Searching for the Supernatural

Nov 1, 2012

"Is there anybody in here with us? Jim are you still here?"

Sarah Argyle bends down to inspect a flickering flashlight on the concrete floor. It's the only light in the darkened room.

"Now set it down," Argyle says as she slowly backs away.

Argyle is the manager of Cache Valley Paranormal and tonight the group is investigating an old office building in Logan, H&A Palmer and Sons.

Todd Schwartz , the group's technical manager, calls out to the uncooperative spirit. "We're not here to hurt you, or harm you or anything of that nature," he says. "We want to have evidence that you are actually here."

While the flashlight never does turn off a single word appears on the ghost box a device that picks up the white noise produced by radio signals. It's believed spirits can use that white noise to communicate.

"Pat," chirps the box.

"Pat!" Schwartz exclaims.

Argyle looks at her partner. "Pat?"

"Yep, It just said Pat," Schwartz says, "P-A-T."

And then, Nothing.

"It's been kind of hit and miss all night," says Schwartz. He is the most seasoned ghost hunter of the group, with seven years of experience:

"When we first got in here we had a lot of K2 activity, especially in the back room. We had one group come in where we had a good flashlight session and matter of fact our little light sensor which is a motion detector turned on like three times while the group was by it, and nobody was even by it. And then we've had couple groups come through and we haven't had hardly anything."

Ghost Hunting is not a new phenomenon. It's been around since the 1600s. But with the recent popularity of television shows like "Ghost Hunters" or movies like "Paranormal Activity," and you add that to the relative availability of ghost hunting equipment, well, it has encouraged believers to start their own hunting groups.

That's how Cache Valley Paranormal started and for the last year, the five-member group has investigated places and buildings in Cache Valley where they believe a paranormal presence might dwell.

"A lot of times we'll go off of rumors and people's personal experiences," Argyle says. "We'll get a lot of tips from people saying 'hey go check out this place because I heard from so-and-so...'And rumors aren't always accurate, obviously. Like the Nunnery? We are trying to get in there, it's going to take a little bit of time, but that place has so many rumors I'd like to get in there and see if there's actually anything there.

Ghost hunting isn't just a seasonal hobby or a passing fad. For the members of Cache Valley Paranormal it's a part-time job. CVP founder Nick Riggs says the group spends just about every other weekend exploring a new haunt or giving private tours at an abandoned property in Wellsville.

And while ghost hunting is not accepted in academic circles, paranormal groups pride themselves for using scientific methods to prove the presence of spirits.

The flashlight example is their most basic method of investigation. Each member is armed with a K2 device which measures electromagnetic energy, a ghost box, a walkie talkie, and various audio and video recorders. Riggs says the equipment isn't cheap.

He's spent the last four hours setting up the groups motion detectors and the groups eight night vision cameras. They're all connected to the computer and Riggs is watching the frames, looking for any sign of a spirit.

"We've had some groups that are skeptics," he says, "total skeptics. When you're skeptic you have to at least have an open mind otherwise the spirits aren't even going to try to communicate with you. So if you keep an open mind they're more willing to come out and contact you."

So why would they spend so much time trying to prove something that's never been proven before?

It's past experiences that have led to their personal convictions. Schwartz says he knows who is guardian angels are and Argyle recalls one night when she was touched three times by what can only be explained as a supernatural being.

The best results of paranormal activity in Cache Valley have been found at the Whittier Community Center. They've caught apparitions on camera and even had a conversation with the old principal, Edith Bowen.

"Todd and I were the only ones in the building at the time and he had already started rolling his audio recorder and he caught an EVP of a woman saying, 'are you ready yet?' so I thought that was pretty crazy," says Argyle as she turns to flashlight that has just gone dark.

"Okay, thank you for turning the light off," she says. But it is short lived. After a second the flashlight comes back to life.

It's close to 11:00 and the hunt at the Palmer building is in it's final hour. Although CVP will leave tonight with no concrete personal evidence,  these hunts are not about personal validation.

"You hear someone telling a ghost story and you're like, 'psh, whatever,that didn't happen,'" Argyle says. "It's just kind of like a taboo topic."

Riggs agrees. "A lot of people know they're just scared to tell people and what they'll think of them," he says.

"Right," Argyle replies. "We want them to have a better, bigger open dialog about it so they feel comfortable, especially if they are actually having a problem. This way at least it's like a safe place you know?"

The walkie talkie hooked to Argyle's hip buzzes. "How are we on time?" she asks as she pushes the button to respond. She listens. "Alright we'll head up."

The ghost hunt is done for the day.