Who are you?
Dawn Reichard, spokesperson for Private Paranormal Investigators
Why did you get into the paranormal?
We moved into our house in 1997. I had recently quit working after my son was born and we were looking for a small house that we could afford on one income. We bought the house from the estate of the original owner, who had died in what would be our master bedroom. That didn’t bother me, people die all the time and I loved the house.
While Bud was at work, I’d work on the house. During the day, things starting happening before we even moved in. In the afternoon my son would go in for a nap and I’d shut off the TV. I’d put him to bed and come back and the TV would be back on. It happened all the time, but only in the afternoon, never at night. I thought the switch was going. One day I was in the kitchen and as I walked by the fridge, all the magnets fell to the floor. As I was picking them up I was trying to think of a time that I had ever seen a magnet fall from a refrigerator.
A few weeks later, I was alone upstairs painting. The radio was blaring. It was a rare occasion that my mom took my son and I had the afternoon to myself. I heard a jingle. It got louder and louder and I shut off the radio to listen. Someone was rattling the door handle downstairs. My first thought was that someone was breaking in the house and I was pissed. I ran down the steps two at a time and, its funny how you remember every detail, the rattling stopped when I was halfway down the steps. I flew to the front door, ready to attack. I threw the door open and there was nothing there. I expected the screen door to still be swinging. I didn’t give anyone time to get away. I ran outside and looked up and down the street. No one was around. That was when it really hit me. I sat on the couch for a long time trying to understand what had just happened.
I didn’t tell anyone for a few years. Once, on a Saturday, Bud was at work and I woke early to a sound that I can only describe as a penny dropping on cookie sheet. Over and over and then faster and faster until the speed wasn’t humanly possible. I couldn’t imagine what the kids were up to. I yelled out and it stopped and I got out of bed. I checked all three kids and they were all still asleep. I never figured out what that sound could be. And I never heard it again.
Finally, after living 7 years in the house, I told my husband that I thought our house was haunted, either that or I was just nuts. When he started experiencing stuff, I was relieved that it wasn’t just me anyone. One night, Bud had gone to bed early, while me and the kids were watching TV. Twenty minutes later he came back out as if, to use a cliche, he saw a ghost. He said that while his eyes were closed, he heard his door open and someone get on the bed and crawl toward him. He thought is was our youngest son, who was 3 at the time, sneaking in bed with him, so he hid under the covers waiting to scare him. As Bud felt it next to him, he pulled the covers back and said, “Boo!”. The joke was on him though, because he was alone. The door never opened, he kept a sock stuffed in the door so it doesn’t rattle and the sock didn’t move. It was the first of many times he’s felt something crawl in bed with him.
The kids have heard footsteps coming from the attic and my youngest has seen a man standing at the bottom of the steps. I heard a man’s voice yell at my barking dogs. There’s so many stories living there. The mystery of who else was living there began to bother us. For the next 2 years we wondered. I discovered Ghost Hunters and I admit, I watched in fascination, hoping to get a clue, some way to find out what we were living with.
For Christmas that year, I got a K2 meter and a recorder and it started from there. I joined a meet-up group and my first investigation was my own house. The week before the investigation was the most interesting. Doors would slam, things fell of the shelves. That week, more than any other, convinced me that my house was haunted. I stayed in that group for 9 months. The leader was a bit unstable and scary and we all broke off at the same time and started Private Paranormal Investigators together. Most all of us are founding members. I was elected spokesperson probably because no one wanted the job and I was slowest to protest.
Are you a skeptic or a believer?
I’m definitely a skeptic. Even when the evidence is staring me in the face, I have a hard time with it. I’ve tried to explain away so much stuff, but I can’t debunk it all. I just can’t
I was in the basement of the Stanhope House in a section by myself. I heard nothing, but when I played back the recording… well, it was one of those moments where you throw down the headphones and walk away. When I asked it to show itself, a creepy voice says, ʻDawn Micheleʼ. Bud was two stories above me and he was the only person there who knew my middle name. Hearing your own name in an investigation is hard to deal with. While that was unsettling Bud was in the attic right about the same time. While that was unsettling Bud was in the attic getting scratched, right about the same time. With the pictures of Budʼs back and the multiple EVPs, how do you debunk that? There are many other investigations that have so much evidence that you have to say to yourself, there has to be something to this. I have yet to meet a ghost hunter who hasnʼt experienced something. Its weird, I donʼt believe in any of this and yet I have no choice.
Where are your favorite haunts?
We did Prospect Place in Ohio with Trinity Paranormal. That place was really cool. And Hillview Manor with Fairless Hills Paranormal. At Hillview, Bud heard what sounded like a golf ball bouncing down the hallway and I was yelled at by the lunch lady who haunts the cafeteria. But the coolest thing was caught on the DVR. While the other group was investigating the 3rd floor, what looks like a golf ball flies past them. They don’t see it and it doesn’t make any noise. I saw my first shadow person there too. Weʼre going back in the spring and I canʼt wait.
Bolton Mansion, Fort Mifflin, Gettysburg, there are so many. I think they’re all my favorites. When you travel with the best people in the world, anywhere you go, whether its haunted or not, its always the best time. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life until I’ve met these people that I’m so blessed to know. Investigating is a serious hobby, but all the rest is a really good time.
Do you think that paranormal shows gives groups like you a bad reputation?
Ghost hunting is not the kind of thing you bring up at dinner parties. When it does come up, I find that there are two different kind of reactions. Either they pretend that the subject didn’t come up or their eyes light up and the conversation begins. And I think that is where Ghost Hunters have done the most good. Criticize them all you like, but they started a conversation and opened up hope for people with paranormal issues. With all these shows on TV, people know they’re not alone with that kind of problem.
Sure thereʼs stupid irresponsible ghost hunters out there, but thereʼs stupid irresponsible people out there as a whole. Investigators donʼt hold more than their market share. And its done a world of good for places that are struggling to stay open
and survive. Older groups may bitch about paying to go to places that were once free, but more places have opened up for investigations. In between private household investigations, I donʼt have a problem paying a donation to hang out for a few hours. I do object to outrageous fees though. The best ones Iʼve ever done have been the cheapest.
As for a bad reputation, you can bring that on yourself. Word gets around fast in this field and Iʼll leave it at that. Iʼve worked very hard to present our evidence and ourselves in the most professional manner. Iʼm very careful not to make a mistake in
publishing evidence that will someday be debunked, if it ever is, itʼs unintentional. I use 2 to 3 recorders with every team. I have to have a backup to prove an EVP. Recorders malfunction and more than once, the back up has proved it. No evidence is
posted if thereʼs an argument from the group. One protest kills the clip. Period. And in that I think our evidence kicks butt. Weʼve got some awesome stuff and I pray we have more to come.
What’s Next for You?
After helping to host the Bolton Mansion Paranormal Expo, I was burnt out for a bit. OK, I was exhausted, but Iʼm back…with a vengeance. Weʼve been working on a new site – Whitehill Manor in Fieldboro, NJ. Weʼve met the mayor and gone to council meetings and participated in an archeological dig there. We started a paranormal program there where others can investigate there too! Right now, we are working on cleaning up the place and researching the correct history. It turns out that everything on the internet is incorrect. Go figure. Iʼll be putting a whole page devoted to Whitehill with maps, videos and EVPs. Some are on there now, labeled as case number #1112. We had to keep it a secret for a long time and it feels good to let it all out. Fort Mifflin is coming up too. I have a date with the ʻWowʼ man. Someday, that stuff will get on our site too. Thereʼs so much to accomplish in so little time.
What is your ideal dream investigation?
Leap Castle in Ireland. I saw a show on that place when I was a kid and it scared the bejesus out of me. Iʼm not sure Iʼd have the guts to go anywhere alone there. That would be the truest test of bravery or stupidity. Iʼm not sure. And the Rams Head Inn in England. Remember the show Most Haunted? Karl Beattie got his butt whooped in that basement. Best footage Iʼve ever seen.
For our anniversary, Bud and I planned an overnight at the Cashtown Inn in Gettysburg. Nothing could be more romantic, in the most haunted room, of course.