were where they too had experienced everything.  Cold spot and all were corroborated with what they told me.  I felt confident that what they continued to tell me was all true because they would interrupt each other with additional details, or correcting each other on missed details.  I also felt confident that what I picked up was accurate since I had no idea what had happened or even where.

I am in no way stating this is the best way to achieve accurate results.  It is up to each investigator and the group to make up what and how they want to do things.  First and foremost everything has to be done with respect to the location and to the spirits in question.  The investigator(s) at all times need to be safe from harm.  Thirdly, the results must be as accurate as possible.  The goal of the investigation is to gather proof of the other side, and to be able to present said evidence with as little error as possible.  If all of these simple rules are met than the ghost hunt will be a success.

The Investigation (Part 1)

The team that you hunt with is one of your most useful tools on an investigation.  They are the ones that gather the evidence and then interpret the results.  The solid group is the way to accurate results.  But how do you select a team?  Odds are if they are willing to go on a ghost hunt in the first place then the group will be stacked with those that believe in the paranormal.  The trick is to getting a group together that believe in many different things.  I devised a questionnaire that I have everyone in the group take before they even go on a hunt with us.  The reason is that I can obtain all the information about that person before they are exposed to anything else. 

Questions range from personal beliefs in the paranormal to religion to how they would feel if something did happen on an investigation.  The point to all of this is that I can figure out what would happen on an investigation.  If someone is prone to imagining things then I can most likely assume that an owl hooting or the wind blowing could become a paranormal experience for the person.  The results are then in question.  But if paired with someone who does not believe in the those types of things and they describe the same thing and feel the same way I can then feel a little more comfortable about the results.  It allows me to have a little more control on what I can believe from the evidence gathered.

Most importantly you need to have a group that you trust completely.  It does no good to have a wise guy in the group who destroys the whole investigation by creating paranormal occurrences.  Likewise, it is hard to complete an investigation if someone is easily prone to freaking out during the hunt.  Know your group, trust your group, allow your group to get the results honestly and you will always have a successful hunt.  Even if you do not find anything you will know that everything was done correctly and by the book.

What is Ghost?

Why do they haunt us? What do they want as they wander through our homes and across our land as the light fades and the moonlights seeps through our windows?

Ghosts have been with us since man began to ponder the meaning of death. They began to wonder what happened to friends and family when they died. Was there survival after life drained from the body? We want to know that our loved one is watching over us so we are comforted when they pass. We also want to know that this life, so precious to us, is not the only thing out there. In that sense we are a little selfish because we want to hold onto our lives. Our experiences on this earth are sometimes all we think we have. Religion is like that too. It is a way for us to be comforted by the belief that there is something else after we die, something better we hope, but something; anything is better than nothing. Right? For they’re to be nothing else would be the ultimate slap in the face, a cosmic joke in the making as we come closer to the grave. Belief is a powerful thing; it keeps us sane at times and allows us to be at peace knowing that death is only the beginning.

First I want you to dispel any and all preconceived notions of a ghost. Ghosts are not your typical walking through the attic rattling their chains and moaning entities although I suppose they could be if they wanted to. The problem is that over the years the term “ghost” has become a dumping ground for all sorts of ideas from poltergeists to run of the mill flickers in the corner of ones eye. I suppose the best way to begin this is to start at the beginning and work up to the present day explanations of ghost phenomenon. Ghosts are not new they have been around for quite some time and have over the years become more than attic dwelling apparitions.

This story comes from Ancient Athens and was written by Pliny the Younger (A.D. 61-115) but the question is: Is it true or a writer’s fabrication?

In Athens there sat a house which none could dwell. In the night there arose such a noise as metal crashing and chains rattling that one could not sleep. In turn an apparition would appear in the form of an emaciated old man with a long beard and fettered in chains. It was to the point that madness would overtake any tenant in the house and finally it was shut up. In hopes that some unknowing individual would come by and take up residence in this haunted dwelling a sign was placed out front for rent or sale.

In time the philosopher Athenodorus happened by the dwelling and noticing the sign and the reasonable price decided to take the residence as his own. Having been told the full story of the ghastly apparition, which haunted the halls, Athenodorus still took the place without question. The first night while he toiled over his books and writings the apparition appeared before Athenodorus rattling his chains and sending out a ghastly wail. The philosopher having no intention of giving into such nonsense simply told the ghost it would have to wait until he was so inclined to pay any attention. The apparition undaunted continued to assail the philosopher until, upset he could not continue his work, he took up a lamp and followed the ghost to the courtyard where the spirit promptly vanished while pointing to a spot on the ground.

Having no desire to continue the nonsense Athenodorus marked the spot and went to bed. Upon waking in the morning he decided that he would, for civility and reason, put to rest the issue of the ghost and called the local magistrate to his home and to the spot he had marked the previous night. Upon the digging of a hole in that exact spot there was revealed the bones of an adult male bound in chains. Once the body was removed and the bones interred in a proper burial the spirit never again visited the house in Athens.

This story has all the classic trappings of a ghost story. There is the ghastly spirit trapped on earth, moaning, wailing and even the discovery of the body and the subsequent laying to rest of the bones properly. But is it true? I know that before I said ghosts are much more than chain rattling attic dwellers and this has become more apparent over the years. Science has come to the forefront of trying to prove that spirits exist, mediums have always existed for contacting the spirit world, and there is always the trusted Ouija Board. Through all of this though there have been theories on what ghosts are and the types that exist.

First there is the Residual Haunting, which is not actually the ghost that many would think it is. Simply put the residual haunting is a place memory. There is a popular theory out today that the residual haunting is caused through environmental means. Think about and audio or videotape that is in every household across the world. The material that the tape uses to record the images or sounds is oxidized or rusted thus allowing for the recording process. If you think of a building or area as the tape and the materials such as rock or rusted nails as the oxidized or metallic elements that allow for recording it makes more sense. An image is stored somehow in the surrounding area until the right conditions are revealed and the “Play” button is pushed. Thus the residual haunting begins to play. Images and sounds may repeat once a year on the same day or when it rains. There is any number of triggers. Maybe over the years in your home you have heard footsteps coming up the stairs but there is no one ever there. Every time there are twenty-seven footfalls and then nothing. Observe when it occurs and possibly you can figure out the trigger. There is no “physical” ghost present but only a “place memory” playing back from time to time. This leads us to our next type of ghost:

An apparition is the ghost of an individual. This is the ghost everyone associates with the term. This is the conscious entity that interacts with you and the environment around it and that is aware of its surroundings. The story that Pliny related to us was this type of haunting. Typically the spirit is connected to the place or the people where it resides. These types of hauntings are not as common as you would think and are only experienced by a handful of researchers. The spirit energy that makes up this entity is that which was once the person so in turn retains the personality and manners of the living self. Often the spirit is tied to the area for a few specific reasons; it may be that the spirit does not want to move on, or that they never realized that had died due to the suddenness of death. For whatever reason the spirit resides there it still is only the person that it once was.

I often hear people say that they are afraid of ghosts. Most people are and that is only because they fear what they do not understand. In the story that I wrote about myself regarding my grandmother I was scared, scared to death of what I saw but now in retrospect I wonder why. Actually, I know why; it was because I had no idea what I was seeing and in turn could not even begin to understand what it was. So I was scared. Now that I know who I was seeing and understand that she was just watching over us children for a time then it is not so frightening. If she was alive when she visited I would not be so afraid so why would I be in death?

Likewise, ghosts are the people they used to be. If you were good and kind then in death it would stand to reason that you are good and kind. IN life if you were bad in turn your spirit may be bad. People are people and in death they are still people. We just cannot always see them or understand why they are there. There are very few instances of “negative” spirits but it does happen. However, if you understand what you are dealing with and stay calm most injuries and interactions can be kept in check. You have to understand that you cannot always see them but they can see you. Imagine yourself in a room full of people and you are trying desperately to get someone’s attention but no one sees or hears you. How would you feel? I can guess very frustrated and would do anything you could to get attention drawn to yourself.

These spirits can manifest in many ways. You may be able to see a full or partial bodied apparition of the individual as they were in life, or from a time in their life. You can hear footsteps, knocking, or even words or whispers. Pipe smoke and perfume can manifest when no one is smoking or wearing that specific perfume. At times you may see orbs or light effects, see doors open or lights go on and off. There are many ways they try to get our attention or become visible to us but in the end it is always just a person who has passed away. Nothing more than conscious energy still here on the earth it once lived on.

The third type of haunting is the Poltergeist from the German for noisy ghost. The Poltergeist has always been exemplified by mischievous actions, objects flying around rooms, furniture moving, and people being levitated. It was always assumed that if one had a poltergeist that the spirit was being vengeful and in death trying to exact retribution for a wrong doing and in turn is able to interact with rage on the world around it. In present times the Poltergeist has become something else. In studies of poltergeist phenomenon by noted investigators like Hans Bender, William Roll, And Harry Price it has been learned that it is not necessarily a spirit causing these issues but an individual or agent the phenomenon focuses around. This person known or unknown to himself or herself is the one, through psycho kinesis, causing the activity. Usually occurring in adolescents nearing puberty the poltergeist activity eventually calms down eventually after a peak period. This type of haunting is only included here because there is no real proof that it is not a ghost but whatever the cause poltergeist activity is a paranormal occurrence.


The modern form of ghost hunting has everything to do with the equipment that you use.  Over the years technology has been adapted to allow the intrepid ghost hunter to interact with the environment in hopes that some proof could be obtained for the existence of life after death.  In the past such methods such as dowsing rods, which are still used today, and even flour on the floor were used to show that a ghost was present.  Today with the advent of certain technologies and the adaptation of them the guess work has been reduced and the measurement of ghosts has been increased.  Unfortunately, like any other science the equipment is only as good as the user but with continued use sometime in the future some solid and tangible piece of evidence may prove once and for all that ghosts do exist.

I figured I would begin my ghost hunt series with the equipment needed and a brief overview of why they are used.  Mind you none of this information has proved 100% successful but in time through technology and its implementation through trial and error we will succeed.  Every ghost hunting kit should include some basic materials that anyone can pick up at the corner market.  Notepads and sketch books with different colored marking pens to notate anything odd, paranormal, or to sketch the layout of a room for later reference are a must.  I have even gone so far as to make specialized hunting forms such as room grids and ghost hunt logs to record specific occurrences so there is no question as to what I am writing down and looking for.  The only reason we are out and doing all of this is to observe, record, and analyze.  Doing it right makes everything that much easier to analyze.  A tape measure, flashlight, extra batteries, chalk (to mark areas of interest); string, and even walkie talkies should also be present.  With these basics a kit will be complete.

One paranormal occurrence that can be recorded is EVP.  To record these on a ghost hunt you will need at least a cassette recorder with fresh unopened cassette tapes.  I carry a shoebox recorder to limit the amount of internal noise recorded on the tape; I also have a back-up mini recorder to leave in specific locations or to carry around.  Aside from cassette tapes I also use a digital voice activated recorder.  These come in handy since there is no internal noise and you can compare to your hard copy cassette for later analysis.  Digital and cassette recorders each have their perks but I believe that one by itself cannot get as much information as both together.

Video is also important to record visual anomalies.  The best camera to have is one that has night vision capability so that any night hunts you may be on there is no question as to what is recorded and allows for optimal night visibility.   Still shots can be obtained by digital camera which allows for greater range of image capturing and also for shear amount of pictures that can be taken.  The drawback is that there is no hard copy like a picture negative to show that the image was not tampered with.  So I also recommend having a 35mm camera or better yet a Polaroid on hand to show that there was something there on sight and not later digitally added.

The EMF meter or electromagnetic field meter has been adapted for use of picking up and disturbance in the EMF fields of any given area.  They come in handy so you can pinpoint the possible location of a spirit to allow for the taking of video and still shots and even recording of temperature with a digital infrared thermometer to compile a grouping of multiple readings for better results.  A low tech method of showing disturbances in an area is a simple compass which will spin out of control when an EMF disturbance is near.

I mentioned Flour and even string before and these can be used as low tech ways to make sure that there is no other presence in a given area while recording certain things.  For instance with flour on the floor you can see that a cat entered your area if one did so that audio recording s will be excluded in that given area.  This insures that no reading is read incorrectly. The modern method is infrared motion detectors which you can place all around an area to secure a certain location from intrusion.

This is just a broad range of equipment that you can use but in any situation use the materials and equipment that you know how to use and that you feel comfortable with.  If you do that your ghost hunt can only be informative and hopefully you can capture a ghost for the entire world to see.  In the future I will also break down specific ways to use and analyze all the equipment that I have listed here to make everything that much easier for you when you do attempt your first ghost hunt.

The Basic Ghost Hunting Kit:

  • Notebook/Sketchpad
  • Colored marking pens
  • Extra Batteries
  • Tape Measure
  • String
  • Chalk
  • 35mm Camera and extra film
  • Cassette Recorder and extra cassette tapes
  • Compass

Advanced Equipment

  • Digital Camera
  • Polaroid Camera
  • Digital Audio Recorder
  • Digital Infrared Thermometer
  • Video Camera w/ Night Shot and Extra Tapes
  • EMF Meter
  • Infrared Motion Detectors

Misc. Equipment

  • Dowsing Rods
  • Flour
  • Walkie Talkies
  • External Microphone
  • First Aid Kit

What is an EVP?

EVP is a recognized source of proof that spirits walk among us. But what is it? In the simplest way I can say EVP is the dead talking to us. Scientifically, EVP or Electronic Voice Phenomenon has been picking up speed as a solid source for spirit confirmation over the years. How it works no one can say for sure so it cannot be duplicated repeatedly but these phenomenon keep happening time and again.

The intrepid ghost hunter enters a supposedly haunted site with their trusted digital recorder or cassette recorder and records their entire session. Not once throughout the whole hunt did they hear anything out of the ordinary but usually they do not expect to. It is when they get back to their homes and listen to the tapes when the real fun begins. On these tapes are voices, noises, and things unheard throughout their session. Sometimes there is no question what you hear, others you can strain your senses but still come up with nothing. The pitfall here is that not always can the sound be understood so we place the easiest translation on it. Interpretation is an issue but what is not an issue is that the sound was not there on site but is recorded from some source.

I heard a story once where a TV station sent a reporter to a supposed haunted site near Halloween to get a story on what had happened there previously. Now a museum the curator went from room to room explaining the story of the house and the haunting all the while the cameraman following them. Upon entering the billiard room they stopped for a bit and spoke of the history. It was not until the tape made it to the editing room did the real story begin. Over the voices of the reporter and the curator was the sound of clacking, which they started to think were billiard balls. Since it was Halloween and they wanted a good story they sent to tape to be studied by and expert on sound. What he came up with was that they were billiard balls but they sounded nothing like the sounds he created in his sound lab with actual billiard balls. He hit upon an idea that maybe since the billiard balls of today were made from a composite material maybe these balls on the tape were from when balls were made of ivory. Now outlawed these balls are no longer used. He was able to get a set somehow and recorded the sound. To his amazement the sounds matched up to what was on the tape and since those types of balls had not been used for 100 years there was no explanation of how the sound ended up on tape.

This by far is one of the best cases of EVP I have heard. In fact on a previous ghost hunt I have picked up EVP. I know while I was there the voice was not heard but on the tape it is clear. Is this proof that ghosts exist? Will anyone believe it without a doubt? It is, in the end, the search for that which we do not comprehend or fully understand and our own personal vindication, which counts. Take electricity for example. Back before there was even and understanding of electricity or the properties inherent in it the idea would have been laughed at. And I believe was laughed at. Yet now electricity runs our lives, our homes and lives exist around something that we cannot see. We cannot see its physical form but if we stick our hand in a light socket we will get shocked. It exists; we accept that it is there, yet ghosts and EVP are laughed at still. The truth is that the science of ghost hunting still does not possess the tool necessary to tangibly measure or detect a ghost. Until such time we have to rely on EVP to possibly get us those truths. Then and only then will it all make sense.

I have attached to this page an actual EVP from a ghost hunt that I performed at Guernsey Hollow Cemetery a few years back. A little back-story to the situation may show you what EVP can and usually does. Before we went on the ghost hunt my partner at the time, Jim, and I had decided that a little known story about a possible “burial” ground beyond the wrought iron fence would be explored a little more. Questions were being asked about if a spirit was there, and if so could they show a sign, we even asked where that spirit was if in fact it was around. During mid conversation recorded on tape something happened and a voice appears on the tape. What it actually is I am not sure but the tape was fresh from the wrapper and was not tampered with. My only guess was that something was trying to tell us to go on a little further for what we were seeking. However, I will let you decide. Listen and tell me is the voice from this world? Or from beyond the grave? Or is it nothing?



Now that you have all the equipment you need and you feel comfortable with their use your next step is to locate a place to hunt for your ghosts.  Sounds easier than it is. Ghosts are all around us but if you set up your recorder anywhere will you pick up and EVP?  How about an orb?  The answer is yes you will but what you want to do is look for a location that is known to have some history of sightings.  This in turn hedges your bets so that the odds are you will have something to record.  This is not to say that every time you will have something but in time you may record that proof you need. Setting up anywhere may begin to discourage you when time and time again you get nothing.

I have been in houses and cemeteries, open fields and office buildings during the day and at night and I have picked up orbs and voices.  I have heard footsteps and felt cold spots.  The trick is to be there when things do occur.  Do some research on the site.  The history can give you clues as to where to set up or when.

The biggest thing I can suggest and the most important is: Make sure to get permission to be there!!!  There is nothing more annoying to the field of ghost hunting than hearing another group was arrested or fined for trespassing where they did not belong.  Getting permission just makes us look good and makes you look good.

As to each location you must respect the area.  Do not desecrate, damage, or destroy anything there.  To do so gives the field a bad name and prevents others from doing the same as you in the future.  Again there is nothing more annoying than coming into a cemetery and seeing stones broken, falling into disrepair because someone came before and decided it would be fun to destroy them. Respect the area and the area will respect you.

Really the location comes down to you.  As long as you have permission to be there the sky is the limit and in time you will find something, hear something, record something to analyze.  The proof is out there we just need to look in the right places.