If you’re looking for a frightfully good time this Halloween, there are many attractions on the Plateau that would be more than willing to scare the pants off of you. Farm Fresh Produce, Thomasson Family Farm and the Fright Factory are some good Halloween haunts, and Maris Farms works hard every year to bring you the best scares with its haunted forest and monster safari.
But at the end of the night, that psycho clown that chased you and your friends through the corn maze with a chainsaw isn’t some undead apparition – it’s an actor with a red rubber nose.
So where on the Plateau can you see some real ghosts?
Ross Allison, the president of Advanced Ghost Hunters of Seattle and Tacoma (AGHOST) and the owner of the Spooked in Seattle Ghost Tours, has investigated several places on the Plateau for ghosts. In fact, it was in Buckley where AGHOST investigated its first cemetery. Presently, Allison tours around the country, giving lectures on paranormal investigating and taking students on ghost hunts.
“One of the most amazing experiences we had was in Buckley cemetery,” said Allison. After obtaining permission from the City Council, AGHOST set up camp in the oldest section of the cemetery.
“We got this really strong electromagnetic field reading. We couldn’t figure out what was causing this, but right then I took a picture,” Allison explained. “Sure enough, as we were getting this reading, there was what we would describe as ectoplasm in the picture. And at the same time that I took the picture, someone else has taken the picture at the different angle and captured the exact same thing.”
Many paranormal investigation groups claim that ghosts can emit an electromagnetic field (EMF), which can be picked up by an EMF reader. This is one way ghost hunting groups can collect data and evidence of a ghost or haunting.
On a different investigation in the same cemetery, Allison also recorded an electronic voice phenomenon (EVP) of a little boy saying, “Mommy.”
An EVP occurs when a paranormal investigation is recorded on an audio track. Initially, the investigators do not hear the phenomenon – only when the recording is rewound and played back can it be heard.
If the phenomenon is heard without the aid of a recording, it is a direct voice phenomenon.
Allison had a different experience altogether when investigating the Enumclaw cemetery.
“Enumclaw was the first time I experienced seeing an orb with the naked eye,” he said. “Orbs have been reported since the beginning of time – balls of light floating through the air, changing colors. I watched an orb float in cemetery and go behind a tombstone and never came out on the other side.”Allison was not able to capture the orb on camera.
“People ask me, why investigate a cemetery?” Allison said. “You have to understand that cemeteries were treated a lot different back then they are today. People visited the cemeteries a lot back then. It was a common thing, to visit a cemetery and see loved ones, even every week.”Allison explained how ghosts are often attached to a person, place or thing. In cemeteries, ghosts can be attached to their old bodies, or are waiting for friends and family to visit.
“But then the family stops coming because they moved away or died off, and the ghost is still there waiting for somebody,” Allison explained. “Those are two of the most common reasons a cemetery can be haunted.”
Puget Sound Ghost Hunters
While AGHOST specializes in open investigations, Puget Sound Ghost Hunters focuses on private investigations in people’s homes.
“We could do open investigations, like well known mansions and houses, and we would only be there for us. It is entertainment,” said Ken Arnold, the co-president of the group. “But helping private clients, thats a whole different plane.”
Puget Sound Ghost Hunters was founded by Stephanie Davisson, who was the vice-president of AGHOST until she left in 2004. Puget Sound Ghost Hunters was formed in 2008 in order to conduct private investigations.
Presently, Ken and his wife Donna are co-presidents of the ghost hunter group. The group also consists of a background researcher, a minister, and numerous more investigators. The entire group is made of volunteers, because they offer their services free of charge.
Unlike AGHOST, Puget Sound Ghost Hunters doesn’t seek out hauntings – they let their clients come to them, which Ken Arnold said is why they have such a plentiful amount of photographic evidence and EVP recordings of spirits.
On one of their most recent cases in Shelton, one of their newest investigators felt a ghost pat him on the head. On a recorder, Ken was able to catch an EVP of a male voice that told the investigator, “I care.”
On an older case in Graham, the group was only just setting up when phenomenon started.
“We were bringing in our equipment, and I had to ask (the client), ‘Does your chandelier always swing like that?’” said one investigator. Later on, when Donna Arnold was asking questions in the house, she felt her leg being burnt.
“It was a round burn, like the size of a cigarette. Left a nice little scar,” Donna Arnold said.
It was the first time that Donna Arnold was ever hurt on an investigation, but it wasn’t the last. Several female members of the group have experienced scratches or bruises on cases. During a case in Bonney Lake, while investigating a house rumored to have previously housed a cult of devil-worshippers, Donna Arnold and Davisson were slammed into a door. On the same investigation, Donna Arnold was scratch so hard, she started to bleed.
“Most ghosts are not harmful,” Donna Arnold explained. “And when they scratch you, they don’t always mean harm. They’re just trying to get your attention.”
The group agreed that many ghosts are very eager to communicate, but Ken Arnold said communication saps their energy quickly. “They can go 15, maybe 30 seconds, and then they are gone,” he explained. “They get worn out.”
One of the tools the group uses to encourage ghosts to communicate is a Ghost Box, a modified AM/FM radio that quickly cycles through stations. In theory, ghosts can draw the energy from the Ghost Box in order to communicate.
Davisson said that ghosts can pull power from any device that uses electricity. “When you do an investigation, you always start out with fresh batteries on all your equipment, because you want to know when you are having battery drain,” she explained.
“That’s pretty common,” Donna Arnold finished. “We always announce it when we lose our batteries, so we can have someone document it.”
AGHOST and Puget Sound Ghost Hunters agree that many times, ghosts are not aware that they have died, or stick around because they don’t know how to move on. However, the groups differ in their approaches to dealing with restless roommates.
Many times after an investigation, Allison said that clients are at ease with the ghost after they have more information.
“They now understand that (the ghost) is ‘Uncle George’, and we didn’t know it was Uncle George and now they will be happy and they can cope with the phenomena they are experiencing,” Allison explained.
Sometimes, more inventive solutions are necessary.
“We have had people set rules,” said Allison, “and if you set rules, you’ll find that the activity will dissipate.”
In a haunted Seattle bar, an unruly ghost was breaking wine bottles when it got upset. To placate the spirit, the owners of the bar made a deal – they would leave a fresh shot of alcohol out for the ghost every day if the ghost would stay quiet. Luckily for the bar owners, the ghost agreed. On one investigation, Puget Sound Ghost Hunters were asked to perform a moving-on ceremony.
The investigation was at a house where a young man overdosed. The group was contacted by the man’s mother to investigate whether the overdose was accidental or on purpose.
“We were able to contact him,” said Donna Arnold, “and he didn’t mean to do it. It was an accidental overdose.”
At the mother’s request, the group gave the young man his last rights.
“It gave the family closure, because the family members were all there,” Donna Arnold explained. “And we think he moved on.”