'Truth in evidence'

Andrew Poole
Chris Pike, lead investigator for the Phenomenon and Paranormal Investigations, displays a homemade parabolic microphone Thursday, Jan. 12, in Bath. The microphone is one of the tools used by PPI to see if an area is haunted.

Nobody got slimed Thursday night, Jan. 12, in Bath, but ‘Ghostbuster’ Dr. Peter Venkman would have been proud.

Thursday, four members of the group Phenomenon and Paranormal Investigators (PPI) spoke to a crowded Dormann Library in Bath, detailing their ghost-research and first-hand experience with haunting houses.

Led by Chief Inv. Chris Pike, the group examines reported hauntings in approximately 40 counties between New York and Pennsylvania. So far, they’ve confirmed five hauntings in 32 investigations.

The investigators approach each site with the belief there isn’t an entity at the location. The truth, as PPI’s slogan goes, is in the evidence.

And they don’t exorcise ghosts, poltergeists, demons or other apparitions found on the premises.

“We go in and say yes or no. From there, if you want to get rid of the ghost, we don’t do that,” said Pike.

Pike formed the group in 2008 after a pair of paranormal experiences, including a vivid dream about a deceased friend.

Based in Bradford County, PPI investigates reported hauntings free of charge. While they examine private houses, they also trek through battlefields and parks that are allegedly haunted, including the Newtown Battlefield and the Elmira prison camp, where Confederate prisoners were held during the Civil War.

In some instances, they gather photo or video of strange occurrences, shapes, sounds or anything else that indicates something paranormal.

To gather the evidence, the team uses cameras, recorders, electromagnetic field meters and a homemade parabolic microphone.

Confirming that a location is haunted requires gathering evidence from different equipment, rather than relying on a single tool to produce proof of the apparition.

Pike said there are three types of hauntings: residual, intelligent and demonic. Residuals are caused by “negative energy” that replays itself, and include battlefield hauntings. Spirits in residual hauntings aren’t aware of people around them.

Intelligent hauntings are of those who died but are still aware of people. Demonic hauntings are non-human and are capable of causing injuries or death.

“They’re always bad. Always. No good ever comes from a demonic haunting,” said Pike.

While the group had photos and recordings that may have been of hauntings, it also played video that seemed to depict an apparition throwing coins and other items at PPI members.

The footage was captured at a residence where the inhabitants had complained of a haunting. It was the only time Pike remembered being physically attacked during a haunting study.

PPI hasn’t hunted for ghosts in a Steuben County home, said Pike, but has examined homes in Chemung County.

This summer the group will be moving on a bit from studying hauntings to seeking what could be the Finger Lakes’ version of the Loch Ness Monster.

The Seneca Lake Monster, an alleged large serpent inhabiting the lake, will be the subject of PPI’s investigation. It was supposedly first sited in 1899.

Pike said he isn’t a believer in cryptozoology, but PPI is taking up the challenge of finding or disproving the creature’s existence.

“You have to go and find evidence of it, and actually prove that this thing exists,” he said.

PPI uses a host of equipment for their ghost searches, including video cameras, recorders, and digital infrared thermometers with a laser.