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Ghost chasers stake out the Indy
by Michael de Yoanna
November 30-December 6, 2006
It's just after two on a Sunday morning, and Bryan Bonner is hushing his teammates as they huddle around glowing monitors.
Bonner's chair creaks as he pushes back his long, wiry hair and takes a sip of Gatorade. He listens keenly to a dissonant whir, which spills softly from his headphones.
He squints at a monitor, watching his bait: Lori Green, assistant to the vice president of retail sales at the Colorado Springs Independent, seated alone in the newspaper's breakroom. Near here, about two years ago, Green was astonished by an apparition: a pastor clad in black robes.
Green's is just one of many unexplained sightings reported over the years in this former church, marked by an enigmatic cornerstone dated "1912 and 1917."
Squinting at Bonner, Matt Baxter, a fellow member of the Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society, presses his headphones tighter to his head. Green squirms on the monitor.
Bonner flashes back a quizzical expression. He chews down M&Ms.
And so it goes for 20 minutes.
Suddenly, Green rises and rushes out of the breakroom. Seconds later, pale and harried, she reports to the makeshift control center on the office's ground floor.
Green, usually composed even in the most dire advertising emergencies, says a dark and indistinct image moving in the hall frightened her. And there were odd, distant, undistinguishable, yet somehow blissful voices, perhaps singing, that turned menacing.
Bonner is not able to determine who, or what, cast the shadow that Green saw. But the same faint, lyrical voices Green describes match what he and Baxter heard on their headphones.
"Sometimes I hear people singing; sometimes it's like people screaming," Baxter says, replaying a recording of the curious noises several times.
That moment is the highlight of a grueling shift that begins in the robust, early hours of Saturday evening and ends at 6 a.m. Sunday. Yet Bonner is encouraged by the scant findings. He arranges a return visit in coming weeks.
"There's definitely something odd going on in the building," he says.
A federal records clerk by day, Bonner has been on a quest for concrete proof of ghosts since he helped found the paranormal society in 1999. He does the work for simple reasons.
"You get to meet people," he says, sitting at the computer of his Westminster living room, surrounded by statuettes of Mickey Mouse, mini dragons and gargoyles. "It's fun."
But the work, which the team does free of charge, is serious to many people, especially those feeling haunted. It's taken them across the region, from the McClelland School in Pueblo to F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyo. The team may spend several nights at a site, dragging in computers, cameras, infrared lights, electromagnetic field detectors, microphones and long, snaking lines of cable to hook it all up.
The Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society’s Bryan Bonner spurns proton packs and slime blowers for more conventional tools.
© 2006 Jon Kelley
Sometimes, the paranormal research may conclude a ghost mystery is actually a set of unusual, but explicable, phenomena. Other times, the team may want to do more research, or may conjecture that a ghost indeed may be present.
The team doesn't have 100 percent proof that ghosts exist. Yet in the course of a dozen serious investigations, and scores of smaller ones, they have amassed some compelling research and stories that could make even the deepest skeptics at least entertain the possibility that there's something out there.
Last year, Bonner and Co. visited Platte Canyon High School in Bailey, where students and faculty suspected that strange footprints and moaning emanating from a storage room were connected to the legend of a teacher who assaulted a freshman girl and then hanged himself in the building.
Though the paranormal team failed to make that link, it recorded the sounds of circling footsteps during the investigation. (Several months later, in September, the same school made national headlines after a gunman took students hostage and shot a female student to death before being killed by a SWAT team.)
In another investigation, the ghost hunters staked out the nine-decade-old county courthouse in Greeley, the site of numerous puzzling incidents. A loud breathing sound came from courtroom benches; a "shadow man" roamed; and an official meeting tape was interrupted by 30 seconds of indistinct voices, bumps and footsteps.
While there, the team's microphones picked up reverberations of what seemed to be an old-fashioned telephone bell. Perplexed, the ghost hunters dialed all known phone and fax numbers in the building but were unable to replicate the ringing.
"We couldn't explain it," Bonner says. "It's possible paranormal activity."
On the other end of the spectrum was an investigation of an Aurora home. The new homeowners complained of a hellish racket at night, and blamed demons. They wanted to know whether to sell.
"When we got there, the wife was refusing to go inside, the husband had covered the door in oil and had the television blaring on a Christian program inside," he says.
After spending hours of dissecting a cacophonous symphony of creaks, clangs and crashes, the team concluded ...
"The house was constantly settling," Bonner says. "It was built on a landfill. There was also a major street intersection near a bar. And it was on a flight path to DIA."
Although the couple had just bought the house, they were so freaked out they sold anyway, Bonner says.
What is it?
Two years ago, Bonner experienced his own sighting as he investigated an old home in Fort Collins.
It was a dark object, floating in three dimensions in the house's bedroom — the same place where a ghost had been reported before.
"I wasn't the only one seeing it," he adds.
With Bonner and Matt Baxter below, photographer Ginger Inskeep
demonstrates how a trickster might manufacture a photo of an “orb”: Disturb a piece of dust (circled) and catch it in the camera’s flash.
Photo courtesy of Ginger Inskeep
An experienced photographer, he pointed his camera at the object and snapped two rolls of film. But when the photos were developed, there wasn't a hint of ghost.
At the same house, he captured a compelling recording of scratching noises emanating from the other side of a wall.
"The family was in a get-it-out-of-here situation," Bonner says.
So the team summoned the expertise of its own Wendy Haver, known for her talents in blessing houses or, if needed, cleansing them of bad spirits.
Haver died in her sleep just weeks ago and is "now working for us on the other side," Bonner says. She had a knack for identifying with people from many faiths.
"You really need to think about the beliefs of who lives there," Bonner says. "If you don't, you can cause damage."
Haver's efforts to purify the Fort Collins house appeared successful, Bonner says.
"We checked back months later, and the problem just stopped," Bonner says. "The residents were still scared, but the activity wasn't there anymore."
A bit of debunking
Asked what he thinks a ghost is, Bonner answers, "I haven't got a clue.
"If I could tell you 100 percent what a ghost is," he adds, "game over."
He can muse endlessly, however, about specters, poltergeists, banshees and ghouls. And he says that what they are could depend on what you are. If your religion is Earth-based, then ghosts might well be fairies, Bonner says.
If your religion preaches brimstone and hell, ghosts are likely demons, he says. "I'm glad I don't have that outlook," he adds, "or I'd be too scared to do this work."
Ghosts could be lost souls. Or maybe they're phenomena that could be explained by physics we don't yet understand. Perhaps mirror-like images of real people, places, things and sounds become visible if the universe's fabric is somehow disturbed. In that theory, ghosts might actually be images from the past, or a possible future.
"Physics would explain that ghosts are a natural event," he says. "Is it true that there are a multiple number of realities? Can we see reflections of that?"
Another theory is that the Earth somehow records its past. That's where we might get stories of Grandma walking through the house at three every morning, or of stoic soldiers marching through a hazy field.
While Bonner appreciates the wide range of possible explanations for ghosts, his work does require a skeptical eye as well. "Evidence," he says, "is only as good as the person it is coming from."
He rails against the way some findings are hyped on cable TV shows and the Internet.
"There's a lot of folks running around," he says. "A lot of them want to get the Holy Grail, as it were."
But they're not very careful about gathering data and interpreting it, Bonner says. He was incensed when someone on eBay placed a "ghost in a jar" for auction a few years ago. Bids went to more than $50,000.
Bonner has been featured on numerous television and radio shows, particularly around Halloween, and is often asked by reporters to play the role of debunker. A few years ago, KKTV News 11 in Colorado Springs sought his advice in a story about a former bed and breakfast in Manitou Springs, where the owner had captured dancing lights on a surveillance camera.
Bonner doubted the lights were paranormal after seeing a curtain move just prior to a flash of light. The movement indicated that someone was hiding and perhaps igniting magicians' flash paper, or solar igniters from model rockets.
While he can't say for sure, Bonner smelled a stunt.
"When you talk to people who have really seen ghosts, it's not a flash of light," he says. "It's a person or shape. It didn't help that we were called by the media to investigate as Halloween approached."
Don't expect him to be impressed if you say you've captured ectoplasm on film, either. Sometimes described as hazy stuff, and other times strange goo, ectoplasm is said to accompany the materialization of a specter.
The obsession with ectoplasm accompanied the release of the film Ghostbusters, he notes. And the film apparently found ample comedic inspiration from the staged séances of the late 1800s, when egg whites or like substances dripped from the mouths or ears of psychics, wooing believers.
Today, many modern phantom chasers claim they've captured ectoplasm in wispy, smoky images in photographs. But it is easy to replicate the images simply by breathing under the camera's lens and snapping, Bonner says.
Similarly, whenever photo evidence of small, glowing orbs is submitted as proof of the supernatural, Bonner is irritated.
"It's always right in front of the lens," he says. "You never see the orbs coming from behind something. You never see half an orb. It's dust."
When Colorado Springs was established in 1872, Gen. William Jackson Palmer created two identical parks along Nevada Avenue: North Park and South Park. North Park is today called Acacia Park; South Park was lost in 1903, when El Paso county commissioners controversially decided to build the courthouse — today's Pioneers Museum — on it.
Since those early days, the stretch of Nevada Avenue in between has fostered countless ghost stories. The tunnels under the street from City Hall are said to entertain the spirits of ill-fated police officers and licentious city councilmen.
After 40-plus years in the building (shown below in 1967), perhaps minister Walter G. Schaefer never wanted to leave.
The museum, visible from the front door of the Indy's 235 S. Nevada Ave. office, purportedly harbors the specter of Eddie Ray Beals, who was shot upon exiting a courthouse elevator in 1959 by a coworker, Willy Butler.
"We do have some strange things that go on," says Gretchen Arnold, museum receptionist, bookkeeper and tour coordinator.
Besides the sounds of footsteps, motion alarms that go off unexplained and other strange happenings, the elevator goes up and down with nobody in it.
"It's Eddie," Arnold says. "He got stuck here because he met such a tremendous end. But he doesn't bother us. We say, "Eddie, stop that!' and he does."
Across the street, many current and past Indy employees claim to have seen or heard ghosts. And they're not alone. Kat Tudor, director of the former Smokebrush Theater, which occupied the building in the decade prior to the Indy's arrival in 2003, says "dozens" of actors, directors, set workers and others saw or heard ghosts.
Tudor says she saw a woman who wore a long, white dress and ambled around the building's third floor.
"She often laughed," Tudor says. "You'd hear a door shut or you'd hear footsteps, and there would be nobody there."
In a similar account, the Indy's receptionist claims to have seen a woman wearing a black-and-white dress with a matching hat in the lobby.
The receptionist asked whether she could help the woman, but the woman mysteriously disappeared. She also claims the items on her desk have been rearranged when nobody else is around.
Other employees tell stories of strange gravitational forces in an area where the pastor wearing black robes has been spotted. There is also a story of a little girl who runs through the halls.
"It's always the ghost of the little girl that's the real creepy one," Bonner says.
A hole in the ground
But the scariest stories in our building?
"Downstairs — I'd say that's the main place," Tudor says.
There, employees have reported doors swinging open, seeing ghostly images, hearing bangs, feeling chills and more.
In 1912, Tourist Memorial Mission Church congregants dubbed their place of worship the "Hole-in-the-Ground," because a foundation had been dug, but there was no money to complete the project. For years, it was no more than a basement with a tent.
The tent "often was torn down by strong winds, but the heroic women of the church would bring sewing machines, heavy cord and needles, and with songs and happy fellowship mend the tent ..." according to an undated written summary by now-deceased minister Walter G. Schaefer in a church scrapbook.
A buy-a-brick campaign sold 200,000 bricks and brought the building to completion around 1917.
The church, today known as the Central United Methodist Church of Colorado Springs, sold the building in 1973.
The building later housed a police training academy. A past owner, Joe Bonicelli, was accused of hiring a hit man to kill his wife.
Other family members long suspected that Bonicelli, who died in 1998, had arranged the murder of his wife, Eloise, on Nov. 23, 1975, in her Colorado Springs home to prevent her from obtaining part of the family fortune in a divorce.
He was part owner of the Pearl of Allah, the world's largest freshwater pearl, reputedly worth millions of dollars.
The church was vacant for several years in the 1980s before the Smokebrush Center for the Arts moved in during 1992.
Lucille Sams, a former public school principal and member of the church since 1940, was surprised to hear that tales of ghosts are now associated with the building.
"I never heard anything like that," she says. "Goodness sakes."
Bonner's intrigued by the historical tidbits — including one he uncovered, but hasn't been able to confirm.
"There was someone in the church allegedly involved in a satanic cult," he says.
But the thought of what that might mean hasn't intrigued him as much as the pastor seen by employees as alternately youthful and aged, holding a book. It could be Schaefer; the pastor began his service at the church in 1916 fresh out of seminary and retired as a "friend to all" in 1957.
In an old newspaper photograph in the church scrapbook, the kind-faced Schaefer is wearing long, black robes. In his undated obituary, a friend stated that he performed more than 4,000 funerals for the church and some 3,800 weddings.
Perhaps, Bonner says, the voices belong to long-gone congregants of the early days who gathered under the tent in good sprits, singing songs.
"It would make sense," he says.
After spending one long night at the Indy's office, it will take time before answers come, he adds.
Electromagnetic sensors and thermometers that were placed in several hot spots recorded no unusual activity. And the hours of video and audio gathered still need painstaking review.
"We need to do a lot more to focus on what we found," Bonner says. "What makes it credible is that there are a lot of people in the office who have similar stories."
To learn more about the Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society, visit rockymountainparanormal.com
Show Synopsis: On this edition of the A.R.C. Radio, we interview Bryan Bonner. He is a professional photographer and the founder of The Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society. We discuss paranormal photography, his appearance on "Is It Real?: Ghosts", the poetic licensing in regard to paranormal tv shows and movies, along with much, much more! We hope you enjoy this edition of A.R.C. Radio!
Click on a number to Listen to interviews that were done during the overnight
1 2 3
Ghosts? Can anyone become one? How do they
interact with time and space? Stripping away the
sensationalism and fraud linked to this
contentious topic, J. Allan Danelek presents a
well-researched study of a phenomenon that has
facinated mankind for centuries. Analyzing
theories that support and debunk these
supernatural events,, Danelek objectively explores
hauntings, the ghost psyche, spirit-communication,
and spirit guides. He also investigates spirit
photography, EVP, ghost-hunting tools, ouija
boards, and the darker side of the ghost
equation-malevolent spirits and demon possession.
Whether you're a ghost enthusiast of a skeptic,
The Case for Ghosts promises amazing insights into
the spirit realm.
"I would like
to thank Mr. Bryan Bonner at the Rocky Mountain
Paranormal Society fo his encouragement and
assistance in going through this material and
pointing out its many potential problems, possible
pitfalls, and occasional bouts of just plain
nonsense. Such ovesights have been corrected or
otherwise taken into account, thus making this a
better book than it would have been otherwise. If
ghosts are ever to be proven to be a fact, it will
be through the tireless efforts of dedicated and
clever skeptics like himself, who have made it
their life's passion to keep both believers and
debunkers alike on their collective toes."
By Nancy Clark
As dusk was settling over Denver on Saturday night, Bryan Bonner was also settling in to do what he generally does on a Saturday night...ghost-busting.
This is not a profitable business, but rather one borne out of the fascination Bonner has always held for the occult and the inexplicable. He doesn’t work alone. In fact he has a crew of fellow ghost-busters who work alongside him including Intuitives—people with a special gift to “feel” the energy fields surrounding ghosts and the unseen—and technogeeks who operate the loads of highly specialized equipment that Bonner uses to detect the existence of ghosts—technology enough to fill a 12 ft. by 16 ft. space when compacted together.
Bonner is a calm sort. He holds a job by day with a Fortune 500 company, builds websites on the side, and regularly comes to the rescue. Often his work is for historical purposes, verifying the unusual in buildings known for their infamous histories—like Mattie Silks’ former bordello-turned-restaurant in Lodo. And then there’s the unusual case (recall “Amityville Horror”) in which the ghosts possess the humans trying to occupy a home. Bonner actually has an email on record from a mother who called upon his services to rid her home of ghosts tormenting her four-year-old son. She wrote: It’s good to have my son back.”
As his crew lugged equipment into the Denver Press Club Saturday (the club is reputed to be haunted by a male ghost named “Charlie” and a female in a blue dress), Bonner’s Intuitives roamed the building, peering into every nook and cranny, under the stairwells and into storage closets. (There’s always a ghost under the bed.) They paused in each room to take in the vibrations. Both Intuitives were drawn to the business office where they proclaimed, “This is it. Feel the energy. It’s along that wall, by the safe. Do you feel the rage?” they looked at each other knowingly.
“I really don’t want to hear any more,” I, the informal tour guide, pleaded before taking leave.
Later that night, a DPC member dropped by to check on the ghost-buster’s findings and found that the pilot light in the boiler room has gone out. Xcel responded to cut the gas to the boiler which was last replaced in 1995 after the old one broke in a weeklong occurrence of sub-zero weather. Then, the club’s bartender Justin had to spend the night in the place monitoring propane heaters to keep the pipes from freezing. And fortunately for the historically cash-poor club, the membership had raised just-enough from its ’95 Damon Runyon dinner featuring Jimmy Breslin to fund the new boiler.
At 3 a.m., the ghost-busters-turned-gas-busters vacated the club having witnessed nothing particularly haunting...except if you count the fact that the pilot light had never before extinguished on its own. Call it coincidence. Call it rage. Call the club president.
Which I did. “I’m afraid I may have to resign as treasurer. The ghost-busters discovered The Rage surrounding the club safe.”
He burst out laughing, “Think about it. For the entire existence of the club the rage has revolved around the safe.”
It’s enough to spook your inner spirit: Isn’t coincidence sometimes unsettling? And do the ghosts we battle come in other forms than what darkness causes us to expect?
In late February 2006, TAPS and the Rocky Mountain Paranormal Reseach Society joind together
to investigate the Elk Horn Lodge in Estes Park, Colorado.
This investigation is featured on the Season 2 Part 2 DVD set of
The areas that were looked at were the main lodge and the "stable" behind the main Lodge.
The investigation started at 7:00 in the evening and was concluded at 2:30 a.m.
The evening was very cold. The inside temperature was between 20 and 35 degrees. The outside temperature was in the teens.
The investigation started with an expedition to the "Stable" where there has been reported activity such as strange knockings, full apparitions, and people reporting the feeling of being touched. The Stable was a standard Horse Stable on the main floor including all of the equipment that one would find in any stable, however we discovered that in the attic of the Stable there is a full Bar including several Pool tables and a dance floor.
The visit to the stable was not conclusive, however we did hear an odd knocking from a seating area when one of the team members was attempting to ask a question for an EVP.
The investigation continued inside with the different teams checking out different locations in the main Lodge.
There were 5 I/R cameras located throughout the building. ( the main entrance, the Dining hall, the 2nd floor hallway, the main area on the 1st floor, and room 107. There was also a microphone place in the guest room.
Throughout the evening we monitored the different areas with other equipment as well. we used mini I/R Digital video cameras, EMF meters, and a Thermal Camera.
The only noticable oddities during the investigation (before going over the recordings) were a noticable temperature drop in the dining area ( the average temperature was 20 degrees and the measurements were as low as 10 degrees.
In the Dining room there were some odd sounds that were eventually credited to the sounds of mice in the walls.
And at two seperate times with two diffenrent teams there was the shape of a person seen in the Dining room while using the Thermal camera. This image was discovered to be an arrangement of statues and a lamp that were mounted to a wall.
We will see what all of the recording turn up when they are examined at a later date, however the evening was a great experience for all of us and hopefully we will be able to work together in the future
The Elkhorn’s Main Lodge represents one of the larger mountain structures built in Colorado during the period 1888-1902. The Main Lodge pillow count is approximately 65-70, depending on the number of beds in the various rooms; each room is different in terms of décor, number of beds, etc. All are rustic; there are no TV’s, phones, and limited electrical outlets in each room. All but one room has its own bathroom.
Actually the Lodge was started earlier as a small cottage; and then as tourism increased during that period, the Main Lodge went through 3 major phases of construction.
The first phase was the addition of the South Wing, which included a second story of some 8 sleeping rooms and the first floor was additional lobby area with pool and card playing tables, and two large fireplaces.
At that time the James Family started purchasing Stickley furniture for the lobby area and some of the finest Stickley furniture today remains in the Elkhorn’s lobby area - serious Stickley investors are sent here by the Fort Collins modern-day Stickley furniture store to see the Lodge’s collection - and, after a century of use, that furniture is as good today as it was when constructed. The Stickley Museum has offered to purchase some of the Lodge’s furniture.
The second phase was the addition of the East-West Wing comprising an additional 12 second floor sleeping rooms, and Northern Colorado’s first dance hall (presently called the Ballroom); the Hunt Room with a large fireplace, one of Colorado’s grandest billiards table (now missing), and additional lobby space.
The third phase was the Northern Wing adding an additional 8 second floor rooms and the 200 person plus Main Lodge dining room for the summer season.
The Elkhorn Lodge & Guest Ranch received its first guests in 1874. Prior to that it consisted of the old lodge and a barn. The ‘old lodge’ dating back to 1871 is still in use. It is the oldest continually occupied structure in Colorado. The James family started a cattle ranch but determined that lodging for Estes visitors, hunting elk and transporting the meat to Denver was more profitable. From the 1870’s to the early 1900’s this practice decimated the elk population.
In 1913 the Elkhorn, with others, arranged to have 40 specially built wagons created to transport elk to Estes Park to regenerate the elk herds - which had become essential to the continued flow of tourist to the area.
In a building now called the Woodshed, the Elkhorn operated the first ice house in Estes. During the winter months large blocks of ice would be cut from the fall river and stored in the ice house for use during summer months. Some of our more senior regular guests recall their experiences of working at the Elkhorn and cutting and transporting the ice by horse wagons - hard and difficult work.
When you tour the Elkhorn some historical highlights include Estes’ first school house ; Estes’ first church; the original stage terminal the coach house; and the Elkhorn’s hospitality was recognized throughout the world. Prior to the start-up of the Stanley Hotel [early 1900’s], the Elkhorn was the premier lodge in the area with a dining room seating over 200 and remains today as it was 100 years ago. The Elkhorn’s popularity was such that tents were erected each summer to accommodate guests.
Elkhorn’s guests came from around the world. One of the most prominent, Pieter Hondius, related to a royal European family even married a James daughter. From that time the Hondius name has become an instituion within the Estes Valley.
The Elkhorn’s land holdings increased and included more than 3,000 acres in the Horseshoe Park area which was transferred to the Rocky Mountain National Park in the 1930’s; that area is one of the more popular locations for wildlife viewing. Elkhorn’s guests would routinely ride Elkhorn’s horses from the Lodge to horseshoe Park over Deer Mountain for picnics and enjoy the views.
Doctoral history students visit the Elkhorn in order to experience the early life of Teddy Roosevelt, who visited and traveled the area and, many years later after his political life, started his own ranch named the Elkhorn.
The Elkhorn Lodge & Guest Ranch was designated a National Historical District by the US Congress in 1977
By Julie Marshall
October 27, 2002
It's 2:45 a.m. and my heart is pounding so hard, the bed feels like a beating drum.
Something has jolted me out of my sleep, and I don't know where I am.
Across the room hangs the black-and-white photograph of a family sitting on a lawn next to a horse and buggy. A speck of red light glows from a camcorder. Now I remember. I'm at the Berkeley Farm, waiting for ghosts.
Last weekend, I spent the night in a haunted house in Boulder. Not the kind with ghosts made from sheets and kids bobbing for apples, but a private dwelling said to be visited by spirits from the nether world. According to the property owner, as well as current and former tenants, the Berkeley Farm — an original homestead built in the days of the horse and wagon — is haunted by family ghosts.
Boulder has a rich history of reported hauntings. A new book, "Haunted Boulder" (White Sand Lake Press, $14.95), highlights more than a dozen of Boulder's most famous — and infamous — ghost stories, including eerie happenings at the Berkeley Farm near downtown. The farm, which is the sixth oldest original territorial property in Colorado, is one of two places listed in the book where author Roz Brown says she truly felt a presence.
(The second place is a 100-year-old stone house in Left Hand Canyon.)
"I want to be skeptical, but I sensed something," Brown says, "like old souls that maybe are still there."
The Berkeleys were an influential family. In 1870, Granville Sr. was appointed by the territorial governor to be a University of Colorado trustee. His son, Junius, became the first secretary of regents. Junius' brother, Granville Jr., was a prominent lawyer who built the Citizen's National Bank building on Pearl Street.
Junius Berkeley was the first to arrive in Boulder in 1861 and built his cabin on what became the family's 320-acre homestead. Diana Linnen, the great great granddaughter of Granville Sr., owns what is left — about 1 acre of the working farm with two original cookhouses and a barn.
I would be staying the night in Junius' first cabin, which became a cookhouse, Linnen tells me. The cozy, 2-bedroom home doesn't have much more than a bed and a dresser because it's being remodeled.
But furniture may move, Linnen says. The ghosts, probably Junius, may press the mattress from beneath the bed.
"Stay in the bedroom and at 3 a.m. leave the bathroom door open," Linnen says. "Sometimes there's a light there that looks like someone coming in the door."
Walking onto the Berkeley farm is like taking a step back in time. Despite modern additions, such as a second bedroom and living room attached to Junius' cabin, Linnen has retained the property's old-world charm with low ceilings and white painted wooden cabinets.
On this night the air is cold and still. A full moon casts tall shadows through a canopy of cottonwood trees rising above the red brick cookhouse — a structure added to the property in 1880.
Standing outside on the lawn wrapped in a blanket, I imagine the empty block building alive with the servants who once gathered water from White Rock Ditch and the cook who tended the fire. Nearby horses would be sleeping in the barn.
A psychic once told Historic Boulder, which gives haunted house tours each Halloween, that she saw the apparition of a man on a horse by the barn.
I'm not alone, either.
Back in Junius' original cabin are two "ghostbusters" from Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society busily hooking up camcorders in the bedrooms to TV monitors in the living room. The crew has an amazing amount of gadgetry to measure electromagnetic fields, microwaves, ion charges and any unseen energy force one can imagine.
The fourth in our slumber party is Bela Scheiber, founder of Rocky Mountain Skeptics and an astrogeophysicist, who began the evening by warning us that if anything should happen, nobody should jump to the conclusion it's a ghost.
"The supernatural should be the last possible explanation, not the first," he says.
Linnen says she did not want to believe the hauntings at first.
"Fifty percent of me said no, this is not happening."
Today Linnen wants people to know of her lineage and has fixed plaques on CU's campus in front of Old Main, and on her property. It's what the ghosts want, she says, to be acknowledged for their role in history.
"I know it sounds crazy, but I talk to them," Linnen
says. "They're still around ... I feel like they are
proud of me."
Looking for Junius
OK, I admit it, I talked to them too.
Thursday afternoon before the overnight, and with encouragement from Linnen, I visited Junius' grave at Columbia Cemetery on 9th and College streets, and told him I was coming.
It was a sunny autumn day; brilliant red and amber leaves swirled in a gentle wind, crunched under my feet and collected in piles along the dirt path I walked searching for Junius.
Columbia has 3,000 grave markers. How in the world would I find him?
I headed south toward the cemetery ditch. A few yards ahead stood a large man with thick, gray hair and muddy shoes. He not only had keys to the tool shed, but pulled out a color-coded map. It was serendipitous, and, a bit spooky.
The next morning I called the city to ask to speak to the cemetery grounds worker. A nice woman on the phone told me the man whom I described had died 20 years ago.
Not really ... but it was a fun thought.
Junius' ground-level, gray grave marker is in the southwest corner. Northeast, near the ditch, lies his father, Granville Sr., whose grave is marked by a leaning white marble stone inscribed with the word "Capt." because he was a captain who fought in Iowa during the Civil War.
Crouching by Granville Sr.'s grave, I felt thankful to Linnen for letting me, a stranger, into her life and into her home for a night without her there. She was willing, she said, with one condition:
"Don't scare my ghosts away."
We settle into the living room about 10 p.m., with lights dimmed to watch two large and four tiny monitors. An infrared camera on a tripod is installed in the bedroom, lights off, where Junius is said to visit.
Junius isn't the only ghost. In "Haunted Boulder" the authors interviewed a current tenant living in the Ice House — a remodeled 1880s cabin where Granville Jr. stored ice cut from nearby Berkeley Lake. The original Ice House was smashed by a tree that fell after being struck by lightning, Linnen says.
According to the book, the tenant has recently seen the specter of a woman, wearing a cape, walking across the lawn. The apparition may be Clarissa Cordelia, Granville Jr.'s wife, Linnen says.
"I would love to experience that," says Mark Manning, a paranormal investigator and videographer.
At 12:30 a.m., Manning straps a flashlight to his head like a miner's cap and walks around the house with a hand-held meter. In the bedroom behind the kitchen, he picks up a temperature change. Two corners of the room have "cooled off" compared with earlier readings, but the drop is not dramatic enough to get excited, he says.
I start thinking of the movie, "Sixth Sense," in which rooms turn icy cold when dead people are present.
Within the hour, the large TV screens pointing toward the two bedrooms are filled with static.
"They both went out of focus at the same time," Manning tells his partner, Bryan Bonner. "That's just really odd; it's never happened before."
Odd situations are nothing new to Bonner, a freelance photographer who uses his art to record ghostly activity. One of his favorite stories occurred this year during a Fort Collins investigation. In that house, the slow, monotonous beep of Bonner's electromagnetic field meter increased to a rapid beat at the same time he felt someone slapping his face.
It wasn't hard enough to hurt, he says. "But hard enough to say 'I'm here.'"
Another time, Bonner was called to investigate Mattie's, a restaurant in lower downtown Denver that was a bordello in 1889. As legend goes, a prostitute committed suicide in one of the rooms and in that room, during the witching hour, Bonner heard voices.
"It was a weird-sounding language," he says. Linguistic experts could not decipher the audio tape.
"It sounded Slavic to me," Manning says.
A tall figure
At 1:40 a.m. comes a noise that stops cold our debate of horror movies. I can only describe it as a "ping," as if a metal ball has ricocheted off a metal wall.
"I think it's coming from the bedroom," Bonner says.
Scheiber shoots up and marches outside to search for evidence of birds or other wildlife stirring up noise.
He finds nothing. But there is an old entry to a sub floor that has been closed off, he tells us when he returns. The noise could have come from some type of space underneath the house.
Closing in on 2 a.m., Bonner volunteers me to lie down on the bed in the room where Junius is supposed to appear.
The bed is soft and comfy. Dark reflections from a rectangular mirror leaning against the wall to my right are freaking me out a bit, so I stare ahead and notice the bathroom door is wide open.
The black of night is thick with possibilities.
I imagine Junius, or maybe Granville Sr., hovering in the doorway. He is a tall figure with broad shoulders, wearing a hat.
I'm not scared. I remember Linnen telling me this is her family; this is their house and it's full of loving, rather than angry, spirits.
I fall asleep for about 40 minutes, until the wake-up
call of my beating heart.
Contact Julie Marshall at (303) 473-1305 or MarshallJ@dailycamera.com
people claim to have proof that ghosts and other
Location: Private House in Colorado
Date: July of 2000
Weather: calm warm (80's) night
Equipment used: digital thermometers, 35mm cameras, emf meters, & audio recorders
Contacts: Bryan Bonner and Christopher J. Williams
Our investigation into “The Friendly Farmer” consisted of a lengthy interview, a site survey and taking photographs. This process is then followed by extensive research into the history and background of the property.
Initial contact is made by phone. We ask very brief questions about the phenomenon that is being experienced, who has witnessed this and their family situation. This aids us in preparing a list of questions to be asked at the interview. After a date and time is set to meet with the percipient we at R.M.P.R.S. than edit our sample questionnaire to adjust it to the conditions of each particular situation.
The interview is the most important part of an investigation. It defines the parameters, helps determine the regularity (if any), and establishes a sequence to the event. The most critical aspect is that we develop a sense of trust and professionalism with the interviewee. We always tape record the interview. This provides a record of what was asked and the responses that can latter be used to reconstruct, as accurately as possible, the phenomenon.
This specific case
illustrates the importance of the interview.
What was determined was;
R.M.P.R.S. then conducted a survey of the house and reviewed the area of the phenomenon. We did not notice any cold spots or any energy surges. A rough drawing was made of the layout and approximate locations of the apparitions were noted. We took photographs of the rooms in hopes that maybe something would turn up.
Because of the random nature of these ghosts it was highly unlikely that any activity would be captured on film or otherwise. Before leaving we ask the percipient to keep a log of any future activity. It should be pointed out that this request usually proves to be disappointing. The client either looses interest or forgets to enter pertinent data. We recognize hat this is valuable information to be collected but is almost impossible to expect or mandate that a client participate at a level we deem necessary. We are currently evaluating how we can make this a user-friendly system of data gathering.
Due to the lack of documentable evidence we are usually faced with the need to find corroborative proof. This is where the long and laborious task of research comes into play. First we go to the County Assessors and pull copies of all the deeds pertinent to the property. This gives us names and dates to track down the history of the owners. From here we check census records. This gives some background information such as age, occupation and marital status. We also check marriage and divorce records and newspaper obituaries. If a previous owner is still alive we try to track down their current location and call them to ask if they ever noticed supernatural activities while living there. Like a detective we are searching for leads that could explain and substantiate what the client perceived.
As you can imagine this process takes a very long time and the majority of the information leads to dead ends. We still are acquiring and investigating leads on this property. What we have found out is the following:
1) This was never farm
property per-se. It was speculative real
estate held from the 1900 to 1970’s by various
people in hope that it would increase in
value. It was developed, subdivided and homes
built on it, including our subject house, in
1971. None of the owners lived on the property
during that period, however that does not mean
it was not subleased to farmers.
Some of the conclusions that can be drawn are that the client is stable and reliable. She seems to have witnessed something that she is convinced is paranormal. It appears that (according to current theory) that the “farmer” ghost could be a residual ghost. Although the fact that he did reach out and touched her makes a precise classification difficult. The other ghostly forms are residual ghosts due to the fact that they did not interact at all. The percipient did perceive that they were sad and tried to comfort them. This perceived attribute would indicate that these spirits came to an unhappy ending. We are hopeful that this can be verified by researching the various local periodicals.
This is a brief summary
to highlight some of the steps we go through
to investigate the paranormal. We intended to
show the procedures, the information gathering
process, some of the drawbacks and
frustrations. Research into the paranormal is
not a science. It is a theory at best.
We at the Rocky Mountain Paranormal
Research Society like to take the
approach analogous to preparing a case to be
tried in court. Most evidence collected is
circumstantial, it implicates our position
that paranormal activity exists but does not
prove it beyond reasonable doubt. The best we
can do is keep compiling as much evidence as
possible. It is always worth remembering
that you can still prove your case if the
preponderance of circumstantial evidence is
overwhelming and corroborative.
© 2000 email@example.com
Who you gonna call?By KASEY CORDELL Colorado Daily Staff
When there's something strange in the neighborhood, folks call Bryan Bonner. Bonner anchors the Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society out of his Westminster home. The research society, founded by Bonner in 1999, investigates out-of-the-ordinary photographs, videos and occurrences with a healthy dose of skepticism.
"I've always had an interest in things paranormal, but I wanted to get into it seriously, and no one was interested in it seriously," he says.
Bonner labels his group as a skeptics' group, meaning they approach situations with an open mind and try to find any possible natural explanation for the phenomenon before leaping to the conclusion that it's something supernatural.
"We approach all our different cases with 'How can we recreate it?' If it's something we can recreate in the lab, usually there's a simple explanation for things," Bonner says.
Most often people present the possibly paranormal to Bonner in the form of photographs with unexplained light circles or mist, called orbs and vortexes in the realm of the mystical.
Bonner, who has nearly two decades of photography experience, says many of the "paranormal" images in these pictures are explained by dust particles, condensation or lens flare. He remarks that many "ghost groups" are little more than "overblown camera clubs" because they lack an understanding of their medium.
"Because most people in this field do not have the background in any of the technology, if they pick up a camera anything they get is ghost, even if it has a standard explanation," he says.
In 99 percent of the cases Bonner sees, he says there is a natural cause.
But what of the other 1 percent? Despite their skepticism, Bonner's group isn't above believing in ghosts.
"We're not saying that they're not ghosts out there or that we haven't seen them," says group member Wendy Haver. "Only that we can't prove it."
That doesn't mean the group members haven't experienced the supernatural, though. Bonner recounts an investigation in a Fort Collins home that left him with a harrowing tale to tell.
The Fort Collins family solicited Bonner's help with something "unfriendly" in their home. As part of the standard process for investigations, Bonner's group undertook some preliminary interviewing. In their discussions with the family, the team learned that one member had been experimenting with witchcraft and could possibly have invited something in. Bonner and company began to set up their equipment.
In its arsenal, the Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society maintains several types of electromagnetic field (or EMF) meters, infrared cameras (which record in the dark to ensure a prankster isn't just toying with them), motion sensors, ion counters and audio equipment.
"We try to cover every aspect of the spectrum," says Mark Manning, an affiliate of the group and an investigator for the American Association for Critical Scientific Investigation into Claimed Haunting.
After setting up their equipment in the Fort Collins home, a process that takes about an hour and a half, the group waited. The family previously noted that the activity centered around a closet underneath the stairs in one bedroom and a pool table in the living room. Other than one unexplained incident with a motion sensor, the equipment didn't reflect anything strange- until the family went to sleep and one member entered the troublesome bedroom. A persistent scratching near the closet provoked the family member to leave the bedroom.
"She became scared because she saw shapes and shadows moving on the wall," Haver says.
Bonner volunteered to stay in the room with the family member. He heard scratching noises and saw shadows moving near the closet and asked that other members of the team verify this. They did. The EMF recordings from the meter nearest the closet also varied without explanation. As the night progressed, Bonner, stationed nearest the closet, felt a periodic tap on his face by something unseen. At 5 a.m., the investigation the family requested the investigation be halted.
The experience still resonates with Bonner, who makes no money from his investigations. He cites the exorbitant cost of equipment as a major deterrent to pursuing the field as an individual, hence the birth of the Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society.
"If one person was going to get into this, they couldn't afford it," he says.
Each member of the group brings to it a different strength and a healthy respect for science. Bonner, hopes to use that science to further investigation into the paranormal.
"There's no proof there's a ghost, yet.
That's what we're working on," he says.
We have been guests on Night Chat several times.
Talking about Denvers local haunts
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Is it Real?
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