RHONDA STEELE


Anyone Want to Buy a Haunted House?

Twice now, my investigation group visited what is now deemed as "The Red House". This is the story of our first night there.

The house is empty, so it was actually a great place to set up and test some of the new equipment that we purchased. The house is up for sale, so I promised to try to promote it and help her get a buyer. It is a cute house, if anyone is interested in a home in Virginia. Is it haunted? I will let you decide.

As a group, we have investigated empty homes that are owned by some of our members, grave yards, and a haunted bridge. We are intelligent people, who want to either prove or disprove the paranormal. It depends who you talk to in the group. We debunk what we can, and get excited when we actually catch something that we cannot explain. To date, we haven't had much to get excited about, but we have had a great time. There are a few photos of orbs, a member felt heaviness in one room that we were in, and I was frightened by the bridge, but there has been no apparitions and no voice. Until The Red House....

The owner of the home is a skeptic, but she wants to find out one way or another if it is haunted, hoping it will help sell her home. Some people like haunted houses, others will not even look at it if there is a rumor of a haunting, so she wants to know who to target. She has had people come into the house and tell her they feel many spirits. Children, mostly. One person believes the children were abused and another believes there was a fire in a closet. (we are still trying to research the stories but haven't found anything out yet.) The owner had had trouble with the new attic door that was put on. It flew open even though it was tightly locked with a slide lock. The breaker switch gets turned off, the heating is turned up and down, and a light had been broken when no one was in the room.

Our team came into the home and set up the equipment. A minister that was with us said he felt a lot of energy in the kitchen. We set up our cameras in the kitchen, focused on the attic door, and in all the closets. We were armed with EMF detectors, a non-contact thermal detector, EVP detector, 2 digital voice recorders and digital cameras. In the course of the night, we picked up very few orbs, no EMF or temperature changes worth recording, and the EVP detector really didn't have much activity either. There was a questionable time with it once. No one was touched, no apparitions were seen, but one member did think he heard a male voice say "hello". There was only one other male in that house at that time, and we tested that Clinton would not have been able to hear him talk. We didn't hear that particular "hello" on our recordings

We use dousing rods because they are fun, not because they are scientific. We are still testing the theory of them. I was in the kitchen with the minister and Lana was upstairs. Lana and I both had rods out and we were asking the same questions, but neither of us knew the other was doing so. We also got the same answers. Three spirits, possibly 2 children, they died in a fire in a closet. The minister isolated which closet and asked them if they wanted to go to the light. The response was yes, so he tried to send them that way. He also pinpointed the decade of their death, so we are trying to research to see if any of that can be possible. Four of the team went out for coffee, and the rest of us were upstairs. I used the rods and was told that 2 of the spirits "crossed over" but one wanted to stay at the house. That spirit was a female. When we left the house, that is really all we had, so we were feeling that it maybe had energy, but couldn't say it was haunted. We were sort of confused on why the upstairs light was left on after we left and locked down the house. Everyone was pretty adamant that it was turned of and double, maybe even triple checked. I felt bad when I had to call the owner and tell her we accidentally left a light on.

Going through our DVDs and voice recordings, we changed our minds. They house just may be haunted after all. The only video activity was in the kitchen. Orbs were going wild while the minister was doing the dousing. Ok, it could be dust, but it was the only time they were active and the house was very clean. There is one point while most of us were in the kitchen. We were discussing how to start the investigation and how some of the equipment works. In the background was a horrible pain filled moaning, that none of us can account for. We didn't hear it, but it was recorded. We tried to isolate it using other video and recordings to make sure it wasn't a train or truck, etc. I am here to tell you, it is a pretty eerie sound. Not like a truck or train. It sounds like a woman.

When Tracey left the house to get coffee, she placed her recorder, unknown to any of us, on the living room fireplace mantle. Unfortunately, we had no cameras in the living room. That is the place she felt the most uncomfortable, but she didn't say anything until we left. Her recorder picked up voices that we could not account for. There was a female "hello" whispered into it, and the words "I want "my boyfriend?" to meet you." It sounds like a child's voice. These were all recorded when half the team was gone and the other half were upstairs. Then there was the name "Chester" recorded. "Boggs don't know you" was a statement made, as well as "Shawn is here". Again, we accounted for all our members at the time. All of this was recorded after the minister called them to the light, so did they not go?

We don't have much to go on, but we are digging around to find out what we can about the house. Is there a Chester affiliated with it? Was there a fire? The owner doesn't see any signs of fire, but admitted to me that when they did renovations, they had to replace a rotted ceiling in the one closet we isolated that the fire was in. Could there have been a small fire in that closet?

We learned a lot on this investigation. How to set the security cameras, make sure we record the times better so we can isolate different sounds and movement, etc. We had a good time and are looking forward to our next investigation!

The Red House..Second Night
After listening to all the voices we collected on the recorder, some of the members wanted to go back. We wanted to focus more in the living room this time, since we didn't have cameras on it the other night. The owner gladly let us come back in. She did contact the newspaper, however, and a reporter joined us. We were excited about the free publicity


Ghost Investigation: Stanley, Virginia

We had been working to formalize a ghost hunting group for a couple of years. Separately, we have all experienced or searched what we believe to be ghosts. Our first official "hunt", we gathered at the home of a friends' mother in Stanley, Virginia. Taking stock of our equipment: digital cameras, video cameras, thermal detector, emf recorder, voice recorders, evp recorder, and flashlights, we loaded up in the back of a pickup truck, the only vehicle that would hold us all. It was an uncomfortable ride, but it was incredible being out in the open, traveling through winding dirt roads. At one point we heard, "Bear!" and there was a baby bear going up and then jumping down a tree. We only hoped momma bear wasn't around to chase us down and jump in the truck with us! One of my fellow ghost hunters pointed out that most of us were Wal-Mart employees. "I could the headlines now: five Wal-Mart employees were mauled by a bear last night..."
After fifteen or twenty minutes of travel time, we arrived at the house that was set up for us to investigate. It was willed to one of my fellow ghost hunters and no one has lived in it for many years. It is a small house and full of dust and odd bits of furniture. Since it had been closed up, it was stifling hot, except for the living room. When we first stepped in, it was a chillier than the rest of the house. Looking for drafty spots, we couldn't find any. The temperature rated lower on the thermal detector. Standing inside the kitchen once again, I felt a breeze pass me. Going back into the living room, the temperature was up, as if our ghost moved from one room to the other, although the temperature never did drop in the kitchen.
Being what is called a "sensitive", I didn't want to know any of the history of this house before we arrived. I wanted to see if I picked up anything, and I did feel the breeze of something moving past me several times in this house. When I felt the "presence", Gary would take a photo to see if an "orb" would show. We took into account how dusty this house was, but we thought it was odd that when I felt something, an orb would show up in the photo. And another oddity, was orbs only showed up in the kitchen, and the whole house was dusty, not just the kitchen.
Lana got excited when she picked up an odd ticking noise using the emf recorder. The recorder picks up low frequency noises on a real time basis. It was a cool sound. We checked everyone for wrist watches, and no one had any on. We really had something! Lana again picked it up in the bedroom where her uncle slept, right over the spot his bed used to be. Our excitement evaporated when Lana said, "Oh, wait. My watch is in my pocket." That ghostly encounter was bunked quick.
I haven't talked to Gary yet to see if any of his questions were answered on his voice recorder. We couldn't get any of the rockers to move. There wasn't a ghostly watch. We still left fairly confident that based on my feelings and the orbs, we may have had a haunted house. Just a mildly haunted one.
We piled in the truck bed again, and had decided to go the old family burial site. Lana's family owns it, so we were confident we wouldn't get arrested out there. While pulling up the drive, two young men joined us by running and jumping into the truck. Luckily, they were kin to Lana. They laughed at us when we told them that we were on a ghost hunt, but they thought it sounded like fun. The crowded truck was really crowded at this point, but the more the merrier!
We got to the small cemetery, and as everyone was piling out and getting stationed to take photos, someone yelled, "Bear!" and bodies literally flew back into the truck. Flashlights were scanning the trees while the truck was trying to chug back into "go" mode. Before we could head out again, we decided the bear got scared and ran away. Everyone started piling out again and then the cry of "Bear!" sounded again. Everyone ran once again, until it was decided that it was a cow. Except for the bear/cow, the cemetery was uneventful.
The local boys were talking about another cemetery up on some ridge. It was decided we would go up there and check it out. The truck couldn't make it up the hill with all of us in it, so we decided to head back to the house and pick up a different truck, unfortunately a smaller one. We also picked up another man. Lana sat back with us this time around and gave us a history lesson. "That is the house I broke into when I was a kid. I stole $500 worth of dolls from that lady. Boy, did I get into some trouble." "That is a house that burnt down. We were accused of it, but we didn't do it." The stories went on and on. She had us laughing so hard tears were rolling down our faces and blowing away with the wind. Anyone seeing us would think we were a bunch of drunks, especially in the middle of the night. We kept waiting for a deputy to pull us over, but when it looked like a cop coming, we "looked like luggage", as my daughter suggested. When we got to the top of the ridge where the cemetery was, there were locked state gates, which my partners in crime seemed to have the keys to. We talked it over, and figured one, we didn't want to lose our jobs at Wal-Mart by getting a felony, and two, I really didn't want to explain to my deputy husband why I was in jail. We went back to the house to call it a night.
Before we ended our adventure, one of the boys we picked up made a phone call to a house that had a cemetery on their land that had some odd history. They told us to come on out, so at 1:30am or so, we were back on those dirt roads looking for this house. Once there, there were several drunks sitting on the porch. They took us out into the boonies. Ok, we had not been afraid of ghosts that night, but we were really afraid of ticks, bears, mountain lions, and not really too sure about these people. Headlines: Five Wal-Mart employees missing. Bodies found by bear hunting dogs. Lana wasn't worried. They were kin. Gees. Is she related to everyone in those hollows?
At the cemetery, we got nothing once again. But we left with some great stories about some of Lana's dead relatives. Lana's whole family is nuts! We now know it is in her blood.
I am nearly 50 years old. I haven't ridden in the back of a pick-up truck in 30 some years. I haven't laughed and enjoyed myself so much in a long time. Our ghost hunting was a bit of a bust, but the friendship and laughs we shared last night were priceless. We are looking forward to our next adventure as the Supernatural Investigators of Virginia!

UPDATE: After Lana went home, she asked who's home place we were at describing the last house we were at. The woman told us that there was an old house foundation behind her shed. She also told us that a horse drawn buggy and a woman in a long white dress can be seen occasionally next to the pond. These apparitions were only seen in the daylight. We thought that was rather odd, so I didn't mention it in the above article. When Lana told her mom where we were at, she told Lana the story of the family that lived there. First of all, it was the old homestead of the people who's house we were at first, which is a strange connection, because we didn't know that when we went there. There are three little children buried at the cemetery. One died of Diphtheria, and would have been removed in the daylight, by a horse drawn buggy. (Lana's mom didn't know the stories the woman had told us). We figure the woman must be the mother, and maybe the lady wasn't as crazy as we thought. Oh, and the cow at the other cemetery must have been a bear after all. Lana's mom told her that there are no cows up there.

Ghost Hunt--Shenandoah, Virginia

This is one of our ghost hunts. It proves that we don't always catch anything relevant, but we do have a good time out. Our first stop was in Fort Valley, Virginia at a cemetery. It wasn't the cemetery that we were interested in, but the trailer across the street. It was supposed to be empty, so we were going to walk by it, take some photos, and see if we could get any "feeling" of the place. Unfortunately, a car wasin the driveway, so we didn't go too close. The haunted history of the home is that a man living there had something scary peering in from outside. He
also had an invisible body join him in is bed. It scared him so bad that he left everything he owns in the trailer and never went back. He stays occasionally in my friend's shed, and stays with other friends of his. What scared him,
seems to have caused him to be homeless, because he won't go back to his own home! We didn't go to the trailer, but we did some experimenting in the cemetery before it got dark. Our adventures are not worth the $250 fine for being caught in a Virginia cemetery after dark. Last night was the first time we experimented with dowsing rods. I am still researching them, but it was interested in seeing how they possibly work. When we held one rod in the air,
it would swing around on its own and then stop, pointing to the trailer across the road. We each tried this and every time that is where it stop and point. I then took my rods away from all the others and asked "yes" and "no" questions. I asked if there were any spirits in the cemetery, and the answer was yes. Then I asked if there were any spirits of anyone who was not buried there. The answer was no. I went to tell the others that the rods were answering questions, just to find Tracy was conversing with a headstone with her rods. "Russell" was answering
yes or no to everything she asked. He "told" us he would show us orbs, so I took a series of photos to see if one developed around the headstone. I was rather disappointed that he was not able to show himself. He was asked to touch one of us and his answer was a definite "no". He did tell us that he would try to manifest but we didn't see anything physical. It was all pretty fascinating. One of the members caught what seemed to be an orb at one of the older headstones. I tried answering questions there. I could feel the rods pulling but they just wouldn't cross or go out to answer my questions. So, I asked if it was OK for me to ask these questions. I received a definite "no" and figured I was being told to go away. With respect, I did. We left as it was starting to get dark, and went to Catherine's Furnace. It was a spot that was used in the Civil War to melt down pig iron to make bullets and such. On the inside is two definite hand print shapes. The legend is that this is where the devil comes up at, or something like that. They are raised prints, not prints that looked like they have been burnt on. It was pretty
interesting. There was no "feeling" here either, and our rods would only point to the water across the road from the furnace. One member caught a very red orb. We tried to debunk it, but just can't be sure what caused it. It may be from the ed laser of our EMF detector catching a piece of dust, because the orb looks rather thick. Since there didn't seem to be much going on there in the ways of paranormal activity, we went back to Stanley, Virginia, to one of the sites of our first formal ghost hunt. At this home, there has been a woman and a carriage sighted. Mostly during the day, however. When we were there the last time, we gathered a lot of orb activity, so we went back hoping to catch EVP this time. We split in small groups to take photos and use or recorders to see what we might
capture. Like last time, we were more afraid of the residents that are alive. This place is creepy and not because of the possible spirits. I think drugs and alcohol are a big part of life for these young people out in this dark and secluded "holler". As we were leaving, we noticed what looked like a dead dog near the garage. One of the members told us that when she went behind the shed to take photos near where the old homestead used to stand, she saw where someone drove a small SUV into a tree and just left it there. We decided if there are any spirits in this hollow, we don't want to know about it. We got away twice now. The third time we might not be so lucky! 


SIVA Investigation of Brandywine, WV

In 1930s Brandywine, West Virginia, lived a man everyone called "Goosey". According to some stories, he was cranky and very protective of his garden. The local children had to walk pass his garden and over a ridge to get to their one room school house. He would yell at them everyday "You better not step on my potatoes!"

In 1998 we purchased that plot of land, long after Goosey was gone. After a while, we began to wonder if he ever did leave.

I loved my new home, but was never comfortable in it. When I was alone I would be "antsy". I would wander around looking for something, but never knowing what I was looking for. Then my daughters began to tell me stories. One told of a man with a deep voice standing at the end of the bed. He told her to get out. She also told me of blue lights that would come out of her mirror at night. My other daughter told of a blue mist she saw in the kitchen early one morning when she wasn't able to sleep. She also told me that she would see the shape of her dead cat under the blankets occasionally.

We moved to Virginia due to my husbands job. This home was empty for a few months between a renter and us putting it on the market. So, I gathered SIVA members together and we took a trip to see if we could find old man Goosey or the spirit of a cat.

All in all, this investigation was rather disappointing. We didn't collect any digital voice or electromagnetic activity. Our digital and video cameras came up with no apparitions. Our digital photos showed orbs and an odd yellow light outside the window of the most active bedroom. There is no light outside and we can't pinpoint what would have reflected in that particular spot. It is odd, but we have to rule out the cause to be paranormal.

One of our members sat in that room alone for a period of time. (This is the room that had the deep voice and lights). He had his digital recorder on and was asking personal questions to see if any response would come onto the recorder when we reviewed it. The more questions he asked, the heavier the air of the room seemed to get. Unfortunately, there was still no evidence of a haunting. No EVPs on the recorder. No shadows or figures of blue mist. As an investigation team, we put this on our "not haunted" list, but my daughters still disagree!