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Here's How Real Live Ghost-Hunters Work

Kim Nowacki   


The Yakima Valley is incredibly unscary.

Sure, there are rumored hauntings in places such as Fort Simcoe, St. Paul Cathedral, Ahtanum Mission and the Capitol Theatre, but documenting such spirit dwellings proves to be a hard task - even for believers.

Should you feel an eerie presence in your home or place of business, however, the question still remains, "Who ya going to call?"

Answer: The Amateur Ghost Hunters of Seattle and Tacoma.

Well, it's kind of a mouthful to say, but certainly don't call this growing organization a bunch of ghostbusters.

"We go into a haunted spot and document paranormal activity," says Ross Allison, president and founder of AGHOST, as the group is known.

In the two years the group has been going - there are about 70 members right now - they've investigated approximately 100 hauntings with about one out of every 10 showing some sign of paranormal activity.

"Really, it's about being in the right place at the right time," says the 30-year-old Allison, who works in electronics retail.

Allison's interest in paranormal research began in his midteens and he says he tends to stay on the skeptical and scientific side of the investigations.

To conduct a haunting investigation, members of AGHOST first do a walk-through of the site, interview the people who work or live there, do some cold readings, take control photographs and determine if there is in fact something to investigate.

If there is, a group who did not participate in the preliminary investigation goes in and spends four or five hours at the site.

"Everybody goes in cold, so there's no prejudging," Allison says. "It helps to build credibility."

The investigation is conducted on three levels. There are observers, the psychics and the technical crew, and they use everything from digital cameras to Geiger counters to temperature probes.

What they're looking for is a change in environment. The ghost hunters, who have traveled all over the country searching out spirits, use a machine they developed called the SPECTRE - Special Paranormal Energy Computer Tracking Research Equipment. It gives out readings of electromagnetic fields, motion, ions, temperature and barometer.

The SPECTRE, coupled with a tape recorder and video camera, helps AGHOST determine if something is out there. Hollywood, Allison says, has done a good job of playing up ghosts, but his group hasn't had knives thrown at them or heard disembodied voices.

"Actually, some people may find it to be pretty boring," he says.

But who would actually pay money for all this ghost-hunting mumbo jumbo?

No one.

Allison and his hunting buddies don't charge a dime for their services. He says that would ruin their credibility and "most of us are in it to find the truth."

That credibility and search for the truth in the unexplainable has even landed AGHOST on television. Halloween is a busy time for the group, which appeared last night on The Learning Channel's "America's Haunted Places."

"Everybody wants a ghost story and what better than to get the real ones," says Allison.

For more information about AGHOST, or to set up an investigation, e-mail looking4A GHOST

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