More ghosts? Lake Charles author investigates paranormal
LAKE CHARLES (AP) — Jeremy Royer of Lake Charles is a 36-year-old licensed psychotherapist who runs a behavioral health clinic. During his off-hours, though, he’s a ghost hunter who researches and investigates paranormal phenomena. He’s also the author of a new book, “No Man’s Ghosts: Paranormal Investigations in Southwest Louisiana,” which recounts some of his ghost hunting group’s case studies.
The book’s title comes from the fact that much of Southwest Louisiana was once a neutral territory known as No Man’s Land.
As for Royer, he’s had a long fascination with the paranormal.
“I grew up on ‘Ghostbusters,’ ‘Unexplained Mysteries,’ ‘Sightings’ and ‘The X-Files.’ When ‘Ghost Hunters’ came on SyFy in the early 2000s, I knew I wanted to be as close to the paranormal as the team on the show, TAPS, was.”
TAPS is The Atlantic Paranormal Society, and the paranormal investigation group that Royer and his brother Dylan co-founded in 2014 is now a member of the TAPS network.
In “No Man’s Ghosts,” Royer recounts The Old Number 7 Society’s investigations of the following places:
— Ellis Hill on La. 109 just north of Starks where a mysterious, moving glowing orb has been reported for decades.
— The old Hyatt High School in the community of Fields, where the sounds of basketballs bouncing in the empty gym have been reported.
— Big Woods Cemetery at Edgerly.
— The Calcasieu Parish Courthouse.
— A camp at Almadane, La., in Vernon Parish. Owners of the camp were experiencing lots of unexplained activity.
— Old DeRidder Hanging Jail.
In “No Man’s Ghosts,” readers learn that documenting paranormal activity calls for quite a bit of equipment. On a typical investigation, The Old Number 7 Society, or O7S as they call themselves, is likely to show up with the following:
— Static security cams.
—’Roaming’ cams equipped with infrared lights.
— GoPro action cameras.
— Digital audio recorders.
— Environmental detection and research devices (EDI meters). These devices detect changes in temperature and in the electromagnetic field around the device. They also detect motion and vibration.
— K2s (Motion sensors with alarms that detect spikes in electromagnetic energy.)
— A parascope, which reads changes in the air’s static charge.
— An Echovibe, which detects quiet sounds.
— Ghost balls, which are lightweight, hollow plastic balls set out as easily manipulated interactive objects.
“Electronic voice phenomena, or EVP, is a huge part of our investigations. Honestly, at least 90 percent of our documentable evidence comes from our audio,” said Royer. “I think if we’re ever going to understand more about what’s happening with the ‘spiritual’ side of the paranormal, it will be through figuring out this mechanism.”
Often, one or more of the investigators will direct questions at a purported entity on the premises. That’s what happened during the March 2016 investigation at the Calcasieu Parish Courthouse, which Royer covers in the book.
First, a little back story: Toni Jo Henry was the first and only woman ever executed in an electric chair in Louisiana. She was convicted of murder and executed in an electric chair at the Courthouse on Nov. 28, 1942. There are some who say she never really left the building.
The group talked with former Courthouse staff who say they’ve seen free standing shadows on the third floor, smelled period-appropriate perfume from the 1940s, and heard laughter and talking in empty hallways. There are reports of doors closing themselves, an apparition appearing at the top of a flight of stairs and an old filing system in an office which has revolved by itself. The list goes on.
“We directed a number of queries toward Toni Jo herself,” writes Royer in the book.
Outside the office of the Registrar of Voters, one team member asked, “Are you in here, or somewhere else?” The direct response recorded on audio in a female voice was, “I’m here.”
Usually, these disembodied voices are not heard by the investigators at the time they are recorded. They are heard later when the group is playing back what was recorded.
“One of the latest thoughts on electronic voice phenomena is that it’s the result of extremely low-frequency waves that humans can’t hear,” Royer said.
Among the group’s eight investigators, there are two who could be referred to as “sensitive,’ said Royer — meaning they can feel certain things at certain times at investigations.
“I try not to discount anything. At the same time, I tend to favor observable, repeatable results from methods that are mostly understood,” said Royer. “I like to make sure we keep it simple in O7S. I want replayable evidence that everyone can see or hear. I don’t want to be told Uncle Jeb is fine or struggling on the other side, and that he likes what you did with the dining room. Cool story, but record Uncle Jeb’s voice for me. Again, that’s just me — we have plenty of other beliefs among our ranks.”
Speaking of feelings though, Royer said he is often asked if he ever feels frightened while doing these investigations.
“I don’t, really,” he said. “There’s actually a lot of tedium involved. You do occasionally go to places where it feels like you’re being watched, or as if something is moving around in the dark with you. But those feelings are impossible to document, so they just become part of the story of the investigation.”
Still, the group has had an experience or two that would likely make anyone’s spine tingle. There was an historic home in Lake Charles the group investigated early on.
“This house produced an amazing EVP,” said Royer. “It came from a camera that was sitting on a box in the corner of a room. In the cam shot, you see two investigators against the far wall. Dylan and I are sitting on the wall next to the camera. All of a sudden, there’s the voice of an older woman present. It says the name ‘Henry’ twice, dragging it out. It’s crazy, because it sounds like this woman would have to either be right behind or right in front of the device. But when you watch footage, it’s just us.”
After evidence is documented and it is established that “something” is in a place, what then? Does the group just walk away?
Sometimes. Whether or not the group steps in and recommends certain interventions depends on the homeowner, said Royer.
“We have different members of our group who believe in different methods,” he said. “There are Christian faith-based members on the team who believe clergy should be called in to bless or cleanse the house. Another member believes heavily in smudging, which is a common practice using sage.”
And then Royer has his own ideas.
“Because I lean more towards theories regarding paranormal phenomena being based in quantum physics, I’ve been considering implementing a method of ionizing the atmosphere where activity is reported, which is not as complicated as it sounds,” he said.
The Old Number 7 Society conducts paranormal investigations free of charge.
“No Man’s Ghosts: Paranormal Investigations in Southwest Louisiana,” by Jeremy Royer is a 104-page non-fiction, soft cover book released in June.