The teams are announced: three women from Cleveland, EPIC (Erie Paranormal Investigators Community), aka the "Haunted Housewives" - Theresa Argie, Cathi Weber, and Darla Spector - from my own backyard! The Indians, Browns, and Cavs all more or less suck. I'm rooting for the Housewives!
Their competition: Dark Alley Paranormal, three guys from Columbus. The teams are touring the shuttered TB hellhole Waverly, hearing the bleak history, where thousands wasted away from the lung disease and were dumped down a Body Chute, which Theresa proclaims "the creepiest place I've ever been."
We are introduced to various resident wraiths. The competition begins.
By the time Theresa fearlessly sojourns forth solo down the Body Chute tunnel, the die is cast! The Housewives rule! Frankly, it isn't even close: on this night, the Housewives are sharper, braver, smarter, more empathetic, have more fun, and win. Dark Alley Paranormal is excellent, the Housewives excellent-er.
Cleveland wins the pennant!
Obviously, the very next day I had to contact the Housewives to express my admiration and bask in the glow of their glory. We actually ended up being invited to an investigation with the lively and charming team, a great honor and the subject of another article just down the road.
But for now, I talked with Theresa about her winning team.
How did the team get started?
Cathi and I formed EPIC after several years of working together on various paranormal events and investigations. Before we officially became EPIC, we jokingly called ourselves "SUPER TEAM."
We were a couple of history nerds who loved ghosts - we like the term "para-historian." I was working with another team (PRO), Cathi was running W.A.P.E.R.S, but we always seemed to end up spending more time together than on our other "projects."
She was known as "The Ghost Lady of Willoughby," and I had been using the moniker "The Haunted Housewife" since 2007.
We had a shared love for the historical aspect of the paranormal and distaste for the bullshit we were seeing in a lot of other paranormal groups. Cathi got me involved in many fund raisers where paranormal awareness was helping to keep funding going at some very iconic and historically relevant places, like the Lake County Historical Society.
We really had the same goals and passion for the field, so our collaborations as "Super Team" soon became "The Haunted Housewives" (plural) adding the EPIC anagram to differentiate between just me and our team.
Darla and I had met several years ago through our husbands. She had a keen interest in my work in the paranormal and she was often helping out at my GHOSTHUNTING 101 workshops. As a professional videographer, her skills are an asset to our team.
What are your regular group activities?
When we get involved with something, it almost always has a historical angle. We seek out these important but often overlooked places as our primary focus. I've done so many residential and private home investigations over the past six or seven years, I wanted to turn my focus on a different area. We felt like we could really make a difference and combine our love of history with our passion for the paranormal. Can a ghost save a museum? You bet it can!
We have a 'Para-Ex" event every year at the Lake County Historical Society in Painesville. It's a fund raiser/public ghost hunt with a special celebrity guest.
Cathi runs the Willoughby Ghost Walk along with WAPERS (Willoughby Area Paranormal Education and Research Society) while working on her second book for History Press, I am researching and writing my first. Darla is a professional videographer. We try to balance our busy family lives with our paranormal ones. Investigations are done whenever schedules and finances permit. Even before the show Paranormal Challenge, our calender was pretty full.
Why do you do this?
We do this because we love it. Our interest in the paranormal goes beyond a hobby. A paranormal experience as a child led me down this path and along the way I've gained the wonderful friendship of two other like minded women, Cathi Weber and Darla Spector.
This has become my passion. This is my calling. The past is so important but I feel it gets overlooked by the "now generation." Combining history and hauntings has brought to life stories of the past that lay dormant in dusty books, and opened them to our future.
Do you charge for services?
We do not charge for our investigations unless they are fundraisers where all proceeds go to the venue.
How do people get in touch with you?
We can be reached through our website; Facebook - EPIC Investigators "The Real Haunted Housewives of the Erie Shores"; Twitter - @EPIChousewives (team page) @hauntdhousewife (Theresa) @Gh0stLady (Cathi) @spectretech (Darla)
Please detail an example typical case.
A typical case starts with research, research, research, interviews and a game plan. Since every case is different, every approach is different. Some times we need to bring a lot of equipment, sometimes just the bare minimum. Occasionally we bring extra investigators with us as well.
Our community of housewives is always expanding. We utilize technology as an aid to helping us discover and document activity, but not as an "end all-be all" of our work. We're not out to prove anything to anyone. We do seek to reinforce historical facts and bring the past to the forefront. It's not a passive field, but an interactive one.
When we believe that the ghost or spirit has a reason for being here, we try to find out why: Is it a message? Something left unfinished? A strong unbreakable connection? Or are they "stuck"? I personally believe that ghosts (unless just popping in for a quick visit) do not belong here. We shouldn't try to keep them as pets.
But then again, who am I to make that decision for them? It's a fine line. Respect is always a must. It's a delicate thing and you must always remember that you're dealing with people, even though they may be dead.
Please detail an example extreme case.
In an extreme case, we approach with caution. I have in all my years of working in the paranormal, only come across something I would call "evil" maybe three times. I believe that there is a dark force in the universe, just as there is one of light. To call it a "demon" is a leap I'm not willing to make... at least not yet.
I try to stay open minded to possibilities. After a very bad experience with a Ouija board when I was young, I began to study and research the darker side of the paranormal. There are bad ghosts, just like there are bad people, the personality stays the same. But something truly dark has to be dealt with differently.
Sometimes we can do a cleansing or a smudging, sometimes you have to get others (like a religious leader) involved to help. A skilled psychic can also be an enormous help in paranormal investigations. We have several gifted psychics/psychic mediums that we work with.
What equipment do you use?
We use a vast array of equipment, everything that three housewives can possibly afford. We have digital and analog recorders, several digital cameras, both regular and infrared, a DVR system and cameras, various EMF detectors, a melmeter, thermometers, all the usual stuff.
Along with flashlights, dowsing rods, a ghost box, and some experimental devices. But the most important thing we use is our brains. We use our women's intuition, our common sense, our compassion, our sensibilities: all things unique to us as women. This is what sets us apart from others in the field. We utilize what is natural to us to help us with the supernatural.
Do you have advice for individuals/organizations looking to get into paranormal investigations?
The "Haunted Housewives" of EPIC would tell anyone looking to get involved in the paranormal to start by learning as much as you can about the field (by READING and RESEARCH and not by watching reality ghost shows). Find people who share your core values and beliefs. Make sure you're doing it for the right reason. If your in it for fame or money, you'll be disappointed. There IS a place for everyone in this field, the thrill seekers, the serious researchers, the armchair ghost hunters.
I prefer to surround myself with those who are more serious about it. Remember, NO ONE IS AN EXPERT in this, we are just trying to validate theories and beliefs. Nothing can be proved in a controlled setting with any amount of accuracy.
Anyone claiming to "know everything" about the paranormal is full of shit. Watch out for the haters and those who claim territory. Be open and willing to learn, and grow a thick skin. People will try to hurt you way more than a ghost will. Trust your gut. Your instincts will guide you.