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Ghost Hunters in the Thick of Night {format} {format} 3:48 Jake Warga

Another tall tale from AGHOST.

Broadcast: Jul 14 2004 on NPR All Things ConsideredSeries: Ghost Hunters Subjects: Cultural, Technology

Commentary: Ghost hunting

July 14, 2004 from All Things Considered

MELISSA BLOCK, host: They're called ghost hunting groups. Members tour graveyards late at night, investigate reports of strange noises and visit families concerned there may be otherworldly guests hanging around. Commentator Jake Warga is a ghost hunter. His latest assignment: to help a family of three who were reporting suspicious activity in their old house, but only late at night.


Claire(ph) is a 26-year-old female. Occupation: mom. Husband, Rick, is a carpenter. And their son, Alex, is two years old. The house was built in 1919, and they've been there for two years. Claire has experienced numerous events, initially frightening her. She believes in ghosts. Rick does not, but confesses he can't find an explanation. All events happen at night.

This is a very normal scenario. Women are more likely to believe in ghosts than men, and everything seems to happen at night. Both have heard a woman crying while in the back room, and noises coming from upstairs, thumping like things dropping even though no one's up there. Claire reports cold spots, too, sometimes with a brushing or touching feeling when in Alex's room. Ghost hunters get really excited when people report cold spots, because techs love taking the air temperature. Claire also reports a woman's whispering coming through the baby monitor. They don't know it, but baby monitors have been a ghost hunting tool since they were invented.

I'm noticing a lot of activity focusing around the kid. I ask if the baby's ever done odd things like talk out loud to one specific spot. Claire seems surprised and a little frightened. `Yes,' she says, `sometimes he'll point to the ceiling and wave, "hi," "bye," then there will be a noise upstairs.' Even her husband has seen Alex do this. He just points and says, `Hi.'

A psychic once told me an interesting trick. Find a toddler and ask them, `Tell me about when you were big.' She said that maybe one in about eight will tell you about stuff they could not have known, suggesting a previous life. Some say we are reincarnated each time we pass on, like sleeping, waking, sleeping then waking. I ask Alex this. He just runs away, looking embarrassed. He really only knows how to say `hi' and `bye.' The trick is to find a child that has not yet been told that their imaginary friends are not real by the all-knowing adults.

As adults, we find logical explanations for things that go bump in the night, because our parents told us it wasn't a monster or a ghost. Unfortunately, my job as a ghost hunter is to be the adult. For example, Claire tells me that the incidences have all but stopped. Here's what I think. New mother, new wife moves to a new town far away from her family. They don't know anyone, and a child is such an overwhelming thing for a new parent. And when there's a bump upstairs, all her fears come crashing down.

I ask her who she thinks it is that might be giving so much attention to Alex. `Who whispers to him in his sleep? Who watches over him who he's so happy to see?' `My grandmother,' she says. `I so wanted her to see Alex, but she died before he was born.' I think the occurrences have slowed because they've settled into a new neighborhood, made new friends, have home improvement projects going, including a white picket fence. And she's a confident mother now. There's just less to be afraid of.

I suggest in my report that we come back and do a proper investigation, concentrating on the kid's room. I instruct them to record the baby monitor. But if my hunch is right, it'll be too late to hear the cooing of a sweet grandmother when we play the tape back. It'll be too faint, because she's not needed anymore.

BLOCK: Jake Warga hunts ghosts in Seattle, Washington.