CHESAPEAKE — At one time the sight of small children was commonplace at the buff brick building now known as the Chesapeake Community Center.
That was when the center was the East School, which opened its doors in the 1920s and remained a school until the mid 1980s.
Nowadays, there are mostly adults who come in and out of its doors, using the gym or getting needed supplies from the food pantry there.
That is perhaps except for one small child, a young girl with blonde hair in a blue coat who may or may not have found a new home at the center. In fact, she’s not supposed to exist even, at least not today.
A story about sightings of this alleged phantom appeared in The Tribune recently. Not everyone who comes into the center has seen her, but those who say they do believe she is real.
Those reports inspired two local paranormal investigative teams to check out separately the community center to find out if they can prove or disprove the existence of this apparition.
This past week Paranormal Investigation Research of the Ohio Valley, based in Chesapeake, and Quest Paranormal Investigations, in Ironton, set up cameras and audio and video recorders and did electromagnetic sweeps throughout much of the building.
Right now, all either group has are hours of data that investigators must go through before they can make a decision. Their initial observations are inconclusive.
“We go in with the belief there are no such things as ghosts, that for what people are seeing there is a logical explanation. We attempt to find out,” David Lee Maynard of Quest Paranormal said before his investigation. “I am a skeptic, a huge skeptic. If you go in with the belief you are going to find ghosts, you will find one. If you cannot find a logical explanation, there could be something on the paranormal.”
Maynard said he and his team came back from their Thursday night expedition with about 10 hours of footage to sift through that came from setting up cameras in the upper hallway and ladies room, a location where one sighting of the child ghost occurred.
The team also did temperature sweeps with a non contact laser thermometer and found at the main entrance a 33 degree drop in temperature that lasted for a few moments before going back to normal.
“The theory behind that is if a spirit is trying to make itself known, it will draw energy from around it and it tends to get colder in the spot,” Maynard said.
Typically, Maynard says, he isn’t prone to sense any paranormal activity, as some investigators say they do.
“When I go into a building, I don’t get many sensations,” he said. “I go in and it is just a building.”
However, while the team was upstairs they did hear loud banging noises in the hallway.
“We would walk toward it and then it would happen behind us,” Maynard said. “It is always possible it was loose windows in the locker rooms slamming.”
Bill Sawyer of Paranormal of the Ohio Valley approaches an investigation in an equally scientific manner.
“When you are doing this, if you go in and try to prove a place is haunted you are not doing anyone a service,” Sawyer said. “I try to debunk anything and everything I can. If doors open, I try to figure out a local explanation.”
Despite their skeptical, logical approach to paranormal investigation both men have encountered what they believe are paranormal experiences.
“I have seen full-on an apparition,” Maynard said. “I have been physically touched, pushed, and heard disembodied voices talk to me and no one was there.”
He even has a DVD with a paranormal being walking up to a window where the team was photographing.
“He stares at us,” Maynard said. “He has a face, head and upper torso … fleshy colored and you could make out the eyes.”
Likewise Sawyer has picked up on a tape recorder the voice of a disembodied man.
“It was speaking to someone in the group. It was almost robotic,” he recalled. “If you haven’t seen anything, you can’t believe it. The moment you do, you will realize I am not as crazy as you think I am.”