Paranormal 101

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Engelbrechts Orchard November, 28. 2007 by Jarald Denny

Jerald Denny
November 28, 2007
Investigators of the Unknown
The air was getting crisp and chilly sitting in the Willard Library parking lot. The Willard Library is an impressive building. Just standing in front of it one can almost feel the presence of history seeping out of the stone. There is no wonder why many claim that something other than patrons or caretakers walk the floors.
A car loaded with people and equipment pulls in next to my topless Jeep. William Miller steps out and introduces himself. As my instructor and guide for the night, William has been investigating paranormal activity for the past 20 years and is currently president of the Southern Indiana Paranormal Investigators. Aside from William two other individuals were in the car: Beverly Leavell, another investigator and member of the Southern Indiana Paranormal Investigators and Jack Oliver, a member of S.I.G.H.T (Scientific Investigation Ghost Hunting Team) and a paranormal talk radio host. After a brief peek inside the library, which was closing for the evening, we headed out to the location for the night’s investigation, Engelbrechts Orchard only a short drive away.
The things that go bump in the night usually leave people wondering what it is, and may be even more afraid of the answer. Paranormal investigators such as the members of the Southern Indiana Paranormal Investigators, do their best to scientifically answer such questions as: Do ghosts exist? Is my house haunted? Should I be worried? It is the investigator’s job to go into the location and assess the situation and comb through the evidence collected objectively, skeptically, and with an open mind. Which is what William and the rest of the team set out to do at Engelbrechts Orchard.
Nestled in an area between the city and the airport lies Engelbrechts Orchard complete with hay rides, fresh fruit, and a nice country store selling everything from produce to homemade salsa and candies. The surrounding property is rich in history, both native and American. The fields surrounding the orchard contain numerous burial plots, both American settlers and Native Americans.
The investigation that night centered around two distinct areas of the property. The first was the country store, where shopping carts have been said to move by themselves and lights in the basement turn on and off unexpectedly and seemingly on their own. The second location on the property that night was outside, near the actual orchards at an old oak tree, estimated to be more than 250 years old. The tree seems to be the center of a lot of paranormal activity ranging from odd images and ghostly figures on film to muffled voices talking behind your back.
Bill opened the trunk of the car. It was stuffed to the brim with tripods and bags of scientific equipment that were toted into the store for set-up. Bill started setting up two of the three tripods and mounted a board of various mounts on the tripod. After a table was set up a computer was placed on the table, and another case of sensors was opened up. A motion detector, thermometer resembling a metal rod, an ambient light sensor resembling a small glass tube, and another motion detector, all originally designed for science lab use in a university setting, were mounted onto the various mounts on the board supported on the two tripods. These were all plugged into the computer. From the computer, the area in front of the sensor array could be scrutinized for any change or anomaly in movement, temperature, or light when the array was active. Next to this an infrared light source and a video camera was set up to survey the area ahead in the event anything was to happen.
During this Jack and Beverly walked around and found the base electromagnetic field (EMF) reading with an EMF meter, typically used by electricians. The theory regarding electromagnetic fields in regards to paranormal activity basically states that when an entity is trying to do something, be it for an apparition viewable by the naked eye or even move an object, it has to draw energy from the surrounding environment and build up the energy to be able to perform such a task. This correlates with a spike, or sudden unexplainable jump in the EMF reading when the entity is present. A baseline EMF must be acquired in order to know when the EMF is above what it normally is, and if there is no other thing present that would change the EMF reading, such as electric wires or devices, there may be something paranormal present.
Jack Oliver then set up his computer that he would use later on in the night for electronic voice phenomenon work. The occurrence of electronic voice phenomenon, referred to as EVP’s, is very interesting as well as mysterious. For some reason recording devices, both digital and tape, can record sounds, including voices, not present or not detectable by the human ear. The EVP’s can range from whispering, whimpering and indiscernible noises, to even violent scenes almost like a recording of an argument or fight in the next room, or even reactions to the investigator. It is common now, when recording, trying to capture EVP’s, to ask questions to see what kind of responses are given if any.
After finding a level spot on the floor a shopping-cart was placed out along with a pumpkin marking the position of the cart. The TriField Natural EM (electro magnetic) reader was placed in view of the camera to detect any anomalies in the natural electromagnetic field around the reader, which would give out a sort of shrill as the needle moved across the dial recording a change in the EM field. This is basically the same concept of the EMF meter; however, the TriField works off of natural EM fields, such as a living body. The other tripod was set up, along with a two-camera system set off of a similar concept using natural electro magnetism to operate the shutter. A change in the natural EM, the cameras will take a picture. Setup was complete and it was time to get started investigating. The sensor array was set for an hour and Bill, Jack, and I headed to the basement area to do some EVP work.
After the recorder was flipped on, Jack started by giving an explanation of the recording device and what exactly it did to anyone who may have been listening. He then asked questions ranging from specific answers about an entity that may be present to general answers about the world. “How many spirits are here?” “What year is it?” “What is your name?” “What are our names?” “Is there anyone keeping you here?”
Jack proceeded with his questioning, leaving time in-between questions for a possible response that may be audible when the recording is replayed while Bill made vocal notes for the recording on audible background noises. Jack concluded the session with a last chance for any entity present to make contact, thanked it for its time, assuming there was something there, and switched the recorder off. Afterwards the team headed out and down to an old oak tree near the orchard bordered by fields spotted with gravesites.
The oak tree, a 250 plus year-old behemoth, dominated the sight standing over 75 feet tall. The tree seems to be a center for paranormal activity. Nearby, a bonfire burned, illuminating the area with an orange glow, and warming the cold night. The night’s paranormal investigation was informal in nature. Its purpose was to check out the site in preparation for a future investigation on a larger scale; therefore, hotdogs were roasted, taking advantage of the fire. After a few hours of picture taking, past investigation stories, and friendly conversation the team conducted another EVP session at the oak tree. The session was similar to the previous one in the basement; however, the constant noise of the highway nearby created a lot of background noise, hindering the session.
At the conclusion of the EVP session it was time to head back up to the store. Back at the store, the computer system was still taking readings. There was still a little more time to kill before the computers would be finished taking readings and measurements of the area. Bill had lost a USB cable. He had been looking for it in the store for most of the night. The cable wasn’t with the rest of his equipment on the table he had set his computer up on. The sensors shut off, but the results showed nothing had happened, which consequently meant that the cart hadn’t moved either.
Somewhat disappointed at the lack of activity, the team sat down to talk with the owners and among themselves casually. On an investigation such as this one, when the investigators are not focused on investigating is the time things start to happen. Occasionally Bill would get up and go about the room taking EMF measurements as well as temperature readings, which is a way of trying to detect the cold spots associated with paranormal activity, all while looking for his cord.
Later in the evening after Bill had quit searching for his cable, we stood around a small table in a part of the store separate from where Bill’s equipment was setup. The cord was lying right in front of him draped across a computer speaker when he realized it was right there. The event did raise some suspicion. How did the cord end up in a separate room from the other equipment hours after it had been missing? How was it just discovered on a table we had been using all night, and draped over a speaker set up after Bill had lost it? Had it been misplaced and moved, or was it something paranormal playing a little prank on Bill? The owner, laughing a little, said that things are misplaced or moved all the time around the store, but with no apparent reason or cause.
After an EVP session in a backroom and another in the basement, Jack set up his computer to listen to the night’s recordings. The analysis did not turn up much. The one possible EVP captured was an indiscernible whisper in the basement during the first EVP session.
At 12:37 am the team started tearing down, packing up the equipment, and loading up the car at the store. When the car was packed, the team and I headed back down to the oak tree to watch the fire die and have one last look around.
The clouds had cleared up quite a bit since the last time we were down there. The moon, surrounded by clouds the previous time, now illuminated the whole area in a white light. The temperature had dropped, the dust floating around in the air, which spotted up my pictures before, had subsided along with the traffic from the highway. It was still and quiet.
As I was commenting on the change I turned to face the rest of a group. I was interrupted by the sound of someone walking away from behind Jack and Bill, who had their backs turned to the oak tree. Since Beverly and myself, the only other people with them, were in front of Jack and Bill, they turned to see who was behind them. The footsteps quickened and rounded behind the giant tree, but further investigation, including circling the tree and searching a small radius of the area, revealed no one other than the four of us around.
It was much like the concept Bill had explained to me earlier. When you’re not paying attention to ghost hunting, that’s when things happen, which was true in this case. Paranormal investigators need to stay alert and pay attention to what is going on around them, especially when the group’s attention isn’t on the investigation.
When the fire had died down we loaded the cooler, leftovers, and trash in the car. We then departed with Bill, Jack, and Beverly in Beverly’s car and me in my Jeep. As I left I almost expected to see the form of an Indian chief next to the tree illuminated in the moonlight. It was a cold drive back to my apartment, but I didn’t mind. The night went very well and I learned a lot. Scientifically investigating the paranormal involves a great deal of work. Investigators are dedicated and passionate about their work, finding the unknown and trying to document scientific evidence of something in the realm outside of our existence.
Whether or not the Engelbrechts Orchard is haunted is up to you. The night’s investigation didn’t come up with anything significant. I encourage you to visit sometime. The cider I brought home with me was absolutely delicious. If you are having ghost issues I also encourage you to contact the Southern Indiana Paranormal Investigators. If the paranormal interests you I suggest you learn more. It is a fascinating subject that still has a lot to be discovered and documented.