Things that go bump in the night

Thunder rolled through the night air, mimicking the sound of a bass drum as lightning lit up the eerily dark historic Carnegie Library during a recent Saturday night ghost investigation.
Unseasonably chilly temperatures occasionally permeated through the atmosphere of the more than 100-year-old Newton structure as rain fell softly on the roof. The elements provided the perfect backdrop for the ghostly inspection conducted by the Ghost Investigation Crew, which has members in Newton and Salina.
Stairs squeaked. People were startled. A ghost or two possibly touched at least three of the women there. Investigators took coffee breaks between searching for things that went bump in the night.
?I agreed to the investigation as a different way to share history,? museum director Debra Hiebert said. ??Stuff? isn?t history. The lives of the people who had the stuff is what needs to be shared, and this is a different way of possibly telling some of those stories. We have had some visitors who ?sensed activity? in the museum and have had some inquiries about that, so I decided that this was a group of museum visitors that we could serve by looking further into paranormal occupation.?
The investigation, which was done with lights out, took about five hours, from 9 p.m. on a Saturday until 2 a.m. on a Sunday. GIC members now will have to pour over hours of video and audio digital recordings. Sometimes, ghosts can be seen and heard with human eyes and ears, and other times, these phenomena are picked up only electronically. That?s why GIC uses audio and digital recorders.
The results of the investigation will be revealed during a program in the fall at the museum, 203 N. Main St. in Newton. As of press time, the date for the ?reveal? had not yet been determined, but the event will be open to the public. To learn when the reveal will happen, call the historical museum at 316-283-2221, check the museum?s Facebook page or visit or
In addition to GIC members, four others were at the location, including Hiebert. The building, which features a basement, a first floor and second floor, was built in 1903-04 as a library. It also has an attic. The structure was a library until 1973, and has been owned only by the city of Newton and the historical society, Hiebert said.
Before the investigation began, Newton resident Brad Buchta, founder and lead investigator of GIC, talked about the equipment they would use, noting that most activity usually starts after midnight.
Buchta said the Crew runs all night vision on their camcorders. Other equipment includes an EMF (electromagnetic field) pump, which gives off energy and can draw ghosts to investigators; a grid pen light that lit a room with a series of green grid dots; digital recorders to capture EVPs (electronic voice phenomena); a ghost box that also can catch ghost voices; an infrared digital thermometer; a K2 meter, which reads electromagnetic fields (that can indicate a ghost might be present); motion sensors; baby monitor; and cameras.
The light grid sometimes can indicate if a ghost or ?shadow person? is in the room, even though it?s not visible to the naked eye, because it will block the light. A shadow person is the spirit of a human who died suddenly, investigator Sonia Tingen said. They also move very fast, Buchta added.
?Shadow people ? we?ve had a couple experiences with those,? Buchta said.
The ghost box scans a variety of FM or AM radio waves, and a mixture of white noise and audio fragments can be heard. A ghost can manipulate a wavelength to talk, Buchta said.
?With the ghost box radio sweep method, the spirit or ghost voices seem to be carried upon these audio fragments and white noise,? according to
The thermometer measures the temperature of a specified area; a colder area possibly indicates a spirit and a warmer area possibly indicates a bad spirit, Buchta said.
Hiebert said she had a good time during the investigation.
?I enjoyed some of the gizmos, especially the shadow people ?pen? because it was so visually cool,? Hiebert said. ?And really? I enjoyed being a part of activity in the museum at night ? very different than daytime activities, and I like that the museum can have different ?faces? for different visitors.?

Attached spirits
The main reason GIC wanted to inspect the historical museum was because they feel spirits might be attached to older items there.
While giving instructions that stormy Saturday night, Buchta said, ?If you think something touches you, let us know. If something whispers in your ear, let us know.?
At one point, investigator SaVona Davis of Salina did let people know. She said she felt a touch in one of the main rooms. Later, down by the boiler room, two women, Sara Ensz of Newton and this writer (Wendy Nugent of Newton) both felt as though they were contacted by someone who had crossed over.
Nugent said she felt a tickle like a spider on her leg when nothing was there, and Esnz said she felt a cold touch on her right arm. This was right after investigators asked any entities in the basement to reveal his or her name, and they received a message on the ghost box three times: ?Joe.?
Ghosts are curious, Buchta said, but they can be shy. During the night, several people asked ghosts questions, such as ?Did you go off to the war and die?? ?What is your name?? and ?How old are you?? Ghosts also were asked to sing along and say what their favorite food was. The investigators there didn?t hear any responses at the time.
Buchta made it clear the group doesn?t falsify their evidence.
?We don?t fabricate or Photoshop anything,? he said with a serious look. The team knows if they fabricate anything, they?re off the team. ?Because we?re not going to pull the wool over anybody?s eyes.?
In addition to Buchta and Davis, other GIC investigators there that night were Salina residents Bryan Breen, co-lead investigator and Buchta?s best friend, Sherry Breen and Jesse Blouch; and Newton residents Sonia Tingen and Twila Smith. Also there was Rodger Nugent of North Newton, who is not a member of GIC.
The team did its first investigation on May 7, 2011, at Theorosa?s Bridge near Valley Center, and has done 40 to 50 investigations since then, completing many during their first year and a half.
?It does wear you out,? Buchta said.
Not only does the investigation take several hours, but there?s travel time and pouring over the evidence afterward.
?The best part of doing this is going over the evidence, and the worst part is going over the evidence,? Buchta said, while sitting at a table on the museum?s second floor manned with a camcorder, the only light shining in through windows.
At one point upstairs, Buchta said he thought he saw a shadow move very quickly from left to right among the racks. Other personal experiences that night included Bryan Breen saying they picked up the two other names on the ghost box in the basement: ?Angela? and ?William.?
?There?s something downstairs,? Bryan Breen said during the investigation. ?That?s where the activity is.?
When ?Joe? was asked what or who he was attached to, they got a response that sounded like ?janitor,? Bryan Breen said.
They also heard papers rustling in the boiler room that night, and Tingen, who is sensitive to spirits, felt something rush up on her. Ghosts know which people are sensitive, so they?ll go up to them, Buchta said.
Buchta hasn?t always believed in ghosts.
?I?ve had people ask if I believe in life after death,? Buchta said. ?I say, ?I do now.??
His experiences with ghosts started when he and Tingen lived in a home at 12th and Madison in Newton. One night, they both heard what sounded like a sigh.
?Different things were spooking us out,? he said.
Another time, Buchta was vacuuming at that house and saw a figure in black. He thought it was Tingen?s daughter, but when he turned around, nothing was there. The next day, he contacted several paranormal societies. After a few months, one of those contacts suggested to Buchta that he get an investigation team together. The first person he thought of to join was his best friend, Bryan Breen, since they both love information on unidentified flying objects and Bigfoot.
They?ve been on many adventures together. One such investigation was at a home in Minneapolis, Kan. There, they experienced a spirit that wasn?t very kind. At one point, Tingen and Buchta were in the kitchen talking about being thirsty, and they later found they had caught a creepy EVP about that time that said, ?Thirsty? I?m going to drink your blood.?
Also at this same home, they learned a little girl who lived there referred to a ?friend? only she could see whom she called Beadie. The team captured an apparition of a transparent little girl running across a room, who most likely was Beadie. At the time, Buchta became quite nauseated, which can happen to people near when they?re near ghosts.
Buchta felt a ghost come up on him, like it was chest bumping him indicating ?this is my place,? he said.
They also caught a recording of what sounded like high heels or boots going across the floor in the kitchen in that home.
GIC also investigated a place a business in Salina, where a worker said she kept seeing a shadowy figure.
?When I asked if there were any spirits here with me tonight (as they investigated), I heard stuff being moved around in that office,? Buchta said. ?I said, ?Yes there is,? and I turned and walked back up the hallway to get Bryan, who was downstairs. While listening to the digital recorder, not only did you hear the movement from in the office, you also heard footsteps running right by me, which I did not hear with my own ears.?
Buchta and Bryan Breen also investigated the Odd Fellows Asylum in Liberty, Mo. One of their photos had a red splotch on it. When they blew it up, they saw it was an apparition of a little boy sitting on the stairs. The Atlanta Paranormal Society (TAPS) from the TV show ?Ghost Hunters? investigated that location after GIC did, Buchta said.
Another investigator, Blouch, also had paranormal activity in his life before joining GIC. He said his bedroom had been haunted ?all his life.? He would hear his door unlatch itself and then footsteps. He said the spirit who haunted his room had curly hair and static eyes, such as that on a TV set.
One night, the spirit kept coming toward Blouch, he said, as he was lying in bed. Blouch told the ghost to leave him alone. The showdown ended when Blouch got up, stood up to the apparition, inches from its face, and told it to go away. Blouch said the spirit then dropped down into his dresser drawer. He hasn?t seen the ghost for a number of years.
Buchta himself experienced paranormal activity during the day at the museum even before the investigation started Saturday night. Only he and Hiebert were in the museum that afternoon as Buchta was there to get some base readings. He got a ?K2 hit? at the World War II piano, and he also heard footsteps coming down the stairs; Hiebert was not on the stairs but in her office.
?A lot of people ask why (we don?t investigate) during the day,? Buchta said, to which he replies it?s hard to catch entities during the day as they?re transparent.
Buchta said the group doesn?t charge anything for their investigations ? they do it to help people. When they show people their evidence, the people feel validated ? these people say, ?Hey, I?m not crazy.?
When they arrive at a location, GIC recites a prayer of protection, and when they leave, they do an exit prayer, Buchta said.
?If we?re in a place six or seven hours, and we get an EVP, it?s a success,? Buchta said.
While investigating the past, GIC has plans for the future. On Nov. 15, they will investigate the Villisca Axe Murder House in Villisca, Iowa. In 1912, a family, comprised of a husband, wife and four children, came home from church with two neighbor kids. The story goes a man was hiding in the house and killed all eight people after they went to sleep.
The TV show ?Ghost Adventures? crew also has explored this home. Buchta said the crew recorded an EVP that said, ?I killed six kids.?

Want to Visit?

Harvey County Historical Museum and Archives? hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission: $3 for adults, $2 for children ages 5-17, free for kids under 5.

Photos and story by?Wendy Nugent

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