It’s that time of the year when children begin planning their Halloween costumes in anticipation of shouting out that well known call of the wild, “Trick or treat!”
The Halloween festival season also brings to mind episodes of things that are unexplainable. Things like unusual noises coming from empty rooms, smells emitted from closed closet doors, voices, and apparitions. Some people are true believers in ghosts and spirits mingling with living, breathing people. Some people are not.
Either way, the team members of S.P.I.R.I.T.S of New England, a paranormal investigatory group, respect people’s opinions on the subject. But if you have something going on in your home, these folks will provide an investigation at no cost. That may speak volumes on their commitment to acknowledging the presence of spirits or debunking such claims.
On October 5, the Mattapoisett Public Library invited Jack Kenna and Ellen MacNeil co-founders of S.P.I.R.I.T.S of New England, along with team members Sharon Koogler, another co-founder, and investigator Sarah Campbell to give a presentation on the subject of paranormal activity. During the group’s visit to the library last year some “strange things” happened, Kenna said. This year, after the presentation, they would be searching once again for spirits in the heart of Mattapoisett.
Kenna’s presentation was peppered with anecdotes of paranormal events the team has discovered. He told a story about being in a car accident after leaving an investigation at the Taft Public Library in Mendon. He said it was an example of what he called an “attachment.” He said that he had neglected to remove spirits who might try to follow him by burning sage and dousing himself with the smoke. Next thing he knew, his car was involved in an accident near the site of a fatal accident some years prior. Kenna said he heard a spirit in his head saying, “Carlos … here … hit … pain … police.”
“I think Carlos attached himself to the car,” said Kenna. “He wanted to communicate with us.”
Kenna was also clear that, at times, his group is able to disabuse people of their belief that spirits are in a building. For example, he told a story of an investigation where photographed “spirit” images turned out to be a stack of cleaning supplies in a closet.
“It’s not always what you think it is,” Kenna said. “As investigators, we need to dig deeper – have to be careful what you’re claiming.”
And while Kenna has enjoyed filming for reality television programs, in one episode the production company made it appear as though a spirit had possessed Kenna. Kenna explained what really happened.
Kenna said that he had asked a spirit how to communicate with him. “I started to feel shaky and like I had a fever, something I had never experienced before.” He said that was the difference between reality and reality TV. According to Kenna, most of the time investigations are more like “watching grass grow.”
In a follow-up, MacNeil told The Wanderer, “We are skeptics. A lot of times we can explain away what people think is happening. We want to help, to give comfort of knowing.”
But Kenna did offer more than half a dozen cases where the team recorded audio of voices presumed to be those of spirits and videotaped evidence that seemed to confirm the presence of paranormal activity.
One of the more tender stories Kenna shared was an investigation aboard the USS Constitution.
While investigating witness testimony that voices spoke to some of the crew and shadows passed through rooms, Kenna was able to capture EVP – electronic voice phenomenon. On the audiotape, which he shared that night, are the voices Kenna says are of a sailor talking about the history of the ship. Then there is a pause, followed by another sound. Slowing down the audio to discern audible language, Kenna said it is the voice of a young boy who died while crewing on the ship in the 1800s. The child seems to be saying, ”and a bear,” adding to the historical narrative of the sailor. Kenna said this was clear evidence of paranormal activity since only someone living aboard the ship in that bygone era would know that a bear had been on the ship as a pet.
MacNeil shared that in 2010 while conducting an investigation, she experienced the presence of a spirit when it placed its hand on her shoulder. She explained that it was very rare for a spirit to actually touch a living person. She considers herself honored by the experience.
Liz Sherry, a librarian at the Mattapoisett Library, shared that there have been stories about unexplainable events taking place in the library for years.
“Items have been moved to the locked attic, books scattered on the floor, and, recently, someone screamed, but no one knew where it came from,” said Sherry. She added, however, that she has never been fearful of being in the library, even alone.
Another time when the S.P.I.R.I.T.S team investigated the library, it captured some EVP evidence – a disembodied voice that seemed to be saying, “Calvin.” It was confirmed that there had at one time been a janitor by that name, and another voice that responded, “a friend,” when asked, “Who is there?”
So what happened this year when the team investigated? Well, if you don’t want to be shocked, stopped reading now.
In a follow-up interview, Kenna reported that participants who joined the investigation were split up into two groups. Armed with ghost finding electronic equipment and the age-old dowsing rods, the group investigating the Children’s Department found the presence of a man from the 1800s who died in a factory accident. Kenna said that by asking a series of questions the spirit was able to respond via an electronic processor that utilizes lights to interact with the living. The factory worker responded that he couldn’t read, but enjoyed listening to stories being read to the children.
In a space near the conference room adjacent to the Children’s Department, Kenna said his team picked up a male spirit and a child. They asked the child if it was responsible for knocking books off the shelves – the response was yes.
Kenna said he believes there is a spirit portal in the subterranean space, a hole in the space-time continuum, where spirits are entering and existing at will. But be not afraid, Kenna said, for they are all friendly spirits.
By Marilou Newell