WILKES-BARRE — After just one night at 46 S. Welles St., John Zaffis is convinced.
“There is definitely paranormal activity that transpires in this house,” he said.
Zaffis, a well-known paranormal investigator from Connecticut (who studied under his aunt and uncle, famed demonologists Lorraine and Ed Warren), joined Tim Wood and Dave Spinks of LiveSciFi.TV in their investigation, broadcast live on YouTube, of the creaky Wilkes-Barre home this past weekend.
He said the house has “that heavy feeling” he has come to associate with haunted environments.
“They are definitely dealing with something with a very strong intelligence,” Zaffis said.
Wood and Spinks conducted the investigation as a follow-up to one held in October in which the two spent the month living in the house, attempting to provoke resident spirits and streaming their ghost hunts online.
During their searches, the crew utilizes a variety of equipment, ranging from night vision cameras and a modified AM/FM radio (called the ghost box) to a spray bottle filled with holy water and a vile of frankincense for when things get too spooky.
“That happens a lot in this house,” Spinks said with a laugh.
A retired law-enforcement officer from West Virginia, Spinks has been investigating the paranormal since 1986. He said the experiences he has had in the house on South Welles Street easily top anything else he has seen.
He pointed to the REM-POD, a device that generates a small electromagnetic field (EMF) and measures its changes. If the field is disturbed by someone — or something— seen or unseen, the POD squeals and lights at its base begin to flash.
“This thing goes off so much in this house the battery died in it,” Spinks said.
Late in the afternoon, while setting up equipment on the first floor, the men said they heard a noise like something being dragged upstairs.
“All three of us heard it at the same time, and I know we were the only three in the house,” Zaffis said.
At the start of the investigation, the crew, led by Wood, walked through the residence, EMF detectors in hand, to establish a baseline reading of electromagnetic activity. They noted locations of electrical equipment to possibly explain heightened readings.
Throughout the house, EMF levels were consistently flat, with two exceptions. A spike was detected in a small room on the second level in which the crew said a previous occupant is believed to have committed suicide with a shotgun.
Another seemed to hover over the staircase, where a different occupant reportedly committed suicide by hanging.
The team then descended to the basement, an area, they said, of previously high activity, to attempt communication with the spirits.
Zaffis prefaced the questions with a command.
“Knock once for yes, twice for no.”
Their inquiries went unanswered.
Wood decided to employ the controversial ghost box, a radio that rapidly scans frequencies. He said the theory behind the box says spirits can manipulate the device in such a way as to establish communication with investigators.
Skeptics of the box hold pareidolia, a psychological phenomenon in which the brain derives patterns from random information, as the cause of the supposed responses. Zaffis conceded the method’s inherent imperfections, but maintains findings can still be important.
The crew held the night’s first ghost box session in the two areas that had shown previous EMF activity. At one point, while in the small room, Wood said he was overcome by a foul smell.
“What is your name?” Zaffis asked.
“Get out,” the box replied.
The team continued their investigation into the early hours of the morning. Communication was attempted through varying means. During another session with the ghost box, Wood said Spinks reported something had choked him. In a separate instance, Wood said something made him suddenly sick.
The room started to spin, he said, and then “I went outside and yakked for a bit.”
Zaffis, described affectionately by Spinks as “one of the godfathers of paranormal,” appreciates the LiveSciFi crew’s approach to their research.
“I like what they’re doing and how they’re looking at it. They’re very sincere about it,” he said.
With more than 40 years of experience investigating the paranormal, Zaffis is well acquainted with the difficulties investigators such as Wood and Spinks encounter when trying to seriously investigate a haunting.
“You try to get as much documentation as you can to try and prove it out,” he said. “We’re all looking for the same thing.”
When he returns home to California, Wood said he’ll be taking a few days off to clear his head before setting himself upon the mountains of evidence the team has compiled. He said he hopes to have the team’s findings posted online within two weeks.
Footage from the weekend’s ghost hunt can be viewed at www.youtube.com/livescifi.