Archive for the Investigations Category

Ghost Hunting Tales: Hell Hounds On Our Trail

Posted in Investigations on May 28, 2021 by Occult Detective


So, as you readily know, I write horror novels from time to time, and I thought I would share with you the impetus for my very first — Shadows Over Somerset, a novel about hereditary werewolves that lived in a gothic mansion overlooking the Mississinewa Reservoir.

Now, I know you’ve heard me recount its origin story from the actual writing perspective. No? Lightning version is I was recently married and out of work and my wife suggested I use the downtime to finally get off my ass and put words on paper. But why werewolves along the Mississinewa?

Well, the answer to that comes from a true story, something that happened to me and my friends one dark and moonlit night in the Autumn of 1986.

We’d gone out to Goose Creek, the site of our infamous misadventure in conjuring a preternatural entity. To our surprise, the circles were still there, baked into the roadway despite several seasons underwater. The site looked the same, with the spindly corpses of long dead trees pointing upward like accusing fingers of the damned.

To be honest, we were all on edge. The site felt wrong, you know what I mean? As we kicked around the exposed road and stared into creek waters from the edge of the expanse where the bridge once stretched across it, we sensed we were being watched. Then, one of my friends spotted something along the treeline: red, glowing eyes and dark shapes, black against black.

There must have been a half dozen, maybe as many as nine. It was hard to say for sure. It was so dark. Yes, there was a substantial moon, but it was also overcast, and the woods were thick, with a canopy of twisted limbs and branches overhead, and sparse autumn foliage still clinging here and there.

The creatures were big, low to the ground. Certainly canine. They moved silently at first, then you could hear their breathing as they became agitated. We moved slowly, eyes intent on these nocturnal predators, up the road. Our pace quickened… and then the growl came. Fierce. Aggressive. Fearsome.

Suddenly, one of our number bolted, racing up the causeway hill. The growls became a terrifying cacophony, and as these “wolves” gave chase, we all turned tail and ran with the sort of urgency reserved for those facing imminent death. At the road’s headway was a barricade put up by the DNR to keep folks from driving down the lane. We all hurdled the obstruction and dove into our vehicles, but then, looking back, there were no wolves to be seen, only the black maw of the road leading down to Goose Creek, framed by the autumn trees that created a tunnel from one world to another…

The official stance of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources is that “there is currently no breeding population of wolves” in the Hoosier State. Hasn’t been in 100 years. I would beg to differ…

Ghost Hunting Tales: Okie Pinokie

Posted in Investigations on May 14, 2021 by Occult Detective

As promised, today we will briefly talk about Okie Pinokie. Located east of Peru, off of 124 on CR510E, you’ll find a large section of woods, part of the Frances Slocum State Forest, littered with hiking and horse trails, nestled along the Mississinewa River. Isolated, a road leads deep into the woods, ending in a large barren cul-de-sac. It is a very popular spot for trailriders, geocachers, teenagers, and, yes, ghost hunters.

There are innumerable urban legends surrounding the place. Some of the more popular stories describe it as home to a secret “Indian burial ground”, or where the mob used to dump bodies out of Chicago. Still other tales circulate about settlers being massacred by natives, of a young man named Joey murdered in the mid-70s, or a young woman named Stephanie who was raped and tortured in the 60s.

I enjoy hearing stories like these, urban legends that grow up around haunted places. Every community has them. These paranormal hot spots of activity merge with fanciful campfire yarns and grow in the telling, becoming more charged by the energies that people bring into the forest with them.

I had been going out to Okie Pinokie for years, long before I even knew it by that name. I’ve always taken the name to be a bastardization of Okefenokee, as in the infamous swamp rich in Georgia/Florida folklore.

There is an undeniable presence in those woods, all throughout the area to be fair. The Mississinewa is a conduit of paranormal activity. I know, I’ve been exploring here for more than forty years.

In the pictures I’m sharing with you, from September of 2006, you will see an interesting event captured. Note the time stamps.

In this first image, you’ll note what appears to be a whispy figure standing amongst the trees.

Within seconds, another picture taken and the figure is gone, replaced by ascending orbs. I am not here to debate “orb evidence”. I fully understand that most (as in 99%) of orbs captured by digital cameras are dust, water, and/or insects.

For context, I was with a rather large group, a mixture of seasoned investigators and first-time thrill seekers. Moving along one of the thicker trails, an odd feeling began to pass among several of the investigators, with one person feeling downright distraught. One of my colleagues began taking a series of photographs in response, in the direction that seemed to be the source of the discomfort.

Below is an enlargement of the figure from the first image above.

I will leave you with this, a memorial to my dear friend Jack Hill, who left this world for the next on July 30, 2011 at the age of 52. Jack desperately wanted to believe in the existence of spirits, of aliens, and bigfoot, and all the rest, but he had never had an experience. He joined us on that adventure into Okie Pinokie in 2006, skeptical but eager. It was he who pored over all the photos and evp from that evening. It was Jack who spotted the apparition in the photo above.

He was thrilled beyond measure.

Ghost Hunting Tales: Teaser

Posted in Investigations, Paranormal on May 7, 2021 by Occult Detective

Well I spent a good chunk of my day in the ER for tests. No worries. I’m fine. Just some inflammation of the lungs. A byproduct of my youthful decadence. As the morning was spent on an OSR project, I never got around to today’s Ghost Hunting Tales. So rather than dash something off, how about a teaser for next week?

Surely that will entice you back to the Occult Detective hearth, one week from today. See you then, if not before…

Ghost Hunting Tales: Chill & Dark Shadows

Posted in Investigations on April 30, 2021 by Occult Detective


One of the more chilling experiences I’ve had came on an evening when I hosted a paranormal investigation at a confidential location in North Central Indiana. The Italianate building we were called to once housed a prestigious fraternal lodge, and it was in the former great hall that the event I want to share took place.

While female investigators were exploring what was affectionately referred to as “the demon closet”, the men took to the great hall.

Demonologist Brad Pate was playing a full-chorus Catholic Exorcism from his laptop, hoping to provoke a response from the preternatural entity believed to reside there.

Investigator (and inventor) David LaBrecque was sitting on the main stage, using an infrared thermometer to spot check temperatures around the room.

My colleague and I were sitting in two chairs beneath an antique gaslight chandelier.

As the exorcism droned on, I was looking toward David when I saw a black shape rise up behind him, taking full human form. It loomed above him and I called out. David stood quickly and the shadow moved away from him, south along the stage until it disappeared beneath one of the ocular windows.

At that moment, I felt enveloped by an oppressive assault of bitter cold. I gasped and looked to my colleague who was experiencing the same…

David, checking the thermal, confirmed that the temperature had plummeted 20° where we were sitting.

It was, without question, compared against literally hundreds of cold spot episodes in my decades of investigating, the most dramatic temperature fluctuation I had ever experienced.

Needless to say, the location is a favorite haunt of mine. I have explored her many times before and since. Believe me, I have many more stories to tell about that place… but for now, I leave you with this short tale to keep in the back of your mind, the next time you experience a chill in the night. Look around. There may be more than meets the eye, there in the dark where the shadows lie.

Magick By Trial & Error: Talking Boards

Posted in Investigations, Magick, Paranormal on April 26, 2021 by Occult Detective

You may have noticed I did not post an installment of Ghost Hunting Tales on Friday. It was bound to happen. I have been working on a couple of huge projects (and neglecting a few more) and to be perfectly honest, I am behind schedule on everything. Deadlines are cruel mistresses…

As such, I desperately need to remain focused on one project in particular. I am working on the art and graphic design for a soon-to-be-released OSR Magick Authentic RPG. Of course, the project cannot be released until I wrap up my chores, so I’m off to it.

But not before I leave you with this.

One of the most versatile tools for both an occultist and paranormal investigator is the Talking Board, aka Spirit or Witch Board, or simply Ouija. It has certainly fallen in and out of favor over the years, but I stand by its capacity to both unlock the inner workings of the subconscious mind and operate as a device through which we can communicate with the spirits of the departed and preternatural intelligences.

I keep on hand both a Ouija Board and Psychic Circle, tucked neatly into my investigation bag. I highly recommend you employ one as well. I have been enamored with them since my teen years, and hold that particularly unsettling occurrences with their use in the 1980s cemented for me not only their validity but their potential.

As such, the boards can be fraught with danger, as once a link with an entity is established you cannot be sure what or who you have made contact with.

“There is, however, a good way of using
this instrument to get what you want,
and that is to perform the whole
operation in a consecrated circle,
so that undesirable aliens cannot
interfere with it. You should then
employ the proper magical
invocation in order to get into your
circle just the one spirit you want.
It is comparatively easy to do this.
A few simple instructions are all
that is necessary, and I shall be
pleased to give these, free of charge,
to any one who cares to apply.”

— Aleister Crowley

Crowley’s advice, quoted above, is recommended, although his involvement, “free of charge” is sadly unavailable.

Or is it? We have the board, after all…

Chances are, you’ve got one in the back of a closet or in the game room buried beneath Candy Land, Clue, and Monopoly. Dust it off. Give it a spin. Become attuned to it and make it a part of your repertoire.

I look forward to hearing your results…

Ghost Hunting Tales of Indiana & Beyond: The Seven Pillars of the Mississinewa

Posted in Investigations, Paranormal on April 16, 2021 by Occult Detective

In late 2004 I was asked to contribute to Jeff Belanger’s Encyclopedia of Haunted Places, the first directory to be written by dozens of the world’s leading paranormal investigators. One of three entries I submitted concerned a truly amazing site that has been a part of my life for more than forty years. Sacred to the Miami Indians, the Seven Pillars of the Mississinewa is more than a geological curiosity, it is the epicenter to all the weird and wonderful paranormal phenomena in northern Indiana.


About 3 miles southeast of Peru, in Miami County, along the Mississinewa River, you’ll find this little-known but scenic natural feature. For centuries, weathering along the bedding of the Liston Creek Limestone and the scouring action of the Mississinewa have carved rounded buttresses and grotto-like alcoves in the north bluff of the river, reaching from 25 to 50 feet above low water.

It’s little wonder as to why the local tribes of Native Americans were drawn to this place. One can sense the energies that ebb and flow from this site held sacred for hundreds of years. A preternatural nexus, with a confluence of telluric currents and ley line convergences, Seven Pillars is home to myths and legends punctuated by an aura of mystery and inspiring beauty.


The Miami, or Mihtohseeniaki, performed rituals and held important tribal councils here, including ceremonial executions.

The Miami believed the site to be home to “Paissa” — what Europeans would refer to as fairy-folk or wights. The Paissa are preternatural beings who live between this world and the next, with the natural formations of the Pillars being a gateway between these worlds.


Seven Pillars is hallowed ground and home to unseen forces, sentient apparitions, and residual manifestations…

I would personally recommend this location to not only paranormal investigators, but to those who dare to embark on a spiritual journey of self discovery and communion with higher powers.

The Seven Pillars of the Mississinewa is a truly magical place…

Visitors should approach the site with reverence and an open mind to the wonders of the supernatural world.

Magick By Trial & Error: Jack-of-All-Trades

Posted in Investigations, Magick, Paranormal on April 12, 2021 by Occult Detective

Really crunched for time today, so I’ll be brief, offering up a little food for thought.

As an extension of last week’s piece on the mutability of magick, I thought I should briefly explain how I have approached things in the past.

In my field, you have to be a sort of jack-of-all-trades. It pays to be knowledgeable in a wide variety of traditions. You have to be able to differentiate Santeria from Voudon from Hoodoo and the like. You need to be able to discern from ceremonial magic to all the varying degrees of left-hand pathwork, from all sides of the magical coin, and as many religions as you can squeeze into the gray matter between your ears. And once you muddy the waters with all the self-styled combinations that solitaries or isolated groups might cook up and cobble together, well, an investigators work is, at the very least, never boring.

Paranormal investigators often enter into situations that they’re ill-equipped to handle. They may be atheist, agnostic, Christian, Pagan, or what have you, but the crux of the situation is, if you go into an investigation close-minded, you’re libel to set yourself up for a world of hurt.

It really does pay to do your homework. You can have the sanctity of your own faith or magical practice, but you need to be open to the many and varied paths that are out there. Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. — Sun Tzu

I’ll revisit this when I have more than a ten minute window…

Ghost Hunting Tales of Indiana & Beyond: Start the Ball Rolling #Paranormal

Posted in Investigations, Paranormal on April 9, 2021 by Occult Detective

Welcome to the first post in my new (mostly) weekly feature —Thank the Gods It’s Friday: Ghost Hunting Tales of Indiana & Beyond. I’ll be discussing old and new cases and as I tried to come up with the perfect story to get the ball rolling, well, I thought this little tale would be apropos…

Just shy of eleven years ago, on a Hallowe’en night, some friends joined me on an informal investigation of a confidential location. What I can tell you is it took place in a three story building, constructed in 1860s, and I have explored the place near countless times since the late 1970s. It has never disappointed in terms of paranormal activity. Never.

That Hallowe’en was no different.

The experience I want to share is an odd one.

I had placed, on the third floor, a child’s ball, in the “wardrobe” room, atop an “x” marked by masking tape. The idea being that perhaps something would move the ball while we were downstairs exploring. I left the room, passing through a closet area, then turned east through a set of double doors, then north down a flight of stairs to a landing, then south down a short stair and through the stair door to the second floor.

I make a point of detailing my descent for a reason.

My cohorts and I investigated the second floor, experiencing the sounds of footsteps and whispers throughout, then we adjourned to the second floor “waiting” room where we relaxed for a bit. Being still…quiet, immersing ourselves in the distinct sounds of the old building.

Then we heard the clatter of something descending the third floor stair. We heard the creak of the stair door open.

Creeping into the hall, what did we find?

The child’s ball. Sitting perfectly still outside the “waiting” room door. The door to third floor stairwell was closed.

An amazing experience. And it doesn’t even crack the Top 5 of things that have happened at that site. Probably misses out on the Top 10 as well.

Old Haunts, Volume One: Little Pipe Creek Cemetery / #40DaysofHalloween

Posted in Investigations on October 19, 2020 by Occult Detective

Back on the 1st of June, I posted a blog titled “Unseen Forces: Kids on Bikes, Part I” as part of my Occult 30: True Tales of the Strange & Unusual feature that ran throughout that month.

I thought you might want to have a look at Little Pipe Creek Cemetery for yourself. This is the first in a series of videos I hope to present, showcasing some of my defining haunts.


Posted in Investigations, Magick on February 17, 2020 by Occult Detective


DisembobiedThere are a number of things that hang around the neck of paranormal research and investigation like a proverbial albatross, not the least of which is the veritable legion of amateur thrill-seekers that muddy up the field.  That the majority consider themselves “professionals” and “science-based” investigators only adds salt to the wound, especially when you consider their educations to have largely come from watching every episode of Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, or some equally loathsome para-entertainment programing.

But I don’t want to paint them all with the same wide brush. I have met a number of investigators who are diligent and thoughtful, adverse to parroting the techniques displayed on late night Travel Channel mockumentaries.

Bob Pastorella, co-host and columnist for the This is Horror podcast, tweeted:

Paranormal is not the same as supernatural. The former suggests phenomena science hasn’t explained yet, while the later are things which cannot be explained by any means. There’s overlap, of course, but researchers using objective scientific methods to contact ghosts is silly.

Using sensors to determine the smallest variations in light and sound yield few results other than those shifts in light and sound that could possibly be anything, really.

I’m really enjoying Hellier on Amazon, because they tend to use subjective methods to test phenomenons based on eye-witness testimony. The real drive of the series for me is the continuous synchronicities they uncover, which is also very fascinating.

While I don’t believe in the supernatural, I do think that a way to access that reality is through subjective means, which also means kicking science to the curb for a bit.

There is a lot of truth in Bob’s stance, in my opinion. Far too many “investigators” approach the so-called paranormal as a “science experiment” that they are recreating based on what they’ve seen on television. K2 Meters, Thermal Cams, REM Pods, and the like are fun toys, but not really very useful in the field, at least not as they are typically used.

The very best tool you have is your own senses. All those fancy gadgets do is put up a barrier between you and the phenomena you’re hoping to connect with. And that is what we’re doing out there — trying to connect with and understand these unseen spirits. In our most gracious moments, we may even be there to help them understand themselves, or to provide solace and understanding for the people who live amongst these entities.

At the end of the day, we look to define ourselves and our place in the multiverse. By interacting with paranormal phenomena we learn more about the worlds we are a part of and the worlds outside ourselves to which we will one day cloak ourselves in. We commune with these intelligences in a hope for mutual understanding and a lifting of the veil.

We seek gnosis.

So, if I were to offer a single piece of advice to paranormal adventurers, it would be this — think outside the box. Be silent. Be still. Be open… And be prepared.

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