PORT TOWNSEND — Two people walk through a darkened upstairs hallway of the Hastings Building in late spring, with the incessant beeping of a dying battery in a smoke detector and a digital recorder rolling.
When one person asks for someone to fix the smoke detector, Mary Bethune was told to “shut up,” and it wasn’t her partner.
That voice ended up being an electronic voice phenomena, or “EVP,” and it didn’t belong to any of the people on the team, they said.
Halloween may be today, but people may be able to have a “paranormal” experience Friday and Saturday nights with the Olympic Peninsula Paranormal Society.
The Olympic Peninsula Paranormal Society doesn’t try to prove that a place is haunted; the team tries to find scientific explanations for reported phenomenons that occur at the locations they’ve been called to investigate, said Bethune, case manager and investigator.
“We try to be as scientific as possible,” Bethune said. “We don’t jump in and say, ‘Oh, this is automatically paranormal.’
“Is it anything else in the environment? It’s something we try to debunk first.”
On Friday and Saturday night, from 9 p.m. to midnight, the Olympic Peninsula Paranormal Society will conduct investigations throughout the 1890 Mount Baker Block Building, the 1889 Palace Hotel and the 1889 Water Street Hotel, where members of the public will be able to join the investigators on researching the buildings.
The investigations are part of the Haunted Histories & Mysteries of Port Townsend, put on by the Port Townsend Main Street Program and the Jefferson County Historical Society.
Bethune recommends attendees for the investigation be older than 18.
Participants will be given equipment and taught how to use it and an investigator from the team will lead the groups through the different buildings.
Late spring investigation
OPPS investigated the Hastings Building at 839 Water St. on June 1 and had numerous documented experiences, Bethune said.
The team used a variety of equipment, such as digital recorders, cameras, electromagnetic field (EMF) readers and a modified radio called a “ghost box,” to gather information during the investigation, with the probe lasting four to eight hours.
“A ghost box basically is a form of instrumental trans-communication,” Bethune said, “meaning you use things like radios, TVs, those types of things to communicate with the other side.
“A ghost box, what it is, is you mute the sweep wire, you cut it, and what happens is you have rapid sweep of the radio stations every .1 to .2 seconds, and the theory is that the spirits use snippets of the radio, along with the EMF in the radio, to actually communicate.
“That’s the theory, and I’ve been doing ghost box research for 11 years now. So it’s been pretty amazing.”
Among the things that were found at the building were the sounds of children, team members getting touched and multiple voices.
The team reportedly had a psychic named Leslie Wright with them to assist with their investigation.
“She was a guest for this investigation,” Bethune said. “We asked her along to see if we could get any validation from her impressions and compare them to our EVPs and ghost box sessions.”
The dying smoke detector reportedbly played key to two interactions.
“We were in what looked like the boiler room and [Wright] got the name ‘Pete,’ ” Bethune said, “and so we started doing a ghost box session and there was a smoke alarm that kept going off, beeping because it needed a battery. So I said, ‘Pete are you going to fix that?’
“And you hear clear as a bell, ‘Be here for that.’ ”
Later that night, Bethune and fellow investigator Brian Worthington were walking through the upstairs hallway when the smoke detector started beeping again.
“The beep goes off, and I said, ‘Pete, fix it,’ and you hear this laugh and you hear this same voice tell me to shut up,” Bethune said. “What’s interesting about this is Brian heard it, too, the same time I did, and he thought I said it.
“I said, ‘No, that was not me,’ and we caught it on audio.”
At another point in the night, an investigator named Scott Power was looking through drawers on the first floor when a male voice could reportedly be heard saying “no touchy” or “no touching,” Bethune said.
The team reportedly captured over 45 EVPs and ghost box responses throughout the investigation, Bethune said.
Called to action
Whenever the team is called to do an investigation, Bethune meets with the clients and discusses the history and experiences that have been reported before she approaches her team with possibly investigating the private home, historical site or public space.
The plan for the team’s public paranormal investigation is to have two teams of 10 people working with two investigators throughout the night, and letting people try their equipment as they move between the three buildings.
“We want people to do the investigating,” Bethune said. “We’re there to kind of lead them and help them out. It’s going to be fun.”
OPPS is an eight-person team based out of the Bremerton/Port Orchard area and was established 11 years ago.
The team also will be leading do-it-yourself sessions earlier in the day, for which people can purchase tickets.
Bethune said the team has a helpline for people believing they need the team’s services at 360-977-5698.
“I am the one who handles all those calls,” Bethune said. “I will go ahead and screen the clients and talk to them about what’s going on. As a team, we decide if it’s a thing that we can take.
“We have not turned down many cases. There were a few cases that were people just trying to pull our leg, faking everything.”
Bethune said she is honored to be included in this inaugural event for the county after being invited to join by Mari Mullen, executive director of the Port Townsend Main Street Program.
“It’s really fun to help with this event,” Bethune said. “It’s kind of an honor [that] she reached out to us, and I felt pretty good about it.
“People may have never been to an investigation, and it will [be interesting] to see if we get any evidence, which would be great.”
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected].