- Janesville Gazette
claim encounters with paranormal
to the Gazette
popular conception of a ghost hunter as some
freak in a space suit with a zap gun wasn't
borne out Saturday afternoon at the
conference at the Best Western Inn in
Southern Wisconsin Paranormal Research
Group, headed by Janesville resident
Jennifer Lauer, presented the seminar for
about 100 persons interested in paranormal
phenomena. For the most part, both the
presenters and those in attendance were
normal people who either have had paranormal
experiences or know someone who has.
Blake Cahoon traveled from Zion, IL., to
attend the seminar.
"I've been an avid ghost hunter for
about 20 years now," she said.
"The people here seem to be very
professional. No one is trying to mislead
Cahoon said she has had several personal
experiences with paranormal phenomena, most
recently after her mother died last January.
She said her mother was a heavy smoker, and
one recent day as she was driving her car
alone, the interior of the car filled with
"It was just a sign to me that said my
mother was checking in on me, basically just
a "hi, how are you?" kind of
thing," Cahoon said.
Cahoon said she accepted nothing at face
value when it came to ghost hunting.
"You have to look at everything from a
skeptical point of view," she said.
Most times there is a rational explanation
to what has happened, but every now and
then, there's an unexplainable event that
occurs that causes her to believe, she said.
The speakers at the conference agreed with
Chad Lewis received his masters degree in
applied psychology from UW-Stout on
Saturday, missing his graduation ceremony to
be at the seminar.
Lewis showed pictures of several supposedly
haunted locations here in Wisconsin,
including fire station No. 10 in Eau Claire
where "Alex" has been seen by
about 80 percent of the firemen who work
"Pots and pans have flown off the wall
there when someone says they don't believe
in Alex," Lewis said.
He also displayed pictures of a Lutheran
church in Amery.
Pastors called him there to investigate
several phenomena that occurred, including
parishioners hearing the sounds of a
congregation laughing and talking in the
empty sanctuary and of a dinner going on in
the empty basement.
"I have no feeling of sensing spirits
or energy," Lewis said. "I'm
pretty much neutral. So the first
thing I do is rule out any obvious or
Most of the time, he's able to do that, but
he has documented a number of experiences
that he feels evidences "another
world" out there.
He displayed photographs taken in a cemetery
with a small orb of light and what appears
to be a line of light passing through the
picture. A man who was with him who
claims psychic abilities said he sensed
"spirit energy" in the cemetery.
Lewis sent the photos and negative into Fuji
film for analysis. The company
reported that what was in the pictures was
not due to malfunction of the camera or
film, and that whatever in the pictures was
apparently there at the site.
Lewis said he attempts to bring his
investigations to a scientific level, but
doesn't expect it to reach that
"In order to do scientific studies, you
have to be able to bring the experience into
the laboratory and duplicate what happens,
and you can't do that with paranormal
phenomena." he said, "But a lot of
the scientific community is becoming less
skeptical and more supportive of what we are
He said he was searching for an answer to an
"Does seeing a ghost result in
believing in ghosts, or does believing in
ghosts result in seeing ghosts?" he
asked. "That's a very
interesting question to which we don't yet
know the answer."
Lauer, the founder and director of SWPRG,
has been doing investigations for about five
years. She said that most
investigations can be ruled out as natural
phenomena, as many as 80 - 90 percent.
But it's that 10 - 20 percent that can't be
explained that keep her investigating.
She said her organization tries to be as
realistic and careful as possible in their
investigations in order to validate their
"People are more open than they used to
be to paranormal phenomena, but there are
still a lot of skeptics out there," she
said. "Careless investigators
contribute to that."
Paul Hutto is a psychic from Janesville who
has done psychic readings all over Wisconsin
for the past six years. He said he has
experienced paranormal phenomena since he
was a child.
"I see things most people wouldn't see,
and I know things most people don't
know." he said.
When he was about 20, he started getting
what he called visions of national events
before they happened, foreseeing a plane
crash in Washington, D.C., and an Amtrak
"Now I don't usually see world events
unless they're associated with a
client," he said.
Hutto said he believes his abilities are a
gift, as some people are gifted in other
"I can't sign a song or even hum a
tune, but other people can sing and play
beautifully." he said.
"Everybody has their own gifts and
abilities. I don't believe in
Hutto said the fact that about 100 people
were at the seminar indicated a popular
interest in the subject.
"Einstein said that energy doesn't end;
it changes form," he said.
"People are looking for some