Jim Pitulski and Marty Patterson watched in disbelief as the K-2 meter, which picks up on energy fields when a spirit is present, continually lit up.
They were watching a video of a recent paranormal excursion at Molnar’s Marina near Elizabeth, PA where the handheld device showed that they were in contact with a spirit named John.
The K-2 meter’s green lights continued to flash, indicating a calm, but steady response as they asked John questions about being a riverboat captain and if he liked the family there. But when they asked the fateful question, “What is it like being dead?” the meter’s red lights flashed, making these investigators believe anger was in the air.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Pitulski said.
|Jim Pitulski watches the recent footage from the|
paranormal investigation at Molnar's Marina.
Both men say close encounters such as these are rare, but it’s one example of paranormal activity that has been recorded so often in the region that it is considered one of the premier hotspots for paranormal happenings.
“It’s like sifting for gold,” Pitulski said.
In New Castle, PA, there’s the Hill View Manor, a home that was reserved for mentally and chronically ill patients, who are believed to still inhabit the place. The Moundsville Sate Prison in Moundsville, WV is an old, gothic style prison that is also believed to be haunted. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, another supposedly haunted building, held mentally ill patients.
All of this activity has spawned several paranormal groups who use their own recording devices, meters and cameras to also do private investigations for people who have been spooked in their own homes or businesses.
One of these groups is Ghost Story Investigations (G.S.I.), which includes Pitulski and Patterson as well as several other members with varying levels of expertise. The group got its start about a year ago; Pitulski is the co-founder and technical director and Patterson is one of the lead investigators.
Both Pitulski and Patterson have had an interest in the paranormal since a young age. Pitulski loved listening to ghost stories and watching scary movies.
“There’s something fun about being scared,” he said.
Patterson grew up across the street from a haunted house, which made him more interested in the paranormal.
Some may discount what paranormal investigators do and Pitulski realizes that people might think they’re crazy.
“Whatever you think about what we’re talking about, treat it with respect,” he said.
The group also does a show called Ghost Story TV, which they are hoping to get on the air soon. The show follows their investigations and also brings in other consultants and experts to talk about the paranormal. They’ve done some 20 cases ranging from tourist attractions to the private investigations.
For the show, they hope to provide different viewpoints so people can decide for themselves about paranormal activity. They want to be thoughtful and intelligent but also have fun with it.
In order to pick up on voices and aid their investigations, paranormal investigators use several tools.
Digital recorders, K-2 meters (electromagnetic fields), the Mel-meter (temperature/vibration/electromagnetic fields), an infrared camera, a full spectrum cameras (picks up on UV light), and radio frequency analyzers are just some of the equipment that G.S.I. uses.
These tools detect the various types of energy a spirit is believed to give off when present.
Nearly every paranormal group uses these tools so the G.S.I team is hoping to develop new ways of aiding their investigations.
“Sometimes the best equipment we have is just our own experiences and our five senses,” Pitulski said.
The now demolished Dixmont State Hospital in Kilbuck Township, PA is a popular area known for paranormal activity. The hospital’s overgrown cemetery is the resting place for thousands of patients. Since it was a popular spot for paranormal activity, the G.S.I. crew ventured out to see what kind of evidence they could find.
The overrun cemetery was on a hillside and many of the gravestones were covered in thick grasses. They set a recorder on a stone and began picking up static, which meant a paranormal presence was there.
“Can you tell us how many of us are here?” Adam Iliff asked, one of the lead investigators.
“Three,” responds a voice.
Adam and Marty looked at each other in excitement. The investigators also asked the spirit about its time at the hospital. Its responses weren’t in full sentences but it said the words “pain” and “dead.”
Another investigation, done at a private residence referred to as the Crosby House (in order to not divulge the location), also got quite a response from a spirit.
“Ok, we’re about to start an EVP session here,” Adam said, warning the spirit of their presence. EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) are sounds recorded on an electronic device, but not actually heard in person.
They picked up a voice responding with, “You’re in the right place.”
“That one sent chills down my spine,” Pitulski said, after he listened to the recording.
What’s interesting about these “voices” that they hear is that a spirit doesn’t posses a vocal box. Without this mechanism to speak, it must produce the sound in another way. The investigators at G.S.I. believe it is electromagnetic waves imprinting itself on the various recording devices. Sometimes this is heard in real time to the naked ear, but other times voices only are heard when a recording is played back.
The crew continues to develop theories to explain how these “voices” work.
“If a ghost has enough energy, it can manifest itself to the point where it becomes matter and it can move air,” Pitulski said. This then produces the sound of a voice.
Another paranormal group based in Pittsburgh is a team of two, Jeff Gettman and Scott DelleDonne, known as Pittsburgh Paranormal Research (P.P.R.).
The group got their start in February 2010 and has done over a dozen investigations.
The first investigation the group ever did was at The Grove in Gettysburg, PA. One of the bloodiest battles took place here and there have been sightings of Civil War era soldiers and people.
“[The Grove] was a place where a lot of Confederate soldiers died. They tried to progress up the hill but the Union shot them down,” Gettman said.
On their recorder, they picked up a voice shouting, “Halt company! Stand your ground!”
The voice speaks slowly and is in the distance but it’s clearly heard.
The team did an investigation at the Broughton School near South Park in Pittsburgh where several deaths were reported on school grounds.
At one point during this investigation, their walkie talkies suddenly turned on and through static, a little girl is heard giggling then asks, “Hello?”
P.P.R. did another investigation at the Butler Tourism and Convention Bureau in Zelienople, PA where there have been claims of a young boy playing tricks.
They experimented with a flashlight during this investigation and asked the spirit to turn the flashlight on and off.
At the end of the flashlight session, they heard a voice say, “Is that what you expected?”
When investigating these places, DelleDonne said the team tries to look for history to back it up and then “validate it and disprove some of the claims.”
At Madison Seminary in Ohio, which is a home for displaced Civil War families, Gettman and DelleDonne broke out their thermal camera for the first time.
Down in the basement hallway, a small figure appeared, leaning out into the hallway staring right at them. The figure suddenly disappeared back into the room.
“It was probably one of the coolest things I’ve seen,” Gettman said.
The figure appeared to be a little girl with long hair. Later on, the building owner confirmed that people had seen a little girl in the same area in the past.
These types of paranormal occurrences keep investigators searching for more. And whether one believes in paranormal activity or not, there’s no question that it’s become more popular over the years.
“It seems that it’s not as taboo as it previously was and people are more open to talk about it,” DelleDonne said. “I think television is helping out a lot with that.”
However, many times they find that the reported “paranormal activity” isn’t really paranormal. Gettman said it’s often “ordinary things, like a draft pushing a door open.” Sometimes people can become easily paranoid about the possibility of spirits.
Another situation that investigators often encounter is something that G.S.I. describes as a “fear cage.” Instead of paranormal happenings, it is actually electromagnetic frequencies having undesirable effects on people such as paranoia, dizziness or headaches. Very high concentrations often exist around fuse boxes, transmission towers and windmills because they give off this type of energy.
“There’s scientific proof that some people are more sensitive to that stuff and it can make you do different things,” Pitulski said.
As one of the lead investigators, Patterson said it’s important to rule these things out when first beginning an investigation. He said one time they had a home with a burglar system that caused the home to be “very electronic.”
“This was causing all this interference in the house and that was the haunting,” Patterson said.
The general idea of paranormal activity continues to raise many questions.
DelleDonne enjoys seeing the mix of the past and present.
“You see sometimes [the past] is still bleeding through,” he said.
For investigators, it’s often more about the search, since there’s the possibility that there are no answers.
“It’s not the kill, it’s the thrill of the chase,” Patterson said, who enjoys seeing if something is “trying to poke its way back through to communicate.”
“Maybe we’re not really meant to know,” said Pitulski. “The more we look into it, the more wondrous life tends to become and the more we appreciate.”
Published in Volume 1 of To The Point on page 3 and online at tothepointonline.net.