They set off just after nightfall stalking their prey slowly through the thick brush of a field alongside the Ponaganset River in East Lyme, the hunt had officially begun.
They pushed forward crossing through dense brush, being careful not to step on top of dead branches or dried leafs. Like seasoned hunters, they put forth effort not to elude anything or anyone of their presence. The sound of rushing water could be heard in the distance and as they approached the riverbank, the temperature began to plummet. The hunters, more aware of their surroundings, felt a calm rush over them, but they remained on high alert knowing their prey was not among the living.
Some call them ghost hunters, but for Ed Bird and his team, they have always referred to themselves as paranormal investigators. “I’ve been feeling electric as hell for about the last hour,” said Bird, who claims to be sensitive towards spirit energies, “they’re here now.”
Bird and partner Nicholas Farrauto founded “cRIPt” the Connecticut Research and Investigation of the Paranormal in 2004, and have been working as paranormal investigators for eight-years. The Waterford resident also hosts a public-access TV show “Paranormal Encounters” which airs new episodes every two weeks and spans across five different public access channels throughout New London County. Bird says the shows have become so popular nearly half of a million viewers are watching.
Armed with K2 meters, thermal digital cameras, a hand-held digital voice recorder, and their most interesting piece of equipment the “Ghost Box” they are able to detect, record, capture and communicate with the dead. The “Ghost Box” is a modified AM FM transmitter that runs on a continuous loop as it scans radio frequencies creating what is commonly referred to as White noise. This noise can then be used as a medium for communication between the living and the dead. All Bird has to do is ask a question and in return he is granted a response from the device.
The team was investigating an East Lyme neighborhood believed to be haunted along the River. “See that house over there,” Bird said, pointing to a single family home that was being rented out, “nobody lives in that house, nobody alive at least. However, there are 12 spirits that call it their home.” He can confirm this, because he has talked to all 12 of them using the “Ghost Box” device.
Kenny Welcome an acquaintance of Bird and Farrauto lives one house over and frequently welcomes the men into his home which sits in the middle of the neighborhood. Welcome, who had just finished some recent renovations said that he started experiencing paranormal activity inside his house. “I would blame people for moving tools and things that I had put in a certain spot,” he said “but eventually I came to realize nobody was moving them. They were being moved by something else.”
Welcome says he’s gotten used to all the unusual occurrences and has never once felt threatened. “These are kind spirits,” said Bird, “They aren’t here to harm anyone.”
Over the years the team has investigated hundreds of haunted locations like Seaside Sanatorium in Waterford which overlooks the Connecticut shoreline and the Long Island sound. In the 1930’s it served as a medical facility for children who suffered from Tuberculosis, but was eventually shut-down in 1996 after an unusual number of patients began to perish. The property, which is now abandoned, attracts more than just paranormal investigators. According to Bird, there are spirits there who refuse to check-out. Although Bird admits Welcome’s house and the neighborhood is one of his favorite locations.
Bird sits inside the kitchen at the Welcome residence surrounded by Farrauto, team camera-man Gabe Capestany, Welcome, and Welcome’s girlfriend. He plays EVP sound-clips from his lap-top of past investigations at the home. Welcome has allowed Bird and his team of investigators to conduct multiple investigations over the years. Each experience more interesting than the last says Bird. EVP, better known as Electronic Voice Phenomena are the sounds of disembodied voices captured by an audio device such as a hand- held digital voice recorder, and according to many paranormal investigators are the voices of the dead.
The team headed to the basement to wrap up their investigation. They set up their equipment then sat in a circle around the “Ghost Box” Welcome turned out the lights and grabbed a seat with the rest of the group. The eerie sound of white noise and jumbled static filled the dark room. “How many of you are down here?” asked Bird, the device scanned through frequencies then suddenly raised a few octaves above normal, “Seven” a disembodied voice replied.
Their conversations with the dead lasted over an hour. The most interesting of them, between Bird and a little boy who claimed he was only eight-years old when he passed on. “The kids are the best ones to get,” said Bird “they just wanna play. What color is Nick’s wallet?” asked Bird. The device scanned through frequencies again raising a few octaves higher than normal, “blue” the voice replied. Farrauto reached into his pocket to revile his wallet, “it’s blue,” he laughed.
“What’s this guy’s name? The guy right next to me,” asked Bird pointing to Welcome “Kenny,” another voice replied, as if it had known him for years.