PEKIN — It is the time of year for haunted houses, telling spooky stories and watching scary movies. The members of Central Illinois Ghost Hunters get their thrills another way. They seek out paranormal activity.
The group of four gave a presentation on Monday at the Pekin Public Library. Shane Cleer is the founder of the group and has been investigating ghosts for nine years. Their lead investigator is Chris Fuller. Ty Stutzman is their part-time investigator and also works for the Woodford County Sheriff’s Department. The newest member of their small group is Brett Chilton. He is their researcher.
Cleer explained to the large crowd gathered that their job is to go into people’s homes to either assure people they are safe and there is no paranormal activity or to help them through their paranormal activity. They all admitted they get jumpy and scared from time to time while investigating.
“What got me into the paranormal was when I was at Eureka College and a little girl by the name of Lida Ford made herself known to me,” said Cleer.
Cleer has been looking into paranormal activity ever since. The first residential investigation the CIGH conducted was in a woman’s home in the area. The woman just lost her husband to the H1N1 virus. She just wanted to hear her husband’s voice again, she told the investigators.
Using equipment for picking up audio from spirits, they recorded their session at her house. Whatever they pick up is not audible to human ears alone. It is only heard after playing it back on the equipment. The group played what they heard to the interested audience members at the Monday presentation. The recording was faint, but people could hear it. The woman’s late husband also answered questions.
“My reaction of my first residential case was very active and taught me a lot about the spirit world,” said Cleer. “He would leave dimes for me in random spots throughout the home. I did continue to investigate the home for a while after.”
Another experience they shared was when they investigated an old barn along the Illinois River near Chillicothe, where a male hung himself, said Fuller. While they were there investigating, the spirit spoke to him and even threw rocks.
Other group members shared experiences about times they had been pulled by their shirts or heard laughter and knocking.
During an investigation at an old house in Forest City, Cleer asked a spirit, “Do you need any kind of help?”
He played back the audio for the crowd and people could hear a little girl answer, “Help me.”
The Central Illinois Ghost Hunters said they have tried to help her, but she is trapped inside the house.
The group said they have noticed a trend of more activity and more calls as the weather gets cooler.
While on an investigation, Cleer and his team bring instruments to assist in detecting paranormal activity. They displayed a number of these instruments during their presentation.
One piece they described as a “word-based dictionary” for spirits. They received a message that read “pregnant” from a ghost who was telling them that the woman of the house was pregnant. The chilling part, they said, was the woman thought she was unable to have children and had no idea until a few weeks later that she was expecting a baby.
The group also brings a K-2 meter and spirit box, the latter captures audio while on a paranormal investigation. The group played an audio clip captured by the spirit box.
“We asked, ‘Do you like us here?’ And we heard ‘Go away’ very clearly,” Fuller said.
Typically they investigate between midnight and 3 a.m. However, activity can be detected at any time.
Another piece of equipment used is an EMF recorder, which is an electromagnetic field device. The ghost hunters played audio clips they picked up using this device.
They took questions and comments from the crowd as well. A number of questions had to do with the old State Hospital in Bartonville.
Central Illinois Ghost Hunters are contacted by both local and non-local people. Recently, someone from Alton contacted them. They referred that person to a team in St. Louis.
Another reason they will not investigate is if the paranormal activity is “demonic.” Cleer said he got a tattoo of Saint Michael on his arm after a frightening case.
Sandy Conarro of Pekin was in attendance at the event. She said she has always been curious about ghosts and always will be.
Others like Jamee Congrove of Morton are more than curious.
“I investigate the paranormal a lot,” Congrove said. “My whole family does. We belong to the Augusta Paranormal Society. The spirit boxes are always interesting to hear what other people find.”
Cleer said they do not have more presentations planned at this time but welcomes anyone interested in having his group speak to contact him through their website: www.centralillinoisghosthunters.com.