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Home > Horror News > Western Horror News > Ghost Hunters Will Find
Ghost Hunters Will Find
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Town of Oconomowoc – Why do things go bump in the night? Christopher Claus and Richard Hendricks want to know.

“People often come to us afraid and freaked out,” Hendricks said. “They’ve seen, heard or felt something that scares them and makes them think their house or business is haunted. But the fact that we’re calm and matter-of-fact usually calms them down.”

Claus and Hendricks head the Wisconsin Ghost Society, a 12-member team based in Nashotah that for the past five years, using thousands of dollars worth of electronic equipment, has investigated about 20 suspected hauntings statewide.

But don’t call them “ghostbusters.”

“It trivializes what we do,” said Claus, a police officer in Waukesha County who founded the organization. His passion is applying investigative techniques to prove – or sometimes disprove – the existence of otherworldly presences.

“We enter a home with a skeptical attitude,” said Hendricks, a researcher for a Madison law firm and founder of Weird Wisconsin, a Web site with links to everything from ghosts to alien sightings to serial killers.

“We try to find alternative explanations and when those are exhausted, we turn to the paranormal,” Hendricks said.

Often, there’s a natural explanation for what’s going on, such as a plastic lampshade that made crinkling noises at night as it cooled.

Some are easy to decipher but difficult to explain.

“How do you tell a mother that the noises she’s hearing are her daughter’s boyfriend climbing out the window?” Claus said.

But there have been plenty of other investigations with less-worldly explanations.

A woman in Dodge County, for instance, reported that someone climbed into bed with her each night at 1:30 a.m., Claus said.

“We had all our equipment set up, and at precisely 1:33 an electromagnetic charge passed directly through the video equipment and knocked it out. It came back on at 1:37. I’ve never had anything like that happen before or since.”

In another case, a homeowner had seen and spoken with an apparition upstairs in her home. Her research showed that a woman had once committed suicide there.

“The apparition told the owner she had been murdered and not committed suicide,” Claus said. “She’d also seen a man walk through a wall, knocking off some of the plaster.”

In his initial interview, Claus felt the hair stand on the back of his neck at the same time that a device in his pocket, which measures electromagnetic energy, went off wildly.

“I’m immune from fear, but that kind of shook me,” he said.

Their investigation seemed to verify the woman’s story.

“We gave her some tips on coexisting with the apparition,” Hendricks said. “She felt much better after we talked with her.” The family, which had been sleeping downstairs, moved back upstairs shortly afterward.

Four-month investigations

A complete investigation takes about four months and includes at least three visits. “We may do it faster if someone is extremely distressed,” Claus said.

The first visit includes an interview with the homeowner and the establishment of a “baseline” for the property, the two men said.

That includes drawing a blueprint of the house, measuring electromagnetic discharges from the home’s wiring system and any magnetic energy from the ground the house is built on, as well as taking temperature and other readings.

“We don’t want to confuse any findings with something that may occur naturally,” Claus said.

The second visit involves setting up equipment in any “hot spots,” places where the homeowner has seen or heard things or where unusual readings have been recorded.

The third visit is usually a repeat of the second, they said, followed by a month of evaluation.

“We go through the videotape frame by frame. Any still photographs are examined with a magnifying glass,” Claus said, noting that when something happens, it usually happens very quickly.

Their group does not remove ghosts.

“Coexistence is always better,” Hendricks said. If the homeowner insists, they refer them to one of two people – a psychic who tries to communicate with the spirit or a Christian minister who blesses the property.

The investigators do not charge for their services, unless they travel more than 200 miles from the Milwaukee area, in which case they may ask for travel expenses.

It’s all about being credible, said Claus, who hopes to establish a national certification program next year for ghost investigators.

The group, which holds its meetings at the Town of Oconomowoc community center, has temporarily stopped accepting applications for membership. Claus said he gets five or six a month. They’ve also temporarily stopped accepting new assignments.

“We’re just too busy now,” Claus said. Last weekend, a team visited a home in Milwaukee. Tonight, they’re off to Oshkosh to start a new investigation.

Claus said they plan on fielding two to four investigative teams, which would allow them to take on more cases. They’ll also be able to start accepting new applications, he said.

Only the serious-minded need apply, Claus said.

“We don’t want people who want to hear stories or walk around cemeteries,” he said.

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