Gaert Vanden Wijngaert/Syfy
Ghost Hunters International's Kris Williams
When she was in the fourth grade, Kris Williams worked on a school project that combined her love of history and genealogy. Back then she has no idea this would one day lead to her becoming part of The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) and the popular Ghost Hunters TV franchise.
Williams comes from a close-knit family that is no stranger to the paranormal. “My mom grew up in a house that was very active [with paranormals], and my father’s side has had several experiences over the years,” she says.
Despite her family’s past experiences, Williams is a self-proclaimed skeptic who needs to see, hear or feel things for herself and is equally as prepared to believe in them as she is to try to debunk them. It was her strength to stand by her convictions coupled with her keen analytical skills and passion for history as well as research that led to TAPS founders (and GH lead investigators) Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson inviting her to join their team.
“Jason and Grant felt my experience with researching the dead through genealogy would carry over well in the field of the paranormal,” notes Williams. “They also felt they needed a no-nonsense, rational female who didn’t scare easily and could also stand her ground in a group made up of mainly men."
After spending a little over three years as a researcher and an investigator on Ghost Hunters, Williams moved over to the GH spin-off series Ghost Hunters International where she was recently promoted to co-lead investigator alongside Barry FitzGerald. GHI’s third season premieres on Syfy this coming Wednesday, July 13 at 9:00 p.m. EST/PST. In the first episode, “Rising from the Grave: Trinidad,” the GHI team treks through the rainforests of Trinidad to investigate sightings of the long dead Charles Joseph, Count de Loppinot.
“As far as I know, Loppinot was a count who came from France and set up this cocoa plantation in the middle of Trinidad,” says Williams. “It’s said that the count was very cruel to his slaves, and, in fact, he had a hanging tree, which is one of the locations we investigated. There are several reports, one of which is that Loppinot rises from the grave on a white horse and rides the horse over to the tree.”
In the next episode, “Sensing Evil: Argentina & Trinidad,” the team investigates a former leper colony on Chacachacare Island. While in Argentina, they check out the Frigorifico Meat Packing Plant where the ghosts of four murdered workers are still seen throughout the halls. With different countries come different myths, superstitions, and beliefs. How does that affect the GHI team's investigations?
“That’s been challenging for us because there’s a certain way we tackle things that [sometimes] goes against the local culture and beliefs,” explains Williams. “The big thing in Trinidad was the story of the Soucouyant, which appears as a fireball. It’s said that she will appear as an old woman, peel her skin away, and turn into a fireball. The locals are afraid of her and it’s something that they scare their children with to keep them from going into the jungle.
“It’s really interesting to see and hear the cultural differences in the various countries that we visit. When you’re in the States, you’re familiar with what people here believe in. However, once you start to go outside the U.S., you get to see those differences, and I have to say that I’m learning a great deal more being a part of an international show.”
Other destinations visited by the GHI team this season include Castle Rising in England, Rusten Castle on the Isle of Man, Spike Island in Ireland, which was the last port of call for the ill-fated Titanic before she set sail across the Atlantic, a workhouse in Roe Valley, Northern Ireland, Riccarton Racecourse Hotel as well as Napier Prison in New Zealand and finally American Samoa and a former girls’ school buried deep within the dense jungle. Having spent almost five years investigating these and other paranormal hot spots, does Williams still hold as strongly onto her skepticism?
“I believe in the paranormal and I’ve had a lot of strange experiences that I still can’t explain,” she says. “But I don’t believe that every place we go to is haunted and it’s our job to try to figure out what’s going on there.
“I’ve always been the one who asks, ‘Okay, what are we labeling this? Is it a ghost, a person who has passed on or is just a matter of something our science hasn’t caught up to yet that’s completely rational and explainable?’
“I’m constantly battling with myself because we’ll go to a location and maybe one or two of us will experience something and the rest of us won’t. So you might go a while in between a big, in-your-face experience, and you really start to question yourself and what you saw. Even so, I enjoy what we do. I enjoy the history of it, and I’m kind of hoping that I can prove the skeptic in me wrong. I’m still in it for that reason, and it seems like every experience you have might give you a couple of answers, but they also leave you with a whole bunch of questions. It’s kind of addictive,” enthuses Williams.