Ghostly Encounters

Story By: Jeffrey Gonzalez

An old church decays at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Westwood, Calif. Photo Illustration: Lynn Levitt
An old church decays at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Westwood, Calif. Photo Illustration: Lynn Levitt
Boarded up from the outside, this ruined building emanates an eerie light. Photo: Lynn Levitt
Boarded up from the outside, this ruined building emanates an eerie light. Photo: Lynn Levitt

No physical evidence of ghosts exists on earth; however, ghosts have been defined as apparitions, translucent shapes,  spirits or souls of a dead person or even animals. In Roman history, Pliny the Younger, an author and statesman, recorded one of the first notable ghost stories in the first century A.D.

As the years have gone by the ghost world has been grabbing the attention of many audiences from across the world. The phenomenon has changed thoughts and opinions.

According to a CBS news poll in 2010, about 48 percent of Americans believe in ghosts and have seen or felt a paranormal experience. The remaining percentage either doesn’t believe in ghosts or are skeptics.

One of those skeptics is Michelle Galvan, an 18-year-old Pierce College student who said, “This is all a conspiracy. Hollywood is trying to make us believe in ghosts with all the shows they’re producing so they can take money away from people like us. I’ve never experienced anything in my house and I’ve been living there for over 14 years. My great grandmother died in my house and I’ve never seen her.”

Hollywood is the entertainment capital of world, producing movies, music, television shows and more. As a necessity they must keep their audiences entertained. Networks are producing shows like ‘Ghost Hunters,’ ‘Ghost Adventures,’ ‘My Ghost Story,’ ‘Paranormal Witness,’ and ‘Medium.’

Movies like ‘Insidious Chapter 2,’ ‘The Conjuring,’ ‘The Sixth Sense,’ and ‘The Blair Witch Project’ may have made it even easier for the skeptics to not believe in the paranormal because of the Hollywood visual effects.

Josie Kapton is a 23-year-old Pierce College student who had her mind and life changed when a female figure appeared to her at night.

“At first I was really scared of what had happened. I saw this beautiful woman dressed in a nice white gown telling me things. I thought it was a dream but I kept blinking my eyes and she wouldn’t go away, until I started talking to her,” Kapton said.

When it came to the paranormal, Kapton said, “I hated when people talked about ghosts. I used to think it was stupid, but after everything I’ve been through I had to change my mind about it.”

After what she had gone through, some of her friends started to suspect she was crazy, but in reality she thought she had seen a ghost. The only proof that she can gather was the one only in her memory.

Those who have ghostly encounters and want help can always seek out a ghost hunter.

There are hundreds of groups around the country that are interested in the paranormal and try to figure out if there are ghostly occurrences around their area.

Erik Vanlier is a paranormal investigator who has a group based in the San Fernando Valley called Valley Investigators of the Paranormal.

“When I was a teen I would go with my friends to urban legends spots like Gravity Hills, some places in the Valley that were [Charles] Manson hangouts, and we would just see if the urban legends were true or were just that a legend. There were a few occasions where we had some unexplainable incidents,” Vanlier said.

One of Vanlier’s first major paranormal investigations was at Linda Vista Hospital by Downtown Los Angeles. The 89-year-old building is said to be known as one of the haunted places in Los Angeles because of its paranormal attraction to the living world.

“I went to the Linda Vista Hospital before it had become popular and had an overwhelming feeling of sadness and despair. I got an attachment there and it caused me some problems at home ,and I was being affected with my life and I stopped for a while,” Vanlier said.

Some of his investigation stories have been featured in ‘My Ghost Story’ and he has worked with various people like the crew from ‘Ghost Adventures.’

Before the Valley Investigators of the Paranormal come to investigate a place, they do a background of the house. Once at the place they go around the house and make sure there are no animals. Then they try to see if the claims made by the customer can be debunked. They go in and record for four-to-six hours and take the information  to their office to see if they caught any evidence.

“Ghost Hunting isn’t a game. Do it because you have an interest in it and you want to help people get answers. Don’t just watch a paranormal show and go trespass to an abandoned building, because you never know what you might be encountering. People can get attachments and can get physiological and physical problems,” Vanlier said.

The truth about ghosts may never be known and as technology advances, there will be better gadgets to support the paranormal or debunk it. Until actual substantial evidence appears, and brings skeptics over from the lines drawn in the sand, those who believe will have to continue onward with a leap of faith.