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After a couple hours of looking for any signs of a ghost, Jason Ballmer of Dry Ridge thought he saw something lurking in the shadows.
“That looks like a head right there. Oh, it is a head,” he laughed as he realized it was an oversized doll head. “On the camera, it shows up as nothing but an outline of a head.”
Ballmer is one of five Grant Countians who recently looked for real-life paranormal activity in an Erlanger home.
They aren’t Ghostbusters.
They are a part of the Tri-State Shadow Chasers, a group organized by Eddie Parks of northern Grant County.
Parks had been interested in spirits ever since he was a little boy.
“When I was 12 my great grandparents lived in Corbin in an old house that used to be a field hospital during the Civil War,” he said. “I used to see all kinds of things there and that’s what got me interested in the paranormal.
“I’d hear voices,” Parks said. “We’d put a coffee cup down and leave the room and go back and it would be in the sink washed. My cousin and I saw a lady come down the hallway and just walk right in where we were sleeping and completely disappear. That freaked us out. We slept in the car that night.”
Tri-State Shadow Chasers includes Parks’ two younger brothers, David and Steven, and about six others who he met through other ghost hunting experiences.
Among the 20 or so investigations Parks has been on, three have been at private residences in Grant County.
“There was a cemetery behind one of the houses and we caught a shadow figure, we think,” he said. “The door closed in the house, the lights went off and the shower went on.”
While Parks admits seemingly paranormal events used to “freak” him out like it would most, he said he is used to it now.
Armed with thousands of dollars of equipment, the team might have fun, but they also are serious about their investigations.
In order to deem something paranormal, they must have hard evidence and not count on a noise they may have heard or a feeling they might have.
“Most people when they hear or see things, it’s their imagination playing tricks on them,” Parks said. “We try to debunk everything. We’ll go and look for all the logical reasons and what we have left over is what we can’t explain. I’d say, maybe, 85 percent of the investigations we go on we can explain.”
In the Tri-State Shadow Chasers most recent investigation, five members went to a house in Erlanger that Parks’ aunt and grandmother lived in.
The house was used as a training site for new members, but since the death of his grandmother several months ago, Parks’ aunt said she has seen shadows, heard coughs and smelled the deceased’s perfume.
The group decided to check it out around 8:30 p.m. on a Saturday night.
The investigation lasted about four hours.
“Some people say there’s a witching hour between midnight and 3 a.m.,” said Ron Knox of Crittenden. “But we’ve seen things all different times, all throughout the day (during investigations).”
The first task was to set up the equipment around the house.
A night vision camera was placed in one bedroom and in the room where Parks’ grandmother died.
The kitchen served as a makeshift staging area where a monitor allowed the group to keep track of what the cameras recorded.
The next step was to do room sweeps throughout the darkened house by determining the temperature and electromagnetic field (EMF) readings in each room.
If a room’s temperature was recorded at 65 degrees and then dropped drastically, a “presence” could be the cause for the cold spot.
After the sweeps, the members broke up to investigate different areas of the house.
EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) recordings were done by asking questions to a potential spirit to see if any kind of response is given.
Questions varied from “Is there anyone here who would like to say anything?” to “Do you want us to leave?”
“Grandma, if you’re here, will you give me a sign of your presence?” Parks said.
However, it will not be known whether there was a response until the recording is later analyzed on a computer.
“We all have software on our computers where you can go through and eliminate background noise,” Ballmer said. “It makes it a whole lot easier to hear if something whispered behind you and things like that.”
In the attic, EMF readings occasionally spiked, leading members to try to determine whether anything besides something paranormal was the cause.
A video camera on a tripod faced the stairs down from the attic in hopes of capturing a ghostly glimpse.
“There was something on the steps earlier,” said Chris Fryman of Crittenden. “It’s a lot brighter now. When I asked something to show itself, it got really dark. When you see darker than dark, something is there. That’s what a ghost looks like in the dark. That’s what you’d see.”
Later, a cough is believed to be heard from the attic.
Footsteps are heard in an empty room briefly in a room next to the kitchen.
Despite repeated attempts to recreate the images, no one can explain several photographs taken in the basement by Brittany Fryman of Crittenden.
An apparition-like face appeared in the middle of one.
Is it a ghost? Could it be Parks’ grandmother? It could be nothing.
The Tri-State Shadow Chasers will never know for sure.
But, they will continue to investigate and seek out answers.
“It kind of contradicts life after death and is there a heaven or hell,” Chris Fryman said about why he enjoys paranormal investigations. “Is it just your energy or your soul that is still left here? That’s what we’re here to figure out. I just have some questions I still haven’t answered. It boggles my mind, I think, too much.”
For more information, go to www.tristateshadowchasers.com.