To this day, the voice on the tiny, digital audio recorder gives her chills.
Ghost hunter Renee Park said it was nighttime in a lonely cemetery in Birdville when she turned on her recording device and caught a snippet of what sounds like a pleading human voice.
When she plays the recording, as she’s done dozens of times, a normal sound is apparent at first — a soft rustling as she rummages through a bag for camera batteries. Then a pause that lasts about a second and finally, a voice.
Even if you do not believe, even if you’ve never felt something otherworldly brush against your cheek, whisper in your ear or flutter past your eyes, the voice on the recorder is chilling.
Park said she understands that people are skeptical.
“In the back of your mind you always wonder if it is real, but I know what I heard. I can’t explain it. I didn’t make the sound. All I know is I was alone, and this is what I heard,” she said.
It is easy to believe she’s telling the truth. Like her counterparts — members of Haunted Texas Investigations — she is so friendly, so normal.
Park is one of a group of Christian-based investigators who visit reputedly haunted places in the North Texas area.
Members of Parks’ team recently visited the Register’s office on East California where they toured the historic building and went into the dusty, seldom-used second story rooms.
The team included Park and her friends and colleagues, Mike Carr and his wife, Christina Carr.
The Carrs both work full-time as do the other members of the group formally established in June 2007.
They said they were eager to tour the building.
The former family residence of the Leonard family, past Register owners, the rooms were clearly once part of an elegant home with high ceilings and huge windows.
Now, the dark rooms are a storage space.
The investigators climbed the steep, enclosed stairway and immediately separated to begin a quiet walk through the rooms.
Park snapped some photos.
Scrolling through the digital pictures later, she discovered some of them appeared laced with little bits of light.
But not everything that seems odd or out of place is proof of ghostly activity. Park dismissed the aberrations with a simple explanation.
“It’s just dust. There’s a lot of dust up here,” she said.
After touring the building, the group met in a front room where they perused some old newspapers from the 1960s and talked about their experience.
Park asked Mike Carr if he sensed anything unusual during the tour.
‘Yeah,” he said. “I did in one of the rooms.”
Carr said although the rooms were very hot and humid, he felt a cold spot in one area. And there was something else, a feeling he could not describe.
He didn’t stay long enough to investigate further, but said he got a strong impression of something unusual in one of the rooms.
Ghost hunting is both a hobby and a calling.
Each member has a gift or a specialty they use in their work. The Carrs consider themselves “sensitives” meaning they believe they can assess a situation or talk to an individual and discern more than others can.
Christina Carr said she had the ability to see and sense things all her life, but began suppressing it when her deceased grandfather appeared to her.
She credits her husband with helping her resume her walk with the spectral.
“Mike and I have really developed (mental abilities) together,” she said.
She said her husband often steps in when things get rough during an assignment.
“If I feel I can’t deal with something, he handles it,” she said.
Having insight into the secrets of the living and the dead can be tricky.
“It can be a curse and a blessing. I have a whole other view of the world,” she said.
The investigators don’t play to any of the stereotypes one might associate with paranormal investigations.
There are no Ouija boards or seances.
The members of Haunted Texas Investigations are just normal people who put themselves in extraordinary situations.
The places they investigate are often modern homes or hotels with histories of hauntings.
Many of their clients are families who believe their lives are being disrupted by paranormal activity.
Sometimes encounters with ghosts are fleeting, benign experiences. Others are frightening, they said.
All three investigators are good listeners who say their main concern is helping people.
“We are not evil, crazy or gullible,” said Christina Carr, a scrapbook devotee who saves memorabilia and photographs from each investigation.
Examining elegant old hotels such as the Rogers Hotel in Waxachie or the Skirvin Hilton Hotel in Oklahoma City, Okla., is a usually a pleasant experience, Park said.
The investigators document the venues they examine and use electronic recording devices and cameras.
Carr took some pictures in a basement area of the Rogers Hotel near what was once a mineral spring bath.
Hotel staff members and guests report having seen a little girl wandering in the area.
“She also hangs out in the boiler room,” Carr said.
She said she found nothing unusual in her photos of the bath area.
But that’s not always the case.
Photos shot in a home in Tarrant County recently were especially intriguing.
Called to the residence because the homeowner and his family reportedly felt a violent presence in their home, the investigators later agreed something was wrong.
The house was built in the 1980s and apparently had not been the sight of any particular violence or tragedy.
“But there was lots of negativity in that home,” Carr said.
Mike and the homeowner talked before the investigation began.
“I told him things no one else could know,” Mike said.
He brought up some of the family’s dark secrets and “skeletons in the closet,” his wife said.
“They were astounded,” Park said of the family’s reaction to Mike’s revelations.
Their investigation also revealed that an adult female member of the household was heavily into the occult — dabbling in spells, using a Ouija board and trying to capture proof of apparitions with audio- visual equipment.
It’s turns out the woman’s activities opened a portal to the supernatural and all sorts of insubstantial yet menacing things walked in, Park said.
“It’s so dangerous, so wrong to open the lines of communication,” she noted. “It’s like a doorway. You have no control over what enters that door,” she said.
Christina took some photos in the Tarrant County home.
In one picture of a gold-framed mirror on a wall, the figure of a young man is clearly visible in a dark area in the right side of the photo.
“No one in the house knew who he was,” Carr noted.
The encounter also became dangerous for Christina when investigators identified what they believed to be the ghost of a male who apparently did not want to leave the house.
“We were trying to get him to cross over,” she explained. “I was standing by a love seat when it felt like something scratched me.”
In a photo taken immediately following the attack, a series of jagged scratches is visible on Carr’s back.
The investigators uncovered some information about the source of the trouble in the home, but the situation was not completely resolved.
“We gave it a good shot,” Park said.
The group said they find homes and clients through referrals from friends and acquaintances. They admit they are always looking for new venues.
Their services are free. They visit homes only when the residents request it and they stay only as long as the clients want them there.
Park said her experiences with hauntings taught her some comforting things.
“We want to tell people that when there is a haunting, it’s usually a deceased family member. They mean you no harm. They just want you to know they are near,” she said.
All three agreed that more malevolent forces thrive on fear.
“Fear can cause activity. If something unusual happens to you, don’t focus on it. Entities feed off your fear,” Park said.
Investigators Christina Carr and Mike Carr can be contacted at (214) 908-2571 or by e-mail at email@example.com
To this day, the voice on the tiny, digital audio recorder gives her chills.
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