By Jasmine Willis
COHOCTON — Stephen King once wrote, “Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside of us, and sometimes, they win.”
The Cohocton Public Library hosted the local paranormal investigators on Oct. 29. The Wayland Paranormal Group talked about their spooky adventures over the last 12 years. It was founded by Jennifer Shea and Tim Hayes in 2007. She took on another couple investigators, Tracy Carter and Amy Conrad.
Each of the members have had their own encounters with the paranormal before they got involved with the group.
Shea told the story of the group, how they started, where they have been, and what it really means to be a ghost hunter.
“We all had our own personal experiences with the paranormal. We all had an interest in the spirit world. We started out as aggressive skeptics who wanted to debunk everything,” she said.
Hayes said he had several experiences with he was younger, and he got involved to find answers through science.
The group had been approached in the past to form a TV Series out of the local ghost hunting. However, none of them felt comfortable with the rules needed to make a successful ghost hunting show.
“We were told we had to talk a lot about our personal life, and we had to bring in a lot of drama. None of us wanted to do that. We had to pretend we heard a noise or saw something, so it wasn’t boring for the viewers. None of us wanted to make a TV Show,” Shea said. “We have spent a lot of time working with clients and doing a lot of research on our cases. We have done this for 12 years, and we all feel like we have evolved drastically.”
Shea feels as though the groups reputation is defined by their intentions and positive energy they bring into the investigations. They always go into a case with an open mind and want to learn all they can about what took place.
The paranormal investigative equipment used by the group; Mel Meter, KII, Voice Recorders, Video Cameras, Spirit Boxes, Dowsing Rods, Shadow Detectors, SLS-X Cam, and REM Rods.
The following cases were talked about at the local library; Olde Country Store and More, Valentown, Larrowe House, Cohocton Historical Society, Derby’s Grill, Wayland Historical Society, Wayland Train Accident Scene, The Shanley Hotel, and Gettysburg.
In the Olde Country Store and More there is an older gentleman that haunts the candy store. He has talked to the group on several occasions.
“This is an amazing building with lots of amazing history. The owners are great to let us keep coming back,” Shea said. “The girls had a cat that would come in and spend the day with them. The girls and the customers all loved this cat, but sadly it had passed away. We don’t think the cat is really gone though. We have picked up cat sounds several times.”
Valentown holds a special place in the groups heart since it was their first investigation. They had gone on several occasions to the historic shopping center.
“The best evidence we got was from the owner himself. We got EVPs of Sheldon Fisher identifying himself. He would make himself known many times on our investigations,” Shea said. “There was a little girl named Sarah who would be in charge of boarding horses, and one day she was trampled to death. We picked up her voice in the basement.”
This was a turning point in ghost hunting for Shea, as she discovered she was good at reading energy and emotion in a room.
“I remember going to the back stairs and I heard the door at the end start to rattle. It was rattling really loud like someone was on the other side. I opened the door, and no one was on the other side of that door.”
Hayes said that around 2 a.m. there was a crack of lightening heard, even though there was a clear sky. He looked into the tree and saw an Angel looking back at him.
The Larrowe House is another very active place that has been investigated on several occasions.
“We are very fortunate to have exclusive access to the house thanks to Jane and Ron Towner. They put a lot of love and labor into fixing this house up. We have a lot of clips and EVPs in this house,” Shea said. “We were all outside investigating when we heard what sounded like dishes and silverware clinging.”
One Halloween night the group had an interesting encounter with the paranormal. There was an occurrence with a door coming unhitched and swinging open on its own.
The Cohocton Historical Society has a dark past. The building once called the Crosby Building; had been used for wooden coffin making. The group picked up a hammer sound three times.
The Derby’s Grill was were a famous murder took place in Cohocton during April 1961.
“Ervin Smith was accused of murdering his wife Leola very gruesomely with a high heel shoe. We wanted to get the full story from both the killer and the victim. We don’t like to judge and go in with opinions. We investigated that tavern and apartment about 10 times,” Shea said. “We had a make-shift bar set up and we talked about the story of what happened there. We got really good EVPs the last night we investigated. We got a male’s voice say, ‘Please Pray for Me’ and a female’s voice say, ‘It was drugs’ so we heard a lot of remorse in his voice for the event he created.”
Shea mentioned that Smith was acquitted of the murder and due to the severity of it was banished from the town. He died in California in the 1990s.
The Wayland Historical Society was an amazing place to investigate since at one point it was used to jail people.
“We got permission to go into the caboose as well, so we got some really good EVPs in there. We are always very careful with our audio and document everything that is going on. I had something happen to me inside the museum that has never happened to me before or since. I was touched by a spirit and had two marks appear on my arm,” Shea said. “You will see ghost shows where they tell you this means the ghosts are evil and want to attack you, but our theory is that they are raw energy so when they touch you it can possibly burn you. We never go in thinking they are evil. I didn’t feel any fear or like I was threatened when this happened.”
Shea said that the group has been very fortunate to go places they normally wouldn’t be allowed to go and have a lot of respect from their clients.
“We are very fortunate to have done this for 12 years, and people have a lot of respect for our work. They trust us to give us access to places we wouldn’t normally be able to go. We had to go through a lot of loops, and promise not to talk about the location in order to investigate the scene of the Wayland Train Accident,” she said. “We went there on the anniversary and at the exact moment that the tragedy happened. It was like walking around in a tropical rainforest, and I hated it for a while. When we got the train horn it made it all worth it. We heard that train horn plain as day.”
The group talked about some scary stories they encountered on the investigations.
“We went to The Shanley Hotel, which was a mobster’s hangout in the 1920s. My scary story is about the old-fashioned lamp on the dresser. We filmed that lamp for three days, because of this story. I saw the lamp turn on by itself, and then I heard the two clicks of the key. It is one of those lamps that needs to be turned on by a key. It was an orange glow that filled the room. I was completely paralyzed with fear,” Shea said. “I got my first mental image. I saw a woman with a long brown dress, brown hair in an old-fashioned style, and she was walking down the stairs And turned the corner. It was impressed on my mind. That was the only time we got anything with the lamp.”
Shea mentioned another scary thing that happened in The Shanley Hotel.
“The next night after the lamp occurrence we were at the front parlor. I saw an event happen around an EVP we got at the bar. A male voice says, ‘What if I tell you something … now’ and I got an image of a man in a hat and trench coat. Right when he said now, I see him pull a gun out on us,” she said.
Hayes told a scary story about what happened with him in Devil’s Den at Gettysburg, Pa.
“The soldiers would hide in Devil’s Den for the battle in the caves. I was changing the batteries for the voice recorder when I saw two Civil War soldiers walk past me talking. The one asked what time it was, and the other said three times he didn’t know since his watch had been shot. I thought they were reenactors. It turns out I was the only one who saw them. They didn’t even acknowledge me as they walked by,” he said. “One time we were at the bridge, which had been washed out by the river. They would hang soldiers there who tried to go AWOL to warn others about what would happen to them. We did a sound test and picked up ‘Look down the ridge or get off the damn bridge’ and we heard bullets hitting trees.”
One of the most active places the group has been to is an Italian homestead in Ossian that gave them the whole story in one night. The group has been to several private homes that have been very active. They also love the 200-year-old Davis House. They would love to be able to investigate The Castle on the Hill but have been denied several times. However, many homes near the castle are very haunted.
Shea said the group feels spirits stay until they have finished what they needed to do in order to move on, and sometimes they have a strong connection to the home or building and want to stay.
Shea added that she grew up in very active homes and never understood what she was seeing or feeling until she was older. Hayes has heard disembodied voices and seen full body apparitions.