My first paranormal investigation took place on Friday, June 11, 2010 at the Greenway Cemetery in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.
I met the members of the Martinsburg, West Virginia-based Another Dimension Paranormal Team (ADPT) at the Sheetz gas station in Berkeley Springs at 8 p.m. Present were Shelly, the team founder, Chris, the case manager, and Damien, the equipment technician. Later I would meet Brantley, an investigator
Our objective was to investigate a purportedly haunted residence in Berkeley Springs. However, when we arrived on site we found that the occupants had not vacated as expected. Their plans had changed and they did not want ghost hunters running around their home.
We did the next best thing and turned our attention to the Greenway Cemetery.
ADPT had investigated the Greenway Cemetery two weeks prior and had some interesting results. In addition to capturing a few ghostly orbs in photographs, Shelly had “lost” her cell phone. She found it shortly after resting silently on one of the headstones. She did not recall taking the phone out or intentionally placing it on the stone.
My first investigation was a short one. Since ADPT did not expect to shift their focus to the cemetery, they did not obtain the documents to investigate at night. With the sun rapidly sinking below the horizon, time was of the essence.
The investigation took a total of 30-minutes but I was able to use the tools I had: a Sony IC digital recorder, a Sony miniDV camcorder, and my Nikon D80 SLR digital camera.
As Chris walked around the cemetery taking photographs, Shelly, Damien, and Brantley began some preliminary electronic voice phenomena (EVP) sessions by asking a series of questions. There were no reports of any audible voices during the sessions.
I took few photographs but did capture what appears to be orbs. While these anomalies may have been insects, I found it highly coincidental that one of the orbs was captured over the exact headstone where Shelly found her phone week before.
Personal Lessons Learned
First, the digital recorder I was using is extremely sensitive to noise. I noticed that all sounds were captured, including background noise from a local baseball game, aircraft flying overhead, and every small rustling of feet. In the future I need to ensure that any EVP sessions are captured in complete silence. I also noted that the recorder picked up the on-off sounds of my camcorder and every sound of the Nikon as I took pictures. In terms of the camcorder, I will need to configure to eliminate the beeping sound it makes as I turn the machine from record to standby. I cannot do much about the Nikon but should probably comment before taking a picture. This will eliminate any confusion between noises I make and noises in the environment.
Second, it would be beneficial to conduct some research prior to the investigation itself. From my perspective, I went in blind and did not know where the investigation was to take place. Researching the area first would have provided me with some interesting information that could have been of benefit during the EVP sessions specifically. From the historical records, in the 1950s an unidentified girl’s body was found in the area and buried in the pauper’s section of the Greenway Cemetery. As of late 2009, her death remains a “cold case” and she remains a Jane Doe. She could be one of the reasons the cemetery is considered haunted. See The Charleston Gazette, Sunday, December 23, 1951.
Third, I realized that managing a camcorder, SLR camera, IC recorder, and associated supporting equipment is extremely difficult and cumbersome. My personal recommendation is to (a) obtain a smaller point-and-shoot camera, (b) use a tripod for taking video (stationary camera covering the “action”), and (c) develop an easier method for carrying equipment. On future investigations, it may be of benefit to focus on one discipline instead of all three. However, future solo investigations may require the use of all.
Finally, it would be helpful to have a traditional compass. Having one would allow me to identify direction of wind currents, positioning of geographical features, and alignment of markers, natural or other.