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Jasmine Maki, Published October 13 2013

Grand Forks group real-life ghostbusters

THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. – Meeting at 8:30 on a Saturday night in the East Grand Forks McDonald’s parking lot, four paranormal investigators – Patty Newark, Amanda Schneider, Melissa Peterson and Ben Heit – piled into a van with their equipment and took off for Thief River Falls, where they would investigate a private home for paranormal activity.

Newark, lead investigator and founder of Night Light Paranormal Investigations, had been to the small house four times before, and of those times she said she discovered a possible vortex in one of the hallways. Newark said she was returning to retrieve more evidence for validation and get a better understanding of the paranormal activity in the house.

“I’m ready to take on this area in the home,” Newark said on the way to Thief River Falls. “Sometimes, when you walk through, you feel like you’re drunk. You get disoriented.”

Newark founded Night Light Paranormal Investigations of Grand Forks in 2005, in hopes of gaining a better understanding of the paranormal and providing validation for what others were experiencing in their homes and workplaces.

The investigation

When they arrived at the home, the crew members began unpacking their equipment at the kitchen table. They brought multiple audio recorders for recording electronic voice phenomena, or EVPs; digital still cameras and full spectrum cameras for capturing images of ghosts; a spirit box and Ovilus for communicating with spirits; and electric and magnetic field detectors.

After setting two cameras on tripods, Peterson and Newark stepped outside to allow Schneider and Heit to complete a walk-through of the house. Taking photographs and recording audio, they made notes of EMF levels in the house and what was causing them.

Schneider said that during an investigation, it’s important to be aware of any microwaves, refrigerators and other appliances that can affect EMF readings.

“We don’t want anything to throw off the investigation,” she said.

After the walk-through, Peterson and Heit went downstairs with their equipment, and Newark and Schneider tackled the main floor.

“We always go in twos, so there’s validation of what you see,” Newark said.

With the lights off, they “quieted” the house before starting their EVP sessions.

During the EVP sessions, Newark asked questions such as, “Is there a spirit in the house?” “Do you know the owner of the house?” “What’s my name?” and “What’s your name?” – attempting to communicate with any spirits. After about five minutes of questioning, Newark would replay the recording to see if she captured any EVPs.

They weren’t able to hear anything immediately but said they’re sure to find something later when they clean up the audio with Audacity, a free audio editing program.

“You can go anywhere and get an EVP,” Newark said. “If you think about how many people have died over the centuries, you can get an EVP wherever you go, but it’s got to be relevant to the investigation.”

If the EVP isn’t directly answering one of the questions asked during the investigation, they throw it out, she said.

After the EVP session, Newark and Schneider used the Ovilus, which Newark described as an electronic voice box with more than 1,000 programmed words that ghosts can manipulate. “Ghosts can actually communicate with this thing,” she said.

Using the Ovilus in the hallway and bedroom, Newark and Schneider recorded two names of possible spirits: Winston and Glenn. Both investigators said they began to feel nauseous, dizzy and light-headed, so they put the investigation on hold to step outside for air.

“We feel there’s a vortex going on in the hallway, and when you walk through something like that, you get the funhouse effect within you,” Newark said.

After catching some fresh air, they went back inside and the pairs switched locations. This time, Newark and Schneider went downstairs with the spirit box.

“A spirit box is a modified radio that sweeps the stations within seconds of each other,” Newark said. “It kind of works as white noise so the spirit can actually talk through (it) with you.”

Sitting in the dark on the basement floor, Newark turned on the spirit box and began asking questions. At first, she didn’t get a response. But when she asked how many spirits or ghosts were in the room, she got a distinct answer, “seven.” And when she asked how many females and males, the device sounded “three” and “four,” respectively.

They also received several other answers throughout the session, which they documented with audio recorders. But the majority of their validation didn’t come from what they saw or heard.

“It’s what you feel in the home because the whole environment will change … all of a sudden it will be really hot or icy cold, or you’ll get goose bumps, or feel a tension,” Schneider said.

In the Thief River Falls home, Schneider said she had difficulty concentrating and felt disoriented when she walked through the hallway.

Heit felt something in the bedroom. “I was drawn to a closet, so I put my hand on the closet and I felt it kind of vibrate,” he said.

Peterson, who said she has experienced a lot of paranormal activity in her lifetime, said she was surprised she didn’t feel as much as she normally does when she walked in the house. But she said, “There was a lot of stuff in the bedroom.”

As the crew wrapped up their two-hour investigation, they discussed what they had experienced. They agreed the house had a lot of paranormal activity that involved multiple spirits but that the energy was not negative.

After the investigation, Newark and her investigators each went through their evidence, which included several recordings and an unexplainable shadow figure. Now, Newark will present their findings to the homeowner, in hopes of providing some answers.

“Hopefully, we (caught) something, so we can show her and give her the answers that she wants,” Schneider said.

As for the skeptics out there, Schneider said: “We’re not out here to make people believe. We’re there to help the client. This is not a joke. To the clients, it’s not funny.”