I stopped doing private home investigations a few years back. I’ve had a few too many bad experiences, and here are the reasons why I pass on residential ghost hunts. Get the scoop after the jump.
First off, most people are very nice and welcoming to paranormal investigations. It just takes a few bad actors to make you change your mind about home investigations.
The Living Are More Dangerous Than The Dead
I don’t fear the dead. Ghosts are pretty weak entities when you think about it. They can barely create an audible sound. Ghosts can’t muster more physical activity than knocking a book off a shelf. Occasionally, you can see one in a hallway, then walk right through them.
No, it’s not the dead you have to worry about. It’s those pesky living humans.
3 Reasons Why People Dupe Ghost Hunters
- They have a mental illness (or drug problem), and believe ghosts, spirits and evil entities haunt them and their home
- They’re criminals looking to rob you or worse
- They’re paranormal enthusiasts looking to be entertained, or they’re lonely and looking for someone to talk to
I’m not a trained social worker or psychiatrist, but I can tell when something’s not right with an individual. Superficially, a lot of haunting signs could sound like someone may have a mental illness. You see and hear things talking to you or moving around the house. So, you need to ask for the haunting details. If they change often, the person’s speaking style swerves all over, and they can’t string a coherent story together … then the prospective client may not be stable or they’re on drugs.
I’ve had friends get held up by the owners of a home. As soon as the team walked in, they got locked in and money demanded for ghost hunting. In another case, the team got locked in, held at gunpoint, and their gear and car taken. I don’t need to tell you more about this. You should be as wary of a location as a young lady is with a guy she met through a dating app. Your physical safety is more important than getting a Class A EVP.
This one really gets my goat. I’ve been on investigations where the client (and their friends) pull up chairs and watch us investigate. They ask non-stop questions about the shows, insist they’re ghost bait, and compare you to Zak Bagans or whomever is their paranormal idol. Once I see this happening, I pack up my gear and GTFO.
What You See On Paranormal TV Shows
Ghost hunting shows have a legal team and producers that do extensive background checks. They can tell if a prospective location has unstable people living in it. Most of us amateur investigators don’t have that option.
Sure, we can probably tell the most blatant signs someone has mental illness, a drug habit, or violent tendencies. But the bulk of these red flags are more noticeable when you get to the location, and that could be too late. Most of us also can’t pay for background checks on prospective clients.
Three Experiences That Convinced Me To Quit Residential Ghost Hunts
Chicago Ghost Hunt (mentally ill)
Back in 2009, my ghost hunting partner, Saleen, and I were invited to a nice elderly lady’s 3-story home to check for ghosts. She had always thought something lurked in the shadows, but couldn’t prove what it was. She left for bingo night at church and let us have the run of the house for a few hours. As I checked the second floor, Saleen was on the first. I heard a scream and door slam shut. It turns out, the lady’s adult son hid in a coat closet on the first floor. He grabbed Saleen and fondled her. Let’s just say the police arrived quickly, Saleen got away after she punched and scratched the guy, and the lady told us about her son’s mental health struggles.
Bremerton Walkthrough & Investigation (violence)
In 2018, I went on a ghost hunt with another team to Bremerton, a suburb of Seattle. It was odd that the client wanted the walkthrough and investigation in one night. She seemed pretty nervous about the whole ghost hunting thing, and she insisted on telling the case worker about her life. As we packed up, her neighbor showed up with his AR-15. He didn’t like the strangers snooping around his neighbor’s house. Then, he fired off 30 rounds of his rifle right behind us. Needless to say, I skedaddled as fast as I could.
Auburn Investigation (entertainment)
In this case, I went to a small home in the hills around Auburn, Washington. Another ghost hunting team had vetted the client, so I was feeling pretty good about a cozy investigation. The client and his wife talked about seeing apparitions walking down a hallway and sitting in their kitchen. As I got my ghost hunting gadgets out, they started making popcorn. I thought it was odd since my partner and I were about to start an EVP session. The man said he was excited to see how real ghost hunters worked compared to the shows. He then told me where to go and what gadgets to use. I just packed up my stuff and walked out.
Parting Advice For Ghost Hunters
This is my experience over the years. I’d say less than 10% of my residential cases have gone this way, but I’m at the age where my tolerance for bullshittery is about nil. It’s just not worth it for your safety and well-being.
Here’s a list of things to consider before taking a residential investigation:
- Always do a home visit before an investigation (could be a walkthrough or afternoon coffee)
- Get references for the people requesting the ghost hunt
- Ask repeating questions to the client to see if they change their stories (that’s a red flag)
- Use phrases like “I left my batteries in the car” for a good reason to get out of a sketchy house
- Tell people where you’re going and when you’ll be back. If you don’t contact them at an agreed upon time, have them call the police and give the ghost hunt address
- Trust your instincts