Calling all real Ghostbusters: Local paranormal investigators bring the fright back to Halloween

“I 100% believe in ghosts. I feel like there are some spirits that have unfinished business or for some reason, they can’t cross-over. The investigations only confirmed my beliefs.” –Sydney Rossman

The short URL of the present article is: https://lhslance.org/euaai

Do you believe in ghosts?

The Mid-Atlantic Paranormal Project (M.A.P.P.) does, and this Halloween, the three-member team is keeping the spooky feeling alive. 

The Investigators

The local paranormal investigation team was founded in 2016 by Tony Avallone, a Delaware data scientist. With popular haunted nearby locales like Georgetown, Harpers Ferry, Gettysburg Battlefield, and downtown New Market, the team is spending October with the supernatural.

This ghostly child peaking around the corner, and through a closed door, was accidentally captured by Rossman at Haldeman Mansion. It was taken by a full spectrum camera. Rossman discovered the chilling picture while reviewing evidence one night and said that chills ran down his spine, because the child was watching him. (courtesy of Shane Rossman)

Shane Rossman, a branch chief at the Social Security Administration, joined the M.A.P.P. team three years ago.  He admits he was unconvinced when he joined the team, but since then, he has experienced his fair share of late-night scares.

“I went into this being a skeptic, meaning that I don’t believe a lot of what happens, and that’s why we have a lot of the equipment that we do in order to prove or debunk a lot of the things that we see and hear,” said Rossman. “So we went to a private residence, and the minute I walked in the door I felt nauseous. I didn’t feel right. I instantly wanted to leave, I just felt like something was off. Me and another investigator that we had with us went upstairs to set up equipment. She [the other investigator] was up high setting up a DVR camera, and I was on the floor setting up a microphone, and in my ear I heard clearly, like a person was next to me say, ‘Hi.’ I had never heard a spirit without a microphone or any other type of speech enhancing equipment clearly in my ear say, ‘Hi,’ before that moment.”

courtesy of The Mid-Atlantic Paranormal Project

Avallone has also witnessed some inexplicable moments while investigating at Kitty Knight, a waterfront restaurant in Georgetown, Maryland.

“I was investigating the basement of Kitty Knight, and I felt very uneasy and kind of sick with a headache and dizziness. The team I was with at the time said that we should stop to look out for everyone’s safety. I was still seriously sick a couple of weeks later, and I want to say that whatever happened there carried on. That’s one of the reasons that I really wanted to go back to that location. I had to face what was there and give myself closure that it’s not as bad as I thought it was then,” said Avallone. 

Avallone also recalled a recent experience at Harpers Ferry.

“Just recently when [Rossman] and I went to Harpers Ferry, we were asking questions, and you could hear something asking for help. You could hear the panic in their voice. We were trying to ask questions, but we think it was a residual, where the spirit is re-living the same situation over and over again. You could just hear in the sound of her voice that she was very scared, but everything else around her was responsive to what we were saying. It’s hard to explain it, but sometimes you just get so into it that you feel like you’re back with that person in the same room,” said Avallone.

Although chilling experiences seem like an adrenaline junkie’s dream, Rossman warns how serious investigations are.

“At the end of a night we always say a prayer to protect ourselves. We tell everything that is at the location to stay there, that it’s not welcome to follow us home. We haven’t had too many demonic investigations, but the one that seemed to talk into my ear. We did sage that home, and the homeowner reported that everything felt lighter after we did that. Protecting yourself is a big thing. All the equipment, all the TV shows are cool, but when you go to these locations, you have to remember that this is serious. These entities, even though sometimes you might think that they’re Casper-like, could be dark, demonic spirits to follow you home. You need to protect not only yourself, but you need to protect your family,” said Rossman.

These entities, even though sometimes you might think that they’re Casper-like, could be dark, demonic spirits to follow you home,”

— Shane Rossman

Avallone also warns against the use of Ouija boards, which may seem like a fun Halloween-themed board game.

“Do not use that Ouija board. It may be a board game. It may be in a toy store, but believe me, you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. What you think you’re talking to or who you think you’re talking to isn’t who they seem to be,” said Avallone.

Ghost hunting is not just a prickly skin feeling, it requires actual Ghostbuster-like gear.

When Rossman joined the M.A.P.P. team, he took on the role of Tech Manager. He has built several investigation tools over the years like the portal.

“That’s what I do for a living, work with technology, so I just find it interesting because it brings both the spiritual and the technical side of things together. One of the things that I think our team likes the most is the portal. It’s something that I built out of a radio that scans through stations at 150 milliseconds a second. I’ve put guitar foot pedals on it to take out the white noise. That white noise is what allows the spirits to communicate with us. At many locations when things seem to be quiet, we’ll break out the portal and it allows us to have good communication with the spirits that are with us,” said Rossman.

Along with building his own tools, Rossman and the M.A.P.P. team use other equipment to ensure accurate recordings of their findings.

“There’s a classification for everything that we have. Either it’s audio, it’s video, or it’s both; but a lot of the things that we have are more trigger-related which captures static electricity and electricity in the air. We also have everything that you see on the TV shows. We have a SLS camera, rem pods, and different things like that,” said Rossman.

Avallone and Rossman use many different kinds of equipment to interact with spirits. The stuffed bear and stuffed dog are activated when static electricity is around them. (courtesy of Shane Rossman)

Avallone believes that the best equipment you can get started with is a simple camera and audio recorder. Once you get immersed in the investigation world, however, there are many other pieces of equipment that will attract different spirits.

“Number one is always have a flashlight. You also want a digital voice recorder, and, if you’re able to, some type of video camera that can shoot in the dark with night vision. There is a lot of time involved in reviewing that evidence though. Then we have other things like trigger props. I have a stuffed dog that has sensors on it so that if static electricity or magnetic fields get next to it, bells will ring and lights will blink. What we like about that is that both adults and kids are interested in trying to communicate with it or touch that trigger prop,” said Avallone. 

Avallone was initially brought into the paranormal investigation world through experiences he had when he was a child.

“Different experiences that I’ve had when I was younger [got me into paranormal investigation]. I wanted to understand more than what was right there in front of us. I wanted to broaden my horizons as much as I could. I started M.A.P.P. in 2016 to have a better grasp of what we were doing, and I didn’t want to do things that would cause harm to people,” said Avallone.

Investigators-in-Training

Class of 2017 LHS graduate Sydney Rossman and Class of 2021 member Ella Haskins decided that they would join the M.A.P.P. team for a night of eerie investigation.

“I wanted to see what my dad does. I was also curious if what they do on the TV shows is true, like the amount of questions and equipment,” said Sydney.

Haskins was also excited about the investigation because she wanted to find out if there was something causing the disturbances at her mom’s shop, formerly the General Store, in downtown New Market.

“I decided to join the M.A.P.P. team on an investigation because the concept of the supernatural and all things eerie have always been very intriguing to me. When I found out it could be possible that there were ghosts in my own mom’s store, I could not pass up the opportunity,” said Haskins.

Sydney’s first investigation was one to remember, giving her a taste of the thrilling mystery that surrounds the paranormal.

I felt as though something was touching me and tugging on my clothes. It sent cold chills running through my body,”

— Sydney Rossman

“I went to Kitty Knight for both of my investigations and there were definitely a few times that I felt uneasy. The first time I was watching the cameras and the rest of the group went to investigate the other rooms. There were a lot of orbs flying around the rooms that I could see on the TV screen. The next thing I know, I heard footsteps above me. That’s when I realized that one of the most haunted rooms was above me. I just ignored it the first time, but when it happened again, I began to study where it was coming from exactly. The group then went into the room and when they got close to the fireplace, the position of the footsteps lined up. A woman is said to haunt that room by pacing back and forth between the fireplace and the bed. The second time I went back to Kitty Knight, I felt as though something was touching me and tugging on my clothes. It sent cold chills running through my body,” said Sydney.

Haskins also experienced some inexplicable events while investigating with the M.A.P.P. team.

“In the beginning of the investigation, I was very excited and amazed at all of the equipment that was going to be used. It was like I was in a movie! However, I began to feel uneasy when we ventured into the dark basement to try and communicate with the spirits. One thing that I found to be odd was when we were using a spirit box to attempt to communicate with the ghosts. The white noise was the only audible sound until I heard a name. The name I heard was that of my mom’s fellow colleague who spent a lot of time at the store, and who recently passed from a heart attack. That was definitely a moment I will never forget,” said Haskins. 

Unlike her dad, Sydney has believed in ghosts from the start.

“I 100% believe in ghosts. I feel like there are some spirits that have unfinished business or for some reason, they can’t cross-over. The investigations only confirmed my beliefs,” said Sydney.

Haskins, on the other hand, is still not completely convinced.

“As of right now, I do not truly believe in ghosts because I have yet to experience an undeniable encounter. However, I am not close minded to the possibility because there is so much we don’t know,” said Haskins.

You Can Investigate, Too

Investigating paranormal activity is a thrilling and terrifying experience, and it is easy to get started and grow this unusual hobby. Avallone urged new investigators to start small and work their way up.

“Make sure you know what you’re doing. Do some research before doing anything, and never do it by yourself. I also recommend never investigating your own house. Investigate with like-minded people and people who have the same interests and the same goals in mind. Start small, don’t go out there and spend all of your money on all of the equipment. Go out there with a digital camera and recorder and then build as you get more and more experience,” said Avallone. 

It is also important, when investigating a private residence, to get permission from the property owners. 

Although most people think of the ghosts that say, “Boo!” investigating the paranormal is much more complicated than a Halloween movie makes it out to be.