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Hunting in the haunted: Bellingham group goes searching for souls

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Posted: Friday, March 1, 2013 8:15 am

Elena Stecca and her husband sit in their Bellingham home as rain trickles down their windows. They hear a knock at their front door. Her husband races across the room to see who is there. Once he opens the door he finds a familiar sight: no one. 

For five and a half years, Stecca and her husband have experienced this knocking and disappearing act. This mischievous spirit, Stecca is convinced, is a ghost. 

Stecca believes the thumping comes from a man who is connected to her home. The spirit appears to Stecca as military man, who knocks on the door to announce he is coming into the room. When the house is unorganized, it is not uncommon for him to stomp around, Stecca said. 

Most people fear what they do not understand, Stecca said. For her, it is just another day in the life of a member of the Bellingham Observers of the Odd and Obscure (B.O.O.O.) 

B.O.O.O. is a team of paranormal investigators that travels all over Whatcom County and several other cities in Washington to investigate UFO and sasquatch sightings, and spirits in private homes, commercial buildings and graveyards. 

The group formed in 2001 when leader Sherry Mulholland started attending a spiritual church of psychics in Bellingham, which does not exist any more. Mulholland, who grew up investigating spirits with her family, was able to get the other members of the church excited about doing spirit rescuing, which is when an investigator helps a spirit pass on from our world into the afterlife. 

Nearly 12 years later, B.O.O.O. continues to grow. B.O.O.O. investigates buildings at the request of the owner – free of charge. They have investigated the Wild Buffalo, Hohl Feed and Seed, the Sycamore Square Building in Fairhaven and many other places in Whatcom County. 

At the Sycamore Square Building, more often than not the group will have a paranormal experience, Mulholland said. Throughout the entire building, the group has heard glasses clinking and party sounds. When they reach the corner where the noises were coming from, it feels eerily quiet, Mulholland said. 


Members’ Encounters with the Other Side 

Emily Whitehall, a 14-year-old investigator, said she has always experienced strange things happening, such as communicating with her uncle through a psychic board, and has wondered what happens when we die. 

Whitehall once brought home a fiery orange ghost cat. “It would figure-eight around our feet,” said Heather Thompson, Whitehall’s mother and B.O.O.O. member. “I could feel it brush up against my legs, and when I would look down to see our cat, nothing would be there.” 

Thompson, who has been with the team for five years, has had several encounters with the paranormal, she said. 

In her hometown of Spokane, when Thompson was younger, she and her sister heard sounds coming from their basement. However, Thompson and her sister were home alone. 

They had a pool table in their basement, and heard the sound of pool sticks falling to the ground and pool balls clinking together. However, when Thompson and her sister entered the basement shortly after hearing the sounds, they found the pool sticks and pool balls untouched, in their normal places. 


Western Washington Wraiths 

On Saturday, Feb. 23, four of B.O.O.O.’s lead investigators entered Western’s dark dreary campus to begin a night of ghost hunting. The members had heard of several hauntings in each building, but wanted to investigate for themselves. With their devices charged and ready to be put to action, the team headed for Miller Hall, the first building on their three-stop tour. 

Once in the building, the team started to unpack their equipment. Chuck Crooks, B.O.O.O. investigator, pulled a K-II meter out of his bag. Electricians use K-II meters to find electricity, Crooks said. The meter has five lights, ranging from dark green to red. When a spirit is present the lights on the K-II meter will change from green to red, he said. This means the magnetic field of the room has increased. Investigators believe spirits use the electricity in a room to connect with the living by changing the magnetic field in the room. The team also takes out two voice recorders to record the investigation. 

The recorders are used to catch what is known as electronic voice phenomena (EVPs). Many times when a spirit is trying to contact an investigator, the recordings are the only way they will hear the spirits’ voice and responses to their questions, Mulholland said. 

Thompson opted to sit on the floor of Miller Hall as the others sat in a circle in one of the building’s many classrooms. The recorders were on and the lights off. 

To start the investigation, each team member introduced themselves to any spirits inside the building. Once the introductions ended, interviews began. 

The team asked the spirits if they could tell the members their names, what year it is and why they have stayed at Western. 

After about 30 minutes and no one sensing any ghosts, the team moved to Wilson Library. 

In the library, members set up again. The members got in a circle and began to ask questions. This time at the end of the questions they began to provoke the ghosts by telling them the library is an embarrassment to the community, and then asked the ghosts to show how they feel. 

After another unsuccessful attempt in the library, the team makes the short trek to the Mainstage at the Performing Arts Center. 

As they entered the room, the members started to get jittery with excitement when Stecca heard possible laughter of a spirit off in the distance, and Crooks thought he heard a female’s voice up in the corner of the theater. Unlike the leisurely start to the other investigations, this one started with haste, as the team hoped to hear or see a spirit. 

With several instances of doors rattling, footsteps, shadows and laughter in the PAC, the team walked away hoping they caught a spirit on the recordings and not just a faculty member locking up. 

The team will take about two weeks to analyze the data collected from this investigation, Stecca said. Paranormal investigation is a part-time job for all of the members of B.O.O.O. and has to be done during their spare time, she said. 

Although the group did not witness any supernatural activity at Western, they continue to be on the hunt around Bellingham for spirits. 

“Paranormal activity is a lot like fishing, sometimes you get a lot fast and sometimes it takes a while,” Thompson said. 

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