Bangor Ghost Hunters Association

Greenbush, Maine Harold Murray, director bangormaineghosthuntersassociation.com Harold Murray had a paranormal experience when he was young, but that is not what turned him into a paranormal investigator. “Watching the Travel Channel, the Discovery Channel, the Learning Channel — this is what did it,” Harold says. “Every year, they have these specials on. I’m a retired […]

By ca.browna

Jul 16 2008

Greenbush, Maine
Harold Murray, director

Harold Murray had a paranormal experience when he was
young, but that is not what turned him into a paranormal
investigator. “Watching the Travel Channel, the Discovery
Channel, the Learning Channel — this is what did it,” Harold
says. “Every year, they have these specials on. I’m a retired magician,
and I wanted to see what it could do. I wanted to see if this
stuff could be explained. So I started taking pictures and started
using tri-field readers and we started picking up stuff. The next
thing we know, Maine Paranormal contacted us. They liked what
we had, and they offered us their northern branch in 2000. As we
were learning, we were finding out that much of this stuff could
be explained, but it was the unexplained stuff that really got us
into it.”

Harold founded his team in 2000. Most of his investigators are
family members. “My son, John Murray, is the co-director. He
started out with Northern Maine as a cameraman. He did video
interviews with people,” Harold said. Recently, Harold has looked
outside of the family for talented people. “We are always looking
for somebody who can do it better,” Harold said. “We just brought
in a new team member who is a professional photographer.” One
of his members, Spike, is a gold prospector. He uses his dowsing
rods to measure the electric and magnetic fields of the earth. Harold
believes Spike is more accurate than the team’s tri-field meters:
“He’s been with us for a year now. He uses rods made of copper,
steel, iron, bronze, and a couple of other metals. He makes them
himself. It’s pretty impressive what he does.”

Harold, who is an
ordained minister, carries holy water and the Bible with him on
investigation in case the team runs into a demonic entity. Harold
has no psychics in his group. “I have had some psychics apply to
be on our team,” Harold says. “I tell them I’ll take psychics. I give
them a psychic test I have at home. ‘If you can tell me what is in
each of these envelopes, I’ll take you along as a psychic. Otherwise,
you’re just a field investigator.’ For some reason, they don’t come
back. Actually, this test does not exist. I just made it up.” From
Harold’s viewpoint, Sylvia Browne is probably the only genuine

Harold maintains that the team members are the most important
members of the team: “The Ghost Hunters television show makes
it look like the director is the most important part of the team, but
that’s not true. You have your field investigators, you have your
lead investigators, you have your researchers, you have your cameraman,
you have your technical support, you have your computer
guy. These people are not mentioned in all the stories about TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society). The team is important to me. I can’t do it alone. It’s not a two-man operation.” The group holds its monthly meetings at the Bangor Museum. All of its meetings are open to the general public.

Sometimes, overly enthusiastic members can jeopardize the validity
of an investigation. Several years ago, Harold’s oldest son accompanied Harold and a reporter on an investigation. “My son thought he was doing good for us,” Harold said. “He faked an EVP (electronic voice phenomena). This did not go over too well with me, and I exposed him in
front of the reporter. And he is not allowed to be a member of the
team because he pulled this stunt. This is how serious I am about
ghost hunting.”

Harold’s son John also fabricated evidence. “He sent two videotapes to the head office in northern , but he was practicing magic. He took an orange seed with a prop that we use, videotaped it, sent it down to them and told them it was a ghost. They believed it and posted it on the Internet. My son finally went down with me and showed them how the trick was done. They felt like asses, but they couldn’t retract it because they didn’t want to look like fools,” Harold says. Because Harold knows how
easy it is to fake evidence, he does not take EVPs or videotape or
pictures off the Internet. “Anything that comes to me has to be in
negative form or the actual videotape because we don’t want any
hoaxes,” Harold says.

Bangor Ghost Hunters Association uses a variety of scientific
equipment in their investigations, including tri-field meters, digital and analog cassette recorders, analog VHS and digital VHS,
infrared thermometers, digital Hi8, booster mikes, and laptop
computers. The group also uses metal detectors, cell phones, and
walkie-talkies. Most of this stuff is donated to the team, but Harold
has picked up some old videocassette recorders (VCRs) and
cameras at yard sales.

Most of the group’s clients find out about Bangor Ghost Hunters
Association through word of mouth. “If people in town say a
house is haunted and new people move in and know nothing about
the house, the first thing they’re going to hear is a neighbor telling them, ‘Oh, you live in a haunted house. I heard someone died there.’ Then the power of suggestion takes over, and every noise in the new house, the people think the house is haunted,” Harold said. A large number of the group’s clients seem to feel that an investigation by a group of paranormal researchers is a quick fix to a serious problem. Harold blames TAPS for giving the general public this impression: “We see TAPS and the other ghost hunters on TV, and they only spend one night there. We tell our clients that we could be here for a day or we could be here every weekend
for six months. It took us six months to catch something in a house in Old Town. Up here in , we have strong weather. A good, strong wind will make a house creak. A lot of the stuff they have here like the old stone wall basements have minerals that will affect the electromagnetic fields. Electromagnetic fields do affect brain waves and make people hear and see things that they can’t explain.”

Very few of the places the group investigates are actually haunted,
however. “We give out certificates if we have enough evidence that
the house has paranormal activity going on, and we have only
given out two since 2000,” Harold says. “The certificates don’t
mean that the house is haunted, though. They just mean that something
is going on that we can’t explain.”

All of the group’s investigations begin with an interview. “We
interview our clients on the phone or in person,” Harold says.
“While the interview is being conducted, we send another member
around the neighborhood to gather information on the house
and the land to see if anybody really died there. Then after we do our interview, we meet up with the member who tried to get
information about the house. We meet up at my house and get
everybody’s opinions to see what they thought about the house.
We then look into the legal limits of the family to see if they are
credible people. We don’t get involved with people if they have had
trouble with the law.”

Before the group begins an investigation, Harold goes in with
a cameraman and they do a sweep. “The cameraman follows me
around, and being a retired magician, I look for ‘smoke and mirrors’ —
strings and everything else,” Harold says. “I have come
across speakers in walls. These are people who do haunted houses
at Halloween.

And a lot of them do it to see if the ghost hunters
are on the up-and-up. We had this one case where there were
strings and speakers in the walls, and I told the owner, ‘You have
no haunting here. You know what you’re doing. You’re trying to
run a ruse.’ The gentleman said, ‘Yes, I am, but I wanted to see if
you guys were on the up-and-up.’ He was testing our people. He
was a follower of Henry Houdini. Houdini tried to debunk the
fake seances, and I do the same thing, but I don’t look for fake
psychics. I look for fake haunted houses.”

If everything turns out
clean, Harold sends in his team to do the initial investigation. They
go through the house one more time, looking for things that Harold
might have overlooked. Then the group sits down and starts
videotaping and recording EVPs. “We use boom mikes attached
to tape recorders that will pick up the lightest sound two houses
away,” Harold says.

The Bangor Ghost Hunters Association has done investigations
at a variety of sites, including a school, supermarkets, a bank,
bars, a cemetery, and several homes. “We even went to a haunted
gold mine in Maine. Maine does have gold mines. Most people
don’t realize that,” Harold said. Some of the members are eager to
become part of the TAPS family so that they can get more cases,
but Harold is reluctant. “I think we are getting enough,” Harold
said. “I’m booked right now until June with cases. One is an old
funeral home that was turned into a restaurant called ‘The Fountain
House.’ We were doing a radio show last year on Halloween,
and they asked us to come down there and investigate.”

Harold has learned the hard way that printed legends are not
always good indicators of where to look for haunted places. “Every
book that is published about haunted locations, we go out and
check them,” Harold says. “I have a book that says a cemetery in
Indian Island is haunted. I went out there and talked to the elders,
and I never had a Native American look me in the face before and
tell me I was ‘f—ing crazy.’ I showed him the article in the book,
and he was surprised it was published because he didn’t know anything
about it. He checked with the elders, and none of them had
heard the story that was published in the book. We talked to ten
elders, and they asked us if we were crazy or if we had been drinking
whiskey. We like trying to get trying to get evidence to corroborate
these published stories. I don’t know why a lot of this stuff
gets published.”

Harold’s innate skepticism enabled him to expose another client
who was trying to “pull a con”: “I was sitting in a bar talking
about another case I was working on in Massachusetts. A gentleman
overheard our conversation. He came up to me and apologized
for eavesdropping, but he said he was experiencing unexplained
phenomena — noises and lights. It turns out that that’s all it was —
noises and lights. There were no ghosts or anything. I went through
the house, and I found speakers and a prop that would be used in
a light show on stage. A magic shop was the only place in Boston
where you could buy this stuff. I contacted them, and they remembered
me and I asked for a list of people who bought a certain
type of equipment and props. He gave me the list, and the gentleman’s
son was on that list. I contacted the son. He tried to deny
what was going on, but I told him I had gone down to the magic
shop and found out that he had bought all of this equipment. He
said, ‘If I come clean, what’s going to happen to me?’ I said, ‘It’s
not against the law, but I think you should come clean because
you gave your father a heart attack and put him in the hospital.’
He said he did it out of revenge for his father’s years of tormenting
him and his brother by saying, ‘The ghosts are coming to get
you!’ or ‘The bogeyman is coming to get you.’ I guess this had gone
on since he was fifteen years old. He was about twenty when he
did it. He’s now twenty-two years old. The kid finally got even.”

After the man was released from the hospital, he and his son did
not speak for six months. By now, enough time has passed that the
man thinks the incident was funny. His son, however, feels guilty
for giving his father a heart attack.

A store in Holland, Maine, was the site of another fabricated
haunting. The group was investigating reports that the store was
being haunted by the ghost of the store owner, who was an avid
hunter. “He died, and no one knew it,” Harold said. “Legend has
it that he returns to the store every now and then to keep his business
going. People clean up the store before they leave. The next
day, there are groceries lined up on the aisle shelf, waiting to be
bagged. This happens once a month. The gentleman made his presence
known to the new owner, a lady. The previous owner had an
idea who it was.” The members sat in the store for three days, but
the only thing they captured on video was particles flying through
the air when the air conditioner was turned on. Harold drove up
on the last day of the investigation to give the group a hand and
discovered that some boys were outside of the store yelling through
the vents. “We had to discard all of the evidence we had collected
because we did not know about the kids next door yelling through
the vents in the air conditioning making the EVPs. We were really
disappointed because we were hoping to find the groceries stacked
up on the shelf,” Harold said.

Not all of the evidence collected by the Bangor Ghost Hunters
Association is fake. During one investigation, the group captured
the striking image of a child’s head coming through a wall.
“It looked like it was a young boy,” Harold said. “The head came
through the wall, looked at the cameraman, and went back through
the wall. The cameraman said he saw something in the viewfinder,
but it was too small. When he brought it up on the big TV monitor
we have here, we saw what he saw. It happened so quickly that we
had to slow it down, but we saw what he saw. The child’s head was
translucent, which really took us by surprise.” This photograph is
also significant because it is the only thing Harold has ever photographed
that he actually saw through a viewfinder.

Bangor Ghost Hunters has a case at a local school that has been
going on for a year. “They have shown us some incredible videos and photographs, but we weren’t there to witness it, like a Pepsi
can flying off the computer desk,’ Harold said. “Being a magician,
I somewhat duplicated it. But I have not found any proof that
they are doing the same thing. They want to keep it confidential.
This does not mean I trust them more, though. During my interview
with the staff, a teacher spoke up and repeated exactly what
the other teacher had experienced, so she is backing up a story she
didn’t experience. This is why I think the power of suggestion is
at work here.” So far, the group has been unable to investigate the
school because one very religious school board member is afraid
that if Harold’s group goes into the school and investigates it, the
wrath of God will come down on everyone connected with the
school. “We respect people’s religious beliefs and we’re not going
to force this one lady to let us go in and do it. We hope the school
board lets us investigate the school, but we are not going to force
the issue,” Harold said.

Of all of Harold’s investigations, two stand out. One of them
was conducted at a bar in Old Town, Maine. Harold was called
in by the owner of the bar at 2 a.m. He went to the bar alone
because he gave his team the night off. Harold was talking to the
owner and the bartender when he felt someone’s hand on his shoulder.
He spun around, and no one was there. “I turned my tri-field
meter on, and it went thermal. I snapped a picture, but I couldn’t
see what I was doing, and I caught a corner of the bar. Whatever it
was disappeared. About ten minutes later, the men heard someone
drop one of the big steel tables in the upper bar. They searched the
bar, but everything seemed to be in place. At the time, the cameras
were running, so the owner asked, ‘What do you see through the
infra-red?’ We brought it down and hooked it up to his TV, and we
picked up a spiritual voice of a woman calling the owner’s name.
This was accompanied by a floating ball of light.” The men did not
see the floating orb with the naked eye, nor had they heard anyone
talking before they listened to the video. In addition, no women
were present. “We could never prove it to be a hoax. The owner
and his father and a few family friends identified it as the voice of
his deceased mother. He got out of the bar, gave the bar back to
his father, went across the street, and opened up a pawn shop,”
Harold said. Harold will always remember this case because it was
his first physical encounter with an entity.

Another memorable one case was held at a cemetery in Codville, Maine. “We were videotaping. We had five members and ten
other people who were family members of the client. Over the first
grave, there was a ‘traveler’ — a ball of light. The camera picked
it up. It’s just going back and forth in a circle. At first we thought
it was a firefly, but it didn’t blink. We checked out the possibility
that it was a car driving by, but there was no dirt road in that section
of the woods or traffic lights. We found out later that it was
a fresh grave. Someone had been buried that day, and we didn’t
know about it. We captured the light on video.” The cameraman
recorded the light for two and a half minutes. Then Harold told
him to stay there for five minutes and take more video, this time to
the right of the grave. The entire time he was filming, the cameraman
did not see the light in the viewfinder. The next day, the group
returned to the cemetery and discovered that they had been filming
over a fresh grave.

During special times of the year, like Halloween, the Bangor
Ghost Hunters Association takes reporters to the Jackson Cemetery
in Myra, Maine. “We take reporters out there because we
have gotten a lot of stuff out there. It’s the most active cemetery
we know of,” Joe says. Even though Harold realizes that “scary
places” and “scary photographs” can garner considerable publicity
for his group, he wants it made clear that so far, his group has
never encountered anything that meant anybody any harm: “Most
of our cases involve children and young lady spirits. They don’t
pose a danger to anybody, except for people who run into walls or
fall down flights of stairs when they see them.”