-by Kate Dugger- Your house is empty: you know it is. So who is it stomping around overhead at 10 o’clock at night? You muster your courage, harness your curiosity, and grab a baseball bat. Up the stairs you go. As you open the door, you just know that you will find a burglar. Your grip tightens on the bat as you fling the door open the rest of the way. All you see are old lamps and piles of books lightly dusted with cobwebs. No one is up there but you. With nothing but a hair-raising tingle at the back of your neck you head back downstairs. But the next night you hear the clomping footsteps again. And again the night after that. Are you going crazy? You don’t want to hear it, but the words “haunted” and “ghost” are now all too often now in your head. Who can you tell?
Situations like this are common around the world. Whether they be hauntings or clanking pipes, people face uncomfortable situations and need a delicate way to resolve the situation. People in these situations need peace of mind. The Ken-Tenn area is no different. The peace and reassurance that one is not going crazy is what Ken-Tenn Paranormal (KTP) tries to provide.
Kind enough to agree to my interview and ignore my general ignorance, I met with the core members of KTP — Matt Gardner, Chris Henderson, Christie Atwill and Jenny Puckett. On a late August afternoon, we had the Cayce Café to ourselves. While they shared KTP information and joked, I listened. Occasionally the ice maker would chime in on the conversation, making me jump. Every time.
KTP as a team has been investigating the paranormal or unexplained in our area since 2007. Founding members Gardner and Henderson, both of Cayce, Kentucky, began their investigative efforts to satisfy their curiosity and to thrill seek. After finishing work at the seasonal, staged haunted forest in Cayce, the duo would seek out places where they might experience something truly paranormal. Bringing a tape recorder and their courage, they would visit cemeteries and old buildings, hoping to catch something solid.
Puckett got her start in a similar fashion. Finding herself in cemeteries and other places that might render supernatural findings. Back then trespassing was a gray area she joked.
Before the team ever goes to investigate a site for a client, there is a four page interview to be conducted. Everything in the interview in confidential, as is the investigation itself. KTP is different from many other paranormal groups because they begin an investigation looking for rational explanations to the list of occurrences given by the clients.
“If we can disprove it, then that’s our goal,” Gardner said. “We catch a lot on audio, and just because we caught something on audio doesn’t mean your place is haunted.”
In many cases the investigation begins in the evenings, and the team sets up a vast array of scientific tools to help document any findings, paranormal or otherwise. Part of their arsenal includes digital voice recorders, night vision cameras, a 16-channel DVR system which allows up to 16 cameras to record simultaneously. More exotic tools that they use are night vision cameras, laser thermometers and a KII Meter, which detects electromagnetic fields (EMFs). EMFs are produced by anything electric, but paranormal activity is also supposed to generate an EMF spike.
The team may set up from 4-14 hours. It depends on what the time table of the homeowner/ client can allot. The team accepts no payment and takes no donations. But Gardner joked that they wouldn’t turn down a pizza.
When the onsite investigation is finished, the team then has to roll up their sleeves and wade through hours of audio and video. If they had four cameras set up for five hours that means they have 20 hours of video sit and watch. If something out of the ordinary should appear, it’s up to KTP to debunk it. Whose voice is that? Could it be so and so’s? Is there any explanation for the movement on the left of the screen? Everything is examined and gone over with a fine tooth comb before the team will reveal their findings.
“I think some people are probably a little eased when we come in and disprove some of it,” Atwill said.
The team has investigated 30-40 locations over the years. In most cases, the occurrences are completely explainable. This is called “debunking.” KTP’s primary goal is to get answers. “Sometimes all it takes is a fresh perspective,” Gardner said. In many cases a homeowner is just too close the situation, and obvious causes of the paranormal activity are overlooked. In one case a closet door would not stay closed. The homeowner was convinced there was something paranormal afoot. The team discovered that a combination of a closet packed to bursting and the circulation of air due to ceiling fans would cause the latch to pop open on the door.
In another instance, a client would sit in a chair and out of nowhere, it would start shaking. Was it a pair of ghostly hands rattling the seat? A team member took a seat in the chair in question and encouraged the spirit to manifest. As if answering a dare, the chair did start shaking. But at the same time a train whistle could be heard in the not too far distance. This case was clear cut. The chair shook only when a train came through. This didn’t occur to the client because she had occupied the residence for so many years that she no longer heard the train. In this case, a fresh perspective was clearly all that was needed to get the answers needed for some peace.
Rattling pipes and weather are common answers to debunked hauntings. The weather can cause many of issues, including creaking floors. Pipes that bang inside walls can be mistaken for many things. (This one I know from experience.) They can sound like someone at the front door or someone trying to break in. That is scary enough without the thought that it might be a ghost.
KTP looks for EMFs because they can spike during a manifestation of paranormal activity. On the other hand, registering one on a KII Meter might lead the team to believe the place isn’t haunted. The studies and trials are still being completed, but some have shown EMFs produce harmful side effects, including feelings of depression, anger, and extreme rage. During an investigation, an adolescent girl would not enter her bedroom. Feelings of being watched and an overall feeling of unease kept tormenting her. A power strip loaded with gadgets right next to the bed was emitting an EMF that was off the chart. KTP encouraged the client to move the power strip and now the girl utilizes her bedroom comfortably.
If 90% of their investigations are classified “not haunted,” then what about the other 10%? KTP’s most infamous investigation was Octagon Hall in Franklin, Kentucky. The structure dates back to 1849. It was owned by Confederate sympathizer during the Civil War. Today stomping boots that belong to no one can be heard and dark shadowy figures disappear in front of your eyes. Possibly the most hair-raising entity at the hall is a little girl whose voice can be heard singing and giggling throughout the building. While on site, the team did encounter this but couldn’t catch it on their recorder.
Closer to home, the KTP team has investigated the Fulton Public Library, which is widely known to be haunted. Most people in our area have a heard a story or two about the building. It used to be the post office building but was relocated to its current site. Gardner and Henderson were in the basement when they heard footsteps coming down the stairs. They stopped and waited, thinking it might be one of the other investigators. But when the footsteps got to the bottom, no one was there.
If a house is revealed to be haunted, many KTP clients are just happy that someone else has experienced what they’ve been going through. It’s a relief knowing they haven’t started to crack up. After that the clients are generally okay with sharing their space. On the other hand, in two of their cases the homeowners took steps to get rid of the malevolence that plagued them. KTP has also revealed that a house showed no activity, but the homeowner didn’t accept that.
In the end it doesn’t matter if the causes are mundane or paranormal. When the team can explain where this sound comes from or why a door slams on its own, they have done their job.