|Paranormal society group evaluates homes, cemeteries, etc., for activity
By Afton Fairchild/Advocate staff writer
A ghastly howl rings out through the night, a misty figure quickly passes through an empty hallway and a light in the corner of an abandoned home flickers on and off, but no one is there ... or are they?
If you’ve ever heard the unexplained creaking of the floor above you, seen otherworldly shadows dancing across the walls or maybe just had an eerie feeling you were being watched, you are not alone.
In fact, local residents Ron and Lori Coffey say most people have had some kind of paranormal experience in their lives, whether it be an encounter with the cold presence of a spiritual being, or a living, breathing creature.
The Coffeys founded The Gateway Paranormal Society in 2008; a team assembled to investigate paranormal activity within the Gateway area and beyond. The two have paired up over the years to investigate private homes, cemeteries and other suspected haunted locations, providing insight to those seeking more information about ghostly confrontations and sightings of cryptids, or hidden animals.
Before the paranormal society was formed, Ron and Lori met and were fond of one another’s similar interests. Ron, a history teacher in Powell County, has always been more interested in cryptozoology, the study of hidden creatures, while Lori, a St. Joseph Mt. Sterling emergency room employee, has been fascinated by ghosts since a very young age. The two married seven years ago and have since been on a slew of investigations, seeking answers to questions that often remain unexplained.
The couples’ organization, The Gateway Paranormal Society, is made of about 15 local community members ranging from firefighters to teachers. The team has traveled across the local area investigating paranormal activity in Kentucky. But its outreach doesn’t end at the border of the bluegrass state. These enthusiastic investigators have trekked across the country and have even made trips overseas, all in the name of their research.
Not only does the group exist because of the interest of its members, but because the Coffeys recognized a service that had previously been hard to find in the Gateway area.
“A lot of people around here are interested in it,” Lori said. “We felt that a lot of people had things going on that maybe they didn’t know exactly what it was, and maybe they needed to have it verified and then be educated about it to know that this stuff really won’t hurt them.”
“This whole Gateway area actually has a lot of paranormal activity,” Ron said. “There’s a lot of history here, so there’s a lot of paranormal activity.”
Both Ron and Lori became interested in the paranormal due to previous encounters and fascinations with the subject.
“I was raised in a house with lots of activity as a lot of people are,” Lori said. “We just assumed (the spirit) was my deceased grandfather, but he was a shadow figure that would walk through the house. Normally, anything more attached to me, like if I was sick or whatever, he would show up more. Mom always said he came to check on me.”
Lori said she had other encounters with different spirits as she grew older, and eventually started to do research in order to come to a better understanding of the spiritual world.
Ron was previously a cryptozoologist and has been enamored with hidden animals for many years. He has camped out for days on end in search of such creatures and claims to have found evidence of cryptid presences in Kentucky.
Together, the Coffeys have numerous stories to recount.
Ghost Hunting 101
Lori and Ron Coffey are ghost hunters. In fact, the two have gone as far as to get certified in ghost hunting, taking courses to become more informed with their trade. They investigate local legends that have been told for generations and welcome calls from members of the public who seek professional help with their own haunted happenings.
Whatever the call, the Coffeys are eager and willing to help.
There are many different factors and steps to be taken when hunting for ghosts. Lori explained the Gateway Paranormal Society’s approach to the average investigation.
“We start by interviewing people, getting a background of the activity in the house or on the property,” she said. “We kind of get a feel of how their reactions are to it—if they feel that they’re in danger or if it’s just annoying the heck out of them.”
The team of investigators then does its research on the property in question to see if there is any historical evidence that may be relevant to the investigation.
After the initial research has been completed, the group goes in for an on-site investigation. They conduct an interview yet again with the person(s) who had the concerns. Afterward, the group uses EMF (electromagnetic field) detectors to help rule out any natural occurrences that could serve as an explanation to the strange activity.
“A lot of times, leaky breaker boxes will give people a very uneasy feeling as if they’re being watched, so we need to rule out any kind of actual physical problem in the house,” Ron said.
The group also uses a variety of thermometers to check for “cold spots” or any changes in the air that could be caused by spiritual presences. Investigators look for drafts to make sure these spots are not caused by other influences that are not paranormal.
Next, investigators set up video and still cameras to catch activity or objects that may be present, but are unable to be seen by the naked eye.
“We take pictures kind of in the corners of the room to pick up orbs. There’s no real set way to do it,” Lori said. “You just start snapping pictures, kind of random.”
Ron explained that many times, dust particles can be mistaken for orbs in photos or videos. The distinction is, he said, that actual orbs are three-dimensional.
Audio recorders are also used to pick up any traces of EVP, or electronic voice phenomena. Many times, Lori uses dowsing rods to accompany the recorder, ask