Not about me but isn’t this always the way? This is probably the only field where people will refute and poke fun until it happens to them.
Jeff Conner of Clovis was a skeptic when it came to ghosts and demons, until one summer night when he had a first-hand experience of his own.
“I was paramedic, working in Oceana, West Virginia. My partner, Lonnie, kept telling me about this ghost, and I kept denying it and told him he’s crazy,” Conner said.
According to Conner, the trailer he and his partner used to sleep in while working long shifts had been involved in a coal sludge tragedy that had killed several in the community.
Before the trailer was cleaned up and used again, a woman was found dead in the bathroom. She had tried to get away from the flood, unsuccessfully.
“One night, I said out loud, ‘If you’re here, show yourself,’” Conner said. “Lo and behold, around midnight I see a light in the bathroom on with the door shut. A couple minutes later, the light turns off and the toilet flushes. I look over, and Lonnie is still on couch.”
Conner had an alarm system on the trailer, and if anyone had broken in, they’d know it. The doors were also locked, he said.
“There was no one else but us in the trailer,” Conner said. “Then, it got really cold.”
“At about 3:30 in the morning my blanket was being pulled off of me — literally straight up,” Conner said. “I look up, and a woman in white is literally floating about three and a half feet above me, looking and laughing at me.”
Since then, Conner has formed his own investigation group called Grave Concerns Paranormal, part of the statewide New Mexico Paranormal Association.
“Here’s the deal,” Conner said. “A lot of people watch stuff on TV and they think everybody is like the ghost hunters or ghost adventurers. We’re nothing like that. If they saw what actually went on at our meetings they’d be bored out of their mind.”
The NMPA, Conner said, is mainly out to give a sense of professionalism and seriousness to the trade. They have strict rules set in place — no trespassing, for example — and are selective when adding new members.
“If we ever find out that an NMPA member has been rude to a homeowner or business owner, they’re suspended from group for a year,” Conner said. “We basically want every NMPA group in the state to have a standard by which they conduct themselves to make them look good.”
Trent Clerano, lead investigator with Unknown Abyss in Albuquerque, said Conner has made sure all the groups in NMPA are united and have each other’s backs.
“He’s made all the groups back each other up through paranormal unity and teaching the public about the paranormal, and that there’s nothing to really fear about it,” Clerano said.
Another rule is treating clients with respect. Typically, Conner said, his team starts investigations around 7 or 8 p.m. and tries to leave the home or business before midnight. Then, they split up the data they gathered and pass it around among each other to check their work.
“I honestly heard a growl on one investigation, and so I asked a guy if he thought it was a growl,” Conner said. “He sheepishly said he passed gas. That’s why you pass (data) around.”
Conner said the group’s goal during investigations isn’t to prove a ghost is there — quite the opposite. Instead of proving a ghost’s existence, they try to prove the ghost isn’t a ghost at all. Sometimes, he said, a haunting could be high energy levels coming from a fuse box.
“We can tell if it’s a high electric and magnetic field (EMF) reading,” Conner said. “We’ve been in homes and checked the fuse box, and EMF levels were through the roof.”
According to Conner, high EMF levels can make individuals hallucinate and hear sounds when nothing is really there. They can also increase risk for cancer.
“From a health standpoint, they’re very dangerous,” he said.
Other equipment Conner and Clerano’s teams use includes an infrared camera, a full-spectrum camera, and an Xbox Kinect. They check for colder temperatures and any figures that the cameras or Xbox Kinect pick up as well.
“We actually used the Xbox Kinect at High Noon Saloon up in Albuquerque,” Conner said. “We investigated up there, and you could see a woman in the older part of the building actually bending down and praying. When we walked over to it, it disappeared.”
Conner said his team always tries remaining skeptical during investigations, so they all thought the figure was a glitch with the Xbox. However, after listening to sound bites from the investigation, they discovered evidence that seemed more solid.
“When we were reviewing our sound bites, we actually picked up something we couldn’t understand,” he said. “We kept going over it, and eventually we played it backwards. When we did that, it was a clear, ‘You’re going to the morgue.’”
Since Conner has gotten into paranormal investigation, he has been “shoved, scratched, pulled, and threatened.”
“We really do go into it with attitude that ‘nothing is going to beat me,’” Conner said. “Jesus beats everything. We go into it and cast out demons.”
Primarily, Conner’s team uses the data and investigations for educational purposes so that others experiencing a potential haunt “don’t think they’re crazy.”
“My mom has said that ‘all ghosts are demons,’ which isn’t true,” Conner said. “If you think about it from a logical standpoint, if someone shoots you from behind in the back of the head, you have no clue what happened. You don’t know that you’re dead, and (spirits) need that help to move on.”
Conner explained that sometimes, spirits will attach to objects so they can stay with loved ones longer. Sometimes, he said, homeowners are OK with the spirit’s presence, but if they’re not, sometimes spirits don’t want to let go.
“If I tell (the spirit) they’re dead, (sometimes) it’ll shock them and they won’t talk, we won’t get anything,” Conner said. “If we tell them they’re dead and they still won’t leave because we’re traipsing on their property, then we have to back up and punt. We can use sage to smudge a house, and we also have psychics that can speak to them on their level and explain why they need to leave.”
Sometimes, it gets to the point that they need to exorcise the ghost with holy water, which works most of the time, he said — unless a demon is involved.
“When you get a demon, all bets are off,” Conner said. “That’s where you bring in Catholic priests. We have a whole network all over state that will help us.”
“We all have our fears about it,” Clerano said. “One of the greatest quotes I’ve heard is, ‘We’re afraid of what we don’t know.’ We all are. That’s how I look at it. Honestly I think we’re a bit selfish to think that we are the only intelligent beings within the universe that applies to. We’re afraid of the unknown.”