Thursday, July 31, 2008

Arkansas Capital Haunted?

So I admit... I watch Ghost Hunters on the Sci-Fi Network and even the foreign stepbrother Ghost Hunters International on the same channel, but I'm not so sure I really believe all the hullabalu about spirits and hauntings and such. Sure, everybody likes a good ghost story and I've always been fascinated with tales of spooks and hitchhiking prom queens, but it'll probably take a ghost slapping me around a bit to make me a believer.

Well, this story was in our legitimate (arguable) statewide newspaper yesterday. I found it interesting to know that some believe our state capital is... HAUNTED. (GASP!) I've heard tales of some local houses and even The Old State House, right across the street from where I work, but this is the first I've heard about the capital building.

Anyway, decide for yourself I guess. Here's the story:

Group looks into reports of ghosts inside Capitol
They say haunting proof was found
By Charlie Frago

LITTLE ROCK — Voices so faint they can’t be heard with the unaided ear. Floating orbs with comet-like tails.

A paranormal investigative group that spent eight hours poking around the state Capitol on Saturday night says it’s convinced that the seat of state government is, well, haunted.

“We’re still reviewing, but there’s something paranormal in there,” said Alan Lowe, 55, of Roland, a co-founder and the investigation director of
Spirit Seekers, a group dedicated to finding the supernatural side of the Natural State.

At about 7:30 p.m., Capitol police opened the otherwise closed building to eight group members, who spent the next eight hours snapping photos and recording video and audio all over public-access areas of the building, which was completed in 1915.

Using sensitive audio equipment, the group asked questions and then waited for 30 seconds.

“To give [the ghosts] a chance to respond,” Lowe explained.

One questioner asked if any nearby spirit had been a senator, Lowe said.

“Real lightly and faint in the back, you hear ‘No,’” Lowe said.

Another tape picked up a “grunt” and something whispered “Edward” when asked his name, Lowe said.

Ghost-busting the Capitol has been on Lowe’s to-do list since he and his dad were accidentally locked inside while viewing the Christmas decorations there about 45 years ago.

He didn’t see any ghost then (“I was just scared,” he said), but another visit on a slow weekend day a decade ago yielded an apparition walking up the steps to the House of Representatives. The ghost turned and tipped his hat, Lowe said.

Spirit Seekers is still analyzing its data, including video. Some photos appear to show floating balls of energy called “spirit orbs,” Lowe said.

It’s not unusual for groups to request after-hours use of the Capitol, said Natasha Naragon, a spokesman for Secretary of State Charlie Daniels, who is in charge of the building.

“But this is the first time in institutional memory that we’ve had this type of request,” Naragon said.

Daniels’ office gave the green light to the group. It didn’t require any extra manpower or other costs. The Capitol is staffed around the clock with officers from the state Capitol’s own police force, Naragon said.

Spirit Seekers Paranormal Investigation Research and Intervention Team isn’t the only outfit that has been drawn to the Capitol. Movies have been shot there, one of which involved letting motorcycles rumble over its floors. A rocket was even fired at the dome, leaving a black smirch and then-Secretary of State Bill McCuen with a political hotfoot.

Lowe’s group has investigated paranormal activities around the state, according to the group’s Web site,

“Where the Here & the Hereafter Meet!” proclaims Lowe’s business card. The group also solicits donations on its site.

Capitol police officers said the Spirit Seekers quietly went about their business.

The group searched all the public areas in the 247,000-square foot building, but the heavy marble rendered their radios useless.

Before the Capitol was built, the state’s first penitentiary occupied the grounds and Lowe said he was intrigued of reports of prison ghosts wandering the building.

No felonious phantoms were detected, though. And the tale of a woman who wanders the halls in a wedding gown remains a ghost story for now.

His group broke up into teams of two to conduct the search.

“We always go out in twos,” Lowe said. “For safety.”

From the ghosts?

“No, what if you went out by yourself and fell down? Who would help?” Lowe said. “The ghosts here are real Caspers.”

Naragon, whose office is in the basement, said she hasn’t noticed any spectral signs.

“There’s a lot of strange activity, but none of the paranormal sort,” she said.

This article was published Wednesday, July 30, 2008.
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Pages 11, 20 on 07/30/2008)

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