Paranormal Investigators Probe the Unexplained

Ghost hunters say they go beyond the edge of science to seek answers.

ByABC News
October 28, 2009, 4:19 PM

Oct. 29, 2009— -- It was late in the afternoon, while leading his last daily tour of the historic Mark Twain House, that Jason Scappaticci glimpsed something that would change his thinking about the paranormal.

Assuming it was a visitor who had separated from the group, he walked over. But instead of finding a stray guest, he says he found a supernatural one – a transparent figure of a woman dressed in a hoop skirt floating down the hallway.

"It was definitely a ghost," Scappaticci said. "I just stopped in my tracks and froze for a second and stared at it."

For four years, Scappaticci, 28, has worked at the Hartford, Conn., home of the famed American author Samuel Clemens. He had heard other tour guides whisper about voices they'd heard in the hallways, but said he was a skeptic until he had his own experience a few years ago.

Since then, other guides, visitors and security guards have come forward to tell their own stories of unexplained encounters in the 19th century Victorian mansion.

Some hear voices, others laughter. Some see apparitions of women, others visions of young girls. All swear spirits of the Clemens family haunt the house.

Though many dismiss such claims, a growing group of people around the country is embracing them – so-called paranormal investigators who, in many cases, employ souped-up technology and science-inspired methodology to search for evidence of the supernatural in historic sites like the Mark Twain House to seemingly ordinary homes and every place in between.

Jason Hawes, 37, and Grant Wilson, 35, stars of cable channel Syfy's "Ghost Hunters," estimate that there are thousands of paranormal investigators around the world.

The Rhode Island-based Atlantic Paranormal Society, which Hawes founded in 1990, now has a group in every U.S. state and 12 other countries around the world. The pair acknowledges that their show and others like it have given the ghost hunting community a boost in numbers and profile.

"There are a lot of people out there who believe that they're having problems and need someone," Hawes said.

Though they don't like to discuss the details, both men say they've had personal paranormal experiences that push them to help others.