When There’s Something Strange in the Neighborhood …

Hey, everybody!  Suze here.  Spooky Week at the Scribes continues!  Please welcome Jim Chianese, naval officer and paranormal investigator.

Paranormal Investigator Jim Chianese
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.

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33 thoughts on “When There’s Something Strange in the Neighborhood …”

  1. Having been raised a Catholic, I was basically too scared to read this blog. Got to “demonic possession” and said, “Okay! I’m done here!” That being said, I figure Jim’s a good person to know…just in case. Eep!

    1. Yes, I’m not fond of that term either. Thankfully, more often than not, I hear the other explanations (wiring, drafty doors/windows, squirrels).

  2. WOW, Jim. Just wow! There’s a part of me that would love to do a paranormal ride along for some first hand research, but the larger part of me would likely be so scared, I’d need spare underpants! And I’d be VERY afraid of bringing something home with me…

  3. Thanks again Susannah for inviting me.
    Kristan: Don’t stop read on….you might have missed the squirrel.
    J Monkeys: Thanks for the WOW. In the past we have had some newspaper reporters “ride along” with us on a case. You can check out those stories on our website.

  4. Wow, Jim! Way cool. Being a lifelong believer in the paranormal–I’ve always know there were spirits among us–I’m in awe of what you do. I especially like the scientific and unbiased approach you take to investigating. I would love to set up this equipment in my home or even more so, around my yard. I live in an old farmhouse that was built in 1843. Being very sensitive to spiritual beings, I felt the history of the occupants of the house, but not necessarily anything malevolent. When I moved in, I did a sage burning and cleared every room just in case.

    The yard is another story. I llive on four acres surrounded by 6000 acres of woods. The landscape is mature with hundreds of huge lilac bushes averywhere, an insane hedgerow of forsythia that takes over more of my side yard every year, and beautiful old stone walls that line the property. Being a gardener I attempted to tame and reclaim some of the old beauty. Every time I started to clear a section of overgrowth, I found old plantings of tulips, daffodills, Iris and the like. During this time, I kept getting an image of a woman with striking blue eyes. It didn’t frighten me, and as an intuitive person and healer both by nature and trade, I noticed it and let it go since I didn’t feel threatened by it.

    One day I was visiting with a neighbor and asked him about the old inhabitants of the house. He went on to tell me about Julian and Katherine Works who lived here for about forty years. They never had children and they were the first black people to ever live in my Town. Their story is facinating and I’ll leave it for another time, but when we got talking about Katherine, my neighbor said, “She loved to garden and she had the bluest eyes. I think she was albino.”

    I got a lovely shiver about that time and realized that Katherine had been with me, helping me to uncover the treasures she’d planted so long ago. I’ve since spent some time in prayer out in the yard and asked that she move on. I think she needed me to tell her that Julian wasn’t here. I haven’t felt her since, although there is a fabulous energy to the property. There is definitely a Lay(not sure I’m spelling that right) line running through the center of it which I think draws kinetic energy. Again, a great story for another day.

    Can you tell us briefly how you do a cleansing?

    1. PJ, love your story and hope someday to hear the rest. Maybe Katherine was just waiting to make sure the new owners would love and care for her home as much as she did.

    1. Hi Susannah,

      First thanks to you and the Scribes for having Jim as your guest. It’s definitely a fun and spooky week here.

      I’m very supportive of him. I’ve always believe in spirits, and have experienced a few in my time (always good), but I know that it is a hard subject for others. Most of the people just want confirmation that what they are feeling/experiencing is from natural events – wiring, drafts, animals – but most importantly that they and their family are safe. This is what ECA and Jim do, they go in and investigate and do what they can to give the family peace of mind. They never charge the occupants for their time/efforts, also if something funky happens (like a toy dog barking out of the blue) they test and test and test to see what caused the occurrence. They don’t just say “Oh, that’s possessed.” I know that each and every time he goes on an investigation, Jim is hoping to see the “full-body” apparition, but at the end of the night if the people are comfortable in their home again, that’s what is most important to him.

      Oh, and he does have a strict “no bringing home new playmates” rule from the wife. So, far he’s been good about following. Maybe ghosts are afraid of honey badgers (which both of us have been called).

      1. Honey Badger don’t care! Honey Badger just takes what he wants. :)
        Two HBs in one household? That’s gotta be interesting!

      2. J – considered brave and fearless and in true badger form can be kind of mean when needed (say when unwanted guests want to come home with you).

  5. Thanks for a fascinating interview, Jim and Susannah. I went over to the ECA site and am glad I read it in the daylight. :)

    I’d heard a lot of scary warnings about Ouija boards before but hadn’t considered dowsing rods as potential rides for hitch-hiking energies.

    So, that makes me wonder what else might be out there that’s conductive but we might be using casually. Like, what about tools we writers sometimes use for building characters and story prompts – horoscopes and tarot cards?

    1. I just figured out I can reply this way vice posting a comment. Sorry, I’m new at this whole blog thing.

      Anyway, to answer your question. Dowsing, pendulums, tarot cards, scrying, and the various other forms of divination (seance, table turning, etc) all open a path to the spirit world in some form or another. We have no control over what might decide to contact us or come through. I wouldn’t worry about the horoscopes so much, as long as the character doesn’t start becoming to real to you. Like all tools, it is the intent with which you use them that really matters.

  6. Who we gunna call ….. Sorry, I just had to say it. I once lived in a haunted house and could have used your help, but that was ages ago. It got so that I could actually feel the change of energy in the room. Weird, but in such a very cool way. Is this your day job or just something you do as a hobby? Hey, Gail, at least you know you won’t ever have a haunting going on in your house. Fun article.

    1. Gerri. I was waiting for someone to cue the GHOSTBUSTERS theme. To answer your question: this is more than a hobby but less than a job. I’m a career naval officer. I do this because of my interest in the parnormal, but more especially it is a way I can help people in need.

  7. Sorry everyone for taking so long to get back with you. I’m between classes so I have a few minutes. Thank you all so much for the compliments and taking the time to visit the Secretes of 7 Scribes. So, here’s the answers to your questions (all very good).

    First J and Casey’s question on can you bring something home. Simple answer is yes. A spirit (good or bad) can follow you home for any number of reasons (it likes you, it is mad at you for trying to get rid of it, etc). We start and end each investigation with a prayer to protect us and the client from any harm.

    Now for PJ’s. I loved the story of your garden. From what you recounted, it sounds to me Kathrine might have imprinted herself over her garden by all the work she put into it. This might have been a residual haunting or an actual part of her stayed to take care of the garden. By your actions you let her crossover. As far as cleansing go, we cleans the house through Prayer. The ceremony we use starts with a prayer to the Archangel Michael. During the ceremony we ask God to send the Archangel Michael and his angels to escort the spirit from the house. At the end of it the client will then ask God to dwell within their house and hearts. That is the short answer, the long answer would take up a whole lot of space.

  8. Ooooooou! Love those spirits. Probably b/c I never encountered any. But, we think Lockwood Mathews Mansion is haunted. It was great reading about what you do Jim, but what does it take $$$$ for you to check out if there are spirits in the Mansion?

    1. Gail, ECA does not charge to investigate. I’m sure if you contacted them, they’d be happy to come out and check the place over for you.

    2. Gail. We do not ever charge for our investigations. What makes you think the Mansion is haunted? Have you had a personal experience?

  9. I like you, Jim. First, I like that you don’t charge. I have a pet peeve about people taking advantage of others at weak times in their lives. I’ll admit it, I’m a skeptic when it comes to fortune tellers and psychics. Although, I’m sure there have been people who have had a sixth sense through history. It’s the whole “for profit” element that turns me off.

    As for paranormal activity, I don’t doubt its existence. I believe there is a spiritual battle going on around us everyday. But I also don’t think it only happens in a spooky old house. Evil lurks everywhere. Especially when we open those “doors” as you mentioned above in your response to Rhonda, and let them in. It’s a battle for our souls, and it wins whenever we lie or treat each other cruelly or turn our backs on God and His perfect ways. It tricks us into thinking we don’t need Him. That we don’t need anyone. It gets into our relationships only to destroy them. And then delights in our pain.

    I found your quote about a non-human spirit being compelled to reveal itself interesting when you do your religious provacation. Not only that they are compelled to follow your orders, but they are in fact a pretty weak being if they have to obey the command. It gives hope that Good will win out in the end.

    I, for one, am glad to know I am on the winning side. So until the end, it is vada retro me, Satana: get behind me, Satan…And I like the fact that he is compelled to obey.

    1. Thank you Katy for the kind words. I’m also very skeptical when it comes to fortune tellers and psychics. Although, I do believe there are a few people out there that are highly in tune with their surroundings and can pick up things that some of us can not. The non-human spirit is compelled to answer because it lacks free-will. God gave us free-will which is why a human spirit does not have to answer.

  10. Hey there, Jim! (Fellow ghost hunter here. I work with a wonderful TAPS associated group here on the Gulf Coast.) Great interview, and some good detail. Especially for the paranormal writers.

    Quick techie question. Have you had much success with the laser grids? We’ve tried a couple of portable ones for small areas, and a heavy duty unit that covers an entire room. It seems to help pick up movement for us, and I wondered if one had helped others with images on the IR cameras.

    Keep up the good work! We need more sincere investigators like yourself in the field.

      1. Absolutely, Susannah! I got into ghost hunting from wanting to add realism to a character I was developing. About three years ago Dolly, Shadowz Paranormal Investigation’s founder, allowed me to accompany them (after a background check!) on an investigation and I was hooked! Have been doing –and loving– it ever since! lol

    1. Runere. Good to hear from a fellow ghost hunter and the first one to ask a techie question. We (ECA) haven’t tried the laser grids yet. We have been relying on our old fashioned eyes (really old in my case) for the IR images. I have seen them advertised on several sites and watched the videos of there use. But, I haven’t gotten to play with one yet. I had thought about getting the small pen one to see how they would work. Have you had much luck with them?

      1. In a couple instances we had reports of shadow figures in a hallway (suspected a residual haunting), and the small laser grid really helped isolate the forms and pick up any movement. My eyes are of the *cough* classic variety, and need any advantage available. lol In one case the batteries were drained within 30 seconds of putting in new ones, again and again. But we had several good EVP’s from the area, so maybe that time our portable grid served double duty since additional energy is needed for manifestation!

  11. I want to thank Jim (and Gail!) for being with us today — So much compelling information was given and so many fascinating questions were answered. And I also want to thank Jim for his service to our country as an officer in the Navy, and Gail for making it possible for him to serve. You are doing great work on all counts.

  12. Thank you Susannah and all the Scribes for asking me to join you today. I had a great time and it was a wonderful experience. No need to thank me for my service to our country. It is an honor to support and defend our constitution and most of all the American people. I could not do it without the support of my lovely wife Gail; she deserves all the credit.

    Thanks again everyone. Have a safe and happy Halloween. Don’t forget to check out our website and Facebook page. I’ll leave you guys with one last question. Is your house haunted?

    God Bless
    Jim

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