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PostPosted: 06 Apr 2010, 21:33 
Grand Poobah
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Joined: 18 Sep 2007, 11:26
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Location: Buffalo, NY ... nd-answers

Ghost hunters seek answers
Maureen Feighan / The Detroit News

Holly -- Staring into the darkness of the Holly Hotel basement earlier this month, Todd Hurley and Paul Chevalier waited for a sign -- any sign.

"What is your name? Why are you here?" they called out. "Do you know what year it is?"

For years, the hotel has been rumored to be one of the most haunted places in Michigan. Guests and employees have claimed to have seen apparitions, or sightings, of the original owner in his top hat; a hostess who liked to sing; and a little girl with a penchant for playing with the kitchen's meat cleaver.


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But Hurley and Chevalier, co-founders of the Great Lakes Paranormal and Research Society, based in Sterling Heights and Grosse Pointe, wanted their own answers. The two software engineers set up digital voice recorders; infrared cameras to detect things in the dark; and machines that detect changes in energy levels throughout the hotel, including the basement. Then, they began asking questions.

There were no answers, but Hurley and Chevalier still are searching -- and they're not alone.

Once considered on the fringe, paranormal problem-solvers, or investigators, seem to be surging into the mainstream these days, with more and more real-life ghost-hunting groups forming. Many say they're getting more requests for help, too.

Made up of volunteers who investigate problems for donations only, dozens of the organizations have cropped up in southeastern Michigan. They're investigating everything from homes and businesses to hotels and cemeteries for hauntings, strange phenomena, or "crypto-zoological creatures" -- an example would be Bigfoot -- as one group's Web site says.

One investigation group even offers an eight-week community education class in Southgate on paranormal research.

"We have more ghost hunters per square mile than any other state," said Chris Bailey, a founder of Grimstone Inc. Paranormal Investigators, based in Warren and Ypsilanti, which started roughly 14 years ago and now has 23 members who do investigations all over the Midwest.

Bailey estimates Michigan has roughly 70 paranormal research groups and that number is growing: "I don't know if we have as many ghosts as we have ghost hunters."
70% of cases false alarms

Several local investigators say popular TV shows such as "Paranormal State" and "Ghost Hunters" have not only made people more open to discussing the paranormal but also have played a role in investigators' growing numbers. But some question whether they are doing more harm than good.

"When you go into someone's home and you stir it up, you can make it bad. You can make it 10 times worse," said Mark Johnston, a Garden City tow-truck driver by day, and paranormal investigator with the Garden City-based Michigan Paranormal Society by night.

Investigators say their first goal isn't to prove the supernatural exists but just the opposite -- to debunk it.

Bailey said 70 percent of the cases Grimstone investigates actually end up being "natural occurrences" -- trains passing at 3 a.m.; the furnace; squirrels in the attic. Bailey said some people even make up hauntings because the "haunted" label can help a business that's hurting or a house that won't sell.

Hurley said he and Chevalier investigated one house where the owners had heard unusual sounds. It was a pet turtle bumping its head against its aquarium.

Investigators say if they do find evidence of paranormal activity -- through high readings on electromagnetic field detectors, which detect changes in energy levels in a room, or electronic voice phenomena, unexpected or unexplained sounds or voices captured by audio-recording devices -- their goal is to work with their clients to either resolve the situation or at least help them better cope with it. Groups sometimes suggest blessing a house or business, or they give homeowners tips on how to live with a haunting.

Paranormal research is really a "big puzzle," said Scott Morgan, director of the South East Michigan Paranormal Society. He said it isn't nearly as exciting as it is on TV -- where hours and hours of footage are condensed into a one-hour episode -- and can actually be boring.

Still, people like Diane Emerson are happy for the help.

Emerson, who lives in Melvin, a small town in the Thumb, contacted Morgan last year because she said weird things were happening at her house: shadowy figures appearing out of nowhere; unknown voices; paperwork and loose change being moved. Morgan's team investigated, detecting several electronic voice phenomena, and suggested Emerson have the house blessed. She did. A week later, it was seriously damaged in a fire.

The fire department said it was electrical. Still, Emerson wonders.

Morgan's group "was great," said Emerson, who is now their case manager and estimates they get 6 to 8 calls a month for help. "They taught me not to be afraid of my home."
Sign of thanks

One of Hurley and Chevalier's most intense cases involved Hurley's brother's Shelby Township home.

Lights would go out and doors would slam unexpectedly. The two investigated and were blown away by what they found: energy levels so high, their detectors blinked, and recordings of 30 electronic voice phenomena. They say they had an ongoing dialogue with at least two hauntings, maybe three, through their electromagnetic field detectors.

"This was definitely something that was interacting with us," Chevalier said.

Later, after a clairvoyant visited, saying a little girl's spirit was trapped there by another spirit and it should be blessed, Hurley and Chevalier said one of the hauntings left a sign of thanks -- several pool sticks balancing perfectly against each other in a pyramid formation.

Still, not everyone is outspoken.

Chrissy Kutlenios, who has owned the Holly Hotel with her husband, George, since the late 1970s, has been contacted by an endless stream of ghost hunters over the years. She's seen "a dramatic increase" in the number of paranormal groups in Michigan.

Does she buy into it all? Kutlenios doesn't say -- the only apparition she believes she's seen was of an American Indian in a full headdress in the hotel's main dining room -- but she said it's flattering and good for business.

People are seeking answers to questions, she said: "They're really trying to scientifically prove that there is some life after death." (586) 468-0520

From The Detroit News: ... z0kNUJePue

Chloride and Sodium: Two terribly dangerous substances that taste great together!

PostPosted: 06 Apr 2010, 21:34 
Grand Poobah
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Joined: 18 Sep 2007, 11:26
Posts: 5793
Location: Buffalo, NY
70% are false alarms?

WTF? Someone call Randi abut that 30% that isn't!

Chloride and Sodium: Two terribly dangerous substances that taste great together!

PostPosted: 07 Apr 2010, 10:30 
'Lustrous Potentate
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Joined: 24 Mar 2010, 11:06
Posts: 411
The other 30% presumably have no discernable natural cause, and so can conveniently prop up a "ghost of the gaps" theory.

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