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Ghost hunters are a mixed bag

January 28, 2002

Ghost hunters are a mixed bag



By ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY
andreabh@herald-mail.com


The National Ghost Hunters Society boasts several hundred members from around the world, President Chanda Wright said.

Wright, 41, is a computer repair technician who founded the NGHS in 1995 to help educate people about the paranormal and investigate supernatural experiences like the ones she's had since childhood.

"The door that people wanted to look into opened in 1996," Wright said. "Now it's popular, and I can talk about it."

While skeptic Joe Nickell and others attribute the public's growing fascination with the supernatural to mass media's promotion of it, Wright credits an increasing awareness about and acceptance of a broader reality.

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She fields questions about paranormal activities from many people of all ages, she said.

The motto of the NGHS is "May the dead teach us what the living cannot see."

Anyone can learn to listen, Wright said.

Frank McGhee, 39, said he joined Wright's group because he wanted to explore the possibility of life after death. A petty officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, McGhee is the group's technical expert and resident nay-sayer.

The Martinsburg, W.Va., resident brings his cache of gadgets to field investigations, and seeks alternative explanations - dust, insects, pranksters, breezes - for the strange phenomena the group encounters, he said.

"I kind of act as Chanda's skeptic but I'm not a skeptic," McGhee said. "I've learned there is something after death."

Nikki Hilderbrand, 24, is a college student and secretary from Frederick, Md., who also joined the group to learn more about the paranormal, she said. Hilderbrand is known as the group's "orb magnet" because she seems to attract ghosts, Wright said.

Lisa Carlin, 31, is a truck driver from near Martinsburg who has always been interested in the supernatural. She and McGhee recently launched a Web site called Ghost Hunters of West Virginia.

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