In Marketplace

Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee has seven members, though four -- two investigators and two sensitives -- showed up for my home investigation. (PHOTO: Whitney Teska)

In Marketplace

The group uses a bevy of equipment, including a tri-field meter, cell sensor and various recorders and cameras. (PHOTO: Whitney Teska)

Shift Switch: Paranormal Milwaukee ghost investigator

It's late August when the members of the Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee visit my Walker's Point home, but the temperature has dropped from its normal mid-80s range down to a brisk 63 degrees. The wind is rushing, bringing the abnormally cool evening air into my house in puffs.

We hadn't expected it to be so chilly, but as it turns out, it's a perfect night for a ghost investigation.

The group's founder and lead investigator Noah Leigh is the first one to arrive, his arms strained with equipment that would soon be set up all over my house. Investigator and equipment specialist Steve Gomon is next, followed by Michael Tovar, one of the group's mediums, known as a "sensitive."

Michael is along for almost every group investigation as a tool of sorts to help elicit some kind of tangible response that the team is able to record, such as a video clip, an electromagnetic field (EMF) reading or an electronic voice phenomenon (EVP). Tovar doesn't claim to be psychic, but says he's able to clear his thoughts and open his mind in order to receive things that may be present.

It's a gift he's had since childhood, and he describes the energy he feels upon entering a potentially haunted space as the "weird feelings" some people get just before a storm.

"There is definitely energy here, and it's positive and it's kind of cool," he tells me once he's seated on my couch. I'm already intrigued.

When Noah sits my husband and I down for an interview about the history of our house, its past owners and any unusual experiences or inklings we have about the property, Michael sets off on his own to tour the rest of my home to see who, if anyone, might be lingering in the spirit world. When he returns, I am shocked at what he reveals.

"There is a blond teenager in your attic," he says. "He's shy but he likes jokes. His name might be Steven."

Without missing a beat, he goes on to tell us about the old woman near the bed in our bedroom, the young girl playing with toys in another bedroom and a middle-aged man he saw in my front hall, who seems to be roaming about the house.

My husband and I immediately look at Noah for clarification, who, seemingly unfazed by the findings, continues setting up his tri-field meter, cell sensor and various cameras.

It's an interesting dynamic. Noah, a graduate student in cellular biology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, is a scientist by trade and insists on making his investigations as controlled as possible, so as to gain credibility with other scientists who are doing research at universities. The overall goal of Paranormal Milwaukee, he says, is to help people who think they might have a problem and the first way to go about that is to attempt to disprove paranormal activity through scientific explanations.

If you tell him you hear footstep or noises above your head at night, he'll go look at your water pipes or he'll turn on your heat and air conditioning to see what it sounds like when they kick in.

"I'm a believer -- I believe that it's out there, but I'm also a skeptic. It takes a lot to convince me."

When I told him that the only "odd" thing that's happened in my house during my 10 months of living there was the time when the powder room faucet was inexplicably turned on one evening when both my husband and I were home, the first thing he did was turn on the water very low -- like a dribble -- to see if the pressure would build over time and eventually come out as a full stream. There was a chance, he said, that we'd not turned the handle completely off that night and the dribble suddenly burst out from the pressure. The night of the investigation, the dribble never intensified. Page 1 of 2 (view all on one page)

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Arkman1982 | Sept. 30, 2009 at 7:54 a.m. (report)

I also wanted to mention that PIM is looking for one or two qualified members to join its team. If you have a serious interest in the paranormal and want to join a scientifically based investigation team that meets regularly, please visit our website and fill out an application.

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mkegirl | Sept. 29, 2009 at 9:41 p.m. (report)

I lived in a house w/spirits, saw one or two in plain daylight, and may have rid the house of them back around 1980- 83. I'm a bit sensitive apparently, and try to block it, because it can be unsettling in many cases. Have had many experiences. I appreciate what they're trying to do.

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Arkman1982 | Sept. 29, 2009 at 4:18 p.m. (report)

Hello everyone, I am the lead investigator from this investigation. I wanted to take a moment to respond to some of these comments. First, the "outfits" that we where have many functions. First, you tend to crawl around in dirty places such as basements and attics and the black prevents all that dirt from showing. Also, we need to have clothing with a lot of pockets since we carry a lot of equipment around with us. So even though they look a lot like the jump suits from Ghostbusters they are not worn for that reason. The 0.1% figure of paranormal activity that is visual is simple statistics. Most reported paranormal activity is either audible or sensory, very few reports involve something visual in nature. We never charge for an investigation and every client receives and indepth report after the investigation outlining our findings along with a copy of any evidence that was captured. We aim to help people who are experiencing something they can't explain and we get a lot of enjoyment out of the investigation itself. Our group also aims to educate the public about misconceptions regarding paranormal investigators. We use state of the art scientific equipment and techniques on our investigations to try and remove bias and confounding factors. We believe that most paranormal activity that is reported is explainable and look to debunk those claims. The remaining activity that has no explanation is what we then aim to capture. Any group that charges for an investigation should not be trusted. I hope that anyone with any questions about our group or what we do will e-mail me directly at noahl@paranormalmilwaukee.com and I would be happy to answer them. Also, we will be having a public event at Elsing's Second Hand Shop in Stoughton, WI on Halloween from 10-4 where we will display some evidence we have caught from that location along with all of our equipment. We will be available to answer questions about our group, evidence or the paranormal in general. Thanks for reading this article and PIM wants to thank Julie for writing it. It was a pleasure investigating her home.

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Michael_P | Sept. 29, 2009 at 1:57 p.m. (report)

You'd make progress towards losing the "quack" label if you'd discard the Ghostbusters uniforms and stick to normal clothes.

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InTheView | Sept. 29, 2009 at 12:58 p.m. (report)

How hard would it be to keep a straight face while these guys go through your house!? What frightens me is that people actually believe in this crap.

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