Educating and Comforting Clients
In investigating cases that are self-generated, such as reports of apparitions seen along the roadside, paranormal investigators have the luxury of being able to put the investigation first, as there are no clients to deal with. They may proceed with the ghost hunt without having to consider the impact the investigation may have on their clients, so they can experiment with new equipment and techniques. But this sort of investigation happens rarely; most often the team will be called in to investigate when there is paranormal activity that is affecting people's lives.
The first vampire case in the United States was that of Mercy Brown in Exeter, Rhode Island. This is her crypt at the Brown plot.
Photo copyright Melissa Martin Ellis, 1980.
Sadly, sometimes investigators who embark on challenging cases are so wrapped up in the thrill of the hunt that they forget the human aspects of the job. If an investigative team is called in to discover the reasons behind paranormal activity, it is usually because truly disturbing or threatening events have disrupted the lives of the clients. Although every client will be different, one constant seems to be that the situation will have reached a stage that is disturbing to the people in the environment. Paranormal investigator Nathan Schoonover asserts, “With me, it is never about the proof. It is about helping people.” Schoonover primarily consults on cases of malign hauntings.
Many paranormal investigators in New England have made the pilgrimage to visit the grave of Mercy Brown in Exeter, Rhode Island. Dubbed the first vampire in America, the body of Mercy was disinterred in 1892, three months after her death, by her family and neighbors after many other deaths in the community. It is said her body was unblemished and there was blood on her mouth.
Even if the clients seem to be maintaining their composure, they may be putting up a brave front for the investigators. A good approach to take is to reassure the person that she has made the right decision to call the team in. Act as professionally and calmly as possible during the execution of the interview and investigation. This is reassuring to the client, and that is particularly necessary if she seems to be at the physical or mental breaking point.
Unless you have someone with a psychology or counseling background on the team, clients who appear extremely agitated or on the verge of a mental breakdown should always be referred immediately to a health care professional.
Can animals come back as ghosts?
The ghosts of animals, particularly pets, are sometimes reported. Spirit cats are the most common. Feline ghosts are generally friendly, except for the so-called demon cat that haunts the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. According to researcher and author Dusty Rainbolt, the cat guards the ceremonial platform on which the coffins of dead presidents rest — ferociously, if necessary.
Reviewing the Evidence
After the team members complete their various inquiries and feel it is time to evaluate the evidence, they will wrap up the investigation for the night and remove their people and equipment. The photos, taped footage, and audiotapes must all be reviewed by team members and thoroughly sifted for any possible paranormal activity. This is a very time-consuming process.
The team members' activity logs and notes on personal experiences are also thoroughly reviewed, and the lead investigators may use all the information from the investigation to draw conclusions about possible natural explanations. If a local group has the option of returning to the site to gather more data, they may decide if it is warranted. If a conclusion can be drawn based on the evidence, the investigators set up a meeting with the client where the results of the investigation are revealed.
Revealing the Evidence
Next the ghost hunters meet with the client to show all the evidence that supports the haunting. If there is none, that is revealed, too.
If there is clear evidence of a haunting, the investigators state what sort of situation they feel the client is facing. They will then offer their professional recommendations for dealing with it.
This can range from advising the client to ignore the activity to calling in sensitives to clear the space of any negative energy. This phase often requires educating clients about the threat level and the various sorts of hauntings. Clients are often relieved that their claims have been validated and feel that they can live with the spirits, as long as they are benign. Sometimes clients are very disappointed if nothing has been found.
Lorraine Warren feels that too many paranormal investigative groups focus on trying to prove a location is haunted without taking into account the human element. She thinks that the closure aspect is too often ignored. “This is what is missing with so many groups,” she says. “That's what takes time, that's what takes effort, that's what takes knowledge.”