Local Ghost Hunters Sense Paranormal Activity at the Whitall House
Analysis of four hours of video and voice footage will produce more substantial evidence.
Though it will be weeks before any concrete evidence is substantiated, Perceptive Paranormal Research (PPR) co-founders Chrissy Desjardins and Amanda Staszak have reason to believe there is paranormal activity at the Whitall House in Red Bank Battlefield Park after conducting an investigation Tuesday night.
“The minute we walked in, I could feel it,” Desjardins said. “There was a lot of energy, and how could there not be?”
“…It was that ‘elevator’ feeling where your equilibrium just didn’t feel steady,” Staszak said.
“It did not seem eerie at all,” she continued. “It was very fascinating to be able to see a lot of the original artifacts…and to be standing in a room that held so much history.”
Staszak said the building accurately portrayed the Revolutionary War period: “When you first walked in you got that antique type smell showing its age. Not a bad smell at all, just hard to describe.”
“A lot of the original furniture was still in place and the overall set up dated back to its roots. The fireplaces in each room for heating, the different tools used back in the day as far as kitchenware,” she continued.
“They recreated what would look like the beds used for the hospital and the cots on the floors,” Staszak added. “It was amazing how much space was in that house. So many rooms, it was endless.”
Staszak, Desjardins, and fellow PPR co-founder Rosalyn Bown brought along trigger objects such as a teddy bear, marbles and gauze bandages, and played drum and fife music to stimulate any spirits lingering on the site, including James and Ann Whitall.
“If the walls could talk, they would have very much to say,” Staszak said.
As details of the investigation unfolded, the trio felt something may have been talking to them.
“Many different occurrences happened, including disembodied voices within the hospital area, psychic impressions of names, appearances, and even children on both the first floor and within the second floor bedrooms,” Staszak said.
Staszak added that during attempts to capture electronic voice phenomena (EVP), she and her teammates “would feel the air thicken and know a presence was near.”
They also heard random clinks and clacks throughout the night, she added.
“My elbow was touched while standing in a doorway of the first floor… not violently or anything, just as if you were taking someone by the elbow to politely guide them out of the way,” Staszak said.
“We all had personal experiences, but it would be nice to go back and listen to the recordings, look at the pictures, and find something to support those personal experiences,” Desjardins said. “Because it was the first true investigation of the house, we were trying to feel out what was going on there just as much as the spirits were."
Desjardins added that the spirits, like the living, grow more comfortable with strangers over time, so multiple visits usually lead to more substantial interactions.
“Spirits are literally just like us humans without the ‘physical’ vessel,” Staszak said. “How you address them would be how you address a normal person.
“If we know a name, we use that name. We try to personalize the conversation to gain comfort in the spirit to communicate,” Staszak continued. “Respect plays a big role in communication to reduce the chance of offending spirits.”
“We call ourselves Perceptive Paranormal because we feel we want to get back to the basics of ghost hunting,” Desjardins said. “Instead of setting up tons of equipment and having it be very scientific, we use ourselves as the tool.
“We do have equipment, but it lights up and makes noise, so you have to wonder if that’s scaring the spirits,” she added.
“I never turn off my recorder: I start it the minute I walk in and I turn it off when I leave,” Desjardins said. “It helps document [each step of the investigation] … I could ask a question and get a response 10 minutes later.”
Desjardins mentioned that spirits are not always able to communicate with receptors: “For a spirit to manifest itself, move something, make a noise, say something, it takes a lot of energy. There’s not always enough energy in the environment while doing an EVP session for it to do what you want it to do or to do what it wants to do.”
“Reviewing the evidence is when we get a good handle on what was going on that night,” Desjardins continued.
“We have four hours of audio, four hours of video, many pictures, etc., to review, each separately,” Staszak said. “So a four-hour investigation can easily take eight to 12 hours for review if sat straight through.
“But also keep in mind when we do locate an EVP or see a photo we may be interested in or catch something on camera, we are watching that over and over and analyzing, which adds up even more,” she continued. “It’s very tedious and time-consuming, but all worth it.”
“The first group of people we’d show the evidence to would be the freeholders and whoever let us into the house,” Desjardins said.
“I hope we have the opportunity to get back in there again,” Desjardins said. “The more we go back, the better the chance we’d have of maybe realizing what’s there.”