There may be a great fire in our hearts, yet no one ever comes to warm himself at it, and the passers-by see only a wisp of smoke."  -- Vincent Van Gough

Where There's Smoke, There's... Ghosts?
Gastonia, NC  Investigation   8/28/10

Doesn't quite have the same ring as that other tried and true old saw, yet according to our clients, smoke, or rather, the smell of smoke was a sure sign of an otherworldly presence sharing their modest suburban home. Nor, it seemed, was the odor merely any common old smoke, but that pungently strong sort identified specifically with hand-rolled cigarettes, a distinction made by one of the clients whose grandfather had been a life long hand-roller.

Since kicking the habit several years ago, there was no easy explanation for the smelly whiffs nor the fleeting shadow movements caught in the corner of the eye. It was of especial concern that the activity seemed to be concentrated in areas associated with the couple's two small children. Episodes with dysfunctional talking toys and smoke detector false alarms in the wee hours of the morning left both adults feeling things weren't quite as they should be.

Intrigued and looking forward to what would be several firsts for the Ghost PRO team, namely an out-of-state investigation, a guest investigator and the use of some new equipment, we loaded our gear into the cars and headed north away from blistering late August temperatures in the Upstate toward the relatively cooler climes of the North Carolina Piedmont. Nervousness isn't usually a problem before a fresh case, but halfway from home, it became a factor as a suspicious sound in a rear wheel worsened with each mile and we were faced with another team first, a vehicle breakdown. Fortunately our prayers for good luck were heard and answered. We made it safely to the site and back home...although the car went to the garage to have a wheel bearing replaced the next morning!

On arrival we got right down to business. As interviews were being conducted by the case manager, the other team members saw to it that base readings were recorded, orientation photographs taken, safety checks performed and multiple pieces of equipment set up. All of this occurred under the close scrutiny of our guest investigator who deemed it accomplished with "military precision", a compliment of high praise indeed, considering our guest has a former military intelligence background.  The clients knew a little bit about their house's original owners. The husband had smoked an occasional pipe, but the wife reportedly preferred hand-rolled cigarettes and was so proficient at the art, she was able to prepare one with a single hand and have it lit before most could shake a factory brand from a pack. Born and raised in the tobacco belt of the Tarheel State, in the days before the lethal health effects were known, one could hardly expect less.

Ghost PRO records every investigation with multiple cameras, and as soon as filming began, almost immediately Mariel's infra-red camera began to have difficulty focusing down a short central hallway. The other times that type of trouble has happened were in the presence of anomalous energy. That, and with Catherine, the team's sensitive, picking up on something as well, we were on alert. The baseline EMF sweep in each room had registered the usual culprits, microwaves, TVs, PCs and fish tanks. There was nothing to foreshadow the abrupt surge of energy at the younger child's crib-side which set three separate detectors howling. Three minutes of extreme readings were recorded before... just as suddenly... nothing. It was as though a switch had been turned off. The room opposite was the kitchen, so we re-checked the appliances, yet the levels were exactly as taken down earlier. Nearly an hour passed without a further occurrence before we directed our attention to other rooms.

A contact session in the older child's room elicited a few faint tapping sounds, which could have been as much a creaky floor board as a communicating spirit. The few potential EVP recorded proved under later analysis to be noises from suburban traffic and a family pet kept inside due to an infirmity. Catherine picked up on a name and some information that was confirmed through background research, but the "hits" demonstrate more her sensitivity than anything of paranormal origin. Returning to the baby's room, once again at crib-side the silence was shattered as meter alarms rang out with readings nearly off the dial, and as before, after a few minutes stopped just as suddenly.

Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, we stationed two investigators each in the bedroom, the hallway and the kitchen. We watched and waited...and waited...and waited. (Investigating is not always thrills and action!) Our patience was eventually rewarded, and after all the idle time, the mystery was solved in seconds. In perfect synchronicity with the ice-maker starting up, each alarm went off and measurements spiked. When our initial readings had been taken, only the electromagnetic field generated by the refrigerator had been recorded, but the ice-maker's periodic cycle produced a stronger fluctuation and effected a wider area.*

Despite our time spent in the house that evening we failed to encounter any hint of smoke or toys acting abnormally and with a two hour drive home the growing lateness of the hour prompted the Ghost PRO team to pack the gear away and look ahead to analyzing the information we did gather. Unfortunately, an unfocused camera plus a few raps and other unrecognizable snuffles or snorts do not constitute hard-core proof of paranormal activity, so our conclusion on this particular case is where there's smoke, there's not always fire...or ghosts!

~~Janet McDonald, Lady JEM

*Since exposure to strong electromagnetic fields has been proven to impact a person's health in a variety of ways, Ghost PRO did alert the clients regarding the issue in consideration of the crib placement.





Though blind, spunky Darwin seems to be using his other heightened senses to detect unusual activity in the hallway of his home.



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