Ghosts and demons are two different things. Demons are generally spirits that have never been human, and they are characterized as evil… perhaps pure evil, if there is such a thing.
They are very rare at hauntings. In over 20 years of research, I’d never encountered one before.
As I paused at what seemed to be an invisible force field at haunted Vale End Cemetery in Wilton, NH, I knew that I was right next to something profoundly evil and wholly without a conscience. This was an entity that had never been human, and he viewed me as prey.
I was certain that the Grover guys – I could now see what seemed like dozens of them – worked for this entity. They weren’t evil themselves, but had a, “Sure, why not?” kind of attitude. I have no idea why I thought that or was so certain of the hierarchy.
This experience was so foreign to me, I can remember thinking, “Okay, I’m going to take a few photos and then get out of here.”
I’m not someone who runs away from ghosts, and I didn’t plan to abandon this vigil without taking a few more photos.
Demons, caught on film?
As I raised my camera and looked through the viewfinder, the red Grover guys seemed to multiply. When my camera clicked, I saw three of them clearly outlined by the flash. They were emerging from behind Mary Ritter Spaulding’s headstone, and I swear they looked like they were doing the “walk like an Egyptian” dance.
Yes, my sense of humor kicks in at the weirdest times, and this was one of them. I said to my friends, who were standing – wide-eyed with fear – far behind me in the cemetery, “Good. I’m sure that I’ve got them on film.”
That’s when I realized that I was in danger. It was like a bolt of lightning had struck feet from me. I ran for my car and didn’t even put on my seatbelt until I reached the gate. I floored it, to get away. My friends followed suit.
I was about ten miles away before I felt that whatever-it-was had stopped following me. And, I was terrified, because I didn’t want to die.
Is that what killed Noreen?
I may never know if this is what my friend, Noreen, experienced. She was dead less than a week after she encountered whatever-it-is. (It was a sudden and mysterious death.)
This remains the only time I’ve been truly frightened during hundreds of ghost hunts.
Obviously, I survived this experience. But, the story doesn’t end there.
Blank, black photos… except one
When my film was developed, every frame but one was black. I had been so sure the Grover guys would show up, I was baffled by the all-black pictures.
On the one photo that had an image, I saw a vivid red shape, the same color as the Grover guys. I thought it was just a strange design.
Another researcher who’d been with me that night, looked at the photo and raised an eyebrow.
She turned the photo 180 degrees. Then, she said that it looked like the classic image of Satan.
She was right. Oh, I thought that was a slight stretch, but I could see why she seemed so certain.
A couple of days later, after a series of odd events connected with the film and the photos, I gave the negatives and prints to someone who was eager to own them.
I wanted the film, the prints, and everything connected with it, to stay far away from my family and me.
The evil lingers
On subsequent trips even near Wilton, I could feel that same evil presence nearby, menacing. This feeling continued for two years and then – for no particular reason-stopped.
Other researchers heard about my experience, and confirmed their similar encounter with whatever’s at Vale End.
And, oddly enough, at a ghost conference, I heard that there’s a spirit at a haunted prison (in Ohio?) that’s described as a Grover-type figure.
But, what really alarmed me was when I met demonologist John Zaffis, and saw some of his startling photos. One of them contained the exact same red, satanic image.
I have no idea what to think of all this. At the time, I didn’t believe in demons in the traditional sense. I’ve never seen anything like the little Grover guys since then, either. Were they “demons,” too? That’s outside my field of study.
I no longer scoff at the idea of demons. And, I stay far away from anything related to them.
Two more visits, with one big scare
Obviously, I’m still ghost hunting. And, I did return to Vale End twice more, but only during daytime hours.
Once was to show another team of researchers where different events had happened. They did not have a similar encounter, and their investigation was inconclusive.
Another time, I was filming a segment for a regional TV show. I’m not sure what the cameraman saw through his eyepiece, but – whatever it was – it terrified him. He jumped into our van, started the engine, and floored it.
Once we were a few miles outside Wilton, he said he’d seen something through the viewfinder that just wasn’t possible. And, after saying that, he refused to talk about it.
He was a news cameraman, for heaven’s sake. He’d seen lots of horrifying things.
But something at Vale End scared him badly. I haven’t forgotten the color of his face and the look in his eyes as he said he’d never go back there.
Ghost hunting is supposed to be fun or at least interesting. When it starts being scary and the fun goes out of it, it’s time to do something different.
I’m glad that the police patrol Vale End Cemetery steadily after dark, to prevent others from visiting it. And, I firmly recommend that no one go there for a ghost hunt.
Yes, there are ghosts in that cemetery, including the alluring Blue Lady.
However, in my opinion, the risks aren’t worth it. Look for ghosts elsewhere. Something at Vale End is not a ghost, and it could be lethal.
Note: I spoke about Vale End at Dragon Con 2007. Other than that, I prefer not to discuss the subject. I’m not an expert on demons and I’m reluctant to use that term to describe anything… even the chilling entity at Vale End.
Frankly, I still think the Grover-guys looked hilariously funny. In any other context, I’d recommend the cemetery, in case you might see them, too.
Skeptics, joke at your peril
I am aware that another New Hampshire “ghost hunter” – more of an entertainer than a serious researcher – has gone out of her way to ridicule my experiences at Vale End. (You don’t need to email me about this. Someone first told me about it about a year after the critical post appeared.)
Her main criticism…? Things that had changed in the 10 years between my report and when she visited the cemetery. The parking area has been moved. Really, that was her leading attack on my research…?
Then, she misrepresented what I’ve said about Vale End, the Grover guys, and so on.
She’s not the first to try to use my name as a career-booster. That’s okay. She’s having fun being a self-parody.
Most people can tell the difference between that and serious, academic research, and there’s plenty of room is this field for both.
All I can say is this: I hope she never has a reason to regret treating Vale End lightly.
You may also be interested in my notes about Vale End and Pukwudgies.