Harlingen, TX – Apparition Video

This is a long video, but I especially recommend the section starting around 8:18, through the shadow movement that’s replayed in slow motion.

Could it be confusion about normal shadows? Possibly.  With a variety of light sources and multiple people in the room, it might even be likely.

However, there’s a quality to the shadows — though I’m pretty sure one part of the image is normal — that seems downright peculiar to me.

The video is long (too long, without some video notes or a good transcript) but includes other possible anomalies, as well.  If you have time, watch the whole thing, since it gives you a better context for evaluating the anomalies.

The site is an office building in Harlingen, Texas and the investigators are Graveyard Shift Paranormal. (As of March 2018, their website seems to have vanished.)

In general, the lighting and reflective surfaces (glass, mirrors, etc.) at the site are definitely a problem.  If that were my video, I’m not sure that I’d feel confident of any anomalies in it.  I’d go back with black sheets to cover every reflective surface, and I’d have extra cameras set up behind the cameras that are filming possible anomalies.  Those extra cameras would be a way of double-checking (or “debunking”) anomalous shadows, based on who was where, and what lighting was involved.

I am a little skeptical.

However, there’s something about that shadow, and how it changes shape and moves… We’re looking for “weird within weird” in many videos, and — in my opinion — that qualifies as something for further research.  The shadow might be completely normal, but it’s still very, very odd, and that’s consistent with some shadow figures we’re seeing during ghost investigations.

Originality

3-stars

Credibility

3-half-stars

Joplin, MO, Team – Apparition Video

You’ll see two possible anomalies in this video.  One is an interesting orb.  The other is something that might be an apparition.

The Joplin Paranormal Research Society (Missouri) don’t claim that the orb is a ghost.  Of the two anomalies, I think the orb is more credible to someone who wasn’t there at the time.

The orb appears and then backs away.  It’s clear and large, and the right shape and density to be interesting.

However, it might be something reflective that drifted in and was pushed back by… well, I wasn’t there. A fan could do it, a door opening and closing, someone moving abruptly enough to cause a slight breeze, and so on.

But, after my intensive research into orbs and how easy they are to fake (or mistake) with dust, moisture, reflections, etc… this orb could be paranormal.

On the other hand, the apparition looks like someone walking in front of the camera.  It catches the light.  It’s too solid.

That’s exactly what makes this credible.  Unless the Joplin team are terrible investigators, had temporary amnesia, or are trying to promote a hoax, that figure is something paranormal.

(Yes, as the author of the popular article, Scams and Con Artists, I know that audacious lies fool us most often.  Nevertheless, I’m taking this video at face value.)

Does the video show a ghost?  Maybe.

I’m raising an eyebrow because — as I said earlier — it’s too solid.  That doesn’t mean it’s fake, but I wouldn’t rule out other paranormal explanations.

And, for that reason, assuming this was a real anomaly, I’d be very cautious about returning to that location.  It might be malicious.

All in all, this is an interesting video.

Originality (assuming it’s real)

4-stars

Credibility (combined, of either anomaly – the orb or the figure)

3-stars

Christmas – Working Ghosts

Christmas and ghost huntingThe Christmas holidays may offer increased ghost hunting opportunities.

Some ghosts and residual energy hauntings are more active at certain anniversaries.

  • The obvious anniversary is the day the person died.
  • Birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and other significant dates (including when battles occurred) can also signal increased paranormal activity.
  • Halloween marks almost universally greater hauntings, and I’ve mentioned April 30th as its counterpart.

However, many ghost hunters make assumptions about Christmas, expecting the day to be quiet, in ghost terms.

They may be missing some great opportunities for investigations.

Christmas — and other December holidays — have been so widely celebrated since the early 20th century, we assume everyone has celebrated the holiday season… always.

Well, that’s not quite true.

In fact, when Bob Cratchit nervously asked Scrooge for Christmas Day off… Bob was asking for something extraordinary.  In the 1840s, people expected to work on Christmas.  Working class families didn’t gather to celebrate Christmas, except at dinner. Even then, the meal was mostly for those who weren’t working 15 – 18 hours, every day.

It’s a day that — more than most — may have marked the gap between the wealthy and working classes.  And, as such, you may find opportunities for ghost research on or around Christmas Day, especially at 19th-century factory sites.

Personally, I’d never place ghost hunting above family celebrations.  So, I might investigate during the days leading up to Christmas, or immediately after… but not on the day itself.

On the other hand, if your family doesn’t celebrate on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, these may be ideal opportunities for experimental research.

The first thing to do is to find a few sites for research.  If you live near abandoned or refurbished factory buildings and mills, first check to be sure they can be accessed legally and safely.  As recent events have reminded many of us: It can be a grave mistake to ignore “no trespassing” signs.

Then, find out if they were in business during the era before child labor laws were enforced in your area.

Not sure? Here’s part of an article from Wikipedia:

In 1916, the NCLC and the National Consumers League successfully pressured the US Congress to pass the Keating-Owen Act, the first federal child labor law. However, the US Supreme Court struck down the law two years later in Hammer v. Dagenhart (1918), declaring that the law violated a child’s right to contract his or her own labor.

In 1924, Congress attempted to pass a constitutional amendment that would authorize a national child labor law. This measure was blocked, and the bill was eventually dropped.

It took the Great Depression to end child labor nationwide; adults had become so desperate for jobs that they would work for the same wage as children.  In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which, among other things, placed limits on many forms of child labor.

See if the factory had a policy about Christmas Day.  Old newspapers will probably help you understand the dynamics of the factory management, and whether they were likely to give workers the day off (paid or unpaid) at Christmas.  Remember, Christmas wasn’t a Federal holiday in the US until 1870.

Look for a history of workers’ strikes, and articles from the 19th century, with charities complaining about working conditions for the poor.

It’s kind of a grim era to revisit, historically, but it’s something to think about in terms of when a local site might be especially active.

At many 19th-century factories and mills, working on Christmas Day was routine, and another painful reminder of the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots.”

It might be an ideal opportunity for ghost research.  I’d focus on EVP and well as real-time communication with spirits at abandoned and refurbished mills and factory sites.

Additional references

Ghosts of Eloise, Michigan: The Asylum that Started It All

“Eloise: The Asylum That Started The Whole Mess” (above) is not a ghost video, it’s a tribute, and a downright chilling one.  The really creepy part..? It’s not hyperbole.  The information in that video can be confirmed.

Watch it before the videos about ghosts at Eloise, Michigan.

This site was first a stagecoach stop, the Black Horse Tavern. Then it was purchased and turned into a poorhouse, and then became a medical facility.  In its various incarnations it was a sanitorium for victims of tuberculosis, and a mental hospital.  Its names included the Eloise Infirmary for the Sick and Elderly, and the Eloise Hospital for the Insane.

Several locations associated with Eloise sound as if they should be haunted.  In fact, I’d expect this to be one of the creepiest haunted hospital sites in America.

More history of Eloise:

“Eloise: Mostly a memory” (This video is no longer available at YouTube. I’m keeping this note here, in case it returns. It was a great history.)

Next, “Spirit Caught on Camera In Haunted Eloise Asylum” includes highlights of a brief investigation inside Eloise – Visual anomalies, some clear Ghost Box responses, and lots of NSFW language from the investigators.  It’s a good balance of evidence.

Next, a daytime tour by the Dearborn Paranormal Research Society of Michigan.  Sound quality is challenging to listen to, dialing the levels up and down, but the information is excellent.

“Eloise Mental Hospital – Ghost Hunters” isn’t the Ghost Hunters’ TV show; it’s a news report by a startled reporter who — apparently — didn’t really expect to encounter anything at Eloise.

Parody? The next video includes a daytime tour by Michigan Paranormal Investigators, interviews about (fictional) Patient 626, and a night-time investigation with impossibly clear EVP.  This is how many “ghost stories” are created.  In five years, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about genuine phenomena related to the invented patient’s ghosts.

And now, only to better understand what you’ll find at Eloise, the next video series looked like a Ghost Hunters parody. Mostly, it showed foolhardy investigating, with some inaccurate history thrown in.

These 12-year-old kids may have encountered some paranormal activity. But, they made such serious research blunders, it’s impossible to sort fact from fantasy.

The worst part is: They’re clearly breaking the law. This kind of prank is unacceptable and it gives serious ghost hunters a bad name. (Two words: No trespassing. How smart does anyone have to be, to understand what that means? Yes, it’s a rhetorical question borne of frustration.)

[Update: These YouTube videos seem to be online, but can be viewed “by permission only.” I’m leaving the descriptions here in case that changes.]

  • Part One – Stylish introduction, and a quick daytime tour of the key locations at the Eloise site.
  • Part Two – More criminal trespassing. The smokestack building doesn’t seem especially haunted to me, but the visual imagery is impressive. It’s ideal for photographers who like abandoned sites. I’m not convinced that this part of the complex is worth paranormal research.
  • Part Three is more of the same. It shows more criminal activity no 12-year-old should try… or anyone of any other age, either. Mostly, the video shows a bunch of kids scaring themselves. The “reveal” (or summary) starts at 4:41 in the video, and some of the evidence is worth a second look. Unfortunately, this silliness erodes any credibility. That’s just one of many unfortunate aspects of what we see in these videos.

Resources for investigators

ties.

Otterbein, OH, Cemetery Tour

This video – “Haunted Cemetery – Ghastly Sounds…” – isn’t actually a “ghost” video, but a tour and history of an Ohio cemetery that’s definitely worth investigating.  We need more videos like this, to help ghost hunters find worthwhile sites.

However, I didn’t see or hear anything especially scary in this video.  Most of the night video quality is poor — weak sound and blurry camerawork — but that’s not what I was watching for.  In general, this video provided some good history and ghost stories, and enough of a subjective impression that I feel confident this is an active (ghostly) cemetery.

No, I can’t articulate why.  There’s a certain mix of sounds and silences, images and shadows… it adds up to a “gut feeling” about some locations.  Almost invariably, they turn out to be haunted.  I’m pretty sure this is one of those sites.  If I were in Ohio, near this cemetery, I’d visit it regularly for research.

In the video, the woman mentions some spooky sounds.  Maybe I missed them; the sound track isn’t great.

What I did hear — between normal, rural night noises — sounded like footsteps.  If the woman filming the video was alone, or her companions weren’t moving around while she was standing still… yes, those sounds are kind of spooky.

The mausoleum is definitely creepy.  It has that sterile/tragic combination that often marks a site that seems to attract shadow people.  I have no idea why.  It’s as if they need to fill in the void with their forms… but maybe I’m putting the cart before the horse.

All in all, this video got me interested in this cemetery, enough to compile some useful links if you’re investigating that site.  And then, I discovered another haunted cemetery with the same name, also in Ohio.

Resources if you’re investigating Otterbein Cemetery in Franklin Co.

Another haunted Otterbein Cemetery, in Perry County, OH

There’s also an Otterbein Cemetery in Darke County and one in Marion County, Ohio.

Originality – The person who filmed this didn’t let her video skills hold her back. Though the quality isn’t great, the information and the impressions I got from this video made it intriguing.  It’s also thought-provoking, because I’m trying to understand why I feel so certain that site is haunted… and has shadow people.

3-stars

Credibility (Doesn’t really apply. This is mostly a “this is the cemetery and what’s known about its ghosts” video.)

3-half-stars

Dangers of the Paranormal

dangers of the paranormalFor years, many of us have been warning about dangerous aspects of ghost hunting.

From physical safety to legal issues, and from personal liabilities to spiritual protection, this field has more pitfalls than most hobbies and professions.

In general, the paranormal community can be divided into three groups:

  • Those who know the risks and take appropriate precautions.
  • Those who don’t know the risks, or have only a vague idea, and aren’t as cautious as they might be.
  • Those who see the warning signs (literal and figurative) and ignore them, thinking they’re immune to the risks.

I want to be sympathetic when someone is arrested for ignoring a “no trespassing” sign, or when they go to Vale End (or a similar site) and return home, terrified… a fear that stays with them for years.  I’ve warned about scams and con artists, and sleazy people who like the cover of darkness.

Physical injury and illness aren’t as unusual as I’d like, and – in most cases – the victim never saw the problem coming.

Obviously, experienced professionals usually know the risks and do what they can to minimize them.  Event planners try to organize activities so no one is placed in unnecessary danger.

Trespassing (a rant)

A wide spectrum of ghost enthusiasts seem to be oblivious to all risks.  I see that in my email in-box, with questions and tales of woe, daily.

But, the symptoms aren’t only in my incoming email.  Looking for good videos to explain issues related to haunted Eloise Insane Asylum in Michigan, I found three videos with the following content.

All were filmed by a group of kids, emulating Ghost Hunters.

First, they filmed the no trespassing sign.  Then, they ignored it and entered the property anyway.

Eloise hospital - No Trespassing sign

Then, they actually captioned portions of their videos, repeatedly proclaiming that they were on private property. (In other words, I didn’t add those captions. They were actually part of the videos, as if boasting.)

Worse, when one of the kids said she was afraid to slip under the fence because she might be arrested, her friends talked her into breaking the law.

  

Okay, they’re 12-year-old kids, so you might ask, “Where were the parents?”

The answer…?  In at least one part of the video, the mom was holding the camera.

I don’t want to single out these kids as if they’re an example of the primary problem.

They’re not. 

Adults are doing this kind of thing even more often than kids are

This group of amateur “ghost hunters” just happened to put their videos online.  (Not a smart move, if someone calls Child Protective Services.)

My point is: Ignoring safety issues is a problem in this field.

Also, the trespassing issue isn’t isolated to this field.  From homeless people seeking shelter to urban explorers, plenty of people ignore “no trespassing” signs.  However, in many cases, they’re aware of the risks.

Frankly, many people are let off with a warning, the first time or two that they’re caught… though I wouldn’t want to trivialize trespassing laws.

Laws and legal penalties aren’t the only reason to be wary when you see “no trespassing” signs.

The danger may not be obvious

The bigger issue is what the “no trespassing” signs can indicate.

Often, those signs indicate major safety problems, including some that may be life-threatening.

Ghost Hunting - Life in Danger?They might include something as simple (but deadly) as asbestos dust or as urgently perilous as structural damage.  An issue might be toxic waste underground, or a site known for harboring territorial, poisonous snakes.

And, almost all abandoned structures have rodent issues.  I talked about that risk in my earlier podcast about ghost hunting and respiratory risks and my article about ghost hunting and health issues.

Here’s the reason for alarm: With the “no trespassing” signs prominently displayed, many site owners and communities figure they’ll make repairs later, when they have more funds to work with.

They (reasonably) assume that the signs will protect an unwary visitor from putting him- or herself at risk.

“No trespassing” signs rarely go into detail. (When I last checked, the fenced-off area near Gilson Road Cemetery in Nashua, NH, did not explain that it’s a Superfund site.)

But, don’t rely on “no trespassing” signs as warnings.

Sometimes, we’re called into homes and businesses (in use, not abandoned) with significant risks – structural and health issues – as we explore moldy basements and attics with rodent droppings.

Every researcher needs to be aware of the dangers, as well as precautions to take.

Other dangers in ghost hunting

I’ve talked about blunders with Ouija boards and sleazy people groping team members in the dark. I’ve ranted about cult-like groups and thrill-seekers with an adrenaline addiction.

So, yes, this field can seem like a minefield to the unwary.

The key word is “unwary.”  Once you’re aware of the risks, you can evaluate which you’re okay with and what limits to place on your research.

In the past, I’ve avoided describing ghost hunting dangers because… well, that’s not the focus of this website.

In the 1990s, I wanted to interest people in ghost hunting.

After Ghost Hunters and other TV shows made my earlier efforts redundant, my articles shifted to education – including my free course – so ghost enthusiasts can get the best results from their investigations.

Also, risks need to be assessed on a site-by-site basis.

It’s one thing to go into a paved, haunted cemetery after dark, when – even though it’s posted – you’ll meet dozens of joggers and dog-walkers cheerfully ignoring the faded “closed at dusk” sign.

It’s quite another to go into an abandoned building, exposed to the elements, presenting a wide range of structural concerns.

Remember that every site presents its own challenges. Know the risks you’re taking, not just in general but at the specific site you’re investigating, and the people you’re trusting in dark and low-light conditions.