March 6, 2009
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:
SRU plays host to ghosts, paranormal researchers say
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University has its own haunted house, Miller Auditorium - if one accepts the initial findings of Baelfire Paranormal Investigation, the Titusville-based group that spent a night in the theatre searching for "Emma the Ghost."
"We have a couple good pictures of primordial mists and some electronic voice phenomena, or the catching of spirits talking on tape," said John Lewis, owner. "I think as it now stands we have enough to say, 'Yes, the theatre is haunted.'"
Investigators will review their photographs, infrared video and recordings for another week before they make a final determination as to whether Emma or other friendly ghosts haunt the theater, as some faculty members and students claim. Emma is thought to represent Emma Guffey Miller, a prominent political leader and former SRU trustee who died in 1970.
While no apparition of Emma appeared during Baelfire's 11-hour investigation, Lewis said junior member Aurora McCabe saw the spirit of a man and a little girl. "She is very sensitive to paranormal activity and spiritual beings," Lewis said.
Lewis said he felt pressure against his knee while seeing nothing, and one team member claimed to hear a girl laughing.
Lewis said the voice recorders picked up unexplained words, such as "over here," "move back right now" and "gotcha."
A K2 electromagnetic detector also flashed on command, indicating the presence of spirits, Lewis said.
Standard electromagnetic detectors use a needle that moves up and down to indicate energy levels. The K2 uses lights, enabling psychics to "communicate" with spirits. Lewis said he asked the spirit to light up the second light, "and it did. It blinked," he said.
Standard electromagnetic devices picked up no evidence of energy, and the K2 incident was not caught on camera.
The group had no success during an attempted question and answer session with Emma on the darkened theater stage between 3 and 4 a.m. "Come on, Emma," Lewis implored, "If you're here, show yourself."
The Titusville-based paranormal group of 10 people occupied Miller Auditorium, built in 1958, from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. Feb. 28-March 1. They anchored infrared cameras on the stage, backstage, in the auditorium, the Green Room and a costume room called "Emma's Closet" because it contains clothes Miller donate to the University.
Lewis said he wants to return to the University to present his conclusions and plans to post his evidence on the group's Web site (http://baelfireparanormal.org/).
Regardless of the validity of the findings, the story about the search went national. MSNBC and newspapers nationwide published online and print stories about the investigation. "Good Morning America" interviewed Lewis and is considering inviting him to New York City to tape an interview, he said.
Locally, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and New Castle News sent reporters and photographers to Miller Auditorium.
David Skeele, SRU professor of theatre, featured prominently in the coverage. He told of hearing footsteps, a television's volume turning up on its own, unexplained crashes in prop rooms and costumes mysteriously appearing in Emma's Closet before a first dress rehearsal.
"There are things that have happened in this theatre that I don't have an explanation for," he said.
Dave Crawley produced a "KD Country" television report for KDKA-Channel 2 in Pittsburgh. "Here at Miller Auditorium, the concept of school spirit takes on a whole new meaning," Crawling said during his 90 second feature. To view the report, go to http://kdka.com/kdcountry and click on "haunted theater."
"We've produced a number of ghost stories for our KD Country segments, but this was our first opportunity to join paranormal investigators in their search for evidence," Crawley said. "The 'haunting of Miller Auditorium' was a fascinating - and entertaining - experience."
"I've always been interested in the paranormal ever since I was little and used to watch 'In Search Of ...' hosted by Leonard Nimoy during the 1970s," said Lisa Micco, special projects editor for the New Castle News, who covered the story. "I was particularly interested in this story because Emma seemed like a friendly ghost, albeit mischievous, and there seemed to be so much activity and sightings attributed to her."
SRU did not pay Baelfire for the investigation. The group requested access to the theatre after reading previous reports about ghosts in Miller Auditorium.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.