There’s a ghost in Stafford Hall!” says freshman Ji-Min An, who lives in the building. She’s seen a white ghost face with black eyes appear in her dorm window. Many other Stafford students have spotted James, the friendly ghost who supposedly lurks around room 101 where he died years ago. He reportedly hangs out in the building’s basement, too, where many residents report seeing sudden chills. More often than not, they see James waving.
The Pacific Paranormal Research society would label James a “ghost” because he’s grounded in the place of his death. They distinguish ghosts from nomadic “spirits” that randomly come and go in different locations. “Ghosts are like dead real estate agents,” says the cofounder Martina Baker. “They’re all about location.”
The society calls locations with large amounts of paranormal activity “hot zones.” Although they say cemeteries are rarely hot, Eugene’s Pioneer Cemetery might be an exception.
In October, paranormal investigators Todd and Martina Baker recorded three separate electronic voice phenomenon, what they call EVPs, just steps away from Stafford Hall in broad daylight. EVPs take recordings of low frequency sounds that normal human hearing can’t pick up. They prowled the graveyard with digital recorders and spoke to ghosts, hoping for response. The Bakers and university students told potentially listening ghosts that there would be many people trying to play with them. When they listened to the recording later, a voice cries, “plaaayyyyyy.”
In another segment, they asked the ghosts what they were hoping to get and received “Whatever you want to talk about” in return. Finally, Martina asked, “Was it a pleasant experience?” The audio response: “Died.”
The Bakers have 10 years of ghost hunting experience together, and they’ve recorded a lot of EVPs. One ghost told them, “You’re trying to talk to me.”
During another investigation, Martina announced that she thought the area was “hot.” When she listened to the recording later she heard “Oh yeah, she’s right.”
To get the most out of an EVP, the Bakers avoid whispering because it often sounds ghostly. They say the recordings containing popping and scratching noises indicate paranormal activity. They also carry around a digital thermometer to identify pockets of cool air that characterize “hot” spots. Todd once walked through a spot of cold air and commented about feeling chilly. The EVP asked, “Did you like it buddy?”
“We’ve just about seen and heard it all now,” he says. “Every now and then [the recordings] might make us a bit uneasy, but it takes a lot to really freak us out.”
On Saturday, the Pacific Paranormal Research Society packed the LLC South with teams of student ghost hunters who returned from the graveyard shaken by the seemingly supernatural evidence they found. In the short twenty minutes they hunted, freshman Veronica Gonzalez photographed three orbs by randomly shooting with her digital camera. Orbs, says the society, are conscious entities condensed into balls that facilitate travel, or essentially the spirit of ghosts’ energy caught on film. On the camera screen, they appear as smoky white globules, and sometimes they even have faces.
In addition to digital cameras and electromagnetic frequency sound recorders, the ghost hunters went out with dowsing rods, which are essentially bent-out-of-shape hangers that detect paranormal activity. With ghosts and spirits present, the two rods will supposedly cross over one another. Some students felt their rods crossing in their hands, while others felt skeptical about the legitimacy of dowsing. “I think of the rods as more of a psychological thing from the person using them,” says senior Kris Katkus. He equates them to playful Quija boards, an activity that the research society’s website discourages ghost hunters from using. They recommend just speaking to spirits, instead of inviting them in through the board game. “Every time you play around with a Ouija Board… and you do not know what you are doing, you are opening up a door and inviting whoever is on the other side to join you,” says the website. “Once they’re in the door…” alerts Marina, “… you might not be able to get them out.”
But some don’t seem too concerned that their innocent games can affect the ghost world—or the human world, for that matter. “I’ve heard that if you don’t believe in ghosts, you can’t be affected by them,” says a student at the ghost-hunting event. Todd chuckles to himself, motioning to the orb photos. He’s practically rolling his eyes. The white balls are in plain view for everyone to see.
So whether or not you feel a spirit as you march through a cold air pocket or believe that odd objects in night photos are just grains of dust, keep in mind that someone, somewhere might be trying to contact you.
The Pacific Paranormal Research Society’s website is a great resource for many of your ghost hunting questions. Many other Oregon organizations such as Oregon Ghost Hunters and the Salem Spirit Trackers perform investigations of the supernatural throughout perform investigations of the supernatural throughout the state.