The dangers of ghost hunting

Investigation of St. Andrew’s, New Brunswick, at the old jail

Skeptical and always looking for a logical explanation to those bumps in the night, Paul Kimball sets out to debunk most of the hauntings he reports. There are those cases where he himself, cannot find a logical explanation for what he experiences. In this first volume, Paul Kimball talks about the real dangers of ghost hunting.

Much of my time these days is spent shooting a ghost investigation television series for Eastlink, a Canadian network. In each episode, I head out with my co-host Holly Stevens, shown above in front of the old Charlotte County Jail, to an allegedly haunted location where we interview first-hand witnesses, get the history of the place, and then investigate the stories ourselves. It’s all a great deal of fun, and quite interesting as well… particularly when one comes up with an experience that is difficult to explain.

One such experience happened this past weekend, in St. Andrew’s, New Brunswick, at the old jail. Built in 1832, the jail was where people sentenced to death would serve out their time until sentence was carried out, which was done on a gallows right next to the jail. The last person hanged in St. Andrew’s was Tom Hutchings, an RAF sergeant convicted of murdering a local girl in 1942 while he was stationed in the area. According to witnesses, Hutchings has never left the jail, and continues to haunt his old cell.

Tom Hutchings

As with all things paranormal, I’m an open-minded skeptic. I don’t believe in ghosts, and I start any investigation by looking for logical answers to what people have seen or experienced. However, I’m unable to explain to my own satisfaction what happened to Holly and I this past Saturday evening in the jail.

In each episode, we tape a segment that we call “spooky hour”, where Holly and I hang out in a particular spot in a haunted place, with the camera rolling but with the crew sent away, to see if we can experience anything. We have audio recorders and EMF meters with us, as well as the HD camera and a stills camera. In the first five episodes we filmed, there may have been some things caught on audio or that happened which will require further analysis, and Holly felt some things, but nothing happened to me personally.

That changed on Saturday night, as we sat in Hutchings’ old cell, with the door locked and the lights off (except for the camera light and a small blue light). It was cold in there, because the building wasn’t heated, and it was about -20 C outside, so we were bundled up, but my neck was not. As the hour went along, Holly and I were joking about Hutchings (well, mostly I was joking), and I was “challenging” him to appear if he really was there as a ghost. For several minutes, I had even hung a real noose around my neck as I sat there. Then, all of sudden, in one of those moments when Holly and I were being quiet, I had this feeling that the air around my throat had gotten noticeably colder – much colder than the room even. It was as if, to borrow an old song lyric of mine, the night wrapped around my throat. There was no choking sensation, but it was definitely an abnormal feeling.

Just as I was about to turn to Holly and say something, she yelled, “Holy f***” – at the same time as I had been experiencing the cold sensation wrapping around my throat, she had seen a shadowy shape against the wall – and the EMF meter had gone from its base reading of 0 to full, and then returned to 0 again. Now, there is no way that my feeling could have been influenced by either Holly or the EMF meter – I was looking away from Holly when it happened, and couldn’t see the EMF meter in any event, as it was blocked from my view by Holly’s body.

We immediately started to talk about what had happened, and decided, as “spooky hour” time wasn’t done, to stay in the cell. About seven minutes later, the same sensation wrapped itself around my throat again – the camera caught me bundling up my coat against my throat… at the exact same time as the EMF meter spiked again!

Holly and I stuck it out for a few more minutes, and then had the crew release us from the cell. Once outside, we related our experience to one of our first-hand witnesses, a researcher who gave tours of the jail and the courthouse next door. She smiled, and said that she hadn’t told us anything about what people reported happening in the cell, because she wanted to see if anything happened to us and she didn’t want to influence us, but one of the experiences that had been reported is cold air wrapping around people’s throats.

What makes this incident really interesting to me is that both Holly and I had a weird experience at the same time as the EMF meter spiked, and then my experience was repeated shortly thereafter with another EMF spike. We have yet to review the audio or video recordings to see if anything was picked up by those devices, but I can’t help but feel that I may have had a brief meeting with Sergeant Hutchings, over sixty-six years after he was dispatched from this mortal coil.

Paul Kimball

Full source: RedStar Films

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