Paranormal experts recover no evidence in night's hunt

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In the fourth-floor attic of an old, empty home, Rachelle Moran whispered a series of simple questions.

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Rachelle Moran sets up an infrared camera, one of the team's high-tech tools, to record any unusual movement in a bedroom.  Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Rachelle Moran sets up an infrared camera, one of the team's high-tech tools, to record any unusual movement in a bedroom.

"Can you tell us your name?" she asked, pausing to await an answer. "Did you live here? Can you make a noise?"

Nearby, on a chair by a dusty window, a doll dressed in Victorian clothes was surrounded by cameras and microphones poised to record the slightest sound or movement.

The toy, Mrs. Moran said, was brought along as an enticement -- just the sort of thing that might lure the shy ghost of a little girl into view.

"We thought we'd try the doll since we'd heard reports of a little girl in the window," said Mrs. Moran, the founder of the South Coast Paranormal Society, whose members spend their weekends chasing things supernatural.

They undertook their most recent investigation Friday night at the Goodale House on Sandbar Ferry Road at the request of its new owner, Wes Sims -- one of the people who said they observed the shadowy apparition of a little girl.

The house, built in 1799, definitely has a supernatural presence to it, Mr. Sims said. "You can just feel it when you come in here. It's wonderful."

The long-vacant, Federal-style landmark's history makes it a prime hunting ground for ghosts, said Josh Wilmoth, a member of the society's team.

"We've been doing research and even tried to pull some deeds and ownership records," he said. "That was just part of our field work."

The home's builder -- Thomas Goodale -- managed a large plantation and owned the ferry at the nearby river crossing. Subsequent owners included Charleston, S.C., merchant Christopher Fitzsimmons, who later gave the home to his daughter's new husband, Wade Hampton Jr. His son, Wade Hampton III, would become governor of South Carolina.

The tools of ghost hunting are mostly high-tech instruments that detect electromagnetic fields, movement and sound. Infrared cameras that work in darkness are helpful, as are digital voice recorders sensitive enough to capture the most subtle sounds.

The team, which also included Mrs. Moran's husband, Tim, and helpers Rina White and Thomas Swindol, has conducted similar investigations at places as diverse as the downtown Miller Theatre, Magnolia Cemetery and an antebellum mansion in Taliaferro County.

Those inquiries have yielded some interesting images and sounds that defy explanation, they say.

"When I started out doing this it was just a hobby," Mr. Wilmoth said. "Then when you start experiencing some of the things you cannot explain, it really gets a grip on you."

Mrs. Moran, like most people involved in paranormal detection, was inspired by personal experience from her childhood.

"Growing up, at my parents' house in upstate New York my sister and I saw things -- and heard things -- that no one could explain. A lot of what we do today is try to make sense of things people see or hear."

It's much easier to disprove a haunting report than to prove one, she said, noting that some investigations have led to simple explanations for noises, sounds or sights reported by people who believe they might have experienced something supernatural.

Then there are the occasional things that were not so easily written off -- including a shadow recorded behind a team member at Magnolia Cemetery.

At the Goodale House, a night of hunting failed to find any hard evidence of the paranormal, but the team still plans to spend a week or more reviewing recorded images and sounds -- just to be sure.

Hunting for ghosts, Mrs. Moran said, is also something beneficial to a community, regardless of whether it proves -- or disproves -- the presence of something supernatural.

"One of our goals is to bring more awareness to history and old places that need preservation," she said. "When you think about it, why do people, even people here in Augusta, flock to old cities like Savannah or Charleston? It's because of the history and the ghosts. Lots of places there are reportedly haunted and the owners make no bones about out. People love it."

Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.

ON THE WEB

Rachelle Moran says she started the South Coast Paranormal Society as a hobby, but the group's Web site is evidence of how it has grown. To learn more about the Augusta-based society and read case files about past investigations and ghost hunts, go to http://southcoastparanormalsociety.com

Comments (21) Add comment
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Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 01/17/10 - 12:51 am
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Augusta has a lot of spooky

Augusta has a lot of spooky old buildings.. this may be one area where the city could actually draw tourists.

LancelotLink
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LancelotLink 01/17/10 - 02:11 am
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It works very well in

It works very well in Savannah.

overburdened_taxpayer
117
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overburdened_taxpayer 01/17/10 - 05:09 am
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Boooooooooooo!

Boooooooooooo!

Riverman1
93861
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Riverman1 01/17/10 - 07:17 am
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The only ghost I believe in

The only ghost I believe in is Casper the Friendly Ghost who kind of reminds me of Deke Copenhaver for some reason.

trillaboycloud
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trillaboycloud 01/17/10 - 07:39 am
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they want a real place thats

they want a real place thats haunted they need to go to the old telfair square civic center that place is no joke. Hear music playing but all the equipment is not plugged in or no longer there, then the kitchen is the worsest place, heard a voice say get out, reviewed the tape i was recording with and it was on there too..

Dixieman
17430
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Dixieman 01/17/10 - 08:13 am
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I am psychic and predicted in

I am psychic and predicted in advance that this was going to happen.

scott-hudson
10
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scott-hudson 01/17/10 - 08:13 am
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Haunted or not, I love that

Haunted or not, I love that old house and I am glad it has a new owner...let's hope he fully renovates and saves it.

ustabe
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ustabe 01/17/10 - 08:13 am
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Woo-woo. I've never seen a

Woo-woo. I've never seen a ghost. I never hope to see one. But I can tell you anyhow, I'd rather see than be one.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 01/17/10 - 08:36 am
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The title of this article

The title of this article says it all.

noone
4
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noone 01/17/10 - 08:46 am
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There is only one Ghost that

There is only one Ghost that is present on this earth and that is the Holy Ghost

LadyCisback
4
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LadyCisback 01/17/10 - 10:40 am
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hey dixieman.. can you tell

hey dixieman.. can you tell me if I am getting a better job soon.. please

Pu239
284
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Pu239 01/17/10 - 11:13 am
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The spirits tell me that
Unpublished

The spirits tell me that there will be periods of light followed by periods of dark.....

corgimom
38521
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corgimom 01/17/10 - 12:04 pm
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You think? What a shock, that

You think? What a shock, that they didn't find anything.

momma mia
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momma mia 01/17/10 - 12:16 pm
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Noone, I think you

Noone, I think you underestimate your ghost. If you can believe in one ghost, then what gives you the right to think that ghost hasn't left others on earth? You're assuming a whole lot there, and you know what happens when you assume.

glowade
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glowade 01/17/10 - 12:18 pm
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Well I grew up in an old farm

Well I grew up in an old farm house that belonged to my Great grand Parents. Their pictures were on the wall and we talked about them like they were there. I never met them but it seemed like I knew them. I never saw anything but I could hear things, especially at night, feel things that had no relevance and I could smell people, not bad smells but memorable ones, like the smell of my granny's snuff. It is not about Casper or Halloween or The Ghost Whisper, but something is every much there.

Jake
34096
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Jake 01/17/10 - 12:23 pm
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An article about "spooks" on

An article about "spooks" on MLK weekend. How rude.

helpicantfindthespacebar
1
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helpicantfindthespacebar 01/17/10 - 12:30 pm
0
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Seems like this would have

Seems like this would have been 'news' had they actually seen or heard anything...

The Knave
24
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The Knave 01/17/10 - 01:28 pm
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RE: "Hunting for ghosts,

RE: "Hunting for ghosts, Mrs. Moran said, is also something beneficial to a community, regardless of whether it proves -- or disproves -- the presence of something supernatural." --- I have yet to see ANY evidence of the "supernatural," yet Moran speaks as if proof and dis-proof are virtually equally likely. The folk involved in this sort of activity are deluded and/or see it as a way to make a buck, serving as a "consultant." Of course, believing in this flavor of the "supernatural" is no different than believing in a Sky Daddy, along with all the trappings and dogma of whatever fantastical religion one happens to select.

Painful Truth
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Painful Truth 01/17/10 - 05:04 pm
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When I was a early teen in

When I was a early teen in the early 60's, friends of our family lived in that house. We lived in Marion Homes and me and some of my friends use to walk over there, by way of the levy, and earn some money by picking up pecans. I remember we would fill up big burlap sacks. They had a hanging scale and we would hoist those sacks up and hang them on a hook on the scale, we got paid by the pound. Did a lot of squirrel hunting around there as well.

SCEagle Eye
958
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SCEagle Eye 01/18/10 - 08:14 am
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0
The Savannah River Site is

The Savannah River Site is definitely haunted. Check out the radioactive ghouls out there.

Radwaste
420
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Radwaste 01/18/10 - 12:54 pm
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What a joke. Look up the

What a joke. Look up the Million Dollar Challenge, posted by the James Randi Educational Foundation.

wessims
94
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wessims 01/18/10 - 04:28 pm
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This article was

This article was inappropriately named. It takes time to review the recordings. Turns out that Rachelle was able to capture some things on EVP, the most interesting of which so far is of a little girl screaming. The first day I ever visited the house, my father awoke startled by a dream he was having. He was dreaming he was in an old house during the civil war times and remembers a Union soldier and a little girl screaming in horror. At this time he knew nothing of this house. To me this is proof that the paranormal world stretches farther than believed. Call me crazy but I have seen too much not to believe.

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