Tuesday, July 26, 2011

PARANORMAL HOUSEWIVES hunt for ghosts in California

Liz, Jennifer, Erin, Marsha, Kimberly and Kirsten.
This is an amazing ghost hunting team that I have had the pleasure to do an investigation with.

At the bottom of the page is a link to there homepage, which includes EVP's and more photo, from their investigations.

VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. - The business analyst, the Spanish professor, the homemaker and the others hang out at graves shaded by coastal pines or hotels haunted by rumors. They use gadgets to track strange electromagnetic fields and record a disembodied voice in the empty room that says "hello."

Call them ghost hunters. They prefer their official title:

"Paranormal Housewives."

"We are a drama-free, all-women paranormal investigative team," said co-founder Kirsten Thorne, sitting on a wall bordering a graveyard outside Fillmore, Calif. She acknowledged skeptics are everywhere and include her husband, though his certainty sometimes wobbles.

"Every once in awhile he'll listen to an EVP (electronic voice phenomena) and say 'What the heck is this?' " she said.

The Paranormal Housewives are made up of five women. They're trying to let area homeowners, church leaders and business owners know they're available to investigate things that go bump in the night -- for free. They'll bring their full-spectrum video cameras and the K2 monitors that flash red lights when detecting energy that could mean spirits are lurking.

There is one caveat.

"We need absolute silence," said Thorne, worrying about the integrity of audio recordings, "and all the dogs must be muzzled."

 Undisclosed Location (photo: Ed Stalter)
Thorne, 46, is a professor who earned her doctorate from Yale University and teaches at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif. She sat at Bardsdale Cemetery as trees tossed shadows over headstones that date back to the 1870s. With her was Kimberly Demmary, a community theater actress who plays the canine lead in an Ojai, Calif., production about a talking dog, "Sylvia." Demmary lives in Camarillo, Calif., and works as a health insurance business analyst.

Wearing jeans and carrying their gear in what they call ghost bags, the women said they've been into the paranormal since they were kids. Thorne and Demmary both said they were visited by their grandfathers -- postmortem.

"He would stand in the corner of the room and he would just stand there," Demmary said. "He was a very tall man. He was like Abraham Lincoln."

Demmary and Lizeth Martinez, an office assistant with the Ventura County Probation Agency, were doing paranormal investigations on their own. They hooked up a year ago with Thorne and two of her partners from Los Angeles and San Diego counties: a homemaker and the owner of a loan processing business.

In a surprisingly crowded field of ghost hunters dominated by men and fraught with battles over who's calling the shots, they decided a group of women working together as friends would mean an end to the drama.

"We're nothing like the 'Housewives' TV shows," Demmary said with a laugh. "Our friendships come first."

They've done investigations at a church on Olvera Street in Los Angeles where a request for spirits to announce their presence was followed by a loud bang on a table. They've teamed up with police officers interested in noises and images they can't explain. It was at the Bella Maggiore Inn in downtown Ventura where they entered a room and heard a woman's voice.

"No one was there," Demmary said. They don't make any conclusions about what they've seen or heard until they've examined all the evidence, applying what they called the scientific method.

Bardsdale Cemetery is tucked between citrus groves and South Mountain. "Private Army, World War I," reads one plaque. A large headstone topped by a cross commemorates 11 people who died on March 13, 1928, when the St. Francis dam broke. The flood killed at least 500.

Thorne and Demmary walked to a row of small headstones pockmarked with decay. Four siblings died in 1878 within four days of each other.

The ghost hunters took pictures, then pressed play on their Olympus digital recorder. Thorne crouched down to talk to the graves. "If any of you are still around and you can see us, go ahead and say something," she said.

Nothing happened.

"There will be some times when I say 'This was a bust'," Thorne said, explaining discoveries come later when she reviews the recording. "Then I'll call someone and say 'Oh, you won't believe what I have on audio'."

Demmary said she's seen massive shadow figures, heard voices and has been touched by hands that felt like a child's. Some spirits are friendly; others not so much.

"I was almost strangled by my own necklace at a church," said Thorne.

Many people don't believe the stories. The women said the word they hear often has four letters and rhymes with trap.

But there are enough believers to support a genre of television shows. Group members have appeared on "Ghost Adventures." Now something else is in the works.

"We're working on a project for television and that's all I'm allowed to say," Thorne said.

(Tom Kisken is a reporter for the Ventura County Star in California.)



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