The perfect opportunity to explore this fascination came after I met Patti Starr during an appearance on our noon show. For those of you who haven't heard of Patti, she is based in Lexington but is nationally recognized as a pioneer of paranormal investigating. She also organizes the ScareFest convention each year in town. When I first met her, her super friendly, engaging presence and passion for the paranormal struck me right away, so when she offered for me and a friend to take her Certified Ghost Hunter course, I knew I had to go!
To get certified, you need to take two full-day courses. You can either do it all in one weekend or split it up. My friend, Shannon, and I signed up to get certified in one weekend. Everyone else in our class did the same. We were joined by a really fun group of people including four ladies who were new to paranormal investigations, and a couple who had already taken the course and had their own ghost investigation team.
Patty tries out a ghost detecting tool on Brian as Donette looks on.
Patti instructs the class about different types of instruments
to use during an investigation- many of which she helped develop.
The first day of instruction started with some basics: what are EVP's (electronic voice phenomena), orbs, shadow people, the difference between ghosts and spirits, how to interview someone who's witnessed a paranormal event, and the best places to do investigations - among other topics.
The class was really free-flowing, with Patti tapping into her decades of personal experiences researching and investigating the paranormal to answer our questions. The whole day felt less like being in class, and more like picking the brain of someone who is an expert in their field.
The second day continued with classroom instruction, then we were let loose into Patti's warehouse to try to use the tricks we learned to detect paranormal activity. We were told that the building where Patti held her classes and had her shop was a hot bed of spirit activity, and an adult male ghost by the name of Henry is often detected.
The group prepares for the investigation with a prayer of protection.
Experienced investigator, Nichole, offers herself as a guinea pig for this investigation trick. You ask the spirit to come toward your outstretched hand as others take pictures. Do you see the streak of light?
Patti's dog, Murphy, helps with the investigation as my camera catches different
light anomalies. Could it be the spirit of Henry? Or possibly the little boy spirit that our instruments detected?
A light streaks over the instruments as we ask the spirits to use
those detectors to communicate with us.
Shannon, Lauren, Brian, and Murphy try to communicate
with a little boy spirit that the detectors seem to pick up as "Edward".
Can you see the light streak over Shannon's arm?
At the end of the second day of "class", we were officially graduated, diploma and all, as "Certified Ghost Hunters". I was still unsure about the
paranormal and ready for a full ghost investigation to test my skepticism.
Our more experienced classmates, Brian and Nichole, invited our graduating class out to the Sherman Tavern near Dry Ridge, Kentucky to do a full investigation. I was a little nervous at first, but if I was going to do a real investigation, I wanted to go with people who knew what they were doing.
Brian and Nichole's group L.I.G.H.T. (Lexington Investigative Ghost Hunting Troop) had done dozens of investigations, including a couple trips already to the Sherman Tavern. Shannon and I said "we're in!"
The Sherman Tavern, built in the early 1800's, served as a stage coach stop, saloon, hotel, and restaurant during it's many decades of operation.
We arrived at Sherman Tavern early in the evening, before the sun went down, so we could have a walk through of the property before everything got dark. The property managers took us through the various rooms and explained the history, which went back to the time of the Civil War, slavery, and even older.
The history alone was fascinating, but it wasn't long before we realized there might be more to the property. Just during the walk through, Shannon and I both felt like we had been touched by something. We also both got dizzy while walking through a front room where a young girl and her slave had apparently been brutally murdered back when the building served as a stage coach stop.
To a skeptic like me, this was pretty surprising.
The rest of our group arrived at the Tavern, and we split up into two groups. Shannon, Brian, myself, and Brian's friend, Jim, headed out to the cemetery to start our investigation.
Shannon had quite a bit of luck "talking" to a spirit using dousing rods. The rods will turn in on themselves for a "yes" answer or turn outward for a "no" answer.
She believes she made contact with an older fellow who used to work at the Tavern as a barkeep. He apparently died happily at an old age.
Overall, the mood in the graveyard was peaceful, not terribly spooky.
One of the many gravestones of the Cason family, who owned the property for many years. This one marks the resting place of Lewis Cason,
born September 11, 1820, died August 10, 1886 at the age of 65.
In the cemetery I captured many pictures of strange orbs and lights. Here's one that was particularly interesting, floating behind Brian's head. The original
shot is on top, and I blew up the picture to see the orb better (below).
Here's another strange picture from the graveyard. On the top is the original photo, below is the blown up version of the strange shape. I sent this in to Brian and Nichole after the investigation and they think they were able to debunk it as a random piece of debris that we hadn't noticed at the time of the investigation.
Here's another case of an unidentified shape in the cemetery.
The original photo on top, blown up version below.
We believe this was also a piece of debris, though it looks potentially creepy!
Our group sits in the front room where the young girl and her slave were allegedly murdered. Katy (in all black) tries to use a "trigger" -- the doll-- to get the girl's spirit to interact with us.
Katy, Donette, and Theresa each try working with different instruments to detect spirits in the front room.
Team member Jim is a self-proclaimed skeptic, yet had quite a few personal experiences at the Sherman Tavern. Here, he sits in the front room in front of the door leading to the little girl's room. He said he felt someone touching the back of his neck. As you can see in the picture, he seems a little uncomfortable.
In this picture, Jim reacts to being "touched" by a different spirit in the kitchen of the Tavern, where previous investigators say they've made contact with an older black man, suspected to have been a slave who worked as a cook.
When we stopped getting much activity detected on our instruments, we decided to wrap things up for the night, finally leaving the Tavern around 2 am with plenty of potential evidence to go home and check out.
As we started going through the EVP's and pictures, we found some interesting evidence. You already saw the pictures above, but listen to some of these alleged spirit voices:
"The Other Room Is Mine"
Front Room- "Kill/Heal Them"
Front Room- "No I Don't"
"OK, Get Up"
"Why Did You Kill Her"
Some of the EVP's seem pretty clear. I think others are either vague or at least open to interpretation. Either way, they are interesting.
The classes and investigations have made me less afraid of the possibility of ghosts, but have they converted a staunch skeptic? Not necessarily.
I am more open minded and look forward to doing more investigations in the future, not so I can prove to others whether or not ghosts exist, but so maybe I can collect more personal experiences to make up my own mind about it.
Patti said at the beginning of her classes that she'll never be able to prove beyond a doubt that ghosts exist. Now I see why. I think it really takes those personal experiences to realize that there might be more to life than what you can see.
For more information about Patti Starr and her classes, you can go here.
For more information about L.I.G.H.T., you can go here.
Thank you Patti, Brian, Nichole, Shannon, Theresa, Katy, Donette, Lauren, and Jim for making me a more "enlightened" skeptic, and for making the process a whole lot of fun!