When the staff of UW Oshkosh Today
learned there was a student
organization on campus that
specializes in exploring the
communications specialist Amanda
Munger was tasked with joining the
Oshkosh Paranormal Investigative
Division on an investigation. What
follows is a firsthand account of
her experiences — a novice’s guide
to ghost hunting.
It’s a Thursday night, and I’m
walking the trail behind Riverside
Cemetery in Oshkosh trying to spot
ghosts. For real.
I’m here with four members of the
Oshkosh Paranormal Investigative
Division, a student organization
that was started by University of
Wisconsin Oshkosh junior Josh Hughes
and his roommate, Justin Koss, also
“We watched all those ghost shows
and figured we could do the same
thing,” Hughes said about starting
the club in October of 2009.
By the looks of it, they definitely
can. We are walking the
one-and-a-half mile trail with
flashlights, electronic voice
phenomena recorders and a video
camera with night vision. On other
occasions, they also have used a
Frank’s box, which is said to allow
spirits to communicate through radio
While the members are good friends,
there is a serious tone to the
Hughes, Koss, freshman Matt Smith
and sophomore Stephanie Stey leave
their cell phones behind so that
they do not interfere with
equipment. After quick
introductions, we are off.
When the group has come to Riverside
Cemetery at other times, they have
felt the sensation of being touched
and pushed forward. The cemetery is
mentioned in the book “The
Wisconsin Road Guide to Haunted
Locations” by Chad Lewis and
Terry Fisk. The authors say people
have witnessed the ghosts of
children running through the
cemetery and by the water at night.
The group seems excited, but I am
the type of person who clings to the
arm of a friend and closes her eyes
while walking through a haunted
house and still comes out crying.
This should be an experience.
The Oshkosh Paranormal Investigative
Division investigates places in and
around Oshkosh that are said to have
spirits. Their goal is not to
eradicate the ghosts, but rather to
interact and communicate with them.
To date, their most extensive
investigation was at Elsing’s Second
Hand Shop in Stoughton, Wis. They
spent the night and experienced a
lot of unusual activity, including
items falling off shelves and the
sound of breathing in one person’s
ear. One member suddenly felt so
sick she had to leave.
Before we start walking, we divide
ourselves into groups of three to
avoid spooking spirits with too much
noise. We let the other group walk
about a half-mile ahead and then
slowly start our trek. Hughes is
telling ghost stories and keeping an
eye out. Terrified, my eyes are
clamped shut for parts of the walk.
Thankfully, I open them at a good
time — we see black shadows crossing
the path ahead of us. It’s
definitely not the other group since
they are too far ahead, but we
aren’t sure if it is just our eyes
playing tricks on us.
I’m tearing up but staying strong by
trying to figure out how much longer
it will be until we come to the end
of the trail.
While some people may think it is
naïve to believe in ghosts, much
less hunt for them, Hughes thinks it
is the allure of the unknown that
keeps him interested.
“It’s like aliens. Is there
something out there?” he said.
“There really isn’t an in-between.
You either believe or you don’t.”
Hughes and the group have gotten a
lot of attention lately for their
findings. Along with radio and
newspaper interviews, the group is
meeting with TV producers to discuss
being featured on the show “The
Haunted” on Animal Planet.
We keep the flashlight off for much
of the walk because, according to
the hunters, more activity happens
when it’s completely dark.
“It’s almost like they are scared to
come out when the flashlights are
on,” Hughes said.
We are still creeping along, slower
than ever. There have been a few
gasps and “Did you hear that?”s,
followed by the quick snapping on of
the flashlight. Fortunately for my
nerves, illuminated in front of us
are bullfrogs crossing the path or
water glistening behind the trees.
Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing
We near the part of the trail
members say is scariest. Trees
thickly line the path. I silently
consider turning back but continue
with a tight knot forming in my
About 10 minutes later, we see
something I truly believe is
paranormal. Three feet ahead of us,
a bright light flashes out of the
trees on the left and then goes off.
It’s as if someone is crouching in
the brush with a flashlight.
At first we are convinced it is the
other group hiding and trying to
scare us, but it turns out they are
still far ahead of us on the trail.
It also can’t be the cars in the
distance because this light was too
Now I’m crying. Whatever that was, I
want to run away from it, not
continue walking down this ominous
We snap a few pictures to see if any
orbs appear. An orb is a white or
blue circle that appears in a
picture and is said to be energy
associated with the supernatural.
Unfortunately, none appear in our
To get orbs in pictures, Hughes said
it is best to take pictures of a
spot three times in a row so that it
has a chance to develop.
Hughes said there is much about the
paranormal that people don’t
“The paranormal is not just where
someone died in a creepy
18th-century house located on a
burial ground where a bunch of
murders happened,” he said. “The
paranormal can be anywhere.”
The rest of the walk is slightly
uneventful, with a few questionable
scratching noises and movements in
the brush. We meet back at the start
of the path and take a few pictures
by gravestones while discussing the
The group’s next investigation will
be at the Appleton Curling Club.
I won’t be joining them. One night
of terror is more than enough!