Perception, curiosity and people’s fear of the unknown are what keep AGHOST members searching for the dead.
Advanced Ghost Hunters of Seattle-Tacoma (AGHOST) is a Federal Way-based group that investigates reports of the paranormal. Its members meet twice monthly at Marlene’s Market and Deli to discuss ghost investigations and spirit-locating technology.
Ross Allison of Tacoma is the group’s leader and expert on ghosts. Allison lives an unusual life that includes traveling the world to speak about ghost hunting, co-authoring books on the paranormal, leading Seattle underground tours and pursuing a budding television career.
Allison formed AGHOST in 2001. Approximately 100 people are now members. Each month, a handful of members investigates the paranormal. Typically, a client calls AGHOST and reports unexplainable happenings. Other times, the group hears rumors of a haunted location and sets out to learn more.
Ghosts go public
AGHOST performs investigations across the nation.
In April, members were summoned to a Federal Way apartment where a woman reported paranormal activity, including a ghost who wasn’t shy about interacting with the woman while she was in her skivvies. The woman’s report made national news when local television stations picked up the story, and it remained a topic of discussion for nearly two months.
Despite some unusual findings in the apartment, AGHOST was unable to determine with certainty if they were caused by a spirit.
“Most things that are reported paranormal are perception,” said Stephanie Davisson, AGHOST vice president.
A ghost hunt begins with a phone interview, in which the owner of a home or business will report what has been seen, heard or felt — and why he or she believes the unexplainable indicates a ghost presence.
Next, a pre-investigation walk-through is conducted by members and the client. Appliances, plumbing and other household objects that could interfere with the ghost hunters’ equipment, or shed light on the client’s experiences, are identified.
“It gives us an idea of what to expect when we come back for the investigation,” Davisson said.
On June 8, seven members investigated a Puyallup building, home to one of the town’s long-standing social clubs.
AGHOST has been here before, and the group always finds something unexplainable, Davisson said. The search began at 8:30 p.m.
Some members of the group, such as Debbie Frelin of Tacoma, have seen apparitions and are firm believers in ghosts. Others, such as Rachel McGilvrey of Seattle, are waiting for proof.
“I started questioning life and what happens when you die,” McGilvrey said. “I’m waiting for that ghost with a sign.”
During a three-hour period, the seven-person team used instruments that measured the air’s static electricity, electronic fields and temperature. Microphones, a camcorder, cameras, audio recording devices and Scrabble tiles were also used.
An AGHOST psychic contacted a gentleman by the name of Ira during past investigations here, members said. A ghost named Beatrice told Davisson to please leave the kitchen area. Another spirit, who goes by the name of Red, hangs out every now and then in the bar. An American Indian sometimes shows up as well.
The group asks the deceased to give a sign of their presence. This could include moving or striking an object, speaking into the audio recording devices or modifying the temperature. Frelin experienced several cold air chills during the investigation. A thumping sound was heard and shadows seen in the lounge area. Contact may have been established in the coat room.
Pinpointing the source
When finished, the group reviewed all the data gathered and identified activities that could be explained away.
Electrical wiring or electronic equipment can cause static electricity ions to read higher than usual, Allison said. A change in temperature can be caused by a heating or cooling system. Orbs of light can be reflections.
“We will eliminate as much as we can explain and then focus on what we can’t explain,” Davisson said.
What cannot be explained is supernatural, Allison said. The results are shared with the client, but AGHOST hesitates to tell a person he or she is being visited by a ghost, Davisson said. That is for the client to decide.
“We hardly ever come in and say ‘Yep, that’s a ghost,’” Davisson said. “There is no way to quantify a ghost.”
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For more information about AGHOST, visit the Web site at www.aghost.org or call Ross Allison at (253) 203-4383.