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J. C. Philips, a team member with Extreme Vision Paranormal, introduces EVP to the crowd that attended their presentation about their investigations. It was the second year the group did a presentation at the Hegeler Carus Mansion about different places they have investigated. NewsTribune photo/Alicia LeGrand-Riniker
As Halloween approaches, more and more people look to explore the idea or are just looking for a good scare. What does it take to be a “ghostbuster?” A group of local investigators gave residents some insights into their local paranormal investigations at an event at Hegeler Carus Mansion.
When Gary Butler of Channahon was a young boy, he had an imaginary friend named “Allen” that he only saw at his grandparents’ house. Later, Butler learned that Allen was the name of his mother’s brother who died when Allen was 15 years old. Butler had never met him. This, combined with other events, led Butler to have an interest in paranormal investigating, though he claims he is a skeptic himself.
Gary’s wife Jennie thought he was a little crazy after he joined a group to investigate ghosts. Then Jennie had her own experience to make her believe in Gary’s work. “One night I was home alone and I heard ‘bam, bam, bam’ on my bedroom door,” she said. “and my door flew open.”
However, Jennie could not find anyone in the house. It was later that Jennie learned that her brother had died at the time this had happened.
“When things like that happen, they say it is your loved one who has come to say goodbye,” she said.
Jennie then joined Gary’s group and started working on investigations to find more answers. In 2009, they started their own group called Extreme Vision Paranormal with many group members throughout the area, including residents of Spring Valley, La Salle and Princeton.
“What we do is specialize in home and business investigations,” Jennie said.
The group offers free investigations to home and business owners who believe they are haunted. The Butlers said they go in and help determine if this is true. Gary and Jennie do a pre-walk to see if the place should be investigated before the team goes in.
Jennie said this also is done to make sure the place is physically safe to visit because they do not want to put the team in an area or place that will be a danger to them. Gary said they try to stay neutral in their investigations and do not mention the owner’s claims to the team beforehand.
“If you tell them what’s happening, then they are going to be looking for that,” he said. A lot of times we find things that are not paranormal at all, said Jennie. The group has people in many different trades to look at things such as electrical systems and other areas to determine if there is a valid reason for what is happening.
“And a lot of times there is,” Jennie said about activity at the investigation sight. Jennie said ghost investigations have become popular because of TV shows. However, she feels that these shows may give the investigation process a bad name. Jennie said they look at all evidence to determine what is going on and do not compete with other teams, but want to network and help people and groups whenever they can. The group will not say the area is haunted based on feelings.
“We are trying to disprove everything that we have so we can get the best data,” said team member J. C. Philips.
He said the group takes a “scientific” approach to the investigating methods they use. The team will use dowsing rods, to communicate with spirits by asking them to move the rods. The group also has special cameras and recorders for sound, temperature and electromagnetic fields. Philips admits that everything they do is based on theory.
However, the group has experienced some extraordinary events which they presented to the crowd at Hegeler Carus Mansion. One of the places was the former Anna Maria’s restaurant in Princeton. The owner complained of several spirits haunting the place, including an “angry man” who was in the hall near the bathroom. The group played sound recordings from the investigation which had a man replying, “It’s me,” after the owner asked, “Do you know who the man in the hallway is?” Later, when all the men had left the building and several women were talking, a male voice whispered to the group “I’m here.” Jennie said the group did not hear this until after the investigation was over and they were reviewing the tapes.
The group also showed a video from a house in Seneca which they refer to as the “peek-a-boo house.” The video has the investigators asking if the ghost was done talking to them. Soon after, an object was seen peeking around the left side of the window and then ducking away. The group said the room was on the second floor so it was doubtful it was a person or headlights from a vehicle.
“I was very impressed with the details they went into,” said Penny Ryan of Granville who attended the event recently.
Ryan said she had experiences that made her believe in the supernatural, but also wanted a good scare since it was close to Halloween. Mark of Peru who attended with his wife Helen, however, did not become a believer after seeing the presentation. He said he believes he may have seen a ghost once in his life, but still does not believe in them.
Kelly Klobucher, executive director of the Hegeler Carus Mansion, said she met the group two years ago when they stopped by the mansion to see if they could investigate it for paranormal activity. Klobucher said the house was not haunted and gave the group a tour. They agreed there were no ghosts in the house and posted an article on their website. Soon after, Klobucher said she got calls from several “ghostbusting” groups that wanted to prove the mansion was haunted. Instead, Klobucher allowed Extreme Vision Paranormal to present investigations from other houses that were haunted since the house is not haunted.
EVP does a lot of fundraisers and free presentations for the community. All the money collected at the recent event went to Hegeler Carus Foundation and will be used to restore the house.
“It’s just something we are passionate about,” Jennie said. “We like to give presentations.”
The group also does presentations at local libraries, boys and girls clubs, the Princeton Paranormal Project and other events.
“We like telling people what we do. We don’t care if they believe us,” she said. For more information about EVP and their investigations, visit www.thedeadspeak.net.
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