About 30 people came out to find out what happens when you hear things that go bump in the night from Summit Hill Heritage Center lecturer Bob Schaeffer, who happens to be the co-founder of the Blue Mountain Paranormal Society.
Schaeffer spent 90 minutes not only speaking about ghost hunting, but also explaining to people how his group performs its investigations so that they deliver quality information and assistance to people who need help with the strange things happening to them.
"We are open-minded to what people are experiencing and our goal is to help them understand and deal with the problems they believe they are having," Schaeffer said during the lecture. He said that many experiences have normal explanations that are sometimes unusual but not paranormal.
"About 90 percent of what we investigate turns out to have a logical explanation, but it's the other 10 percent that keeps us investigating."
Schaeffer said his group takes a methodical, scientific approach to its research studying the history of the locations they investigate as well as the data they collect through the course of their investigation.
"Unlike most organizations, our evidence is reviewed three times minimally before we share it with our clients."
During a typical investigation, Schaeffer said his investigators are required to record any personal experiences as well as any physical evidence they observe, whether it's unusual electromagnetic fields, temperature fluctuations or even something as simple as a spinning compass.
"All of our investigators send the anomalies they find as well as documented personal experiences to a common email address. Where the evidence is reviewed by a committee of three people who screen out anything questionable."
The next step in the process is the evidence head investigator reviews the possible exhibits and this is shared with the lead investigator and Schaeffer, who then return to the client to share the report.
"Everything filters through at least one investigator, our evidence chairperson, David Wargo and then back to the senior investigator for their opinion."
Schaeffer introduced his senior investigators, Dan Strohl and Todd Weaver and the group's case manager Allison Garl.
"When someone requests an investigation, they first speak to Allison who evaluates the case and determines the nature of the problem as well as assigning a team to investigate it. This is important, because sometimes we find that there is alcohol, drugs or psychoactive drugs involved in some cases and many times, the people involved with that need assistance beyond what we can provide."
Garl then arranges with either Strohl or Weaver to set up an interview with the prospective client where they discuss history, the client's issues and what they hope to accomplish from an investigation. After the interview, she has enough information to determine how to handle the situation best.
"In some cases, we are able to explain to the client what is happening and relax them, but in other cases we need to gather evidence and explore the case in more detail."
At that point Schaeffer said an investigation with four or more team members is usually set up and they come to the location and attempt to capture evidence of the issues the client is having in their home or other location. Afterward, Schaeffer said the evidence is processed, followed by a meeting with the client to explain their findings.
"We try to provide our report within three months of the case, but much of it depends on how fast we can process what could be hours and hours of audio and visual possibilities."
Schaeffer said not all evidence makes the cut. He said they only show the strongest evidence to the client.
"We might have three EVPs (electric voice phenomena), but we may only use one of them if it is strongest. Our goal is quality evidence and not quantity."
Schaeffer's philosophy for BMPS must resonate with the people they help as he provided items of evidence during the lecture from several different locations including photographs and EVPs. One photograph of particular interest is a shaft of light or plasma bent at a 90-degree angle with the faint images of two figures staring at a woman holding a K2 meter that is registering a strong field.
He also played several recorded clips with clear voices that he termed Class A EVPs. Schaeffer explained that Class A EVPs are the best quality recordings in which a voice can be clearly heard speaking without any amplification or noise removal.
Schaeffer also demonstrated other equipment used by the group including motion detectors, digital recorders and cameras including an infrared digital recording system that allows the groups to place up to 10 cameras between two systems and record 10 different areas at the same time.
"This helps us see the whole area at one time and prevents us from missing possible evidence in an area in which there may not be investigators at the time."
The group also experiments with some fringe type equipment, including a pendulum, dowsing rods and a Frank's box which is a radio that scans stations.
"We place a recorder next to the box and ask questions. Apparently energy interacts with the radio and plays words that have context to the situation. It doesn't always work, which is why we don't use it to support a case, but experimentally we have had results."
He told the audience that one night at a private home, the box mentioned the word "Stella". Although the owner initially denied any meaning to the word, they later told Bob that the name "Stella" was a family name and the woman said she and her husband had been trying to decide on a name. The name the woman wanted was "Stella."
Schaeffer told the audience if they are interested or need help, they can contact BMPS at www.bluemountainparanormal.com to get more information or call him at (610) 554-6011.