The theater was truly dark, a dark so thick it oozed over three members of the team like a viscous oil. Three lights were visible: a demonic lens blinking like a red beacon from afar, a blue power signal, property of a digital night vision camera and the ghoulish green from the screen of an electromagnetic field (EMF) detector....

Content Articles Research Paranormal PursuitCitation:

Gray, Jan. "Paranormal Pursuit: A Ghostly Tale of Two Investigation Teams." The Daily Bruin 7 July 2007.

“Get over here,” David Walters said to the other two members of his team. “Check this out.”

They scrambled to the front of the theater, third row seat 10. The EMF detector was going crazy, spiking to levels near 20 milligauss. The team stood transfixed and huddled together. The detectors slowly drew away from the seat and reached 13 milligauss, then 10 milligauss, six and zero. The detectors threw back over seat 10 and their readings were again rocketed to 20. There was no electricity line or appliance near the other side of the wall affect the purity of the reading.

“Strange,” Walters said.

When there’s something strange in your neighborhood the man to call is Walters, founder and lead investigator of the supernatural research group, Pacific Paranormal Investigations. The group consists of seven original members each with a hefty resume of out-of-this-world experiences.

According to a 2005 CBS poll, 48 percent of Americans believe in the existence of ghosts and 22 percent have claimed to see or feel a ghost’s presence. This leaves a lot of opportunity for the San Diego-based group, which has conducted investigations all over Southern California.

Walters, 31, is a burly man, short crew-cut hair littered atop a stern goateed countenance. He looks like a leader and has the personality of a fun-loving adventurer. Walters has been infatuated with the supernatural since an experience he had in his childhood home.

“I was looking at the refrigerator and all the magnets all at once flipped upside-down, at the same time,” Walters said.

His family vacated the house soon after and Walters was left with a relentless fascination with the unexplainable. His passion materialized into action, and in 2004 the group was formed.

Pacific Paranormal utilizes scientific methodology and bases its conclusions on pure empirical data captured by numerous scientific instruments. In recognition of their pragmatic approach they have won accreditation from The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS), the largest and most respected group of investigators who also heavily rely on science to formulate conclusions. TAPS can be seen on television every week in “Ghost Hunters,” a documentary show currently appearing on the Sci-Fi Channel.

La Habra Depot Theater: March 23, 2007, 11:17 p.m.

The TAPS logo, a stitched frosty white grinning ghost, is emblazoned on the right shoulder of the midnight colored uniform. The back of the jacket yields a much larger symbol; “PPI” beckons in golden yellow. There are nine team members this evening. They pull up in a caravan of three vehicles, which includes a ’92 converted Ford ambulance, aged white with a blue stripe traversing the equator. Inside is the central workstation decorated with many computer screens and scientific instruments.

Walters met with Jennifer Garms, vice president of the La Habra Depot board and left with wingman, Glenn Pitcher. Walters was dwarfed by Pitcher, his friend and co-founder of the investigations team. Both are equal in their understanding of research procedures and protocols and the two disappear around the west end of the misty depot.

Karl Sherlock, the hyper intelligent professor, is a teacher of English at a San Diego college. He sat on a curb, his spectacled face and barren scalp illuminated by the screen of his white Apple laptop.

The remainder of the team gathered like Boy Scouts around a campfire and peered onto the screen that showed a seal reminiscent of a police badge. This was the official report and later will boast loads of numerical data and analytical conclusions.

The crew was informed of necessary information including the depot’s floor schematics, which is coupled with aerial photographs of the building. The history of the theater is also included.

The La Habra Depot was built in 1907 as a train station. It was moved across the street by the city of La Habra to avoid demolition and paranormal activity has been reported for years.

“I recently saw a reflection of a woman in the window of the tech booth, I turned around and no one was there,” Jessica Balicki, a 25-year-old depot employee, said. “I’m not scared though.”

Walters returned after speaking with Garms for some time.

“There are three main entities in this place,” Garms said. “Molly is a little girl who was killed in a car accident in front during the 1930s while waiting for her mother who told her not to leave until she got there.”

Apparently she never did.

Another is an apparition of David Rivera, a 23-year-old employee killed in 2003 motorcycle accident.

“He always wore motorcycle boots and sometimes when you’re alone you can hear them clanking on the stage,” Garms said.

The third has no known link to an actual person but is a voice that asks in a date vernacular, “Can you spare a dime?” A dime appears from time to time on the armrests of a seat very close to seat number 10 in the third row.

Walters was skeptical, calling Garms a “library of myth.”

"Never ask if they know they’re dead.
  It tends to make them mad." 
—Glenn Pitcher

“We don’t know where she got any of this,” Walters said. “She said the train [station has] been here since the ‘60s, thing wasn’t event built until 1971.”

It is 11:36 p.m., show time.

The ambulance backs into position near dilapidating train car 5271, a part of the theater currently used as a dressing room. The environment borders hectic with people running from place to place angling cameras, plugging in cords, linking systems and charging batteries. Preliminary readings of temperature and electromagnetism are documented in every part of every room.

It is 12:39 a.m. and all systems are functional and ready to go. It is on to the train car, the spot with the most activity. All the power in the place has been shut down.

Molly is baited with children’s toys and crayons left out as the group sits in a circle taking turns bellowing questions directed at the entity of the little girl.

“Never ask if they know they’re dead,” Pitcher said. “It tends to make them mad.”

Digital recorders surround the room to document any response the girl may make. This is called an EVP or electronic voice phenomena. The theory is that paranormal entities can record their voice, leaving messages for loved ones and sometimes warnings to the unwanted.

“There are three classes of EVPs,” Walters said. “Class C which is really hard to tell; I think it’s mostly people imagining things. Class B sounds like something, but is still cloudy and up for speculation. But then there’s Class A, a clear and distinct voice. Those are rare.”

It is 2:05 a.m. The team moves from the train to the theater.

“There was an Orange County Register reporter here about a year ago,” Garms said. “She walked in the theater and saw something swoop across her toward the bathrooms. She ran out and said ‘I’ll get the rest of the story from out here.’”

At 4:45 a.m., Pacific Paranormal calls it a night. The data is currently being analyzed.

Hollywood Hills, California Apartment #307:
 March 17, 2007, 6:30 p.m.

The place is a party. Bright-colored balloons weakly struggle to break the ceiling. The new time change makes the balcony view beautifully vibrant and rich. This is the welcome party of the Paradigm Paranormal Group of Los Angeles, a unit formed from the remains of various other broken and decayed paranormal investigation groups.

Tim Madrid, 44, is the founder and a psychic. He is of a medium build with rusted hair, strangely relatable to Danny DeVito.

“I predicted the Alaska airlines crash,” Madrid said. “I dreamt about it four days earlier. I even knew exactly what airline it would be.”

He is referring to the 2000 crash of Flight 261 that dropped 88 people into the Pacific Ocean, killing all onboard.

“There will also be a massive earthquake in Los Angeles on or near June 7, 2007,” Madrid said. “Better get insurance.”

All the members of Paradigm Paranormal claim to have some level of psychic ability resulting in a super-group of mediums and sensitives. They have a much different approach to investigating relying heavily on their sense and the human mind.

They also have captured hundreds of Class A EVPs.

Sandi Roberts, 33, is a self-proclaimed “magnet” for these and has compiled a substantial library on her laptop computer. The new group gathered around as she played them.

“To my death ready to walk,” comes out of the rickety computer speaker in a horrendously eerie voice.

“Shut the door,” says another in a cracked sullen tone.

Roberts plays a voice of a little girl reacting to a fuzzy stuffed animal placed upon her grave.

“Monkey,” says the voice full of playful adolescence.

“Believe me, there was no girl there,” Roberts said.

Phantoms in the Future

In a June 2006 Gallup poll, 73 percent of Americans believed in at least one kind of paranormal phenomenon.

This includes the belief in extrasensory perception, where people are able to accurately duplicate pictures behind checkered cards or locate steely Russian submarines in the North Pacific. It also includes telepathy where communication between one another is freed of the bounds of verbiage and distance.

“Ghost Hunters,” the Sci-Fi Channel TV show has reported its best ratings ever in 2006, rising 20 percent since the prior year.

New paranormal television shows are popping up everywhere—“Dead Famous” on the Biography Channel, “Haunting Evidence” on Court TV, and Ghost Whisperer” on CBS.

Based on this, it seems as though America is becoming more accepting and interested in the existence of the paranormal.

“Groups like this are helping science catch up,” Can Mewhinney of Paradigm Paranormal said.

Currently, not much is known about the paranormal. Maybe one day these groups will finally offer a slice of irrefutable evidence to the skeptics in the scientific community.

In the meantime, teams like Pacific Paranormal and Paradigm Paranormal continue to search.