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Who You Gonna Call?

Maryland ghost-chasers shed light on hauntings

The modern ghost hunter, also called a paranormal investigator, has many tools to help detect a spirit. These include infrared cameras, electromagnetic field detectors, thermometers, recorders and spirit boxes.
    However, common sense and your senses remain your greatest tool.
    “In most cases, smells, cold spots or seeing and hearing things are the first signs of paranormal activity,” reports Bill Hartley, founder and lead investigator of the Greater Maryland Paranormal Society.
    “The equipment only really works with an intelligent haunting, one in which the spirit has the ability to communicate,” says Rodney Whittaker, president and founder of the Maryland Society of Ghost Hunters.
    Paranormal investigators have defined several categories of hauntings, though none is scientifically proven. In addition to intelligent hauntings, where a spirit is present and can communicate, other categories are hauntings-residual, poltergeist and demonic.
    Residual haunting, also known as place memory, is memory of a traumatic event lingering in a place. Poltergeists move or throw objects, some playfully others maliciously. Demons rather than the spirit of a person are responsible for demonic hauntings.
    “I find using audio to be the most reliable way to detect ghosts,” Whittaker says. “If it’s an intelligent haunting and you can get audio, you can clearly tell if it’s a man or woman or child spirit. Through analysis, you can differentiate the spirit voice from the voices of people in the room when the recording was taken. That’s pretty good proof.”
    If you think your house may be haunted, here’s what to do.
    “First, don’t panic,” advises Hartley. “Remember that an intelligent haunting is just the spirit of a person and is probably just scared and confused. So you can speak to them like you would a houseguest and explain what you want. You might feel a little crazy, but it can really help.”
    If that doesn’t work, both Whittaker and Hartley recommend reaching out to a local paranormal investigation team. There should be no charge for services, they advise. The team should be able to differentiate a haunting from something else causing things to go bump in the night, drafty windows, for example, or loose pipefittings. If it’s a real haunting, the team should be able to discover which type.