Even Stranger Things

Have you ever been lying in bed, fighting insomnia and your mind begins to wander? All of a sudden, rational thoughts take to a darker, more ominous brainwave. Scenes from that scary movie you knew you should not have watched flash through your mind. You start to hear strange, unidentifiable noises. Was that a tap at the window? Did you just see a flicker of light or movement from the kitchen? Did someone just whisper in the darkness? Why is the dog barking at something unseen? Especially around Halloween, seemingly normal situations have the tendency to get spooky.

So, what makes this phenomenon happen? Is there a scientific reason people believe they see ghosts? Is there a psychological reason your eyes deceive you? Or are you just dreaming … trying to process some of your greatest internalized fears? The answers to these age-old questions most certainly depend on who you ask.

One theory regarding the paranormal comes back to sleep disorders like sleep paralysis – a condition where people experience the temporary inability to move or speak when waking or falling asleep. This sensation can last for seconds or up to a few minutes. Generally, during an episode, the person can hallucinate or hear things that are not actually happening … which is incredibly frightening. In short, this happens when a person’s mind wakes up before the body. During regular sleep, your muscles relax, and you cannot control them. If your mind wakes up but your muscles are still in a resting state, you might experience a sense of paralysis. 

According to Psychology Today, about eight percent of the population will experience sleep paralysis. Reports on everything from sightings of loved ones who have passed away to perceived alien abductions are not uncommon for those who suffer from sleep paralysis. 

Professional ghost hunters do exist here in North Texas. Some of these individuals have experienced encounters that led them to explore the unknown and try to get answers. Dr. Chuck Murphy Ph.D. started Crossings Paranormal Research more than 15 years ago, and the team of more than 12 psychics, shamans, mediums and healers have been conducting paranormal investigations ever since. The team has investigated everything from a private single-family dwelling to various business ventures and even a former mental hospital, all while utilizing the latest scientific equipment. “I learned that a major part of the fear most of us share when it comes to the unseen is really based in our lack of knowledge of its actual existence and its commonality with our accepted principles of modern physics,” Dr. Murphy shares. “Many of the activities that are routinely explained to be ‘poltergeist’ activity are most times simply a family member or friend who is tired of their presence being ignored. Once we, as investigators, make their presence and messages known, most, if not all, of the activity will cease.”

Historically, there have always been groups that are fascinated by the concept of seeking answers about the paranormal. However, there has never been a scientific study that undoubtedly proves the existence of ghosts, and paranormal investigating is sometimes classified as a pseudoscience by scientists. While paranormal research dates as far back as the 18th century, we do not have definitive answers.

As technology and the viral abilities of social media have progressed, the sharing of stories, theories and research methods has grown tremendously. No doubt, you have watched television shows like “Celebrity Ghost Stories,” “Ghost Hunters” or “Paranormal Caught on Camera.” Whether footage shown on these programs is authentic or not is up to the viewer to decide, but there is the common thread of undeniable belief and curiosity among show participants. These types of programs have prompted people to take up ghost hunting for themselves.

Throughout North Texas, groups that regularly investigate hauntings or spooky sites in our area include (but are definitely not limited to) Crossings Paranormal Research in Plano, the Dallas Area Paranormal Society, the North Texas Ghost Trackers in Dallas and North Texas Paranormal in Plano. If you want someone else to lead you in the hunt, you can check out local attractions like Gateway Ghost Tours out of Lewisville or the Night Watchman Ghost Tour in Grapevine. The Goat Man’s Bridge Ghost Tour or the Stockyards Ghost Tours are also within a short driving distance.

Research and history prove that many paranormal interactions take place near battlefields, hospitals, cemeteries and houses. Before you head out on any kind of search, know the history of the area you are looking for ghosts in … and have permission to be there! Never go alone and check out the site during the day so you are familiar with a location you may be exploring in the dark. “While I am not insinuating this is a dangerous undertaking, it must be taken seriously. It requires a level of respect that some well-intentioned but new investigators are lacking,” Dr. Murphy shares. “The best way to get started is to find a reputable investigation group and see if they will take on a ‘trainee,’ allowing you to watch and learn. Plus, you will be with those who know what they are doing, just in case things go south!” Seasoned researchers advise that you always have an open mind but be willing to follow up and debunk something if there is doubt.

Seeking the unseen will require more than just a dinky flashlight and cell phone app. Ghost hunting gear gets pricey. An enthusiast could spend anywhere from less than $100 to thousands of dollars on equipment used to detect a presence. The price tag might just depend on how badly someone wants to uncover the answers they seek.

For example, an electromagnetic field (EMF) reader is advised for use since it detects the presence of electromagnetic frequency through the use of antennae, as theory suggests that ghosts have the ability to manipulate these fields. Dr. Murphy explains EMF, calling it “the field of energy all living things (including spirits) produce. It is important to note that in the case of spirits, they are pure energy (think of cell calls), easily measured as EMF. Once all other sources of EMF generation are eliminated, one can be relativity sure the EMF source is paranormal.” Recording devices and adequate lighting are basic necessities. An EDI meter is considered an “all in one” tool for creating precise graphs or spreadsheet data. A full-spectrum camera, unlike regular video cameras, capture an entire spectrum (which includes near ultraviolet and infrared lights). Some researchers believe spirits become visible in infrared and ultraviolet light. Thermal cameras allow you to see temperature changes in the environment on a digital screen. The use of a laser grid with a motion sensor alarm can tell users the speed, dimensions and allow data for a 3D model of any anomalies. “Almost every paranormal experience I have encountered can be explained by accepted scientific laws. This also means documenting these events is becoming much easier and believable as we discover new and more accurate instruments,” Dr. Murphy shares.

“Over the years, our team has investigated numerous homes/locations in Frisco. We have also found that in Frisco, Little Elm and neighboring cities, especially going north and east, there is a very large Native American spirit population. These people can be very protective to those of us in physical bodies, but at the same time, they can be extremely disruptive when they are upset or angry. Disrespecting the earth or nature are the quickest and surest ways to incur their wrath,” Dr. Murphy shares.

You may already know about locations in and around Frisco people claim are haunted. Locations like the Goat Man Bridge in Denton, Staley Funeral Home and the Crozier-Sickles house form the foundation of many local scary stories.

Legend has it that if you drive across Old Alton Bridge (a.k.a. Goat Man Bridge) in Denton, a man hung there back in 1938 (who now, allegedly, appears as half man and half goat) will be waiting for you on the other side. This site is popular and several national ghost hunting television shows have conducted experiments at this frightening destination. 

Frisco’s own rich heritage does not escape the paranormal realm. The Crozier-Sickles House, now located at the Frisco Heritage Center, is home to legends of its own. Past owners reported glimpses of apparitions and unexplained noises throughout the hallways. One child even regularly saw the image of a cat (that was not actually there) in the mirror. Regardless of how many times the home was renovated, the seventh baluster from the bottom of the stairs was installed upside down, as it was believed this would keep any ghosts from going upstairs. 

Frisco’s historical Staley Funeral Home, which has been referred to as “the haunted house on Maple Street,” was demolished several years ago. The funeral home was in a house that was expanded to encompass the family’s business, but after Mr. Staley’s death, sightings of a man in a straw hat holding a shovel were reported around the funeral home. Many thought it was the ghost of Joseph Barrie, a past gravedigger for the Staley Funeral Home.

How will you react next time you see something unexplainable? Will you scream and run or stick around to see what happens? Happy Halloween!