Investigating the paranormal with science, technology and parapsychology
12-13 May 2012 (Prince George’s County/College Park, MD): A team of four persons supporting Maryland Paranormal Research ® conducted a paranormal expedition at the University of Maryland (UMD), College Park. The expedition was prompted by a stream of reporting, spanning several decades, suggesting that the oldest buildings on campus were haunted. Over time, these accounts have grown into campus legends that include, but are not limited to:
Morrill Hall is the second oldest building on campus and is widely regarded as the most haunted. It is the only building retaining its original facade and the only college building to survive the Fire of 1912.
Rossborough Inn is the oldest structure on campus, dating to circa 1804. It is said to be haunted by a spirit named “Miss Betty”, a former inn manager during the Civil War, and who is on occasion reportedly seen wearing a yellow dress. Apparitions have also been seen/reported in the adjacent Carraige House.
Prior to the expedition, several staff were interviewed in the Rossborough Inn and Carraige House, which now supports UMD Admissions Office operations. The staff relayed various experiences — sounds of footsteps, minor possible displacement of objects, uneasy feelings when in the basement and/or areas used for storage. Based on these accounts, Rossborough Inn became the focal point of the entire expedition.
Core expedition equipment included infrared (night vision) capable video cameras, digital audios recorders, studio-grade condenser microphones, and electrostatic detection pods. Experiments were also carried out with what is termed Instrumental Trans Communication (ITC) devices, primarily the P-SB7 (Spirit Box), which has been featured in popular paranormal televisions shows.
The expedition accumulated over 30 hours of video and 17 hours of audio. All campus locations visited appeared to be very active with multiple possible entities present. The basis of assessment comes primarily from collected audio, which was comprised of a mix between Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) and ITC. No apparitions were observed nor were captured on video.
Some electromagnetic/electric anomalies were encountered, to include the inexplicable repeated crashing of (normally stable) laptops. Regardless of location, electrostatic detection pods, once lighted generally stayed so when placed in active areas. None of these incidents, while coincidental, can be ascribed as paranormal in origin, but served as a reminder to baseline potential EMF emissions sources.
Expedition audio captured several instances of what appeared to be specific, direct, context-relevant and phrase and/or sentence-length responses to questions, as well as messages that appeared to be intended for one or more investigators. General observations were:
Some, but not all entities appear to have a historical connection to the university. However, generally entities appeared to be aware of specific expedition locations. Some examples were (“Rossborough”) and (“Morrill Hall”).
Entities appear to have acknowledged several attempts to communicate and at times expressed weariness with repeated/ control questions. [It should be noted, that most replies were not heard at the time.] Some examples were (“You’ve Heard From Us”), (“We’re the Dead”) and (“If You Insist”).
Although this assessment is subjective, at the margin this location appeared to exhibit the most activity. Most of the above-mentioned findings were captured in Morrill Hall. The majority of operations occurred on the third floor.
Several names of potential core entities that appear to be haunting this location were obtained directly in ITC to include “Alexa”, “Ruth” and (“Libby”) as well as “Jennifer”, “Bonnie” and (“Leggett”).
This location was also highly active. Operations mainly focused on the living room, basement, and a second floor bathroom which was used for storage.
Several names of potential core entities that appear to be haunting this location emerged either directly and indirectly. One entity is possibly “Miss Betty” (“Betty, Talk to Them Please”), potentially providing confirmation of this specific UMD legend.
Other possible entities include “Paul”, “Phillip”, “David” and (“Benjamin”). What was striking about this finding, is that spirits appear to directly acknowledge speaking into the microphone.
Could Benjamin possibly be a reference to the late Benjamin Hallowell, who was the first president of the Maryland Agricultural College ?
An EVP (“Follow Them”) was obtained in the basement. Moments after concluding ITC experiments on the 2nd Floor, an EVP (“Let Them Go Out”) was captured suggesting entities were located around the door.
ROSSBOROUGH INN/CARRAIGE HOUSE
This location also proved highly active in retrospect. Collection was from unattended video cameras, audio recorders and electrostatic sensors placed on the ground floor office and the second floor corridor.
This location provided the most striking EVP of the expedition (“Just You and Me”), which was captured on a SONY camcorder, and also separately on a SONY digital voice recorder.
Multiple entities appear to be urging investigators, who were conversing outside, to leave. Moments before, the building was secured/alarmed and the access door to the upper floor corridor was locked.
The EVP stream contains somewhat culturally-dated expressions (for example “papa”) and foreign accents can be heard. In this and another EVP stream the name “Robert” was mentioned.
In all expedition EVP and ITC provided ample indications of paranormal activity/events across all locations. Assess with high confidence that what appear to be meaningful and/or purposeful communications were heard involving direct, specific, context-relevant and phrase or sentence length responses to questions.
Assess with moderate-to-low confidence the names of possible entities encountered across the locations are as reported, since these names were mostly obtained via ITC. However, subsequent expeditions can build on these initial attempts.
Audio findings cannot prove the existence of ghosts or otherwise non-corporeal bodies, or even that such entities were the source of the communications presented. At most they are indicative or suggestive of parnormal events, or horizons connected to such events. Plainly stated, these findings are not “proof” of ghosts.
Many commonly used devices in paranormal investigations are not shielded against EMF and RF transmissions. It is possible such emissions are sources of artifacts in audio findings. This is less of an issue for professional audio equipment which is engineered for radiofrequency (RF) rejection. Again the directness, specificity, context-relevance and length of responses to some extent mitigate against this.
The setting employed for the P-SB7 was 250ms “reverse sweep” mode in the AM band (530-1710 kHz). Hence, the device was calibrated to make four frequency steps per second. One should not normally expect to hear cohesive phrases or sentences at this sweep rate, though harmonics could make this possible. Again phrase lengths, context relevance, the directness and specificity of responses would suggest against all audio being stray RF fragments.
A fundamental P-SB7 engineering problem (for which there is a partial workaround) involves proprietary white noise, which the device generates between frequency steps. This noisiness inherent in the P-SB7 complicates interpretation of results. (Is one in fact really hearing the perceived words and phonemes?). A hardware digital noise filter could have been used to attenuate the white noise; however, this kind of capability was not available for this expedition.
The majority of these findings have been disseminated over several months to fairly wide audiences on social networks (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc) with very favorable reviews/comments/retransmissions. This is an approximate indication that many can hear what has been reported.
Paranormal groups should continue experimentation with the P-SB7 but never rely on it. All other things equal, a finding obtained from higher-end audio equipment with relatively clean sound minus unnecessary noise or RF-induced artifacts would be preferred to a comparable finding from the P-SB7.
Still, the P-SB7 raises intruiging questions for which there are no clear answers. For example, how might a non-corporal entity generate (and modulate) RF signals stable enough for a radio receiver to acquire? Paranormal investigators have reported results with the device in both AM and FM modes.
Field research has shown a possible correlation between EVP and EMF. This research further maintains EVP are a form of modulated EMF that occurs within the audio frequency range (20hz-20khz) and suggests commercial radio (AM/FM) signals may not be the source (i.e. are not carriers) of ITC audio in the P-SB7.
It is possible, though perhaps unlikely, that the insertion point for ITC occurs while an incoming radio signal is being heterodyned. In this instance, ITC would be a form of radiofrequency interference (an undesired signal) that mixes in with the oscillator.
However, it seems more likely that ITC insertion occurs during the audio processing stage (or demodulation) when the audio signal is removed from the carrier. The P-SB7 device is capable of direct audio coupling when placed in close proximity to audio emission sources.
Either rationale may explain why P-SB7/ITC audio is heard over several frequency steps for the radio receiver and across radio bands. Put another way, P-SB7/ITC audio is essentially EVP that are heard in real-time.
Nonetheless in light of these cautions, recommend future P-SB7 experimentation is performed in conjunction with an RF Spectrum Analyzer to visualize RF environmentals. Also experimentation with EVP and ITC might employ various signal conditioning techniques to include noise suppression or bandpass filtering to block unwanted transmissions and noise.
In all, it was a successful expedition. We wish to the thank the staff of the University of Maryland for helping to facilitate this project. We wish to thank in particular the University of Maryland Film Office (Ms Pam Lloyd), the Public Safety Staff who provided safety recommendations and escort services (Mr Kevin Atchison and Mr Jonathon Macri), and the University Historian (Ms Anne Turkos), who hosted a survey of UMD locations and provided background research that shaped expedition planning.
Also wish to thank Maryland-based paranormal investigative organizations, who supported the expedition, in particular, Inspired Ghost Trackers and Spirit Gals. Finally wish to thank supporting investigators, Mr Clark, Ms Lebarre, and Mr Bassett, whose hard work and dexterous questioning made these findings possible
NOTE: The most current audio and video findings are archived and accessible via the Maryland Paranormal Research Facebook and Tumblr pages. See the Paranormal Investigations Findings page for examples from recent ghost expeditions and case file investigations.