Paranormal just seems abnormal. That’s why when I pulled up alongside a car with “Got Ghosts?” and “Ohio Paranormal Exploration Society” stickers on its side my curiosity was piqued.
I got in touch with Tamara Adams, OPES’s founder and lead investigator. She said they’re frequently asked to do investigations all around the Greater Cincinnati area — including notable public places such as large museums — and would have one upcoming in Clermont County at a house-turned-business office. She invited me along but asked me not to give the exact location, citing concerns for others’ perception of the business owner’s sanity.
We met at 9 p.m. inside the house’s front door. Three other investigators were there, along with the business owner and a man whose sister had raised five children in the 50-year-old house.
The building owner complained about unexplained noises and items being inexplicably moved. The man whose sister lived there said her husband was killed in a car accident by decapitation.
Adding to the drama, some belongings of the business owner’s deceased ex-wife — including a stuffed ferret — were in one room of the house. His new wife didn’t care for having the dead woman’s stuff in their home.
Adams and her investigators came armed with some scientific-looking stuff, which in reality was run-of-the-mill electronics like standard Sony home video cameras with the ability to record in low lights, flashlight-sized infrared lights, electromagnet field detectors, digital voice recorders and one of those noise-making machines used to create white noise for those who have trouble falling asleep. They were kept inside metal cases with foam inside cut out to hold the electronics.
Adams handed me her OPES business card and said she didn’t know how much she and the others had invested in their equipment.
I guessed at least a couple thousand dollars.
The business owner handed over his keys to the people he just met and, along with the other man, left. The OPES members, who don’t charge for an investigation, got busy setting up cameras and infrared lights around the house in places where mysterious things supposedly had happened: a stairway with an attic access door that had moved and a basement where voices had been heard.
Empiricism, ever since my psychology professors drilled it into my head, has been a driving force in how I feel about such things as UFOs, religious deities and ghosts. A philosophy professor once asked, “If ghosts can pass through walls, why do they walk on floors?” Boiled down to the that simple statement, the whole thing seems silly.
Walking around the house, the investigators waved their electromagnetic detectors around and found no readings, except when they held it near an electrical box. Asking why video cameras, digital cameras and infrared lights would be able to detect ghosts, I was told something akin to “That’s what can see ghosts.” The noise machine gives an apparition the opportunity to manipulate sound because, as it was pointed out, ghosts no longer have vocal chords. Good point.
Adams has seen ghosts, which she said inspires her work. In the two years since OPES’s founding she’s yet to capture “proof” of anything undead, yet she and her group try and try again.
We all sat in the house’s basement listening to Adams chant taunting questions, meant to coax a signal that we were not alone. “It’s OK. We want to see you,” she said in the dark.
We did it for about 45 minutes and then headed upstairs to try another space. Nothing. The OPES folks planned to stay late into the night. I left after about two and half hours.
OPES is a needed service, it seems, but there’s nothing remotely scientific about their endeavor. Could anything about the afterlife be proven if they did “get a hit?” I have my doubts.
Hours and hours of video and sound and digital still images were collected. The group members will review it all, spending hours starting at a blank wall hoping for something, anything.
As I sat on the cold basement floor I struggled to find a point to their quest. The longer I sat, the odder I felt.
What OPES provides, I thought, is peace of mind. In a few weeks they’ll submit a report to the business owner detailing their experience.
If they found nothing, it likely would mean the building isn’t haunted. If they do find something, the opposite might be true.
Either way, those troubled by their fears will know. And that might be worth a few hours sitting in the dark.
CONTACT JOE WESSELS: firstname.lastname@example.org