Paranormal Artist Coalition
We are the Paranormal Artist Coalition, or P.A.C. for short. Founded by Dustin Williams, Jeff Porter and Jake Gorman in early 2011, we're a Midwest-based group of artists dedicated to exploring and investigating paranormal phenomena. We also work with projects like organizing paranormal-themed gallery shows, zines and limited edition print collaborations—anything that we can do to bring our art backgrounds into the paranormal realm.
What is the most haunted location you have ever visited?
Dustin: That would have to be the old Odd Fellows Home complex in Liberty, MO (now part of the beautiful Belvoir Winery). The property houses buildings including an old hospital, a nursing home, a morgue, a bunker and an orphanage, many of which were built in the early 1900s and have been abandoned for years. Sounds like the perfect setting for a ghost story, right? Paranormal claims have range from disembodied voices and full-bodied apparitions to playful and curious child spirits.
Jake: The playful child spirit was actually a really fun experience for our team. We came across the child in the bunker on our first trip out there. Jeff and I had set up on opposite sides of the room, with EMFs (Electromagnetic Field detectors) in hand. We asked the child to set off our EMF detectors and we seemed to get a response, so we asked the spirit to walk away from us, and a few seconds later, the lights on the EMF detector go off. Jeff then asked if the spirit would come over to him and set his detector off. When Jeff's detector went off, we asked the spirit if it could move back and forth between the two us. The spirit actually did as we asked, running over to one side of the room and running back for several minutes.
What's the scariest thing that's ever happened on an investigation?
Jake: For me, one of the most memorable and scary moments was our first time in the Odd Fellows morgue. This was literally the second investigation to be conducted here since the building had been closed up years before. As we began our EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) session, a woman in our group mentioned that she was getting dizzy and was having a hard time standing up. She leaned on the wall to balance herself, and when she did she said it felt like someone was pushing on her chest. As she sat down on the ground, she said it felt like something was trying to push and hold her to the ground.
What's the creepiest EVP you've ever recorded?
Dustin: For me, the most startling EVPs are the ones that reference things that we're doing or saying. We once caught an EVP (on multiple recording devices) that referenced a canister of brown sugar I was holding at the time—something to the effect of, "They brought the brown sugar!" A few weeks earlier, that same canister had been flung from a kitchen cabinet by some unseen force. Not scary, really, but things like that definitely catch you off guard.
Have you ever personally been touched?
Jake: Out of the three of us, for some reason I'm the only one that's gotten touched. It's a pretty interesting feeling when it does happen. Don't get me wrong, it can be freaky as hell, feeling something physical when there doesn't appear to be a natural cause. It's also a pretty good indicator that a ghost has something to say. It's happened to me on three different occasions. Luckily, I've never been hurt by a physical interaction. I'd have probably quit talking to ghosts if all they wanted to do is cause me harm.
Any tips for someone who's interested in going out and investigating? What are things you should or should not do?
Jake: Public investigations are a great place to start. Most of the time they're hosted by local paranormal teams who know their equipment well. It's a good way to see immediate results as opposed to having to sift through hours of audio for that one EVP.
For more serious groups, keep your teams small; about three or four people. Smaller groups lessen your chances of contaminating audio when recording. In the same vein, avoid whispering. Like audio contamination, your whispering might later be mistaken for an EVP that's not actually there. It's all about creating a controlled environment.
One of the best things you can do prior to an investigation is research. Knowing a little bit of history can help you tailor your questions to yield better results. Information like the names and causes of death can set off all kinds of activity in certain areas. Sometimes our investigations last only a few hours; stuff like this helps us really get the best out of each trip.
Have you ever ran from fright? Are you ever tempted to?
Dustin: I think every investigator has probably been startled to the point of feeling uncomfortable at one point or another. You have to remember though that most of the time we're investigating in almost pure darkness. Even if you have a flashlight, running can be dangerous! Especially in some of the old buildings we tend to find ourselves in. Haunting and safe building conditions don't always go hand in hand.
Are most spirits you come across good or bad? How can you tell?
Dustin: I like to think that most of the spirits that we come across are good, or at the very least, neutral. Rarely do we run into spirits with obvious negative intentions. When it comes down to it, a lot of the spirits don't even know that we're there. On the same page, some interactions that are construed as negative (startling noises, physical touches) are often nothing more than a spirit trying to communicate in the only way it knows how. How else do you get the attention of someone who can't see you?
What is your take on ghosts (why are they here or what is their purpose of sticking around)?
Jake: I'm not sure that we have an answer for that. Trying to figure that out is a part of every investigation. What makes it difficult is that often, it appears as though spirit aren't aware of investigators, stuck committing the same acts, walking the same paths, over and over again, like a tape loop of sorts. Other times we'll run into a spirit that can interact, and answer questions. Chances are that we may never find out for sure, but if it truly is some sort of aftermath of "unfinished business," then maybe opening up forms of communication can help the spirits move on.
Have you had any personal experiences growing up?
Dustin: On the investigation end, a lot of what we're doing today comes directly from a house Jeff was renting in college. Multiple unexplained happenings (strange sounds, objects moving on their own) had led us to conduct some very rudimentary investigations, and it kind of snow-balled from there. Having access 24 hours a day to a haunted location really gave us a great opportunity to experiment and figure out what investigation styles work for us as a team.
What are your standards for claiming a places is haunted?
Dustin: Good, consistent, repeatable evidence. It's as simple as that. If we can match experiences across multiple investigators, let alone multiple investigation teams on different occasions, that really helps validates our findings.
Dustin: That's always a good question. You know, I don't know if I can say that we believe in ghosts 100%. There's just so much that's still unknown. I do know that we've been in some strange locations and experienced some truly unbelievable situations.