|Bradford County in full autumn splendor.|
Halloween is only ten days away and the TV is full of scary movies and animated holiday favorites. Eateries and coffee joints are offering customers all sorts of pumpkin flavored treats. The only drawback at this juncture is our fall foliage in the Northeast is well past peak season. With that said, here’s hoping I still have your interest for Autumn and Things That Go Bump in the Night: Part Two. I don’t know if Robin Janney has recovered yet. If you haven’tread Part One, here’s the link.
|Who ya gonna call? The original ghost hunters. |
(Image from Flavorwire.com)
After our experiences following Easter, my husband and I knew we needed to get to the bottom of what was happening. It may seem crazy putting ourselves through it, but we took to watching shows like Paranormal State and Ghost Hunters while this was going on. Gluttons for punishment? Not so much. Viewing those shows helped us feel not so crazy because there were others out there having similar experiences. I decided to email the folks from the semi-local Paranormal State to see if they could investigate. They never responded. As weeks passed and we experienced more activity, I took to the internet looking for other Pennsylvania-based ghost hunting organizations. My husband and I were concerned, more than anything, for our children’s safety. In July, I sent an email to HOPPS: Heart of Pennsylvania Paranormal Society. I liked the fact that one of the founding members, John Herr, was retired military police. Within the day, I had a response from them. John thanked me for contacting them and asked me to call so we could discuss matters. After the call, a date was set up for their investigation and he told me there was no charge for their services. Their only goal was to obtain irrefutable proof of the afterlife.
On the evening of Saturday, August 1, 2009, John and Crystal drove up from the Williamsport area to conduct an investigation. As safety precautions, they requested our children and dog not be home. It was early evening and they asked to be shown around while it was still light outside. They walked our yard, including where our children’s play area was and a sight of previous paranormal activities. Unaware of the details of our experiences, including the fact that Harry’s ashes were spread in our backyard, Crystal, who prefers being called a sensitive versus a psychic, picked up her first impressions of the investigation. Her discomfort was palpable, but my husband and I didn’t feed into it. We moved into the house where John began taking baseline readings of ambient temperatures and electromagnetic fields. We were thoroughly impressed with how professional and scientific he was. In all honesty, while John was kind and empathetic to our concerns, he was completely neutral. As he explained to us, his job was to debunk or prove our experiences both scientifically and by recording the events through their investigation. It was an unspoken message of “We’ll believe it when we see it” thing.
My Gal Friday was with us since my husband was going in that night for overtime. There was no way in hell I was going to be home alone for the investigation or alone afterwards! Viv wasn’t scared at all. In fact, she was a total skeptic. She’d lost her older sister during her twenties to a rare type of cancer and Viv said that, if there was such a way to come back, then her sister would have done it because they had been so close. When they finished with baselines—and John had already had an unexplainable spike in Mackenzie’s room that left him scratching his head—I offered to go on a fast food run. My husband and I hadn’t eaten dinner yet and we were starving. John and Crystal declined anything and said that they would begin setting up their cameras and recorders while Viv and I were gone. My husband, a skeptic about psychics, took a seat on the sofa and watched as everyone went their separate ways.
When Viv and I returned with two value meals and her McFlurry, we found the house completely dark except for the full moon outside. We’d only been gone forty-five minutes, but it was evident the investigation was already in full swing. Once inside, my husband admonished us for taking so long. He was markedly upset. In fact, he sounded a lot like Scooby-Doo after he and Shaggy come into contact with their latest specter. Apparently, it only took the well-prepared ex-military cop ten minutes to set up five night vision cameras and two or three handheld digital recorders. As he began telling us that things began happening shortly after they went “lights out,” John and Crystal returned to the living room to join us. John was in an extremely jovial mood and told us that, since becoming a paranormal investigator, he’d never experienced a house come to life as quickly as he had with ours. There was no mistaking his professional excitement. Crystal, who had been very talkative earlier in the evening, wasn’t as chatty. The best story of their shared experiences came from my husband—whom seldom talks about the paranormal even though he’s had his share of experiences. Here’s what he told us:
He said that shortly after we left, John and Crystal began walking from room to room doing EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) sessions while he stayed glued to his seat on the sofa in the living room—in the dark. He could overhear John introducing himself and encouraging any spirits present to show themselves or speak to him or <gulp> touch him. By the time John walked into my oldest daughter’s bedroom and Crystal stood in the doorway of it, my husband’s skepticism over Crystal’s abilities was quickly obliterated. As I said, the moon was full and it spilled plenty of ambient light into our house. It was easy for him to see a dark shape emerge from our youngest daughter’s bedroom and come down the hallway to stop directly behind Crystal. Since she was standing in the doorway, my husband could only see her backside. Being critical, he didn’t say anything about what he was seeing. Not a word, gasp, or anything. His feeling was, if Crystal is a sensitive, then she should know something was behind her. That’s when Crystal exclaimed, “There’s something behind me right now!” She turned on her little flashlight and spun around to illuminate thin air. My husband said that was when his doubts about her abilities disappeared. The event completely unsettled him.
But that wasn’t the only event of the night. John had unexplained EMF spikes and he and Crystal had both heard noises they were confident would show up as EVP’s during the analysis. As they told Viv and me what we missed, we ate in the dark while clustered around the coffee table. What happened next, was the most unnerving experience for me up to that point since everything began. While kneeling on the floor and eating my Big Mac, John’s EMF spiked and held. He consulted the temperature gauge. It had dropped. Crystal became uneasy as she shifted in place across from me where she was kneeling. I was straining to hear or see something when my left foot went ice cold. It didn’t stop there. The sensation slowly moved up my leg. It was like being immersed in ice water. I was afraid to say anything. My husband and I had mocked folks on paranormal TV shows for complaining about a cold spot. We would always laugh and say something like, “Yes, it’s a nervous system reaction to fear. That’s your chill or cold spot, moron.” That moment changed my beliefs forever. Not long after the cold sensation hit my left side, I was touched. Three distinctive fingers stroked down my back between my shoulder blades. I say distinctive because it was impossible to call it anything else. I came unglued. That fight or flight reaction people talk about? My response was flight. I had to put my back to something so I could turn and face it. I felt completely vulnerable where I was. Somehow, after shouting a long expletive phrase, I got over/around/under the coffee table and planted my buns on the sofa between Viv and my husband. I have no recollection how I arrived there, but I do recall shaking like a leaf and almost hyperventilating. I had never been so afraid in my life. The unknown. Some unseen force in my house had touched me. Viv told me my reaction pretty much convinced her that something was going on inside our house. She’d never seen me freak out in such a way before. I hadn’t even realized I was shaking until she told me.
As the night went on, light anomalies were seen, John was unable to debunk any of our personal experiences we’d had prior to their visit, and other personal experiences happened. At 2:30am, John and Crystal THANKED US for inviting them into our home. He told us it would take at least a week to go through the many hours of footage, but he would get back to us as soon as he could with the analysis.
Instead of a week, I heard from John the following Monday. He called to ask me, what he called, a sensitive question. I had no idea where he was going. John asked me if my husband or I had lost a child. I told him no. He asked if I’d had a miscarriage. I told him no. He then explained that the camera set up inside my oldest daughter’s bedroom had picked up a very distinct EVP and he wanted to see if it had any relevance to our family. He was sending me an email with the sound bite as an attachment. While he wouldn’t give me details about what I was actually listening for, he did offer me two tips: for best listening, wear headphones and that the EVP came up shortly after he said, “I’m gonna show you something.” He left the rest up to us to decide on what we heard. A short while later, the email arrived and I did as instructed. The first time listening, I could hear the EVP just fine, but not enough to be able to discern what was being said. I listened a second time and knew, without a doubt, what words were spoken; “Mom, I love you.” An all too chilling revelation. Only, it bore no direct meaning to me other than to strike a chord with my maternal instincts because the voice was very childlike. The thought of a child spirit broke my heart. My husband came home from work and I played it for him without giving the content away. It took him until the third time to hear it. His reaction was similar to mine. It made us anxious to see what else HOPPS was able to pick up during their investigation.
The following week, HOPPS’ analysis packet arrived. Inside it was multiple DVD’s labeled with the room information of the camera placements. We took all of them to my parents’ house that evening since they have a ginormous big screen and digital surround sound. The first DVD was coverage from the living room camera. Although it showed multiple orbs, John is not one to jump on the orb band wagon. For him to even begin to consider it as an authentic orb, it has to meet the following criteria: self-illuminating, avoids obstacles or makes discernible changes in path, able to be photographed without aid of illumination. Otherwise, John chalks it up to dust, reflection, or even an insect. Nothing stood out and we only had time to watch the one disc. The following night, my parents viewed the disc without us. At 9:30pm, our phone rang. Caller ID said it was my parents. Right away I thought something was wrong. My parents always turn in early. Instead of delivering news of a health emergency, my mother said, “We’re watching the DVD from Mackenzie’s room and you won’t believe this shit!” She then went on to tell me how my father noticed it first. Halfway into the investigation, the camera begins to pan, very slowly from side to side, turning on its tripod. You can even hear it making a clicking noise. Now, I need to dispel the doubts from the skeptics reading this. The camera was set up at the rear wall of her room and pointing at the front of her room—where the door is—the only way to access her room. No one entered her room at any point during this phenomenon. In fact, when John and Crystal passed the doorway while doing another EVP session in another room, all activity with the camera came to a stop. And then started up again after they returned to the living room. Only, this time, the camera began moving up and down. Very chilling to see and hear when we went to their house the next day to watch it. I phoned John the following morning to tell him. He explained that, while doing video analysis, he will often have it on his computer with a split screen so he can watch multiple videos at the same time. It stood to reason the incident with the camera slipped by him since the movement was so slight. We also discussed the second video EVP they captured in which he asked, “Can you touch me?” and a female responds, “Yes.” He said there were other EVP’s picked up, but he was unable to make out what was being said. To be considered a true EVP, John will only report them if they are unquestionably clear.
Their investigation eased our fears. Nothing malicious was picked up. Crystal didn’t sense anything malevolent. If anything, they were able to reassure us that we could live in co-existence with whomever was residing in our house. They told us they were only a phone call or an email away if we needed further help. While they don’t perform house blessings or such, they could provide us with the proper people to do it through their massive network of professionals. We had one other visit by HOPPS the following year. John and Crystal returned with four other members of their team. They were eager to use it as a training session with the hopes of collecting more evidence and answering the question of who or even how many spirits were in our home. Overall, it was a great experience working with HOPPS and a longstanding friendship has formed with John. He and I keep in touch through Facebook since we share similar political views—and we both appreciate sarcasm as a second language.
|One of our friendly orb photos in this family photo.|
Over the years, my family and I have learned to coexist with the things that go bump in the night. Don’t get me wrong, when things happen, it is still disconcerting to experience, but we have come to accept it. We have no explanation for the spirit activity. Our initial experiences tied in with the original homeowners, but disappeared after having the house blessed and asking them to move on. What started happening around Easter 2009 cannot be explained. It has been suggested one of our family members is a psychic beacon and that spirits are drawn to them. I happen to believe this theory. It would explain the almost transient spirit feeling we get. It’s almost like they are passing through. The holidays usually bring on increased paranormal activity. Like John is fond of saying, “As we do in life, we do in death.” Holidays bring families together. We just have a very different extended family.
While this blog post is a very condensed version of our experiences, I hope it was enough to bring on a little Halloween chill for you. If you’ve had any ghostly experiences, jump on the comment section and share it with our Broads of a Feather readers. We’d love to hear about your paranormal experiences! Well, maybe not Robin so much.