Hey, Scribelings, Suze here. Guess what? We’ve got a special treat for you today! Paranormal investigator Jim Chianese is back, (click here to read his last interview with us). But wait, there’s more! Next Thursday, I’ll be asking some similar questions to ghost photographer and author Julie Griffin, so be sure to visit us again. Here’s what Jim has to say:
Hello Scribes!!! Thank you again for having me. I love the questions you guys have, it forces me to think. Well, it has been a very busy year, Jeff and I have formed our own Ghost Hunting group, Connecticut Ghost Investigations (click here for more information) and have spent most of the time trying to get it up and running. We still work with East Coast Angels on occasion. If it is okay, I’m going to answer your questions with the story of a case we are currently working on and will probably be for a while longer.
A mutual friend found out about Jeff and I investigating paranormal events and told us about the house he grew up in: a 200 year old colonial built by one of the founding families of our little town. He lived there for about 20 years. While he was growing up, items would be found in different locations than where his family had left them, and his sister saw a woman in the field by their house, but when she looked again the woman disappeared. There were several instances where he felt someone touch him when there was no one in the room with him. After hearing this, Jeff and I were eager to investigate. Unfortunately, his family has since sold the house and property. The house was torn down several years ago. Our friend did tell us where the property was located and that it was currently a vacant lot. We decided to test a theory. Would the spirits still be on the property or were they tied to the house and now that the house is gone, would they be gone also? All three of us agreed on a date and time during the day to do the investigation. We picked the daytime vice night for safety reasons. We did not want to be walking around unfamiliar terrain.
Would you say it’s more, or less, difficult to investigate a building as opposed to an open site such as a cemetery? How do these investigations differ? Which do you prefer?
We arrived at the location of his old house and property with the CGI team. The property itself had been kept up even without the house on it. As he gave us a tour, Jeff and I took Electromagnetic Field (EMF) readings. This was to give us a base line reading and also to see if there was anything close by that could produce an electromagnetic field. There was a transformer across the road but its field diminished entirely after about a foot. All the readings showed what you would normally find outside. This is a similar technique we use when in a house. In a house we take readings from all four corners and the center of each room to gain a base line of the entire house. We sometimes find, specifically in older houses, that the wiring in the house will give off an exceptionally large EMF field. This field has been known to make people sick who are sensitive to it. However, that is not the case here. We decided to sit in what was once the living room and conduct an Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) Session. This is where we sit quietly and ask questions. The theory is that the spirit will be able to imprint a voice response on the electronic media. Ideally, we would receive an answer on our digital recorder(s). We sat here for about 15-20 minutes. Unfortunately, the wind started to blow. When we reviewed our recorders later we could not hear anything over the noise of the wind. One of the difficulties investigating an outdoor location vice a building. At this point, our friend told us about the family cemetery located on the property. This cemetery dates back to the late 1700s when the house and property were originally settled. Not being able to resist, we headed to the cemetery. As we were walking to the cemetery, Jeff felt a tingling sensation in his legs (as if asleep) after walking for some distance. It was definitely noteworthy, simple because he only felt it in a specific area and not right when we stood up like you normally would have.
What equipment or tools do you consider essential for an investigation? Have there been any recent advances in technology that are yielding good results?
I’ve mentioned the EMF reader and digital voice recorders already. There are many different kinds of EMF detectors, some light up, some have a digital display, some are analog, some digital. They all operate under the same principle and provide similar results. There are several models that have more than one function, usually combined with a flashlight or thermometer. This helps to cut down the amount of equipment you have to carry. After all, you only have two hands. The digital voice recorders are the same ones you see at any electronic store. We take the saved file and import it to our computer. We then use an audio software program to listen to and clean up the file to see if we have an EVP or not. We also use digital cameras. I have one that has an infrared (IR) light built in to take pictures in the dark. There are several modified cameras that can take a picture using the full spectrum of light. The theory is that a spirit may not be able to be seen in regular light, but you might be able to pick it up in IR or full spectrum. These are all great tools and gadgets to have on an investigation, but the best tool you can have is your own body and a notebook.
When we arrived at the family cemetery, we were all taken in by the tombstones. We were reading the names and dates and trying to figure out who was who. Just like most people do when you go to a really old cemetery. The cemetery is about the size of a 3 car garage. I was drawn to a particular corner of the cemetery. When I got there, I immediately felt slightly nauseous. Sort of like the day after a good night out on the town. I left the area and found Jeff. I waited a few moments until I wasn’t feeling nauseous anymore then told him to go to the same corner I was in. He took the EMF detector over with him and it didn’t register anything at all. I asked him how he felt and he responded fine. He then asked if I was sick. I answered yes and at this point in time our friend comes over and says you too. He then states he started to get a headache when we entered the cemetery and he never gets headaches, but when he got to the corner of the cemetery we were in he started to feel nauseous also. Another one of our investigators came over and stated she felt a slight pressure around her arms and an overwhelming sense of sadness, at this time she began to cry. I told her to step out of the cemetery to see if the feeling passed. She walked out and in a few short minutes she felt better. Jeff and I began an EVP session in this corner. Upon reviewing the files we did get a direct answer to one of our questions. When asked the question “was this your property at one time” we received the answer “Yes” on two different digital recorders.
Can the weather or astronomical events (such as phases of the moon, planetary alignments, periods of increased solar flares) affect your investigations? Do you find more activity at certain times than others?
As you can see the weather can affect an investigation (i.e. the wind during an outdoor investigation). Even during an investigation inside the wind can play a factor. If it is a windy day and a window is slightly open or the insulation is bad; you could feel a slight chill or something could be moved by a slight breeze. That slight breeze could be misinterpreted to be spirit activity. As for astronomical events, there are several theories that say the phases of the moon affect certain human behaviors. Could these phases affect the spirit world or do they affect us in such a way that we perceive something as paranormal that really isn’t? We use equipment that measures the electromagnetic field in the local area, if there is electromagnetic wave coming from space and bombarding the earth on the particular night of the investigation it can do one of two things. First, it can give us a false positive reading. Secondly, it could give the spirit an extra dose of energy so it can communicate with us. It is hard for me to say that there is or isn’t more activity during these times. At a recent investigation on a crystal clear night, we had a lot of activity, but we also had a lot of activity during a rainy night. Unfortunately, there really isn’t any cold hard scientific facts that can prove or disprove paranormal activity. There are however, theories that are being tested everytime a ghost hunting group investigates. Some day there may be enough empirical evidence to prove these theories.
Have you investigated outside of New England? Do you think this area has more paranormal activity than other places in the country? If so, any reasons for that?
Most of my investigations have been in the Connecticut/Rhode Island area with one in Maine. I do not think New England has more activity than anywhere else. There are paranormal groups investigating all over the world. I think there is more of a focus on the New England area here in the United States because it comprises the original states. In other words, lots of old buildings are still around. That is not to say that spirits are only in old buildings. They just have more of an allure for us than new buildings. Think about that old house in the neighborhood that everyone thinks is haunted.
Do you do any research into places before you investigate them? Or do you like to go in with an open mind, and do the research afterward?
We will interview the owners and have them tour us around the building or house and explain their paranormal experiences. This allows us to get a feel of the people involved and the place itself. We will ask question about the history of the place (i.e. when was it built, history of owners, did anyone die there, etc.) We approach all investigations with an open mind. You need to because not every place is haunted that people think is haunted. Sometimes there is a very mundane reason for what is happening there. Once we investigate a location and go through the evidence collected we sometimes have more questions than when we started. That is where the research aspect comes in. For instance, an EVP that said “where is Joe?”. Was there someone named Joe that lived there?
In the last year, have your views on the paranormal changed at all? If so, how?
My views haven’t changed at all in the past year. I do believe there is a spirit world that does on occasion interact with us. I do sincerely want to help people understand what they are experiencing whether it is paranormal or not. I do not believe every place is haunted that someone says is haunted. And most of all, when you have ruled out all of the impossible, then what ever remains, however improbable must be the truth. Yeah, big Sherlock Holmes fan.
Other than being generally heroic by serving our country as a naval officer, and making a mean bottle of wine (I’ve been the lucky recipient of a couple of bottles!), what are your other hobbies and interests?
Well, I don’t know about being heroic, but I do make a great bottle of wine. I have several hobbies which I love to participate in. My favorite is SCUBA Diving. I have been a certified SCUBA Diver for about 20 years now and I’m currently working toward my PADI Divemaster certification. I am also currently studying Seizan Ryu Kempo Jujitsu with both of my sons. It helps keep me in shape and it is a great bonding activity with my boys. Except when they put me in an arm bar, then it’s not so fun. I have been known to enjoy the occasional geocache. I learned about geocaching during my last deployment. It is a great activity to get you out on those really nice days. I look at it as hiking with a purpose. I also belong to a couple of Masonic organizations which keep me pretty busy at various times of the year doing fund raising events for all of our charities. I guess it is my own way of paying back to the community.
That’s about it for me. I hope everyone enjoys my ramblings. Please feel free to check out Connecticut Ghost Investigations on our web page www.connecticutghostinvestigations.com or stop by and LIKE our Facebook page. Just click here, or search for Connecticut Ghost Investigations or use the link on our web page.
Thanks, Jim! OK, readers, have any questions about the paranormal or investigations?