By DENISE DICK
Doors slam when no one’s around. Toilets flush seemingly on their own, and footsteps walk up and down the hallway when everyone in the family is in bed.
Who you gonna call?
You could try Ohio Haunted Investigation Organization, or OHIO, a ghost-hunting and investigation group.
Members emphasize, though, that they aren’t ghost busters.
“We go investigate, looking for any evidence” of paranormal activity, said Scott Felger of Poland, the group’s leader.
First, the group tries to rule out other possible explanations: a draft, plumbing problems, a short in the wiring.
Group members take equipment including video cameras, electromagnetic-field meters and digital recorders with microphones to document anything unusual.
EMF meters detect changes in the electronic-magnetic field, which some believe result from paranormal activity.
Digital recorders pick up electronic voice phenomena, unexplained voices. The voices are heard on recordings, usually in response to investigators’ questions, but not while the investigations are occurring.
The group formed about three years ago, but it’s been trimmed to 15 to 20 people who are serious about the effort, Felger said.
Bruce Miller of Alliance is a serious ghost investigator, belonging to OHIO and two other groups.
His interest started several years ago while working at an ambulance company in Stark County that doubled as a funeral home. As he was sitting at work one day, he looked up to see a young girl of about 10, wearing a mischievous grin and walking toward him.
When she got closer, the girl blew a puff of air at his face, smiled again and ran off through a wall.
Miller believes that if people determine they’re sharing their home or business with a ghost, they should accept it rather than try to get rid of it.
“Who’s to say we have more right to be here than they do?” Miller said.
The group, which may be contacted through its Web site, www.ohioafterlife.com, doesn’t charge for its investigations of residences and commercial structures. The group promises confidentiality so members don’t divulge the exact locations of their investigations or the identities of those who request them.
They plan a return to the home of a West Side Youngstown family who contacted them.
In that case, a voice recorder picked up a faint woman’s voice saying “Mmm-hmm,” when an investigator asked, “Are you a woman?” Felger said.
In that case, the couple wasn’t afraid, although some of the phenomena disturbed their children.
A young boy ran to his mother scared one day, saying a man in the hall had yelled at him, Felger said. There wasn’t anyone there.
After an investigation, group members go through the data and information collected both individually and together, assembling a report for those who requested their help.
One young Columbiana County couple, who are now members of the group and declined to be identified, started out as clients.
They moved about three years ago into their dream home, a Victorian structure built in the 1800s. Only problem is, they weren’t alone.
Once they started renovating, strange things began to happen.
“It was our dream house, and she was ready to put it up for sale,” the man said, referring to his wife.
They heard their toilet flush when no one was in the bathroom. Footsteps paced down the hall. Doors slammed and lights turned on and off with no one there.
“I got closed in the closet one time,” the woman said.
Plumbers checked the pipes, finding nothing. The couple couldn’t detect any drafts that would make doors slam nor any logical explanation for what was happening. They called OHIO for help.
The group came in, set up its equipment and detected the entities.
“We have intelligent and residual activity,” the woman said.
Residual are ghosts that can’t communicate and repeat a behavior over and over again. The intelligent variety are able to communicate.
All in all, psychics, OHIO and other paranormal investigators identified seven spirits within the couple’s home.
One is a grumpy old man they call Edward. He mainly wanders the servants’ quarters and library of the home. The woman stays out of the basement though.
“For three years I’ve been going to a laundromat because I won’t go down to the basement,” she said.
Light bulbs have burst when the couple has ventured down there, and one of the recordings picked up a growling sound.
But mostly, they’ve learned to live with it.
“We coexist,” the man said.
After their experience, they wanted to help others. That’s why they joined OHIO. It helps to have someone who understands what you’re going through and to offer reassurance, the woman said.
If someone decides they don’t want to coexist with an entity from the past, OHIO may refer them to other groups and individuals for further help.