This all started with the story of a bathroom.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I accompanied Northampton County Paranormal, a team of real paranormal investigators, on an overnight exploration at the in Lower Nazareth.
It was then that Jeff Wargo, a member of NCP and a pastor from Riegelsville, mentioned the small town’s firehouse - apparently, frightening occurrences happened with such frequency that the firefighters would rarely use the restroom alone.
Wargo would know. Not only is he the fire company’s chaplain, but he also wrote two books on the ghost stories of Riegelsville, which is just south of Easton.
And so I joined NCP on Oct. 25 once again to investigate a haunted place. What follows are just some of the things that happened that night.
8:30 p.m. – I meet with Northampton County Paranormal at the Riegelsville Fire Company. It’s not the easiest place in the world to find, and I also notice that it is built right next to a big spooky cemetery. Wonderful.
Tonight’s group consists of lead researcher Scott Wiley, the aforementioned Wargo, research assistant Jesse Roth, myself, and two members of Ghost Finders, another northeast Pennsylvania paranormal team -- Erin Monie and Raul Gomez.
8:45 p.m. – While waiting for the firefighters to finish a drill session, Wiley and Roth tell me what they know. Before being a firehouse, this building was a church and a school. Various reports claim that a firefighter
named Howie Pursell, who died in 1991, haunts the company. Others say that a female schoolteacher has been seen roaming the halls.
We peruse the cemetery for a while before going inside. If it’s a choice between going inside the spooky firehouse and staying out in the cold, I choose the spooky firehouse. It’s very cold out.
10 p.m. – The firefighters are finally finished with the drills, and we’re able to get in. Wargo gives us a tour of the firehouse. As he does, he explains some of the weird stuff that’s been reported. Howie has been spotted in the kitchen, footsteps have been heard upstairs, more footsteps have been heard walking on the metal grates in the engine room, and sometimes an unseen someone has opened hatches on the fire trucks.
Apparently Howie was a bit of a prankster in life, and it seems that he hasn’t let something like death get in the way of his penchant for mischief.
As we tour, Monie carries a super-sensitive audio recorder with a shotgun microphone. She tells us she hears both male and female voices, although I don't hear anything.
10:20 p.m. – We start setting up equipment -- cameras in the hall, the engine room, the kitchen and at the base of the stairs. There is also other highly technical stuff, like laser grids, an EM (electromagnetic) pump and a
couple of EMF (electromagnetic field) monitors, which beep and light up when they pick up electromagnetic frequencies.
Our control center is set up to one far side of the engine room, beside the silent, looming fire trucks.
Wiley jokes that he is going to send me upstairs alone with a body cam - a body-mounting camera that records the head and shoulders of the wearer, just like reality TV.
I assure him he will not.
11:25 p.m. – We turn out all of the lights - “going dark” as the experts say. Excitement sets in, mingled with curiosity and just a tinge of fear. Although maybe I just have to use that infamous bathroom. But I refuse to go alone.
11:50 p.m. – After a couple of minor occurrences, we get the first big one: We hear a voice that sounds like the moan of a woman. We don’t need equipment to hear it. Let the creepy stuff begin.
12:15 a.m. – Wiley, Wargo, Monie and Gomez head upstairs with cameras and audio recorders to try to coerce a few spirits into chatting. This leaves me and Roth downstairs in the engine room to monitor the cameras.
12:16 a.m. – On the monitor, I watch the group of them pass by a camera at the base of the stairs. Not even a full minute later, once they are all out of view, the camera begins to move
steadily up and down, as if someone were rocking it.
Roth and I watch the monitor, gently moving back and forth, hoping that it is just a draft. The camera stops moving as suddenly as it begins.
12:20 a.m. – An EMF sensor on the stairs lights up and begins to beep, mere feet from the camera that was just shaking.
12:30 a.m. – The second EMF sensor, farther up the stairs, joins the first one and also goes off.
12:32 a.m. – Roth, who knew Howie in life, shouts out to him. She tells him that if he is present, he should make it known. Move something.
12:34 a.m. – Minutes after Roth’s challenge, there is a loud crash in the kitchen, the room right next to our control center. The two of us rush in there, but find nothing. The rest of the group is still upstairs.
1:05 a.m. – The other four team members come back down. Wiley and Monie both report having recorded voices. Wiley tells us that he just lost $5. It seems he bet the spirit of a firefighter that he couldn’t make the lights on his EMF detector blink, which would require the ghost to be right next to him. Wiley left a $5 bill on the upstairs pool table.
1:40 a.m. – Wiley tries to send me upstairs alone with the body cam. I respectfully decline, saying something along the lines of “$@&% no, I’m not going up there alone!” We agree to go as a group.
1:55 a.m. – Wargo, Wiley, Monie and I go upstairs to the meeting room. But first we raid the supply closet and put on firemen's helmets. Wiley even puts on a thick yellow firefighter’s jacket. We agree it is the right thing to do.
Wiley and Monie use audio recorders and attempt to contact spirits. Wargo asks questions based on his knowledge of the building’s history. Wiley asks how many spirits are in the firehouse with us tonight. Monie records a whispered answer of “Eleven.”
Wiley insists that I ask a few questions, since I am a reporter. I’ve never interviewed a spirit before, and I’m not sure what the etiquette is. After stalling for a few moments, Monie hears a voice through her recorder:
I assure whoever is in the room with us that I go by Anthony, not Tony, but also point out that it is a common mistake. I start asking questions. The room becomes noticeably darker when I begin talking, and lightens again a few moments later. I’m not sure if this is a compliment or a threat.
Wiley issues a second bet to make the room go dark again; after it doesn’t, he retrieves his $5 from the pool table and we head back downstairs.
2:50 a.m. – After a much-needed coffee break, we resume the investigation. In the downstairs hall, Monie catches the voice of a man saying “Take it off.” After a few minutes of conversing, Monie discovers that the spirit is not a lecher (as I originally thought) but is telling Wiley to take off the yellow fireman’s coat.
The voice tells her that his name is David and that he used to be a firefighter. He tells us to get out. Monie rolls her eyes; apparently for spirits, “get out” is about as stereotypical as a teenager muttering “whatever.”
2:55 a.m. – Wiley stands in the hall where Monie is getting the EVP (electronic voice phenomenon), and he insists that David makes his presence better known by making the EMF sensors go off. If he does, Wiley promises to take off the jacket.
A few minutes go by with nothing -- no sound, no sensors. Wiley shrugs and tells David that he’ll just keep the jacket.
Both sensors, which are about 15 feet apart, go ballistic at the same time, beeping and flashing intensely. Wiley, a man of his word, takes off the
3:15 a.m. – Content with our findings, we pack up the equipment. From here, all of the footage and audio will be reviewed. As Wiley explained to me earlier, the best evidence is usually not the firsthand experiences. It is usually discovered later, when the hours of unseen video and unheard audio are explored.
As was the case with his now-famous apparition video from the , most things are found after the investigation. All I know is, strange things are indeed going on in this firehouse.
And for the record, I did use the bathroom at one point. I neglected to record the time of my visit. It was very creepy, being in the oldest part of the firehouse, but nothing scary happened while I was in there, except that they were almost out of paper towels.