Ghost researchers give spirited lecture

By Jessica Revere
Published: Thursday, October 14, 2004

It's 1 a.m. and you're walking through an old, deserted prison. You come to the end of the hall - the death row cell. Upon entering, you see a hook on the floor used to chain down the occupant of the cell. You are overwhelmed with feelings and emotions of being locked up with no hope of escape. You leave that area
and enter again, minutes later, only to find the cot that was against the back wall is now pushed to the opposite side of the cell.  Not your typical late night activity? Well, for South Jersey Ghost Research (SJGR), it is.

SJGR is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to lessen the fear of ghosts, a fear created by Hollywood movies. They conduct investigations on sites where hauntings have been known to occur as well as private homes that they are called to. The researchers generally go between the 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. because that's the time when the owners report most of the questionable activity.

Director of SJGR Dave Juliano says this is the time when the inhabitants are settling down and relaxing, not busy with everyday chores.  The researchers use many different types of equipment to get the results they
need, including digital and 35-mm cameras, video cameras, audio recorders, electromagnetic field detectors, temperature sensing equipment, omni-directional microphone, non-contact thermometers, motion detectors,
flashlights with red lenses and digital barometers (which detect changes in temperatures).

They also have various techniques to make sure the quality of their investigation is not tampered with. For example, no one is allowed to smoke while taking the photo, they must all hold their breath, and whenever someone is taking a picture, they must yell "Flash!" so no one takes a picture at the same time. All these rules are enforced so the quality of the photograph is not compromised.  The researchers are always looking for roughly the same thing in the photos they take. The presence of a spirit is usually only seen in the photos, which
can be one of three things: an orb, mist or shadow figure. An orb is a small ball of light; there can be one, or several, but Juliano believes that regardless of how many orbs there are, there is just one spirit there. Mists are just that - a mist or fog - in one section or throughout the whole photo, suggesting the presence of the spirit. Lastly, the rarest of photo evidence is the presence of a shadow figure. Although it looks like there is someone in the photo, no one was there when the photo was taken.

Not everyone is as ready to believe in the spirit world as SJGR; however they were quite convincing at the lecture held Saturday night in Bunce Hall. The night started with a Power Point presentation and a taped segment from MSNBC following it. There were some snickers in the audience.  Perhaps they didn't believe any of what they were hearing, or perhaps they believed all too much and they were just trying to convince themselves that none of it was true.

SJGR also played some audio tapes they had recorded at various scenes. Human voices typically register between 300 and 3,000 hertz; however, all of the "voices" they played registered around 150 hertz. Most of the recordings they played were rather disturbing, yet some were funny as well. The audio tape that frightened the audience the most was recorded in a small town's historical society. SJGR was researching the historical society because the members had reported strange goings-on. We heard the group talking when a loud child's scream was heard. However, none of the researchers heard this scream until they listened to the tape.
The researchers even decided to take on some of Rowan's "haunted" spots, mainly Tohill Theater located in Bunce Hall. Many students had reported strange occurrences happening while they were in the theater - mainly props disappearing and moving about. Some students think it is Elizabeth Tohill herself. The researchers said that their motion detectors went off numerous times during their investigation of the Theater Friday night. All the researchers also saw various shadows or spirits. Juliano said he saw what he calls spiritual "whack-a-mole," shadows appearing and then disappearing in the seats.

However, this may not mean there were actually ghosts there, but what is known as "residual hauntings," especially considering the nature of the building, its age, the concrete walls (which act as their own recorders, remembering all who were in the building) and the emotions felt there. Juliano also saw one shadow do the exact same thing three times. This is known as looping. The spirit is not there; it is just a recurrence of something that has already happened.

The researchers even admitted to seeing some of the spirits during the presentation. Investigator Stacey Burdash said she saw a figure scurry across the stage. However, Burdash isn't always able to see the entire body. "Sometimes I'll see just the color of a shirt or a pair of shoes," she said. Next time you see a figure move out of the corner of your eye or hear strange noises in your home at night, just know that you're not crazy. You may just be sensitive to the spirit world. Give South Jersey Ghost Researchers a call at

(877) 478-3168, or visit their Web site at

The Whit