There are more than a few organizations in the Metro Detroit area that make it their business to investigate unexplained phenomenon. When considering this type of organization, your imagination may fly first to Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray fighting the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in the movie Ghost Busters, but your expectation of the Detroit Ghost Hunters as jump-suited, laser-toting parapsychologists is way off the mark.
Metro Paranormal Investigations
The truth is that members of groups like Metro Paranormal Investigations (“MPI”) in Macomb County are motivated by their need to find answers. They are people with day jobs that are willing to spend their time and money investigating the things that go bump in the night. Some of the members of the organization are just interested in unexplained phenomenon; still others have had paranormal experiences in their personal lives that help fuel their search for the truth. All of them are just regular people who recognize that whatever the cause of an unexplained experience, the experience is real to the person reporting it. “We don’t believe you’re crazy,” Wayne Miracle, co-founder of MPI, is quick to assure.
Even so, the members of MPI may be left with little more than bags under their eyes after an all-night investigation at someone’s house, old prison or bar; but on those nights that they experience something they can’t explain, the experience validates their belief that there is, in fact, much beyond our everyday definition of “normal.” As might be expected, these kinds of paranormal experiences often create more questions than answers for the crew.
There are no experts in unexplained paranormal phenomenon, which means if no one investigates, no one will ever know if there is a scientific explanation, said Miracle. “We try to be as scientific as we can.”
If this approach sounds familiar, that’s because it is. The founders of MPI met online as fans of the SciFi Channel show, Ghost Hunters. In fact, MPI investigations are very similar to that of The Atlantic Paranormal Society (“TAPS”), MPI’s counterpart on the show. They even use much of the same kind of equipment, except for maybe the $10,000 thermal camera apparently provided TAPS by the cable network.
Like Ghost Hunters, MPI takes a scientific approach and is discriminating when it comes to what constitutes paranormal evidence. For instance, orbs, or those little cloudy circles that pop up on photographs, are not given much weight by MPI because there are too many things that can cause them: dust, water vapor or pollen. In fact, Miracle explains that you can create an orb in a photograph by rubbing your feet across carpet (creating static electricity) before snapping a picture.
Credible Evidence of the Paranormal
The most compelling evidence collected by MPI takes the form of movement seen on camera and Electronic Voice Phenomenon (“EVPs”). The theory behind EVPs supposes that tape recorders record more frequencies than what can be picked up with the human ear. When played back, these frequencies can be heard, thereby capturing the odd disembodied voice. During an investigation at the Locker Room Saloon in Utica, MPI investigators were talking about other spots in the metro area where they’d experienced paranormal activity. When the conversation was played back, a voice could be heard saying, “That is not a lie.”
Of course, the saloon has more than its fair share of personal accounts of weird happenings. According to Miracle, several tools and a set of keys gone missing over the years showed up hidden away in a dropped ceiling. The management also received a lot of phone calls in the middle of the night, including at least one from the Utica Police Department, informing them that someone was looking out a window on a vacant upper floor of the building. The paranormal experiences are so consistent at the saloon that MPI investigates there several times a year.
Of course, the Locker Room Saloon has an interesting history that may explain why in consistently provides MPI with paranormal experience. It’s rumored that the building was a hospital during World War I. It also sits on the same lot as a former hotel, the Exchange Hotel that burned down in 1904.
While MPI may be stringent in its definition of credible paranormal evidence, the group is open minded when it comes to a client’s personal belief system. That’s because personal beliefs often serve as the frame by which any unusual event or occurrence is viewed. In fact, MPI will even arrange contact with a sensitive or a member of the clergy as is the client’s want. In one instance, they helped a Wiccan homeowner find a sensitive to perform a cleansing when a teenager in the home started dabbling in black magic. Note: While MPI collected both film and EVP evidence of paranormal activity at the location, they are abiding by the client’s request not to disclose it.
In the end, MPI is a labor of love. It has to be because the time commitment almost approaches that of a second job. For a group of people who met online, the membership quickly became a family, which is one of the things that keep motivation high for the group. As Miracle put it, after three years of investigations, he’s seen a lot of stuff that “makes you go hmmm....”