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Ghostbusters: New society seeks out paranormal

HOUGHTON – Copper Country Paranormal Investigators founder and lead investigator Lee Ecke had been part of several paranormal investigations with a California group, but she’d never experienced a personal haunting until recently.

“I have a visitor in my apartment now that likes to shake my bed, and tell me it’s not going away,” she said. “I didn’t sleep well the next couple of nights.”

Just Wednesday night, she added, she felt a cold air mass blow through her hand she believed emanated from the same ghostly presence. That’s not the reason behind the new group, though, she said. That’s a natural extension of curiosity piqued previously by recorded evidence of something she couldn’t explain conventionally.

“These voices are coming from somewhere, maybe another dimension or outer space,” she said. “But they’re there, you can’t deny that.”

The Copper Country Paranormal Investigators group may be new, its focus a bit on the far-out fringes of science and sometimes scoffed at, but the four women that make up the group take their activities seriously.

The investigators are studying up, investing in equipment and shopping for insurance. Each member has previous experience working with the otherworldly, and they’re preparing for certification with a national paranormal investigation organization.

At Thursday’s meeting, Ecke passed around forms to help the team document measurable evidence of ghosts, lingering paranormal energies and other hauntings.

Now all they need is a case.

“I would think a lot of this area would harbor a heavy energy, people dying in mines, the copper, a heavy native population before a lot of the miners came in,” said team member Vicky Wallace. “You don’t hear a lot about it because people don’t want to talk about it, but I think there’s a lot here.”

Wallace tends to be more aware of those energies than other people. It all started when she was 10 and living in California, she said, and rolled over in bed to see her grandfather standing in the doorway. She found out the next morning he’d died that night in Michigan.

Later, unusual things started showing up in 30 mm film pictures, things she hadn’t seen when she’d taken the shots.

“I took a picture of a building that was closed for renovations, an old paper mill,” she remembered. “In the window was a girl in period, pioneer dress, and no one was supposed to be in there.”

Wallace said she and her mother have sometimes performed sage smudge cleansings of homes to help ghosts who’d like to move on to do so.

Wallace may feel much local paranormal activity is kept quiet, but there are several local places the investigators would like to check out. Julia Smith’s mother once saw the ghost of Madame Helena Modjeska at the Calumet Theatre, and she’s felt the 1900s Polish Shakespearean actress’ presence as well, emanating from Modjeska’s portrait at the theater.

Other local areas of interest include the Quincy Smelter, Fort Wilkins and the Keweenaw National Historic Park headquarters at St. Anne’s church. The group is currently looking into investigating a local fraternity house where a member of an investigator’s family encountered a regular ghostly presence.

They’re happy to help private homeowners who are curious or concerned about paranormal entities, Ecke said, but are careful to explain their inquiries can be intrusive, possibly requiring nighttime or repeat visits.

The group’s primary goal is research, she said, simply proving the existence of the paranormal, trying to determine exactly what paranormal energies are and possibly even learning something about life after death.

In some types of hauntings, Ecke said, investigators might even be able to help people dealing with unwanted presences and ghosts themselves that are ready to move on.

“There are different types of hauntings, residual and intelligent,” Ecke said, “as well as poltergeist hauntings and demonic hauntings, which we try to stay away from.”

“With residual hauntings, there’s little you can do, like a tape recording playing over and over. There’s no interaction whatsoever. But an intelligent presence, you can get an interaction going, see if they have unfinished business. Maybe they have a message to convey, or don’t know they’re dead.”

If so, she said, there are sometimes ways to communicate with the spirit, and help it to move on.

Copper Country Paranormal Investigators is seeking new members, as well as people who would like help investigating a haunting. To contact the group, search the group’s name on Facebook.