Hey, everybody! Suze here. Spooky Week at the Scribes continues! Please welcome Jim Chianese, naval officer and paranormal investigator.
Welcome, Jim. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
At a very young age, I was interested in the supernatural/paranormal. I remember my parents did not want me to see the movie Jaws when it came out (didn’t want me to be afraid of the water) however, they took me to see the Amityville Horror. My Mom was always interested in the supernatural and I guess this is where I get it from. She would always watch the old horror movies or any movie having to do with ghosts. As I got older I found myself reading books on folklore and mythology along with various spiritual beliefs from around the world. I also read books about haunting, spiritualism, divination and even tarot.
How did you become involved with the East Coast Angels?
My good friend Jeff and I were talking one day about our common interest in the supernatural world. We thought about forming our own group but, soon realized besides being eager, we had no idea what to do. So we started looking for a group to join in the local area. I came across a business card for the East Coast Angels in a used book store in Niantic, CT. Both, Jeff and I contacted the Director, Mike “Sal” Salerno. A few days later we met with Mike and his co-founder Sue, and were invited to join the group. We were told that we would be brought in on the “light” cases until we were trained up. The next phone call we got was anything but a “light” case. I believe the words Mike used where, “Well, I know I said a light case but…hey, nothing like learning the hard stuff first.” It turned out to be the beginnings of a demonic infestation. So, much for the light stuff first. Jeff and I cut our teeth, so to speak, on that first case and we have been with the group since.
Can you explain what the East Coast Angels do?
The East Coast Angels investigate claims of paranormal activity in private homes and facilities. We are a formally trained team of Paranormal Investigators which use high-tech equipment in our investigations to measure everything from electromagnetic fields to the temperature in every room of the house. We also use voice and video recorders throughout; to help capture anything we might miss if not physically present. We then analyze our findings and present them to the client. Once our client is presented with the information, we then decide what to do next. Keep in mind, not every house we investigate is haunted. Most of the time, there is a more natural explanation than a supernatural one.
Describe an investigation for us. What sort of preparation is required, what happens during an investigation, and what happens afterward?
There is no “typical” investigation; East Coast Angels knows there are no real hard and fast rules, just a whole lot of theory. Other groups have different procedures. For us, the investigation starts off with the client contacting ECA. Mike will then go out to the house and interview the client asking a variety questions to understand what the client has been experiencing and some background information on the client and anyone else who lives in the house. The questions start off broad in nature but tend to get very specific depending on the answers. All information obtained is considered confidential and is never shared outside of the case without prior permission from the client. A day and time are then agreed upon for the actual investigation. The actual investigation usually takes place about a week or two after the initial interview. Although, there are times when it could be that night or within a couple of days, depending on what Mike uncovers during the interview. Prior to investigation night, each investigator will make sure their equipment is in good working order and they have enough batteries, memory cards, video tapes, etc. to last us for the entire investigation.
The team will all meet at the client’s house at the designated time. The team is introduced to the client and at this time we are briefed on what the situation is. This helps to keep us from forming opinions prior to the investigation. We then unload the equipment and set up in the designated areas pointed out by Mike as he tells us what the client experienced in that particular area. As the equipment is being set up, one of us will do a preliminary Electromagnetic Frequency (EMF) and temperature sweep of the entire house. This helps us to establish a baseline and identify any strong electromagnetic fields being generated by lights, house wiring or appliances. Once this is done and the equipment is set up and running, we then go room to room and shut the lights off. Now if we get an EMF hit that is higher than the initial background one, it could (but not necessarily be) an indication of paranormal activity.
We will then gather and say a prayer to protect us just from any harm and to keep any type of entity from following us home after the investigation. We will use a process called Religious Provocation to help determine if there is a spirit in the house. Religious Provocation is when we ask the spirit to give us a non-lethal, non-threatening sign of its presence. The theory behind this is a human spirit does not have to give us a sign, but a non-human spirit is compelled to do so. This sign can be a knock, something falling over, a toy activating, basically something to get our attention. If we do not physically see or hear something, there is the possibility of finding it later when we review the evidence recorded. We then break up into teams (usually 2-3 people) and start the investigation. We will pick a room where the client has experienced something and try to experience it ourselves. This is where we will sit quietly and conduct an Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) session where we ask questions and hope to get answers on our voice recorders. If the client experienced an object moving or a door closing we try to see if we can recreate it. Is the door hinge loose? Does is swing freely? Is there a draft from someplace? If we can recreate the occurrence by a more normal means (i.e. there is a draft when the window is open that causes the door to swing closed) then we consider it “debunked” and move on to something else.
Once we feel we have sufficient data we will call it a night and break down the equipment. There is no real set time for the end of the investigation. This is where we go by feel. If one of our investigators experienced something first hand in the house we are likely to stay at it for 8-10 hours. If, on the other hand, things are real quiet, we might call it a night after 3-4 hours. The spirits do not interact on command like you see on TV. The spirit may not want to bother with all the strange people in the house running around asking it to make a noise or answer a question.
After the night of investigation, we all take the next few days to go over all the data we collected. This data is usually 8-10 hours of video x 4 cameras, 8-10 hours of audio x 4 digital voice recorders (not counting the individual voice records the investigators carry with them. This is the time consuming part you don’t see on TV. If an investigator captures something during this process, they make a copy and send it to the others who where there that night. At this point, we all check our individual data for the same evidence. Sometimes, more than one investigator captured the same EVP at the same time.
Once we have all the information, Mike will contact the client and show them what we found. At this time, they will decide what will happen next. This could be anything from another night of investigating, a house cleansing, or nothing at all.
The East Coast Angels describe themselves as a “paranormal rescue team.” Describe your most satisfying case.
The East Coast Angels consider ourselves a “paranormal rescue team” for the simple reason that we are here to help people. We are not your typical ghost hunter group you invite to your house to set up cameras and voice recorders. Then analyze the evidence and tell you either “yes, your house is haunted” or “no, your house is not haunted”, here’s a T-shirt. We not only know how to gather evidence, but also can help the spirit to cross over or cleanse the house from an unwanted harmful entity. Our cases come as referrals from other groups or we are contacted by the client themselves and asked to help. Recently, we had a family who was literally afraid to live in their home. The children were staying with other family members and the parents were living in a hotel room. They contacted us and told Mike what was going on. We investigated the house and determined there was a possible demonic presence trying to move in. We performed a house cleansing ceremony. Since the cleansing, the family has moved back in and has reported no further paranormal activity and a feeling of peace in the house. Of course this is an extreme example. We have also pointed out to clients that their electrical wiring is so old it is giving off a major electromagnetic field (which can make some people sick) when their lights are on in the basement. We even told one client the scratching they heard at night was a squirrel and mice that moved into their attic. After our investigation and some pest control their “haunting” was gone. Either way, all the clients were satisfied with the outcome and felt at peace in their home again.
Have your experiences changed your personal beliefs or world view? For example, since you’ve worked with ECA, are you more — or less — spiritual?
My experiences have definitely firmed up my belief that there is so much more out there that we really do not understand or can explain to everyone’s satisfaction. I have always considered myself a spiritual person (not a religious person). I have a very broad view of religion. I do, however have a very strong belief in God. I just don’t choose to say one religion is better than the other.
What do you think a ghost is? Have you ever seen one?
I can’t say I have seen a ghost. I have seen shadows on an infra-red video that someone would say is a ghost. A ghost can fit into several different categories. A ghost can be a human spirit who has not crossed over yet. A ghost can be a demonic entity that wants to cause trouble. A ghost can be a certain instance in time that keeps repeating itself when the conditions are right. This kind of ghost is caused by the electromagnetic impulses of the brain imprinting a certain happening in the past, which when the conditions are right replays in the present.
Thanks, Scribes for having me here today
Thanks, Jim! To check out some of ECA’s case files, or for more information, take a look at their website: http://www.ecangels.com/ and visit them on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/East-Coast-Angels-Paranormal-Investigations/170828251263 Jim will be available later today to answer your questions, so please ask away in the Comments section below, and check back later for his responses.