It’s that time again where I pick at someone’s brain matter. For our July interview I was able to discuss the paranormal with Jen of the Pennhurst Paranormal Association. She was kind enough to invite me down for an investigation. I am definitely putting it in my schedule for my haunted visits web series I am currently creating.
Thanks for blessing this page with your eyeballs.
- Mercy Desdemona
M: How did you get into paranormal research?
J: It started about 20 years ago my husband (my boyfriend back then) and I would go to Gettysburg and scope out the battlefields. I like to say we investigated before it was cool. I always thought it was cool all the stories. We went armed with our 35mm camera. We loved it so much we spent our honeymoon there in the most haunted bed and breakfast.
M.) Your Facebook says you investigate for Pennhurst Paranormal Association, what can you tell us of your work and the association?
J: We do guided tours for those that have always wanted to investigate and don’t have a group. They run Friday nights from 9P to 3A. If you don’t know what you are doing we bring our own equipment and show you how to use it. We go through all rooms and floors and do actual investigations. We like to keep the groups small so everyone can have their own experience. It is 99 a person. We also do private groups where a paranormal group can rent Pennhurst from 7P to 3A. That runs from 800 to 1000 depending on the night you pick. We currently do one building, The Mayflower, we are looking to open others very soon. All the money that is made goes right back to rehab and asbestos removal.
M.) What drew you to Pennhurst?
- J) I have always liked history and old buildings. When I got to Pennhurst I fell in love. I have such a passion for that place. The place is as it was back in the day. Things left there as if they just got up and walked out. Of course the buildings have been renovated and asbestos has been removed. It is hard to explain until you step foot on that property. Plus to remind people we can’t go back to what is was like in there. The children need a voice.
M.) Can you tell us a little bit about the history of Pennhurst and the spirits that reside there?
J.) Pennhurst was opened in 1908 for the epileptic and feeble minded. In about 3 years it was at max capacity and over. Back then it wasn’t “right” to have a child that was different. You were told by Dr.’s and Priests to take them to Pennhurst. Once at Pennhurst the parents were told not to visit because it could disrupt their progression. Babies and Children were dropped off never to see their parents again. Pennhurst started taking in the criminally insane too. There was patient on patient, staff on staff and staff on patient abuse. Please watch Suffer the Little Children on YouTube. It is an expose done by a reporter from Philadelphia. Womb to tomb care is what it was referred to. They were their own city. They had their own farm and livestock. The power plant received coal from rail car. Pennhurst even had their own currency.
The spirits are mostly children. You will come across some of the people that have worked there also. Young adults too that were patients.
Please like Pennhurst Paranormal Association on Facebook for up and coming news and information. Also on Twitter and PennhurstParanormal.com
M.) Are there negative spirits that reside there that you have encountered?
J.) Yes there are a few. In the Mayflower building we have 2 that are really mean. I wouldn’t say evil. There is King in the basement. He was a maintenance man and worked in the boiler rooms. He likes to mess with the people of Pennhurst Paranormal Assoc. (PPA) We have a newer spirit … not sure where he came from. He is on the 3rd floor. He likes to go after the big jock type men. He actually chokes them out to the point they black out. He is not to be messed with.
M.) What can you tell us about your first paranormal encounter?
J.) The very first that I can remember was on our honeymoon in Gettysburg. Were stayed at the Farnsworth House, in the Sarah Black room, the most haunted room there. Needless to say I was REALLY scared. (I have gotten MUCH better since) I made my hubby take me to Wal Mart at like 1 am because I couldn’t sleep. Finally he brought me back and I kept EVERY single light on in the room. There was a grandfather clock on the landing outside our room, it was from the civil war. It chimed every hour, and when it chimed I felt someone … something sat at the bottom of the bed. You know when you are under the covers and someone sits next to you and the covers get tight. That is how it was every hour. Finally I had enough and woke my hubs up at around 5am. As I was telling him what happened ALL the lights went out and came back on when I was done. Went to Breakfast and there was a Paranormal Group from Michigan there, they were staying in the room next to us. I did not say what happened but they gave us a card to contact them. I wanted to see what they got. I emailed them a few weeks later and they happened to have a camera set up all night in the room. They said ever hour they saw an orb go from their room to ours ….. BAM …. I was like Holy shit!!!!
M.) Have you had an encounter that has truly terrified you?
J.) I can’t say I remember, but my team seems to think so. We were doing an extremely old building in the Tamaqua area, it used to house the Molly McGuire’s (they were Irish Mob). There was a meeting room on the 3rd floor, it had a big Star of David on the ceiling. We decided to do a séance I remember the lighting of the candles and that is about it. I was told I got really glassy eyed and very mono toned. Once we cleaned up and left. I was fine. My group was really worried and didn’t want to be alone with me.
M.) Do spirits have the ability to harm investigators?
J.)Yes … I have seen it firsthand. My husband hates the basement of Pennhurst. He gets really sick he has to run out and ends up vomiting. King also threw a rock at one of the investigators head and made him bleed.
M.) What equipment do you use to collect evidence?
J.) We have been doing it for so long we have quite a collection. We started with cameras and voice recorders. Infrared and Full Spectrum video cameras, DVR system, motion lights, laser grids, spirit box, ovilus x, talker, EMF detectors, Mel-meter, trigger object alarm, VRM and of course the best equipment ever our senses.
M.) How do you know when a spirit is trying to contact you?
J.) You don’t always. Sometimes you have no idea until you go through all the evidence. Spirits aren’t pets, you can’t command them to do something. It isn’t all physical, you most likely won’t get touched or pushed. My first night at Pennhurst I felt and heard nothing, but the EVP’s were out of this world!
M.) Have you investigated other places?
J.)Yes, we like to do residences too. If people need help we are there to help. We do not charge anything. We do it for the information and to help others out! You meet so many great people doing this. We use to do a resort in the Poconos that was haunted. We did it 2 times a year and did a paranormal seminar and investigation at night for their customers. It was a blast! Unfortunately they ended up selling the resort.
M.) What is your opinion of ghost hunting shows? Do you think they capture what an investigation is like or make a mockery?
J.) It depends. I don’t think they are meant to make a mockery out of what we do. When shows are on and they say this is what we caught in 12 hours, just know they spent more than 1 night there. There are times we walk out with nothing to show, it happens, but you never ever see it happen on T.V. This sets us up for an epic fail when people expect something every time. It doesn’t happen every time. I do watch some of them, but some are just plain explainable. We always try to debunk before we say it is something. Even with EVP’s (Electronic Voice Phenomena) if we can’t make out what it says we throw it out. We only take class A or B EVP’s.
M.) What would be the most haunted place you’ve ever investigated?
J.)I would have to say Pennhurst. I have walked out of there every time with an experience, or EVP, always something. Next would be the place in Tamaqua, we always got something there too.
M.) Are there places in the future you would love to investigate?
J.) There are many places I would love to check out. Poveglia Island in Italy is one of my top places. I also want to visit other state schools just to see how they differ, if they do, from Pennhurst. Salem would love to visit there, also see the Lizzy Borden House. The list just goes on and on!!!!
M.) Do you have any advice for those who wish to pursue paranormal research?
J.) I do … stick to your guns! Follow what you believe in, don’t let anyone tell you differently. We have been with many groups, you have to find the right people to investigate with. You will find people want to investigate but don’t want to be there for the review of evidence. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication …. I love what I do, I like to say I am the voice of the dead.