WARREN - The Ohio Valley Paranormal Research Group takes ghost hunting very seriously.
The organization, based in Trumbull County, attempts to find rational, logical explanations for unexplained experiences as well as identify that which is paranormal in nature.
OVPRG announced Wednesday it will be teaming with the Hotel Conneaut in Conneaut Lake, Pa., as its "official in-house investigation team," according to lead investigator Dave Karr. Events during which people can participate in investigations of the supposedly haunted hotel will be held, with proceeds from fees charged by the hotel going to its upkeep.
Tribune Chronicle / Bonnie L. Hazen
Ohio Valley Paranormal Research Group lead investigator Dave Karr conducts readings Sunday during a preinvestigation in the basement of a Warren home. The resident, who asked not to be identified, said her family has experienced the feeling of being watched.
The group, which does not charge for its services, conducted a pre-investigation of a Warren duplex Sunday where the owner, who asked not to be identified, and her children had experienced strange occurrences ever since moving into the home three years ago.
"Did you ever have paranormal experiences before you moved here?" Karr, 42, of Cortland, asked her.
The resident said she had never given much thought to paranormal occurrences before she moved there, relating to Karr the constant feeling of being watched in every room of the home - especially the basement, where she once found her 5-year-old son talking to someone she couldn't see or hear that he simply referred to as "him."
Another investigator, Rick Darby, 46, of Bazetta, walked around the living room, conducting tests with a K-II EMF meter, a device that measures electromagnetic fields. While the device is used by some to detect and prevent potentially harmful EMF exposure, the team uses it to check for existing electrical currents as well as abnormal readings that could suggest paranormal activity.
The EMF meters were showing a "3" due to wiring and TV, which Karr said is in the normal range.
"If, during an investigation, it starts spiking, we know that's not normal," Karr said.
Other tools utilized during investigations include voice recorders, infrared video cameras, infrared still cameras, laser grids, thermal imaging devices and full-spectrum digital and video cameras. Compasses also were used prior to the KII meters.
But the best tool an investor has is his or her own mind, senses and experiences, Karr said, who has been involved in paranormal investigations for the past 20 years.
"Every single investigation is different," he said.
Karr and Darby entered the basement of the Warren home, where they opened up a door to what may have been an old wine cellar. The resident said she never goes into that room because it is where her son was pointing when he was talking to "him."
"I'm just trying to figure out who you are and why you're here," Karr said as he walked through the doorway. "I'm coming in your room here, and I don't mean you any harm."
Karr then took photographs, EVP recordings and EMF readings of the room to document the area in preparation for the full investigation to be conducted within the next couple of weeks. Karr and Darby also investigated the home's attic, which the resident said she refused to enter, although she didn't have a particular reason for her unease.
Many times, people who contact OVPRG are either curious or afraid of things happening in their homes that they can't explain, and Karr said it isn't important that they necessarily uncover a paranormal reason for these occurrences as long as he is able to provide peace of mind.
Darby refers to himself as the skeptic of the group, but said he believes people's stories and likes to try to prove what they tell him.
"I see a lot of stuff I can't explain," he said.
One couple contacted OVPRG because they were hearing strange sounds in their home of 20 years that they had never heard before. An investigation uncovered the reason for the strange sounds: air traveling through the waterlines.
Karr started OVPRG three years ago, and during that time the group has investigated several local legends, including Five Points in Hartford; Hatchetman Woods in Bristol; Pioneer Cemetery in Warren; Perkins Park in Warren; and the property skirting the home of Kenneth Biros, of Brookfield, who was executed in 2009 for the 1991 murder of Tammy Engstrom.
Five Points, Hatchetman Woods and Pioneer Cemetery have been debunked as urban legends, as no evidence of paranormal activity was found by OVPRG and investigations into the history of these sites found no factual basis for the origin of local superstitions.
Karr said the group found no evidence during its investigation of Perkins Park, but said he knows other reputable investigators who have documented proof of paranormal activity there.
However, an eerie EVP (electronic voice phenomena) was recorded near the home of Kenneth Biros, which Karr played during a lecture last week at the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library.
"They come here to kill you," a whispery voice says in the EVP.
Whether the voice is murder victim Tammy Engstrom, Karr said he can't know that for sure, but the team did confirm the site is active.
"Every time you think you find one little answer to something, there's a million little questions that open up," Karr said.
The golden rule of paranormal investigation, Karr said, is you never charge for your service. If no monetary gain is to be had, then there is no reason for a team to fabricate results, which lends credibility to not only the team, but to the trade as a whole.
The best part of being a paranormal investigator is helping people, Karr said.
"If we take something that's scary to people, and are able to figure it out and present what we feel is there ... it makes it not so scary for them any more," he said.
While Karr and Darby prepared to leave the Warren residence at the conclusion of the pre-investigation, one of the resident's sons said, "I'm always scared of the ghosts."
"You don't have to be," Karr replied.