Marion Star – 10/31/2005

These P.I.’s hunt for ghosts
Paranormal Investigators will search for what haunts you

Monday, October 31, 2005
The Marion Star
MarionStarArticleMoonvilleMARION – If you call their number you won’t get any funky song like “Ghostbusters,” nor do these members of the Ohio Association of Paranormal Investigators claim they can catch any spooks.

What they are hoping to snag is proof that ghosts exist, and for one member of the group, maybe a little proof that after death it’s not just lights out.

Lead Investigator Spencer Phelps founded the organization with a few friends. He said they don’t charge a fee, but are in it for the experience and the hope that they will somehow find some proof that the spirit world does exist.

Within the group you will find extremes, ranging from Phelps, the “show-me” skeptic of the group, to Robert Whalen, the “I’ve already seen it” self-proclaimed paranormal expert. What they agree on is they want to hear people’s true-to-life “ghost stories,” about the sights they see out of the corners of their eyes or the bumps and groans upstairs that keep them awake at night.

They’ll research it, stop by some dark evening and hang out a bit, and either debunk yet another story or find the proof for which they are searching.

Phelps said he got the idea after looking up some ghost stories on the Internet and coming across sites talking about electronic voice phenomenon, the alleged communication by spirits through tape recorders and other electronic devices. He said he thought everyone has their own ghost stories, so why not check them out to see if there’s any that are true?

Their equipment includes a digital tape recorder, a video recorder and an electromagnetic field detector that is supposed to read disruptions in the energy patterns that could be attributed to ghosts. They also want to buy a special thermometer that can detect abrupt changes in temperature.

Along with equipment, they try to head to old newspapers and other sources to attempt to document any murder or strange death that may have actually happened at a site.

At first they visited sites listed on the Ohio Exploration Society Web site. They have also had some requests, including one from a homeowner in Mount Gilead where past owners had allegedly conducted satanic rituals.

While Whalen believes they’ve had a near miss or two, so far they haven’t found any concrete proof. They do have a few sites that will be slated for return visits, partly with the thought that ghosts don’t exactly show up on command.

That is, if there are such things. Again, that depends on who you ask.

“I don’t put much stock into it,” Phelps said. “It’s more fun than anything.”

He said they hang around, ask questions to any possible spirits in the area.

“Basically we are talking to thin air.”

He said it isn’t that he doesn’t want to believe. An agnostic who believes there’s something else on the other end, but is not sure exactly what. Phelps said he’d also love to discover some proof that there is some sort of life after death.

“I was afraid when we die we just die and that’s it,” he said. “What would the purpose of our lives be if we just die at the end?”

Whalen doesn’t need any convincing, at least not that ghosts are real.

“I’d love to show the world this isn’t false. Show us what you got.”

The association has visited 24 places in Ohio, among them a supposedly haunted cemetery and tunnel in the Hocking County town of Haydenville and the Moonville Tunnel in the Vinton County town of Hope.

Haydenville is said to be the site of strange occurrences such as balls of light and mysterious mists, coupled with eerie whispers allegedly heard in the back of the cemetery.

Workers were killed in the construction of Haydenville Tunnel and are said to appear occasionally. The Moonville Tunnel is related to two myths, one that a brakeman was killed and decapitated by a train and another that a woman on her way to see her lover was struck and killed by a train.

Neither trip found enough evidence to support paranormal activity, but the group plans to return to Haydenville possibly in 2006.

So far Phelps credits a lot of the stories to hype, such as the infamous “cry-baby bridge” that just so happens to be located in about every county in Ohio.

“Telling the ghost story is 10 times more scary than going to the place that’s supposed to be haunted,” he said.

Whalen said much can be chalked up to folklore. He said, “Someone got drunk in a cemetery and thought they heard something.”

Then again, what if? Maybe that scream you thought you heard in the dead of night wasn’t just in your head.

“We’re free of charge,” Whalen said. “We’ll come in and investigate.”

“Hopefully we’ll find something to give you an answer.”

Text under photo: There are several legends and ghost stories surrounding the Moonville Tunnel in Vinton County. One night in the late 1850s, a brakeman was killed by a train. He was walking through the tunnel, attempted to stop the train by swinging his lantern back and forth. It didn’t work. His ghost is now said to haunt the tunnel, swinging his lantern for eternity.

Copyright © 2005, Marion Star

Thanks to Deana Kramer for sending us the information about the article. Thanks also goes to Kurt Moore, writer for the Marion Star, for mentioning the OES in his article featuring OAPI.