Volunteers investigate the paranormal

Ghost Hunter Chris Baricko uses an energy meter to try and detect a ghost/Tracy Simmons - CreedibleMARLBOROUGH – Most Americans believe in the paranormal.

Ghosts, communicating with the dead, astrology, channeling – these phenomenon aren’t just for the SyFy channel, although there’s no doubt the Ghost Hunters TV show has helped make paranormal popular again.

In 2005, the Gallup Poll reported that 75 percent of Americans hold some form of belief in the paranormal. That number includes Chris Baricko, of Tolland. He’s been hunting ghosts for more than 20 years and recently co-founded Ghost Hunters of Connecticut with Vicki Kolesinski, also of Tolland and EVP specialist Melissa Bertrand.

The team is made entirely of volunteers from across the state that work by day and hunt ghosts by night. Kolesinski said the team simply has a passion for history and a fascination with ghosts.

“We have a thirst for knowledge,” she said.

She believes most orbs are lingering for a reason – some need help crossing over, some want to stay and protect a loved one, some don’t even know they’re dead.

She is one of the 55 percent of Americans who believes in guarding angels.

It’s rumored that there are more than 200 haunted sites in Connecticut, but the Ghost Hunters are starting with a more recent haunting – Marlborough Tavern.

On March 26 a team of seven gathered at the historic tavern and began their second round of investigations. At their first investigation a few weeks ago, the team found pictures they believe show orbs in the tavern and captured at least two EVPs (electronic voice phenomena). If you listen closely, one EVP says “Want out.” The other says, “Pam.”

Pam Burnett is one of the waitresses who has sensed a paranormal presence at the tavern and has been working tirelessly with the ghost hunters to find out why.Joe Pagan looks for ghosts in Marlborough/Tracy Simmons - Creedible

John Spellman, owner of the tavern, said it never crossed his mind that his tavern might be haunted until about three years ago when a customer swore she saw three people, including a woman standing in the corner of the dining room dressed in colonial clothing. The woman was in distress.

Spellman asked his staff about it and quickly learned that they too had had mysterious experiences at the restaurant – a touch on the shoulder or a tug of the hair when no one was around. He also learned that a former staffer told his colleagues that he encountered a woman in the basement one night who seemed to be troubled. The woman told the employee that her child had been trampled to death by horses across the street.

“That story just stuck with me,” Spellman said.

Though a skeptic, he said it couldn’t hurt to bring in some professionals to explore the stories further.  And it was a good business decision. The tavern has hosted a handful of Ghost Dinners, which have drawn in sold-out crowds.  At the events, the ghost hunters have told the customers what evidence they’ve found at the restaurant. The next Ghost Dinner is planned for June.

Daniel Krutt, of Newington, is an independent ghost hunter. And, he said, he’s the only Jewish ghost hunter he knows. He said ghost hunting is intriguing to him because it’s where religion and science intersect.

He teamed with the Ghost Hunters to investigate the tavern and said he couldn’t find any research on a trampling near the tavern. He believes the place could be haunted either by Elijah Buell, whose family lived in the building for at least 100 years, or by Mary Hall, who was the first female attorney in Connecticut.

However, Marlborough Tavern has a long history. Built in 1740, the tavern has served as a gunnery, a rest stop for police and prisoners on their way to Old Newgate Prison, a hiding place from the American Indians and, of course, a home – which had a birthing room at a time when infant mortality was not uncommon. In 1939 the building was damaged in a fire.

“Everything went on here,” Kolesinski said. “There’s been a lot of tragedy here.”

The team spent the night at the tavern and will spend the next few days reviewing their recordings for EVPs and watching the recordings captured by their infrared cameras and examining their photographs for clues.

For now all they know, is that there is something there and soon they hope to figure out who it is, and why they are there.

View additional photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/creedible/sets/72157623727154370/

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