Ever hear footsteps in your house, but you are the only one at home?
Ever walk into a room and get that eerie feeling? Ever been afraid to go down into your basement? If you've had these or similar experiences, you might consider calling the Canadian Haunting and Paranormal Society (CHAPS), which is what Amanda and Steph Tremblay did recently.
CHAPS is a group of dedicated paranormal researchers which uses the science and the spiritual background of its members to conduct investigations for people who've been having that "haunting feeling".
These are not "Ghostbuster" type investigations. Researchers don't go in to catch a ghost, says CHAPS director and lead investigator Dave Gibb.
Instead, the goal is to gather evidence and provide a scientific explanation about the phenomenon.
"We want to help people but our major goal is to discredit the haunting so when we actually find something it is more exciting," he said. At the Tremblays Dundonald Drive residence, a 32-year-old corporal took his life in 2001 in the unit next door. Neighbours believe the house remains vacant and serves as a storage building because the only family to live there moved after three days. Late last month, I accompanied CHAPS as it embarked on its investigation.
The Tremblays tell the team most of the activity is concentrated in the basement and an upstairs back bedroom.
The group relies on standard video and audio recorders to capture evidence in the form of orbs or voices known in the trade as electronic voice phenomena (EVP). It also uses a device to measure the electromagnetic field (EMF) in the residence. It must remember to take into consideration existing power sources when taking the initial base readings.
Orbs, circular objects that appear in photographs, are believed to be reflections of moving particles, such as dust or bugs. Or they could be the manifestation of a spirit.
EVPs are sounds picked up on recording devices, but not heard by the human ear.
When the CHAPS team, consisting of lead investigator Dave, technical manager and investigator Dan Sehn, researcher Cathy Morden-Sehn and group psychic Kim Foster, arrives at the Tremblays it is a regular Sunday night for the family. The team members go to work. Concentrating on the basement, they set up an infrared camera, get baseline electromagnetic field readings, and look for cold spots that signal a spirit drawing on energy from that location.
While Dave and Cathy record the initial readings, Dan snaps photos to see if his camera catches anything unusual.
Drifting off, Kim tries to connect with any spirits lingering in the house. Her senses allow her to distinguish between residual energy and that of an entity. The group keeps the preliminary findings secret from Kim so if she does reveal something it helps to authenticate the information. Dave feels she already knows too much about this case, as she is aware of the man's suicide. She does not, however, know his name, age, or anything else about his family history.
"The less I know the better so I don't get confused or swayed," Kim says.
After milling around the basement, suddenly she sees a man sitting on the basement floor wearing military fatigues and an army shirt.
Dave begins baiting the entity. The man is curious why they are interested in talking to him. He was a private person and feels they are getting too close, according to Kim.
Minutes later Dan, who is standing near the basement stairs, quietly walks over to Dave and whispers something. Dave moves to the bottom of the stairs armed with the EMF meter.
Dan hears footsteps coming down the stairs and sees a dark shadow. I get goose bumps. The hair on my arms stands up with the sudden revelation, especially as the EMF meter is pointed directly at me and begins to squeal indicating increased electromagnetic activity. For a skeptic, I definitely have chills. "There was nothing threatening, it was just
wandering about," Dan told me later. "I thought it was a team member then realized we were all down here." This discovery has me wondering where and how the entity will reveal itself again during our visit. Going into the investigation, I didn't want to get my hopes up, but now I can't wait to see what the footage reveals. Moments later focus shifts upstairs and the spirit tells Kim the room reminds him of his own childhood bedroom.
When the Tremblays moved into the PMQ nearly a year ago, Steph learned about the suicide next door from neighbours, but warned them not to tell Amanda. She noticed weird things even before she knew what happened. When neighbours reveal the information to her, they also shared experiences of similar activity in the same areas of their homes.
Amanda says a small table that normally sits against the wall moved to the middle of the room and the door periodically closes on its own. A battery-operated toy also went off in the middle of the night. She thought the batteries are dying, but they aren't.
The Tremblays have both heard footsteps on the basement stairs, but Steph notes it hasn't happened in a while.
"I'm not freaked out by it," he said. "It interests me, but it doesn't scare me. I don't think it is anything bad." There are times when Amanda simply can't bring herself to go into the basement because of a weird feeling she gets. She believes the spirit moves because she doesn't always feel its presence.
Recently, the Tremblays' young daughters were in their room playing when the oldest girl let out a blood-curdling scream. Steph and Amanda rushed to the bedroom. According to their daughter, she just saw a man's face in the mirror.
In the week following CHAPS' on-site visit, Dave and Dan review the video and audio footage. Dan's video camera, which was left running in the Tremblays' upstairs bedroom didn't capture anything. It stopped after recording only 13 minutes despite having a fully charged battery. Spirits can drain energy from other power sources, Dave notes.
The video from the infrared camera, which was set up in the basement tells a different story. There are a few self-propelled objects, including two separate feather-like formations that change directions suddenly. There is also a picture with an orb.
"The EMF readings were very scattered and in the wrong places, there were personal sensations, light anomalies on film that make me say it was not dust or bugs," Dave says, summarizing the findings. "There are enough blips that we want to go back and spend more time at the house."
The team also interviewed neighbour Joe Slade, who lives a few doors away from the Tremblays, when it arrives. Strange things have happened at his home since he moved to the residence in 2003.
He's heard footsteps in the middle of the night and saw someone in his peripheral vision.
The Slade's young son experienced night terrors until they moved him away from the back bedroom where the activity was the strongest.
Whatever "it" is, Joe doesn't feel that it is mean or out to harm his family, but he still turns on the lights before entering a room.
"It's not a big deal, I'd just rather not see him," he said. The Tremblays are willing to have CHAPS continue the investigation, however Amanda reports the family hasn't experienced anything out of the ordinary since the CHAPS' investigation.
The next step will be for the team to include a few more houses along the Dundonald Drive row, where residents are reporting similar experiences.
CHAPS was formed in 2006, and was recently accepted as a member of The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) based in Rhode Island. CHAPS is one of only three Canadian groups to have this distinction. All investigations are done free of charge and the group is always looking more work.
For more information visit www.chapsparanormal.ca. firstname.lastname@example.org