Central New York authors introduce fantasy, paranormal elements to familiar cities

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Savanna_HallwayFiction, fantasy and familiarity mix in the plots of three books that are set in Central New York. A fourth claims roots in a Liverpool backyard.

In “Escape From Witchwood Hollow,” Jordan Mierek introduces a witch to the woods near a fictionalized version of her Westernville hometown. Meanwhile, in Skaneateles, Jessica Crawford gives her near-immortal family of characters a gothic home in her novel, “The Sentient.”

Finding novel material in a more true-to-life version of her hometown is Danielle Johns, whose novel, “The Chase,” involves scenes in Auburn High School. And Lisa Christiano Notar found inspiration for her children’s book, “Have you Seen Catherine the Caterpillar?” in Liverpool.

“Escape From Witchwood Hollow” 

For Jordan Mierek, the movie came before the book.

The author said that throughout her elementary and high school years in New Hartford and Westernville, she and her friends would often pull out a camcorder and film original movies. In 2004, the young group debuted “Escape From Witchwood Hollow.” And in 2014, Mierek published a much-adapted version of her original script as a novel.

The novel expands significantly on the original screenplay, she said, including the addition of a few characters. In part, this is because a book meant that she was no longer constrained by a “limited cast of willing participants,” she said with a laugh.

The plot follows 15-year-old Honoria, who moves to Central New York with her brother, aunt and uncle after her parents die in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. But in Arnn, a city Mierek based on Westernville, the story turns toward fantasy. Honoria follows local legend to nearby Witchwood Hollow, and learns firsthand about the witch there who never lets her visitors escape.

Mierek, who is president of the Utica Writers Club, said “Escape From Witchwood Hollow” is particularly geared toward readers between the ages of 15 and 19. Since its release on Oct. 29, it’s been available online. Mierek will additionally attend a book signing at the New Hartford Public Library on Nov. 29.

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Picture from MorgueFile.

Lee Daniels to Direct Paranormal Horror Flick ‘Demon House’

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file4311283033798Lee Daniels is a director with a very specific (kinda nuts) vision, and his films are what some would refer to as an “acquired taste,” which means—at the very least—that he’s never going to deliver something boring. Which is why it’spretty exciting that one of his next projects is a horror film. Yes, Lee Daniels of ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler’ and ‘The Paperboy’ fame is bringing us a paranormal horror film called ‘Demon House,’ which is based on the experiences endured by a real family, and which will hopefully be retitled ‘Lee Daniels’ Demon House.’

Deadline reports that Daniels will direct the project, although it’s unclear where this falls on his to-do list, as he’s also got the Richard Pryor biopic starring Mike Epps lined up. Hopefully he can fit this one in pretty quickly because after reading some of the details, the concept of Daniels directing this totally bonkers supernatural horror story kind of sounds more interesting right now than another biopic.

The film is based on the true story of Latoya Ammons and her family, who “claim to have been victims of a demonic possession that has spanned over two years and counting.” The Ammons family first made their claims earlier this year, although they say that their troubles began back in 2011, and since then, Latoya says she and her three children have been possessed by demons. Over the course of the last few years, the incidents have included swarms of flies around the porch in the winter, levitations, hearing voices, violent paranormal attacks, and her children attacking one another—among other documented incidents that seem to have no explanation.

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Ghost Hunters Detect Paranormal Activity On Camera At Prairie Grove Battlefield

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PRAIRIE GROVE (KFSM)-On Dec. 7, 1862, a bloodbath between the Confederate Army of the Trans-Mississippi and the Union Army of the Frontier resulted in nearly 2,700 deaths. The Battle of Prairie Grove marked the last major Civil War engagement in Northwest Arkansas.

Arkansas Paranormal Investigations, a group based out of Benton County set up their ghost hunting gear at the battlefield.

“The morning after the Battle of Prairie Grove, there were 200-300 bodies when the sun came up just around the house alone,” Jeffery Young, API member said.

“On our previous investigations, we have caught quite a bit of activity here,” Alan Silva, API founder said.

This is the fourth time API has investigated the historic landmark.

“I’ve gotten a couple of really good EVPs in this park, down in the area on the road that goes through where you dip down and come up to the Borden House,” Carol Martindale, API member said.

Members define EVPs as Electronic Voice Phenomenon.

“You ask a question, and you actually get a response back that you can hear on the recorders, and so we actually got some feedback,” Silva said.

The team set up seven cameras, an upright microphone and a motion detector inside the Borden Home. The house once stood in between intense battle during the war.

“There’s been reported lots of activity in this house,” Young said. “There’s been a little girl seen looking out the windows. We have a doll here on the porch, and the last time we were here, it got moved.”haunted_house

He said there have even been lights that have come on upstairs in the Borden House, but employees say there’s no power in the house. They keep it empty and locked up.

“We’re really looking for movement from this doll that we put on the front porch,” Martindale said. “When we were here last time, I think it was in May, I have still photos of the doll in one position, and an hour and a half later, the doll’s in another position.”

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Paranormal Corner: Ghost Hunter Dustin Pari visits Rowan University, investigates Bunce Hall

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhether you’re currently attending Rowan University or are a long-time alumnus, you’ve most likely heard stories about Bunce Hall.

The first building erected on the now expansive campus, Bunce Hall – named for Edgar F. Bunce, the second president of the school – contains a cozy theater named for Elizabeth Tohill, a former theater professor.

While experiences continue to be reported by students and faculty alike, a guest recently brought his paranormal investigation equipment to the university and sat on Tohill Theater’s stage for a while, hoping to contact Mrs. Tohill.

Dustin Pari of SyFy Channel’s “Ghost Hunters” and “Ghost Hunters International,” recently visited the college to speak to students and lead 30 of them on a paranormal investigation at Bunce Hall.

“When I was 8 or 9, I saw a shadow figure standing in my doorway,” Pari said, explaining how he first became interested in the paranormal. “I was little and it scared me. I pulled the covers over my head and, being a good Christian soldier, said my prayers and never saw it again. I lived in that house for 12 years and only saw it once.”

That incident spurred an interest in him that carried on through his teen-age years – he and his friends investigated the “local hot spots” such as abandoned houses, which he does not encourage anyone to do now-a-days – and eventually led him to a television show.

“One night I was watching TV and saw the show,” Pari said about season one of “Ghost Hunters.” “I wrote to all the dudes on the show and never heard anything back. I wrote to all the ladies, sent a charming picture of myself, got a meet and greet with Jay (Jason Hawes) and Grant (Wilson) (founders of The Atlantic Paranormal Society) and now I’m here.”

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Image from MorgueFile.

Humble paranormal investigator lists favorite ghost movies

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moonAs October winds down and Halloween approaches, theaters are at the height of their scary movie season.

There are slasher movies, movies about supernatural evil and movies about ordinary human evil. And occasionally mixed in with those standard theatrical offerings is that centuries-old staple of late autumn gatherings — the ghost story.

When it comes to movies about ghosts or hauntings, everyone has their favorite.

But what makes a good ghost movie — accuracy, suspense, special effects, tone, atmosphere? What do professional parapsychology professionals consider to be the best cinematic efforts?

One person uniquely qualified to answer that question is Humble resident.

Haviland is the founder of Lone Star Spirits Paranormal Investigations. When not conducting paranormal activity investigations, Haviland is a hypnotherapist who helps clients cope with smoking, addiction, stress, weight loss, PTSD or personal growth issues. Haviland has also successfully used hypnosis in resolving haunting investigations.

But exactly what constitutes a haunting? What is the difference between a haunting and a ghost?

“Not all hauntings involve ghosts; they involve all our senses such as voices, smells, touches and sightings,” Haviland explained. “Poltergeists or recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis (RSPK) occur when we manifest stress or unresolved issues as energy into the environment. This is triggered by emotional events by arguments or sensations that remind our subconscious of these events and then the manifestation can mimic haunting events or a metaphor of the emotion — such as water being depression or sadness or fire being anger for example.”

Haviland continued, “A ghost is the visual remnant of a living person or animal. Under the right conditions, our psychic selves are able to see these. These are usually a residual haunting or place memory. It’s like a tape loop and plays over and over. On rare occasions, a ghost can be intelligent and react to us. This is the conscious mind surviving death and usually is only pieces of their memories, not a whole person. The memories usually surround the death or circumstances of — or leading up to — it as well as unfinished business.”

So now that has been determined, what does Haviland consider to be the best related movies?

“I have chosen these ghost or haunting movies for their story, creep factor and overall feel,” Haviland explained. “I think if you watch any of these, you will not be disappointed in the scare or startle you may get. Although it’s hard for me to pick a favorite from this list — as they all have their qualities — my personal favorite is “The Changeling” with George C. Scott. It is the classic unfinished business scenario.”

Here is an annotated list of Haviland’s current favorite movies about ghosts or hauntings:

The Changeling (1980) — “This is a classic creepy movie of a mystery and haunting of a ghost that has unfinished business. It’s a must see.”]]>

100 Feet (2008) — “A woman kills her husband in self defense and is sentenced to house arrest only to find her husband’s spirit is still in the house.”

Legend of Hell House (1973) — “A team of parapsychologists sets up in a well known haunted house to prove life after death but they get more than what they expected. A classic.”

The Awakening (2011) — “In 1921, a paranormal investigator is asked to investigate a school due to ghostly activity. She finds out things are a bit more than she thought. I liked the character’s approach on trying to debunk the claims. An enjoyable movie.”

Find Me (2014) — “I just watched this and was utterly surprised by its story and how it stays with the haunted creep factor. Another must see movie.”

Ghostwatch (1992) — “A great ’found footage’ haunted house show. One of the first ones. It has some great creepy moments.”

Lake Mungo (2008) — “A family sees the ghost of their daughter in this Australian film. But why?”

Apartment 143 (2012) — “Has a poltergeist infested this home? A good story line.”

The Woman in Black (2012) — “A young lawyer, played by Daniel Radcliffe of ’Harry Potter’ fame, travels to close out an estate and finds a haunting mystery. The story and ambiance are great for some creepy moments.”

Poltergeist (1982) — “Who Doesn’t like this movie? Entertaining.

Death of a Ghosthunter (2007) — “I liked this one because of the contemporary team feel and it has some pretty good jumpy moments.”

The Quiet Ones (2014) — “Loosely based on the Philip experiment, a 1972 parapsychology experiment conducted in Toronto, this film has some good moments.”

(1999) — “Although this movie fell to the wayside due to Blair Witch hoopla, it is a really under-appreciated ghost story and another case of unfinished business.”]]>

American Ghost Story (2012) — “A writer moves into a haunted house to get the story of a lifetime. Be careful what you wish for. One of the better ’found footage’ films of the genre with great creepy feelings throughout.”

An American Haunting (2005) — “Based on the Bell Witch story, this movie is always a good watch.”

The Sixth Sense (1999) — “ A great story about a boy who sees ghosts and how he deals with them and himself. Definitely worth the rent.”

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Image from MorgueFile.

Haunted houses and paranormal activity thrill amateur ghost hunters

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EyesIt was Halloween night 2001, and Stephen Slapinsky was tagging along with some friends ghost hunting in a cemetery.

As the Bethlehem resident roamed the hallowed grounds, the sound of a little girl giggling startled him.

He shined his flashlight in all directions to find the source of the laughter only to find several children’s tombstones surrounding him.

The stunning incident helped inspire him to create the Lehigh Valley Organization of Supernatural Studies.

“I was always open to the idea of spirits existing but I wanted to find out for myself,” Slapinsky said. “I heard the little girl giggle and it blew my mind.”

There are a growing number of paranormal research groups with at least 11 based in the Lehigh Valley, according to paranormalsocieties.com, an online directory for those seeking haunting assistance.

Equipped with video cameras, audio recording devices and other high-tech gadgets, people like Jim Willing head into the creepiest locations to gather evidence of the supernatural.

The surge in interest in paranormal research correlates to the popularity of TV shows like Syfy’s successful Ghost Hunters, Willing said. A huge fan of the reality-based show, Willing enlisted the help of his friend Chris LaBarge in 2008.

The duo of professional electricians formed Lights Out Paranormal and they have been investigating claims of paranormal activity ever since.

Haunted hotel rooms, mischievous spirits and voices of the departed are just some of the reasons people call for help from the Lights Out team.

The group will visit a location for several hours an evening and report their findings to their client hoping to explain the unusual occurrences in a way that gives the client some peace of mind.

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Image from MorgueFile.

 

Paranormal investigators examine historic buildings in Martin Park

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In the children’s bedroom in the Makens Bemont House, Chris Burgess sat with his Ovilus X, a cell-phone-sized device that paranormal investigators say can pick up voices from spirits that humans cannot hear. On the other side of the room, Margaurite Carter and Donna St. Jean took turns asking questions, hoping that any ghosts in the room would answer on the device.

“Could you tell us your name?” “Can you make a noise or move an object?” “Do you want us to leave?”gargoyle

Every once in a while, the Ovilus would say a word or two in its electronic voice. Some seem to suggest an illness, including “paralysis” and “quarantine.” Others suggested death, like “salvation” and even “priest.” A couple of times words like “get out” and “leave” could be heard.

Burgess, Carter and St. Jean, along with Mike Cahill, are members of CT Skull & Spirit, a group of paranormal investigators. They visited the house, along with two other buildings in Martin Park, on Oct. 11 to see if they could contact the ghosts that are rumored to haunt the area. Another team visited on Oct. 4. Both investigations were opened to the public, but publicity was limited.

Although the East Hartford Historical Society has had paranormal investigators in the home before, these events were the first time the public was invited. It was also the first time CT Skull & Spirit had a public audience. The group did not charge the historical society.

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Image from MorgueFile.

 

Paranormal activity featured in La Grange tours

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Amber SigmanStrange things happen in Linda Foster’s 174-year-old home.

She once felt her hand held in the middle of the night despite living alone, and she has smelled an unexplainable odor of ammonia wafting from a closet. The silvering on the antique mirror in her foyer is wearing away in the shape of a person with a covered wagons and horses, she said.

Foster’s home, in which she has lived since 1993, is one of more than 10 stops on the Spirits of La Grange ghost tour, which started 12 years ago after business owners and residents began reporting and comparing notes of “strange occurrences” in their shops and homes.

“We had a very reputable paranormal team come in and investigate, to make sure that these occurrences were real because … we wanted to do authentic ghost tours with nobody making anything up,” Foster said. “That’s exactly what we’ve got now.”

The 12-block walking tour, which continues on Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 31, take participants inside locations in the historic downtown district with reported paranormal activity.

Foster said the tours are so popular that in past years, they’ve had to turn people away because all the tours were full.

Spirits of La Grange Coordinator Barbara Manley attributes the popularity of the tours to the historical research and paranormal investigations conducted on the locations where paranormal activity has been reported.

“We don’t tell a story unless you can back it up and verify — as much as you can with that sort of thing,” she said.

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Photo by Amber Sigman

Paranormal investigators meet a girl named Emma

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GAINESVILLE – Saturday night at the downtown Gainesville branch of the Hall County Library Ghost Hunt, participants met a little girl named Emma.

The Southeastern Institute of Paranormal Research (SIPR), a non-profit organization, defines a ghost as ‘the energy, soul and personality of a person who once lived’ and around 20 people who sat in the dark with SPIR researchers, and one of those researchers, feel that is precisely what they experienced.

Institute founder Denise Roffe said she does not go looking for ghosts, and often SIPR debunks reports of ‘things that go bump in the night,’ but Roffe told the group she once saw the ghost of a woman from the early 1900’s at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta during an investigation, and has experienced the supernatural.

“We try to find a reasonable explanation for whatever might be happening,” Roffe said. “It’s when we can’t debunk it is when we know there is something paranormal happening.”

And that is what keeps the group going, when there is the unexplained, when there is the paranormal, and observers said Emma was definitely unexplained.
After a two hour session which included a review of the different types of haunting, equipment used to record paranormal activity, evidence and psychic studies, participants divided into groups and went into the library’s dark shadows.

As soon as the group arrived in the children’s section on the first floor, one participant heard a small child’s laughter,spirit-394324_1280 then silence, and then SIPR researchers Dona Ueltschi and Doug Smith detected movement in a corner of the room. Later, April McKaig with SIPR led her group into the same area and felt a soft gentle touch on her arm, a child’s touch, and then a tickle.

McKaig, sensitive to unnatural stimuli, said in her mind, like a memory, she envisioned a little girl with blonde curly hair, about five or six years old, dressed in a 1950’s era play dress. Another woman in McKaig’s group felt her hair touched, another felt her hair playfully tugged.

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Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Do Home Sellers Need To Disclose Paranormal Activity?

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Haunted HouseWell, it’s October already and Halloween decorations are already starting to surface. Haunted houses are fun to visit but most people wouldn’t want to live in one, right? So that raises a “spooky” legal question. Do real estate brokers or sellers have a legal duty to inform purchasers if houses are truly haunted — i.e, have been the site of a murder, suicide or paranormal activity?

“Haunted” properties fall within the category of stigmatized properties, or real estate that is not defective in any physical manner, but due to psychological or emotional factors may have a reduced value. Among the situations covered under the title of stigmatized is a property that was the site of a murder, suicide, alleged haunting, or other parapsychological phenomenon. About half of U.S. states have laws that deal with stigmatized properties, but most don’t require sellers to disclose if they believe they have a ghost. For example, under Massachusetts law, real estate brokers and sellers are under no legal obligation to disclose that a property was the site of a felony, suicide or homicide, or has been the site of an alleged “parapsychological or supernatural phenomenon.”

Despite any law not requiring disclosure however, disclosing that a house has a haunted history may be the most prudent course of action. It’s surely something many buyers would like to know beforehand. If a seller doesn’t disclose, and the buyers find out about the property’s history prior to the closing, there’s a chance they would try to get out of the deal. There is a well-publicized case out of New York in the 1990s where a court allowed a buyer to terminate a real estate deal due to the failure to disclose “haunted” activity.

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