How to hunt for ghosts

Published 9:30 am Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ghosts do exist.

And with the proper patience, equipment and team, anyone who’s interested in hunting them can do so.

That was the message presented Wednesday night at an Albert Lea Community Education class titled Ghost Hunting 101.

Email newsletter signup

Though it was a more unusual class than many other’s put on by Community Ed, it turned out to be a big hit for area residents, drawing 29 people to sign up to attend. It can be a controversial topic, but attendants Thursday night showed much interest.

The class was taught by the four members of The Investigative Paranormal Society of Minnesota, or TIPSMN, a ghost hunting team that was organized a year ago on Halloween. The group has since conducted more than a dozen investigations throughout the region.

Nick Larson, founder and lead investigator of the group, described the equipment he thinks people need to have to become a successful ghost hunter. This includes an audio recorder, an electromagnetic field detector, a thermometer, a digital camera and a video camcorder, he said.

Most audio recorders can record sounds outside of the normal hearing range for people, he said. And from them can come Electronic Voice Phenomenon, also known as EVP, or a way to communicate with spirits.

To capture an EVP, turn on the recorder and first record the location, date, time and team members in the investigation. This can help identify possible voices on the recording.

He said its best for people to ask questions and then wait 20 seconds before asking another question.

Larson explained there are three classes of EVPs, ranging from Class A to Class C, depending on how much cleanup work is needed on the recording.

He played five clips of recordings from some of the group’s previous investigations and asked the attendants to see if they could identify what was being said in each recording. The majority of the sounds were difficult to make sense of.

Next, an electromagnetic field detector can indicate possible spirit activity, picking up on active electricity, he said. It’s important to remember with this to stay away from any power sources in the area like televisions and computers as they will set off the detector.

Third, thermometers can identify cold spots, which can be indicative of a spirit.

“Temperature drops of more than 10 degrees are good signs a ghost is present,” Larson said.

Digital cameras can provide the most important types of evidence. They can photograph orbs, apparitions, ectoplasm and light streaks, which are all involved with spirits.

Lastly, the video camcorder is used to give a detailed record of the investigation.

When conducting a paranormal investigation, Larson said, people should first gather information about the place they’re going to, along with involved witness accounts and maps if copies are available.

Never go on an investigation alone, he said. And always remember to take along a flashlight, extra batteries, a cell phone, a two-way radio and chargers for cameras.

It’s important to conduct an investigation professionally, using common sense.

Some possible places to ghost hunt, the group talked about, are graveyards, houses, old schools, old hospitals and asylums.

Larson asked the people in the class if they knew of some places in Albert Lea that might be good to ghost hunt.

People responded with answers including the old Ramsey School, the Freeborn County Government Center, and the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center.

The group said they have done several investigations in southern Minnesota, along with some in Wisconsin and some in Iowa. Their services are provided for free and are conducted on a have-time schedule.

Later on in the course, one of the ghost hunters told the audience she is a psychic medium, which spurred several questions.

Larson said he and fellow team member, Gary Shaw, have been friends now for about six years. Shaw’s fiancee, Jamie Kubista, is also on the team, along with a new member, Cindy Heimdal.

Larson and Shaw said they conduct investigations in their free time, and usually end up doing one every month or two. This is just a hobby for them outside of work, school and family life. They’ve investigated several private homes, along with an asylum and some woods.

Whether people agree with the group’s ghoulish ways, they can visit the TIPSMN Web site at There, people can request an investigation if needed.