October 21, 2009

Paranormal Society Explores Pasadena's Unknown
By Haley Gable

As many people know, the grounds of Pasadena possess a vibrant past, dating back in time to 1733 when William Hancock, Sr. first became associated with the Bodkin Creek property that is today known as Hancock's Resolution. With the rich amount of history that exists in the area, much of the community believes that there is more of a story behind the reportedly strange sounds and sites that have plagued certain homes and neighborhoods throughout the past.

One such group that is dedicated to this type of investigating is The Pasadena Paranormal Society. Founded in the summer of 2007 by Pasadena residents David Schmincke and Brian Scott Duncan, the idea for the organization came after the pair had discussed several personal experiences they had each had with the paranormal. Additionally, the untimely death of Schmincke's brother-in-law, who passed away at the age of 30, propelled the group's start-up as it left Schmincke with many unanswered questions about the afterlife.

The society, which currently has 13 active members, is based in Pasadena but travels all around for investigations, sometimes even traveling to sites in Williamsburg, Pennsylvania and Broad Channel, New York. David Schmincke, the group's lead investigator, stated that each investigation the group has conducted thus far has netted appropriate evidence for paranormal activity. "Much depends on the physical make up of the site, as areas dense with limestone deposits or accumulations of water seem to retain more impressions of the past. We have garnered such volumes of audio evidence that we are working on a theory that spirit voices may not be site-specific, but are everywhere," he said.

Such "audio evidence" that the group collects during their site examinations is done with a basic digital voice recorder, a device which Schmincke says will pick up disembodied voices that are not heard at the time of recording. As most of their evidence comes in the form of audio evidence, there are many times during investigations when the group feels that nothing is going on. However, their audio evidence proves otherwise. "Our most prolifically viewed evidence on our website is a clip of an Electronic Voice Phenomena captured at the Cedar Hill Cemetery on Ritchie Highway of a little girl singing," stated Schmincke. "Ironically, we were recording in the children's burial section."

Aside from using audio recorders to track down any ghostly activity, the Pasadena Paranormal Society uses a variety of tools for their research, including infrared thermometers, an eight-camera digital video system that can record in complete darkness, and electromagnetic field detectors. "These high levels can cause a range of symptoms from paranoia to dizziness to nausea and skin irritations. We have ruled out a number of claims due to high EMF levels," Schmincke said.

Prior to any investigation, there is plenty of research that must be done by Schmincke and his team. "We take every aspect of the investigation into consideration before we give the client our findings on their site - the history of the site, the psychological state of the residents, and a thorough debunking of all reported claims," he said. "We then meticulously analyze the video and audio evidence we have obtained, along with any personal experiences of our investigators and then review and present our findings." An average investigation for the group involves approximately 20 hours of prep work and interviews, 5 to 10 hours of onsite investigation and several weeks of analysis.

Pasadena certainly has its share of ghost stories, such as George Fox Middle School's apparition of a former principal that allegedly roams the halls. The society is currently conducting an ongoing investigation on a Bodkin Avenue home in the Lake Shore area, which the group says has exhibited a tremendous amount of audio evidence where a child is calling for its mother. "A history of the site's prior owners revealed a female relative of the owner had passed away at the age of three," Schmincke stated. "The residents have a video of what appears to be something invisible running across their bed with a solid mass. We have had two investigators touched in the attic of this property at the same time as if something was moving past them."

When the group is not investigating, they are conducting experiments, testing out new techniques and questioning the validity of existing theories to help improve the paranormal field as a whole. "Our clients are looking for an explanation of what is happening in their homes and businesses. It is our responsibility to find the truth, whatever that entails, and help them to understand and cope with what they are experiencing," Schmincke concluded.

Published 10/21/09, Copyright 2009 The Pasadena Voice

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