State of Jefferson Paranormal Society

Photo by Joe McGarity

  

This Fantom Penguin story is brought to you by Palo Cedro Printing, a locally owned green printer, Palo Cedro Printing.

 If you need scientific spirit investigators like the kind they have in the big city, who you gonna call?

 Around here, I mean?

 There is an answer.  The Fantom Penguin stayed up all night talking about ghosts with Marcelo Chavez and the State of Jefferson Paranormal Society.

 “Well, on a normal investigation we usually get hits of any kind of urban legend or stories involving paranormal activity or just claims of paranormal activity and we go out and try and document these claims or anything that correlates with their claim.  We tend to go out and just find reasonable explanations for it, whether it’s environmental and we just collect our data.”

 Does that mean you’re willing to accept a normal explanation without any ‘para’?

 “As our team comes in we train them into debunking and skepticism on anything so there’s no biased opinion with our team.  Rather than going in there and jumping on the paranormal bandwagon, we actually try to find normal explanations for everything.”

 And what sorts of places have you investigated?

 “We’ve done certain cemeteries that have had some kind of paranormal claim throughout Northern California.  We’ve had some residences, private residences which they are on our website.  We tend to be very private with their information.”

 SJPS Co-Founder, Angela Rowden continued,

 “We keep it really discrete.  We never disclose private residences’ locations.  We just label them as a private residence investigation.  They get copies of everything we’ve gone through, everything we find.  On our website, one of our private residences were actually not home at the time.  It was a family member’s home and our best evidence really has come from this residence.  And it’s all on our website, our best EVP’s and just personal experiences.  And this home actually was just part of a training ‘maybe something’s there, maybe something’s not; can you come debunk what goes bump in the night’ and we actually found things. So it was really, really interesting at that one.”

 Evidence that the group gathers is available online for review by the public, including evidence of potential supernatural activity.

 “We label them as ‘unexplained’.  We don’t label them ‘paranormal’.  Certain things on pictures we can’t debunk as far as saying, ‘yes, this is something paranormal’ or ‘no, it’s not; this is environmental’, so we put that out there for the public to decide on their own to see what they picture from what we’ve put as evidence.”

 “There’s a couple of the EVP’s we have on our website where certain members in the group, the EVP has voices on it (it’s Electric Voice Phenomenon) and the voices match certain family members.  And somebody on the outside of listening to that EVP wouldn’t recognize it, but within the group we’ve come to the conclusion that this might or might not be a certain other family member trying to communicate.”

 “Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.  If you don’t believe in the paranormal, you don’t believe in the paranormal.  It’s the same as a religion.  If you believe in a certain religion, that doesn’t make another religion bad.  It doesn’t mean they’re wrong.  You can look at what we do as wasting our time or whatever we get we imagine it ourselves somehow.  We know what we do.  We know what we have.  We put it out to the public for them to decide.”

 What about the other kind of skeptic, the one who believes that what you do is real but that it is dangerous to stir up the spirits?

 “There are certain dangers.  When you go out and some people might say ‘open doors’, there are a couple of things that go along with that, but our group is trained to identify certain situations, not to poke and pry too much.  We don’t ever use things like Ouija boards or opening portals or things like that.  We go in just with equipment.”

 Chavez:

 “We go in with equipment and document it scientifically.  The only thing we’ll experiment with is electronic devices, anything that could be used to document any of those claims and provide evidence for future use.”

 What about this thing called ‘provoking’ spirits? 

 “Provoking is used to force a contacting point.  Teams will use provoking, whether it’s just to call out to have anything, any paranormal activity to make their presence known or to provoke some kind of emotional response if an entity has any emotion.  It’s pretty much just drawing something out by using your emotion.  They would use something from time frame that would contradict if a spirit’s there, so they would come out and show their presence.  Provoking can go farther by other teams using spiritual means or by contacting using spiritual relics, which we do not do.  As she said, we don’t use Ouija boards.  There’s certain things that we won’t try because we’ve seen evidence of it backfiring.  We do have points that we don’t cross.  There’s certain points of provoking that we use and then certain ones that depending on the claims we will not even attempt.”

 Rowden:

 “It also depends on what kind of activity we’re getting at a certain point.  If we get into an area where it’s been a hot hit, we’re hearing things; we’re seeing things; we’re feeling things; we’re getting unexplained pictures or happen to see things out of the corner of our eyes, we’ll start provoking more.  So, instead of seeing personal experience or feeling personal experiences, we want that hard evidence.  So, we’ll provoke to get them to come out more, ‘cause it’s kind of like a little game, kind of hide and seek, ‘come find me’.  So we try to provoke to give them more energy to be like, ‘Hey, we’re not here to hurt you.  Give us something that we can show everyone else that you guys do exist.’”

 And when it comes time to go over the evidence, how do you keep it secure?

 Chavez:

 “With every team, they go out with certain equipment they’re assigned and when they come back, when we go to gather the findings we make sure that the devices go out to the people who did not have them so that there won’t be any bias to the video or pictures or audio.  So, the opposite member will actually go over the data and write down the information.  If there’s a questionable piece of evidence, they’ll write down a time or an image number and then it would be shared with the other members to get multiple opinions on the piece of evidence.”

 Rowden:

 “So, pretty much if I’m walking around with a Handi-Cam during an investigation and I’m in a group with two other people, that Handi-Cam would not be given back to myself or the two other people in my group.  It would be given to another group within SJPS to go over, so there’s not that biased ‘I knew I saw this when we were out there; I know it’s going to be on the camera’.  That won’t happen because you’re not going over your own piece of evidence, somebody else is.  So if they happen to stumble upon something you know is on it, they ask the group before they come ask you.  So you know there’s no contamination of evidence.”

 Chavez:

 “And any bit of information that we can’t find an explanation for, we usually before we even label it anything whatsoever, if we have a chance of debunking it, we will go back several times and actually try and debunk that piece of evidence.  And if there’s any chance that we can duplicate it then we actually just throw it aside as a possible contamination.”

 Rowden:

 “The other thing too with doing it that way, not going over your own evidence when somebody else is, if they’re going over, like I said if I’m having the Handi-Cam and they go over that evidence and they think they caught something really legit and they bring it to the group because you haven’t seen that video, you can go, ‘No, that’s a reflection of my flashlight.  I know what that is.  You can pull that off the evidence locker.  It’s nothing.’  So, I mean it goes both ways.  We’ve done that a couple of times, pictures.  You’ve been taking pictures and the group will think it’s some hard-core evidence and it turns out when the person taking the picture knows exactly where they were standing, what they were doing, what was in their pocket, they’ll be the ones that can debunk that specific evidence.”

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