Mercer sparks ‘spirited’ interest for paranormal investigators

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — Alleged hauntings in southern West Virginia have caught the attention of an international group that investigates
paranormal occurrences.

When strange activities at Lake Shawnee in Spanishburg were broadcast on an episode of ABC Family’s “America’s Scariest Places” last
year, it piqued the interest of Bea Brugge, co-founder of World Paranormal Investigations.

The Scariest Places episode featured a group of college students embarking on a night-time trek through the park armed with equipment
to document unusual activities.

The show aired footage of a variety of strange activities, including a concession stand that was extremely unfriendly to its young visitor.

By the time the show ended, the college students were visibly shaken — and Brugge was intrigued.

The investigation of alleged paranormal activity is becoming more and more popular. Shows like “Ghost Hunters,” on the Sci-Fi network,
have brought knowledge of thermal imaging (a camera that captures heat sources invisible to the naked eye) and EVPs (electronic voice
phenomenon) into the mainstream.

Brugge is working to make arrangements to investigate Lake Shawnee, site of a former amusement park and Native American massacre,
and another alleged Mercer County haunted house this summer.

World Paranormal Investigations has offices in the U.S. and United Kingdom. Since its inception in July 2004, group members have
investigated a variety of sites, from houses to covered bridges, where unexplainable events reportedly take place.

“Theaters and taverns seem to be the most active, at least for us,” Brugge said, speaking by telephone from her Kent, Ohio, home.

Although investigations of the paranormal are becoming more common - almost to the point of being called a trend - many who experience
these events still feel there is a stigma attached.

“It’s not talked about a lot. I think they want to talk about it, but they don’t know how to talk about it,” she said.

“ ‘I think I’m crazy’ - that’s a phrase we hear a lot” from people experiencing these events, she said.

Although she travels to places where such alleged occurrences happen frequently, Brugge has yet to view an apparition or extremely
unusual activity.

“As a paranormal investigator, I’m still waiting for that big event to happen,” she said. “I, personally, have not seen anything. I have felt
things, but I have not seen anything.”

Members of World Paranormal Investigations come from different religious backgrounds but, Brugge said, “we try to keep the two

She said their group’s investigation of the paranormal is in no way affiliated with any unusual religious practices.

In conversation, Brugge does not use the word “haunted.”

“I prefer the term ‘paranormal,’ because it defines something that is not of the normal,” she said.

When investigating paranormal activities one has to keep an open mind, Brugge said.

While on an investigation, “we do let them know there is a possibility we may not find anything, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing
there,” she said.

Some people have experienced occurrences frequently, yet sporadically, for decades at a specific site..

“We gather all the facts, and we go whether there is something there or not. But, then again, we also have to keep on open mind. Just
because we don’t get evidence the one time we’re there, does not mean that there is not paranormal activity there,” she said.

“Some people experience things for years or months,” but that doesn’t mean the paranormal activity will occur during the 24 hours the
group is there investigating, she said.

Things that go bump in the night don’t necessarily manifest on cue.

Brugge is excited about the possibility of investigating Lake Shawnee, although there is no confirmation as yet the project will go forward.

“We found out about Lake Shawnee through “America’s Scariest Places,” she said. “It seemed like someplace we’d really like to research and

— Contact Samantha Perry at
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