Tag Archive | ghost hunting

The Ghosts Of Eastern State Penitentiary & The Scariest Places In The World

I’ve been saving this post for Halloween, and for good reason. Halloween, or better still, Samhain, is the time when the dead truly walk among us. Who doesn’t love a ghost story? Arguably, the best part of John Carpenter’s classic, The Fog, is the very beginning when John Houseman tells ‘one more story‘ on the beach just before midnight.

Even better are the true tales of hauntings and wayward spirits.

Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia is on just about every paranormal enthusiast’s bucket list, including my own. Ghosts aside, the enormous, crumbling prison is a living piece of history, some of those aspects carrying on through time. It’s been featured on many of the ParaTV shows, and my own daughter, the future Monster Woman, Ivy Shea, has been there twice – on school trips of all things!

The first time she went several years ago, she said it was just an old, empty building and she didn’t think it was scary at all. Pretty brave for an 11 year old. This year, they went back to Philly and once again walked the haunted halls. Ivy said the vibe this time around was very, very different. The atmosphere was heavy and it felt like they were being watched everywhere they went. She snapped pictures constantly. Two of them are interesting.

This first one shows Al Capone’s cell. If you look at the left arm of the chair, you can make out a face. Is it just the pattern of the paint on the wall? A case of Pareidoliathe mind’s way of putting a face to seemingly random shapes? Or is it the lingering image of an inmate long, long gone, at least from this world? I don’t pretend to know. It is fascinating to me how many views one can take on a simple, single image.

Take a look a the armchair at the rear of the cell and decide for yourself.

Take a look a the armchair at the rear of the cell and decide for yourself.

The second picture was taken down one of the empty wings of the prison. The area was roped off. Ivy was at the front of the line and snapped a couple of pictures. She saw nothing at the time but a long, lighted, empty hall. When we looked at the pictures later, we discovered a large, black mass a the bottom of the picture. It appears to be in the distance, as the light on the far wall shines past it. Again, I don’t know what this is other than highly interesting. No one was in that wing. No one was in front of her. Yet there is a black mass. Strange.

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I wish I could spin a spine tingling tale about poor Ivy coming face-to-face with the wraith of an executed prisoner, but I can’t. The rich, haunted history of the penitentiary and these and other photos from hundreds of visitors will have to suffice.

Speaking of haunted places, Priority One Jets just posted a list of 7 Terrifying Haunted Attractions. Naturally, Eastern State Penitentiary is on the list. If you’re looking to really get your scare on this Halloween, you need to pick your favorite from the list and just go. The catacombs in Paris is tops on my list. Honestly, if  and when I do go to France, that and a few of Hemingway’s favorite writing/drinking spots may be the only places I check out. Who needs to see that tower thingy and those museums?

My question is, what famous haunted spots have you been to? Were you one of the lucky few to see and/or hear something that can’t be explained? Come sit by the fire. There’s time for one more story….

A Very Sinister Entity

With the Halloween season creeping up on us like Jason with a new hockey mask, it’s time to start getting our scare on. I figured I’d kick things off with an excerpt from my terrifying ghost novel, Sinister Entity. Read on, but keep the light switch nearby and make sure to keep your foot tucked in the covers. Oh, and don’t fear going to the bathroom in the dead of night…too much.

Let me know what you think of the excerpt (or the book) and I’ll give away a free signed copy to a random person who posts a comment.

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The small bathroom was just off the kitchen and was her father’s sanctuary. A magazine basket filled with well-thumbed copies of Sports Illustrated and Newsweek sat between the toilet and sink. She took a moment to lean against the sink and calm her nerves. Even if Jessica and Eddie somehow managed to make everything go away, she wasn’t sure she could ever spend another night in this house.

Being scared or anxious always made her have to pee, and she was surprised she had lasted this long without letting off the mounting pressure on her bladder. She unbuttoned her shorts and pulled them down with her panties.

“Oh my God that feels good.”

It felt as if she hadn’t gone to the bathroom in weeks and the stream came out in a never-ending rush.

As she went to pick up a Newsweek, the light suddenly went out, immersing her in total darkness. The bathroom had no window, so she didn’t even have the weak glow of twilight to see by. SinisterEntity_v3

There was a soft tap on the tile floor, and she gasped when air in the cramped room changed, becoming icy and thick. It was like trying to draw a breath through a cold, wet towel. Her heartbeat burst into high gear until she could hear the pounding of its overworked valves in her ears.

She bent down to pull up her shorts and shrieked when a pair of arctic hands clutched her wrists, pinning them to her sides.

She barely managed to cry out, “No!”

The rest of her words were cut off. She was being suffocated. Something blocked her nose and mouth and she struggled to draw a breath while the cold, invisible hands moved to her thighs, slowly creeping inward.

A SEPS Paranormal Interview

Over the last year, I’ve become a huge fan of the SEPS Paranormal podcast. Host Paul Cagle has a very similar sensibility to my own when it comes to the paranormal, plus he’s a funny dude.

I was thrilled to be on  his show. The episode is now up. We talk about the ghost experiences I’ve had, my books and the Monster Men podcast. Come join the fun! If you catch it on iTunes, I hope you subscribe (it’s free) and drop some reviews/comments.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST.

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Dying To Meet You

This article first appeared on Jonathan Janz’s awesome website.

As you read this, know that I’m one day closer to my death.

I’m dying, little by little, day by day.

Then again, so are you. It’s as inevitable as death in Texas. Or something with taxes. Or Wesley Snipes.

Of all the uncertainties that we face in our lives, from wondering where you’ll get your next job to hoping that cute girl in accounting won’t call HR if you ask her out, there is only one thing that’s a surefire, foregone conclusion. We’re all going tits-up one day.

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When the 2012 mania was in full swing and I talked to people who actually believed that the world was going to end, I told them I looked forward to the apocalypse. You see, with my way of thinking, it’s better to slip off this plane with billions of people than alone while mowing my lawn. I honestly felt that some of these folks wanted the Mayans to be right. My New Year’s vow was to spend less time talking to them.

I’m amazed by how little we devote to contemplating our death. I used to study with a Buddhist monk. I’ve never been more relaxed in my life than when I was in his presence. He once gave me a meditation contemplative to use and I’ll never forget it. As I let my breathing flow, I would say, over and over, “I could die today.” It was really powerful and took my mind to some strange, but enlightening places.

Most people want to live while they’re alive because there’s plenty of time to think about death when you’re shaking hands with rigor mortis. Me, I have to know more. I want to see what’s waiting for us on the other side. I’m loving life, but I’m damn interested in what happens when life has played itself out. Ballgame over. Or is it?

This explains my fascination with ghosts. Of all the supernatural experiences recorded throughout human history, none is more prevalent and far reaching as sightings of ghosts, or spirits, or phantoms. What are they? Who are they? Are they proof of an afterlife, or an extension of the untapped powers of the living mind? Or glimpses of very much alive people caught in an inter-dimensional slip?

I don’t know. I’ve seen ghosts. We have one living in our house. He’s as much a part of the family as our vindictive cat. But I have no idea what he actually is. I just know that he shows up from time to time, only scaring my wife once when he wouldn’t let her pass by him in the kitchen. It’s creepy when you say it out loud, but when you live it, you get used to it. He’s far less annoying than my neighbors who think  10:00 at night is a great time to start a house party that will go on until the sun comes up – or the cops arrive.

So, I write about ghosts. I get invited to come to haunted places. I’ll even tag along with a professional paranormal team this year. Maybe I’ll find my answers. Maybe I’ll just find more questions. And maybe my neighbors will move. Dare to dream.

My latest novel, Sinister Entity, is, naturally, about ghosts. Or more specifically, about a 19 year old ghost hunter named Jessica who’s taken up the family business and still has a lot to learn. If you’re into ghosts, poltergeists and doppelgangers, take the plunge. Jessica’s quest is very much my own. She’s just a hell of a lot cooler than me.

The Reviews Are In…

I’ve been told I need to ‘brag’ a little more about my own work, in between talking about ghosts, black eyed kids and various monsters living under our beds. I just want to be mini-Leonard Nimoy and live in my In Search Of world. Since my latest book, Sinister Entity, has been out for a couple of months now, I thought I’d share some of the great things that reviewers have said about my foray into ghost hunting a doppelganger. I suck at tooting my own horn, so I’ll let some outside tooters do it for me. 🙂

If the reviews below entice you to take the plunge and you purchase Sinister Entity, simply email me at huntershea1@gmail.com with proof of purchase and I’ll send you an e-copy of the Hunter Shea book of your choice.

5/5 For a great suspenseful read, paranormal elements that wouldn’t let go and characters that feel so alive, they have become people I actually want to know in real life. Dialog and action are perfect!” — Zombie Girl Shambling (my personal favorite blog name)

SinisterEntity_v3Shea weaves together a skillful blend of supernatural terror and blood-chilling suspense; the result is an intriguing and unique tale that will leave your heart pounding in your chest long after the final page has been closed.  Make no mistake:  this is not a book you want to read in the dark.” — Matthew Baker for Shattered Ravings

Looking for a book to completely freak you out and make your hair stand on end? Shea brings his smooth and easy writing style, well-developed and emotional characters, hauntingly good paranormal dilemmas, and enough gusto to scare me out of my seat. I wouldn’t read this alone and especially not in the dark.” — Oh For the Hook of a Book Reviews

Recommend for anyone who is interested in hours of tense, action-packed, horror-filled reading. Sinister Entity isn’t for the lighthearted but it’s well worth taking the plunge.” — Overflowing Bookshelves

The story culminates in a climactic showdown between human and spirit that keeps you glued to the pages.” Horror Novel Reviews

Wow wow wow! What a book! Mr Shea may well be proudly listed with my favourite Authors from now on.” — Sarah Fae Books

I Ain’t Afraid o’ No Ghost

You are all in for a treat today. Jack Campisi, my fellow Monster Man, has a little something to say about ghosts. I hope this is the start of many guest posts to come. Read on, and remember not to cross his stream….

There is something about a good ghost movie that scares you like no other kind of film. The suspense, tension and inherent creepiness really separate them from the rest of the horror genre. On the latest episode of the Monster Men video podcast, Hunter and I discuss some of the best and worst ghost and haunted house movies of all time. As a kid, there are all kinds of things to be afraid of, like vampires, zombies, demons, hockey-masked killing machines and so on. So why, out of all the vile creatures the pantheon of the paranormal, do ghosts hold such a special place in our hearts?

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Maybe it’s because we can’t always see them, so they can sneak up on us pretty easily. Or perhaps it’s because they visit us at night when we are sleeping and vulnerable. I think it’s because out of all the things that go bump in the night, ghosts are the only ones that we still kind of believe in even after we grow up.

Think about it, as a little kid you believe in ghosts along with the monsters in your closet, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and everything else. As you get older, you start to realize that there are no such things as vampires or zombies, but when you hear a strange noise in your house or a door closes on it’s own, you still might suspect a ghost is to blame. Plus, the current landscape of TV does nothing but encourage you believe in ghosts with an endless array of paranormal investigation and medium shows that feature a whole host of adults who not only believe in ghosts, but also have their own TV shows about them.

As Hunter and I went through our list of ghost movies, a few of them stood out for me as particularly memorable or impactful. The one that comes to mind first is Poltergeist. Steven Spielberg’s entry into the haunted house genre brought ghosts into the modern world, set in a brand new housing development rather than a creepy old mansion. It also used state of the art special effects to go where no ghost movie had gone before. But for me, the thing that put Poltergeist over the top was the clown scene. poltergeist-clown-3

Throughout the movie, the son in the family is constantly leery of the creepy clown doll that sits by his bed. Then one night all hell breaks loose! The clown comes to life and attacks him. While he is pulled under his bed by this horrific harlequin, his mother is tossed around her bedroom by another entity, making her unable to come to his rescue. As a person who had a healthy fear of clowns when I was little, Spielberg had certainly struck a nerve with this scene. One of my childhood fears was being played out on the screen in front of me.

Then something amazing happens. The kid gets mad… and he fights back!

As a child, it had never occurred to me that I could fight back against a ghost. I’m telling you, as little Robbie Freeling punched that damn clown in the movie, I swung along with him, cheering his every blow. It was awesome and a bit cathartic.

That scene made me think of another great concept brought up in Ghostbusters, which is one of my favorite movies of all time, and not just because it’s hilarious. In Ghostbusters, three scientists figure out a way to capture and imprison ghosts. I really think the idea of capturing ghosts is brilliant. It easily could have been the premise of a serious movie and it works perfectly here. Again, it is a case of the people fighting back, which up until this time was something that was usually only possible with the help of a psychic or some other type of shaman or mystic.

As I watch some of these paranormal TV shows, and I see these “investigators” attempt to clear a house of a malevolent presence, I think that there must be an easier way. Rather than reciting all of those incantations, or burning incense, why not just set a boom box in the middle of the house and just start cranking the Ghostbusters theme over and over again?

It seems to me that the more you say “I ain’t afraid o’ no ghost!” the less power these phantoms have over you… whether they are real or imagined. And if you sing it, it works even better.

I don’t know for sure, but that’s the best advice I can give you. After all, I am not a paranormal investigator; I’m just a guy who loves scary movies.

And hates clowns.

What are some of your favorite ghost movies? What are your favorite moments? And which ones still haunt you today? Check out the latest episode of Monster Men and then tell us what you think. I’ve shared my story, now it’s your turn.

A Sinister Tour This Way Comes

My tale of the mysterious doppelganger, Sinister Entity, keeps rolling along. I signed on to do a week long book tour this month, starting on May 20th. Here are the stops where you’ll find reviews, interviews and blog posts straight from my diseased mind. I’ll update the links on the SIGNINGS and APPEARANCES page during that week so you can get right to the ruptured heart of things.

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May 20 Guest blog
Mondays as part of the Paranormal Perceptions series
May 20 Spotlight (maybe review)
Mythical Books
May 21 Interview
Pembroke Sinclair.
May 21 Spotlight
Paranormal Book CLub
May 22 Spotlight
Krystal’s Enchanting Reads …
May 22 review
Michelle’s Romantic Tangle
May 23 Guest blog
May 23 review
Mama Knows Books
May 24 Spotlight
May 24 Spotlight
Escape Into A Book
May 27 Guest blog and review
Zombiegirl Shambling
May 27 Guest blog
Fae Books

Deep South Paranormal – Hillbilly Ghost Huntin’!

OK, I’m well aware that hillbilly TV is the hot thing right now. Duck Dynasty is the #1 reality show on the boob tube. Everything southern is in, from crazy kids with too much time on their hands to gator wrestlers, loggers, pawn shops and everything in between. So it was only a matter of time until Syfy caught on and melded rednecks with ghosts, giving us Deep South Paranormal.

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My immediate family are the only ones in the line that are sided with the Yanks. All of my cousins and aunts and uncles can be found in North and South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Texas. I may live in New York, but I love listening to Gretchen Wilson and Shooter Jennings and pretty much walk around looking like Larry the Cable Guy once the warm weather sets in. I can appreciate the love of the south (though I am no fan of the heat and humidity that comes with the territory).

Fans of shows like Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures may not take a shine to this addition to ParaTV because it’s not really about the ghosts. Nope, Deep South Paranormal is about the folks who like to traipse around haunted places in the dead of night. And oh what a group they’ve assembled.

When you look at the cast, your eyes immediately go to the 2 ZZ Top dudes with beards that leave me green with envy. The true star of the show is old man Hart, a colorful Cajun who walks around with a gris gris stick to call on spirits. He’s fast talking, funny as hell, and introduces us to colorful terms like getting the frissons, which means the shudders. I could watch this guy all day.

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Then there’s Keith, our narrator (who makes every episode sound like we’re setting down to catch the latest Dukes of Hazard) and rocker. Keith looks like he’s half asleep most of the time, but he does have a nifty little trick of playing his guitar to pique the interest of any nearby spirits.

Randy is young and brash and has more tats that an Attica lifer. He’s perfectly paired with Hart. Young and old really work well together and you can tell they genuinely like one another.

Jonathan is the head guy and seems to be the more level headed of the group. He’s aided by Benny, who is another funny good old boy, Kali (Randy’s sister) and Kevin, the gadget guy.

So, what makes this show tick? So far, it isn’t the ghosts. Even though they’ve investigated plantations and a saw mill, I’m more amused by watching them feed their friend’s pet gators, suck the breath from a frog for voodoo protection, pluck feathers from a live rooster and go mudding with their trucks.

Is Deep South Paranormal adding anything new to the world of paranormal investigations? No. But they are fun to watch. And it’s about time we had a ghost hunting show where everyone doesn’t walk around as dour as the Tall Man in Phantasm. Thanks Syfy.

Paranormal Book Review – The Uninvited

While I was perusing the bookstore on Jim Harold’s Paranormal Podcast website, I came across a tale of a true haunting in the Union Screaming House in Missouri called The Uninvited, by Steve LaChance and Laura Long-Helbig. I’m a sucker for a true ghost story, but the cover sealed the deal for me.

The Uninvited

Here’s the publisher’s description of the book:

In this true and terrifying firsthand account, Steven LaChance reveals how he and his three children were driven from their Union, Missouri, home by demonic attackers.
LaChance chronicles how the house’s relentless supernatural predators infest those around them. He consults paranormal investigators, psychics, and priests, but the demonic attacks—screams, growls, putrid odors, invisible shoves, bites, and other physical violations—only grow worse. The entities clearly demonstrate their wrath and power: killing family pets, sexually assaulting individuals, even causing two people to be institutionalized.
The demons’ next target is the current homeowner, Helen. When the entities take possession and urge Helen toward murder and madness, LaChance must engage in a hair-raising battle for her soul.

Yeah baby, that’s the kind of high strangeness that motors my boat. Now, I know that with a lot of these ‘true haunting’, books, there are usually more misses than hits. Poor writing and/or simply insane premises have me throwing these books against the wall by page 20.

Not so with The Uninvited. The writing is crisp and tense, delivering some solid tingles to the spine as LaChance (now a paranormal radio host) relays the events his family and a subsequent family went through at the Union House. If even half of what LaChance reports is true, the place needs to be burned to the ground and sown with salt (yes, I’m a huge fan of The Haunting). Objects crash to the ground, the air is ripped in two with maniacal screams, people are pushed, scratched, possessed. Simply nuts.

I will give LaChance major props. The moment he realized the house was haunted, and not in a friendly Casper way, he grabbed his three kids and hauled ass. He gets even more kudos for befriending the next family that moved in after him and wearing himself thin trying to help them.

The Uninvited is a very fast read that is almost impossible to put down. A definite solid addition to your paranormal library.

Read any good true ghost stories lately? Let us know and share the night terrors.

 

A Visit to the Haunted Union Cemetery

Growing up across the street from a cemetery, I never thought I’d actually want to hang out in one, especially one that is purpotedly the most haunted cemetery in the northeast. But, thanks to fellow Monster Man Jack, we packed up our gear and headed for the Union Cemetery in Easton, Connecticut on a cold but sunny Saturday. You can watch the video of our visit here.

A little background on the Union Cemetery. It first came to be in the late 1700s and still hosts new internments today. Sightings (and even recorded ones) of The White Lady, a pair of glowing, menacing eyes, voices, shadows and physical interactions have all taken place there. No one knows the origins of the apparitions that are heard and seen in and around the cemetery. Ed and Lorraine Warrren spent a great deal of time walking & investigating the grounds and even wrote a book about it called Graveyard.

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Jack and I and our friend Anthony went there during the day because the cemetery is small and heavily policed at night. Vandals laid waste to the graveyard last August and we saw plenty of broken and shoddily repaired tombstones. A word of caution. If you go there at night, you will be arrested. It’s a small cemetery, flat and open and surrounded by 2 main roads. Knowing this, we set about doing a daytime investigation, since I believe that although the freaks come out at night, true hauntings don’t have a time clock.

The star of the Union Cemetery show is the White Lady. She’s been seen drifting through the rows of gravestones, pretending to be hit by cars outside the cemetery gates, only to disappear, and sometimes weeping over the loss of something or someone we may never know. We set out to see if we could capture her, or any other spirits, on audio. All will be revealed as you read on…

When we first arrived, we spent a good deal of time walking through the cemetery, trying to read tombstones hundreds of years old, and just getting a feel for the place. Because it’s so tiny and open, I didn’t get that special tingle up my back I tend to feel in large bone orchards.

Union Cemetery (18)The weight of history is heavy there, and it’s really a tremendous historical place to visit.

Union Cemetery (16)It’s a shame that vandals saw it fit to topple so many monuments. There’s also been a good share of occult activity taking place there – another good reason to avoid any nighttime excursions.

We tried EVP sessions at multiple locations, taking turns asking questions and often leaving the recorder atop graves in the hopes that someone would want to reach out to us. At one point, I laid down on a very old grave in an attempt to get closer to any spirits, and put myself in their shoes. The tombstone had a creepy angel head etched on it, as you can see below.

GraveThere’s also an old Baptist church connected to the cemetery. When Jack was there over 15 years ago, he caught what looks to be a face in one of the windows. We took lots of pics this time around. It could have been a trick of the light, as each glass window also has a plastic covering. Add sunlight and treee branches to the mix and anything can happen, but it adds to the spooky factor.

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Before I get to the EVP part, here are some more pictures of the cemetery…..

Union Cemetery

Union Cemetery (44)Paranormal ‘experts’ claim that running water can provide energy for spirits to make themselves known. We found a good sized creek that runs along the back end of the cemetery. Could that be what energizes the White Lady?

OK, now for the good stuff. We weren’t just out to find the White Lady, but we did devote one EVP session exclusively to her. About a minute in to the session, Jack asked if she was here with us. My daughter, Ivy, did the first level of audio review. She and I both found audio bits that could have been footsteps and a possible sigh, but it was the answer to the question put to the White Lady that made our hair stand on end. We heard a soft but firrm “Yeah.” We play it several times in our Union Cemetery Monster Men episode. Click on over to hear it and tell us what you think.

We’re leaving it open for debate. Did we see the White Lady? No. Did she speak to us? Maybe. Will we return? Definitely. We’ve only just begun.

Have you ever been to the Union Cemetery? If so, do you have a story to tell? If you live in the New York tri-state area and know of other haunted cemeteries, let me know. We’re always up for a dalliance with the dead.

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