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Ghost hunters come to Red Lodge
By: 
Eleanor Guerrero
CCN Senior Reporter

On Sunday, Oct. 8, ghost hunters came to Red Lodge. The Billings based Montana Paranormal Research Society, an affiliate of the TV ghosthunters group “TAPS”, had performed an overnight vigil this past June in the building of the Carbon County Historical Society (CCHS). They presented what is commonly termed the "Reveal" in paranormal investigations this past Sunday morning, where data was explained, and all visual, experiential and auditory evidence of paranormal activity was documented and presented to Sarah Russell, CCHS Executive Director. 
These avid tech testers stress that they are not psychic, sensitive or seeking personal experiences.  They are looking for valid tangible proof. 
“We are not scientists,” said Dustin Brenner, the group’s founder, but he stressed, “We’re an equipment-based group.” He strives for “The Holy Grail” in paranormal: to get it on video. “It’s important to have the control factor” said Brenner. He accomplishes that when his equipment substantiates phenomena. Then, they try to debunk it. “We try our best to find reasons for it to occur.” If there’s even a possibility of another reason they discard the finding. Curtis Mattox, their techie, is the most determined to find a reasonable cause for phenomena. Brenner said, “We love him for that, hate him when he does it!” Mostly, he said, “We try to validate the claims” of the occupants who contact them. He said, “Ninety-five percent of the time we come up empty.”
His team, consists of Brenner, Lora Mattox and her husband, Curtis Mattox.
As for finding anything negative, Lora says they do run into spirits of people who are just “not nice” but that’s about it. Although Brenner said, “I’m like a rock,” denying he has any “sensitivity” to psychic perceptions, his interest began in 2005. One night, when he was working late about 10 p.m. in a Bozeman Public School and was “the only one here,” he experienced "seeing" a child that simply was not corporeal in the locked building. Later, when looking at the school’s old photos on the wall, he recognized she was wearing one of the old school uniforms of the 20’s and 30’s.
He has been visiting homes and institutions since then, seeking the truth through his rigorous investigations. The team set up an array of high tech electronic gear, cameras and recorders throughout the basement, main and upper floors of the old building, and walked around with meters to detect electromagnetic energy usually associated with the spectral inhabitants. They spent an entire June night walking from floor to floor in the wee hours, often experiencing things that "went bump in the night." 
Strangely, as Russell mentioned places in the edifice that elicited a shiver up her spine, the same locations spooked the investigators, and often showed paranormal activity on their equipment. They recorded whispered murmurs. There were noisy knocks as the names of miners lost in the Bearcreek mine explosion were read aloud from a list in the basement. There were strange, unexplained sounds on the recorder including a loud bang on the unoccupied main floor. When one of the investigators asked the miners to show them what it was like in the deadly mine, a strong smell of noxious gas was experienced that, upon investigation, had no discernable source in the building. 
Curtis and Lora stressed that some of the most significant noises were in response to questions.
The team mentioned that the museum housed many intimate items from old households and businesses. Paranormal investigators feel that souls that have passed may have formed strong attachments to these once-prized possessions, and thus may linger in their vicinity. Indeed, a stroll through the museum reveals fragile, worn clothing, personal artifacts and tools from miners and deceased families, weapons and keepsakes that once were precious to Carbon County pioneers and local Native American tribes.
The group told interesting stories of what they had experienced over more than a decade of investigations. While wandering around the Custer National Battlefield, where hundreds of soldiers and Natives died, they heard the sounds of battle recorded, a shot fired and, eerily, a voice saying "Come back..." as they were leaving. At a Pryor location, they brought along a friend, not a usual member of the team. They were careful not to tell him what they were investigating nor was he aware of the history of the homestead. When they arrived at the location, they cautioned the homeowner not to say a word to him, and he walked over the acreage. He is not like the rest of the investigators; he does not take a scientific approach. Instead, he is what they call a “sensitive”, an ultra-perceptive soul who senses the presence of the "disembodied" others cannot discern. He came back to the team saying "I was just talking to a little girl. She says her brother shot her, but she knows it was an accident...all his details were true." 
“He walked around talking and listening as if he were interviewing someone,” said Brenner in disbelief as he recalled the event.
Some believe such sensitives simply employ gifts or abilities that others either lack or suppress. Extra sensory perceptions come to most of us at times, in premonitions, dreams, when we are in danger, perhaps hunting in the woods, or sensing distress in an absent loved one. Perhaps these are the senses our ancestors employed to keep them safe, perhaps we would be wise to hone them to give ourselves an extra advantage in our complex, modern world. For now, they are a source of entertainment and sometimes, actually soothe the fears of residents they visit by verifying their claims and letting them know they are not alone. Brenner will never say a place is “haunted” but he did say he documented activity. Russell said when a boiler strangely blew all three valves at once she was asked by the repairman, “Is this place haunted?” She cannot explain lights that occasionally are turned on or were unexpectedly turned off in the basement after hours.
For those seeking the unknown, they have a special treat: The CCHS will present at the museum a retro of the best of the Montana Paranormal Research Society’s investigations on projector with the group on Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.
Next week: Wyoming Area Spirit Posse experiences in Red Lodge.

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