“The theory is that ghosts are fields of energy, left when a person dies. Their soul perhaps. It is difficult for them to communicate but not impossible,” says Josh Bryant, co-founder of the Utah Paranormal Research and Study group.
Bryant, along with his partner, Brian Barney, first encountered the paranormal as kids. “It seems like every house in our West Valley neighborhood was haunted.” As children they say they felt helpless to deal with their fears and they didn’t want anyone else to feel the same way. So, for the past 15 years, they’ve run their paranormal research company.
The first step of a paranormal investigation is an interview with the family claiming a haunting. During the interview, the team listens and can quickly tell if the problem bears investigating. “Ninety percent of the time there is a logical reason for what is happening,” Josh says. Josh and his group provide their services at no charge. “Any family should be able to sleep in their own house,” he asserts.
If the investigators determine there is a problem, they then walk through the area of the reported occurence. If they continue, the whole team comes to investigate and try to establish communication. At this stage, they utilize equipment to detect energy readings through sound or images. The energy they detect from digital recorders is called electronic voice phenomena or EVP. The video cameras record shadowy figures or apparitions invisible to the naked eye. Along with the recording equipment and cameras, the team uses electromagnetic field or K2 meters.The meters are the type used by electricians to detect ungrounded wires and outlets. The devices also detect magnetic fields, and light up when they detect energy close by.
The next step is coming up with a plan to deal with what they find. There are three types of ghosts they’ve encountered. The first type doesn’t pay much attention to the living humans in the house. The second type is more benevolent and may even be part of the family. The third type is a negative spirit with bad intentions.
For some ghosts it is just a matter of telling them it is okay to move on to the next step. They may have passed away under sad conditions or didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. By acknowledging them, Josh says, it puts them to rest and allows them to move on.
The negatives forces are trickier. The team will confront them and demand they leave, but they’ve had to rely on other methods for hard-to-vanquish forces. Josh says they use prayer and have called in bishops or those trained in exorcism to help.
They say they’ve run across only two cases of poltergeists, evil forces, or demonic presences in their investigations. In one case, when Josh told the spirit to leave, he got an audible reply: “Only if you come with me.” He says the spirit smacked him on the back and ran through him with the force of a diesel truck. Josh ran outside as quickly as possible when he began to feel extremely sick.
The team also conducts commercial investigations.They encountered another evil presence in the Salt Lake City-County Building. One night Josh was upstairs alone. As he walked down the hall, all the doors were open, but he felt and heard someone behind him closing doors. He started to run and felt an itch on his back that turned into a burning sensation. As he made it outside, a friend pulled up his shirt to look at his back and found three unbroken scratches from his right shoulder, across his back, and down to his left hip.
Were the scratches caused by ghosts? The undead? The final answer may only be revealed when we ourselves pass through the misty veil of death.
Story by Connie Lewis