Chip Coffey launched his new TV show “Celebrity Ghost Hunt” with typical no-nonsense accuracy as he helped untangle paranormal events at a privately owned gold mine in North Carolina and identified a former resident of a Los Angles home.
Actor Christopher Atkins, best known for his early roles in “The Blue Lagoon” and the TV drama “Dallas” had taken up part-time gold mining with his friend Jimmy who owned the mine. Jimmy wasn’t the only one who figured substantial gold remained in the mine as he once got an offer of $6 Million dollars for the place. He declined as he believed the mine had the potential to yield $400 Million dollars of untapped gold.
The closer Jimmy and Chris got to the gold, the stranger unexplained events became. While in the mine, both men heard a growling sound that shifted into an unearthly howl. Another time Jimmy and his son heard the heavily amplified sound of a beating heart. Heavy mining equipment served by dedicated power boxes had turned itself on without the help of any human beings.
The odd experiences didn’t confine themselves to the work day. One night Jimmy’s daughter-in-law Michelle woke up in the house to see the figure of a man standing at the foot of her bed. His daughter Charlotte shared the time she saw a half-torso apparition of a man wearing a black shirt.
Jimmy had seen the ghost of a miner on the property. The figure was clothed in a trench coat and miner’s helmet. Jimmy yelled at the apparition but got no response.
Chip started getting impressions of the presence of assorted spirits as soon as he walked around the mine shaft. First he sensed two people who were in conflict over the gold in the mine. He saw two people walking in front of a group and then mimed a gun going off with the comment, “boom”.
As Chip was talking about the two people in conflict I saw two men whom I believe both had some financial interest in the mine. Chip saw a shooting murder. I saw something different. The thinner of the two men was walking in front of the heavier one, as they argued about how to run the mine. The heavy-set man pushed his erstwhile business partner into the mine shaft to his death. I would not be surprised if both incidents happened at the mine at different times.
Chip told Jimmy and Chris that a number of conflicting positive and negative, light and dark influences were in play around the current mining operation. He picked up on some Native American spirits who were not happy about the gold being taken out of the earth.
Regarding the two people he first saw in conflict over the mine Chip had the sense that, “If we couldn’t do it here, you won’t either.” That took sour grapes to a whole new level.
Paranormal Investigator Michelle Griffin and her team were brought in to see what they might be able to document at the mine. They had the full array of standard ghost hunting gear including an infrared light, a full spectrum camera, DVR recorders and a K2 meter.
Michelle her team, Chip, Chris and Jimmy trooped down into the mine to investigate at night. Chip picked up on something but when the camera panned over to what might have been an ore crusher nothing was seen by the naked eye. However with my third eye I saw the figure of an old-style miner working the equipment. It wasn’t exactly the same equipment presently on site as the miner was cranking away at a manual wheel.
Chip started out with standard questions in a group EVP session. A disembodied knocking sound was heard not once but twice in response to his inquiries about any spirits nearby. When Chip asked if anyone was present who did not want the gold found he saw a presence behind the group as the K2 meter lit up. Chip told the team, “We are surrounded” by spirits he described as closing in around the living.
I could see a gaggle of past characters associated with gold mine in a circle that inched closer and closer to the group of investigators. One figure in particular stood out. It was the heavy-set miner I had seen push his erstwhile business partner to his death. He was in his 40’s with dark hair starting to run to early gray. He wore canvas overalls and held up an old-fashioned lamp with a round lens. He demanded to know, “Who are you? What are you doing here?”
Back up on the surface Michelle and Chip both saw something move behind a tree. Jimmy commented, “There’s noises over there.” Drawn by the sounds he walked ahead of the group despite Chips repeated calls to come back.
When Jimmy returned to the group he said he had seen, “A big gray puff of smoke.” Furthermore he had not realized how far he had wandered from the group. He said, “My hair was standing on end. I thought you all were closer to me.”
Chris confirmed Jimmy’s experience. He said, “I swear to God I saw a big gray puff of smoke. Then it went away.” Later evidence review showed a gray mist that briefly obliterated a nearby tree before vanishing. An EVP captured at the time confirmed local spirits were still there, “To find the gold.”
Chip thought the mysterious puff of smoke was related to Native American spirits he had sensed earlier. This was supported by a visit to local historian Patricia Curl who pointed out the mine sat near a former major Indian trading path. Chip asked Patricia her opinion about how the Native Americans in the area might have viewed gold mining. She said they would not have been happy about it as they were closely oriented to nature.
Chip stated his theory that something energetic might be hampering the mining efforts.
I had two different images shown to me when I looked at Jimmy’s mysterious puff of smoke. The first image was of a Native cooking fire which pretty much backed up Chip’s train of thought that past Native Americans were still around and not pleased with renewed mining efforts.
The second image was related to early gold mining. In that image I saw the puff of smoke as the product of TNT blasting in the mine. I could smell black powder characteristic of early explosives. I wasn’t sure if one impression was wrong and one was right. In my experience with the paranormal, frequently multiple layers of meaning are expressed in one image or incident.
Historian Patricia turned up some additional interesting bits of information. Back in the 1920’s and 1930’s the area of the mine was called “Hell’s Half Acre”. Terrible accidents or perhaps not so accidental incidents took place there including an owner of the mine who was murdered by a gunshot to the head. That validated the first two figures Chip saw in his initial walk around the mine shaft.
Another documented death was that of a Mr. Terry who disappeared when the mine flooded and was presumed drowned. The moment I heard that I was certain it was Terry’s dying heartbeat Jimmy and his son had heard while working the mine.
Chris and Chip went back down into the mine to try to talk to Mr. Terry. Chip asked if Terry had died in the mine shaft or if he had died for the gold. At that moment Chip saw something standing behind the audio guy who had also sensed a presence and turned his head to look.
Chip didn’t come out and say he saw the spirit of Terry behind the audio tech, but I sure did. Terry wasn’t a pleasant sight. I could feel his lungs full of water and he his face was bloated. When Chip asked him, “Did you die for the gold?” I heard Terry chuckle as he told me, “I guess you could say that.”
I asked Terry’s ghost how he got caught in the fatal flood. He said heavy rains caused the mine to flood and showed me an image of fragile white-painted boards that gave way under the pressure of the water backed up behind them. I asked Terry if the boards broke with some human help. He replied, “I reckon them fellas would done it if they had thought of it, but it was an accident.” He would know.
Terry’s ghost confirmed the last sound he heard before he drowned was the frantic beating of his heart in his ears. This was consistent with oxygen deprivation from a drowning death. At first the heart speeds up as it tries to grab more oxygen for the faltering body. Then the heart rate slows and death soon follows.
Chip knew darn well he was talking to Terry’s ghost. First he asked if Terry’s shade would help Jimmy and his crew find the gold. A nearby work light flickered in response. Chip quickly asked Terry “Are you with us?” The light flickered once for “yes” at Chip’s request.
One of the things I like about Chip’s shows is he is proactive about resolving paranormal disturbances. True to form, Chip asked a Native elder by the name of Many Skins to pray over and bless the land in an attempt to make peace with the agitated spirits of former Native Americans. Many Skins assured Chip he could sense any spirits of his predecessors around him as he wafted smoke with a feather from what was likely sage burning in a large shell.
As he got ready to leave Chip told Jimmy and Chris, “Hope what we have done here will help.” The following morning Chris told his camera diary that the whole place somehow felt peaceful and calm. After Chip’s visit no further troubled paranormal activity was reported at the Dixie Queen mine.
The second location was the Los Angeles, California home of actor Eric Roberts and his wife Eliza. Eric was best known for his Oscar nominated role in the 1980’s movie “Runaway Train”. The Roberts had been in residence for 13 years.
Eric said one sleepless night he walked into the kitchen to get some juice and for some reason turned to face the fireplace. There he saw smoke that formed into the image of a woman who stood in front of the fireplace. Stunned he reached out to touch her and she dissolved and went back up the chimney.
Worried about what others might think of his experience Eric decided not to discuss it until one day a terrified housekeeper blurted out, “I have to quit Mr. Eric. There is a ghost in the kitchen!” She left and never returned. Shortly after that Eric’s property caretaker Eddie quietly pulled him aside and told him he too had also seen the ghostly woman twice.
I picked up on a female presence before Eric told his story but additional details came through as he recounted his experience. I saw a woman with long hair and skirts leaning over a bubbling pot of food in a larger fireplace than the insert visible in the Roberts kitchen today. The larger fireplace was made of cemented river rock. Her skirts caught fire on hot coals and she later died of her burns in an upstairs bedroom. Nothing of the sort was picked up by Chip nor did such a scenario come out in the historical research shared in the episode. Was I seeing an earlier inhabitant of a different house and era? I don’t know.
Chip arrived at the Roberts home without prior knowledge of what Eric, the housekeeper and the caretaker had seen. The first presence he felt was that of a strong, dominant man along with that of a …”somewhat submissive woman.” Chip also said that Eric was empathic, which Eliza confirmed.
I asked the spirit of the woman Eric saw in his kitchen if she had been afraid of the dominant male presence Chip had picked up on when he entered the house. I thought that presence was her husband. Apparently not as she told me, “He is a good sort.” Then she asked me with a shrug, “What else is there for a woman?” For her generation, she was probably right.
Chip led the couple downstairs to their basement to chat. He asked Eric if something tough had happened to him between the ages of 12, 13 and 14. Eric confirmed something traumatic had happened in his life. Whatever it was it started at age 12 and continued through age 14. Chip told Eric that during that depressed, struggle filled period an energetic being had locked onto Eric. The issue was dropped as far as the viewers were concerned, but I strongly suspect Chip helped Eric with his energetic attachment.
Back up in the kitchen Chip asked Eric and Eliza if they had associated any smells with the female presence Eric had seen by the fireplace. Eric recounted his experience but didn’t mention any smells. I saw and smelled homemade bread when Chip asked about any scents associated with the female spirit. Chip didn’t comment further which left me wondering, what did he smell when he tuned into the woman’s spirit?
Paranormal Investigator Beth Brown and her team from the North Orange Paranormal Society (NOPS) were brought in to check out the Roberts kitchen. Their night-time investigation included a K2 Meter, cameras, a DVR and much to my delight an Ovilus.
Beth handed Eric the K2 meter and placed a DVR on the hearth of the kitchen fireplace. Eric started by telling the female presence, “I know you lived here.” The K2 meter blinked in apparent response. This promising start was immediately followed by Beth’s recorder which abruptly stopped due to a full battery drain. At that moment Eric, Eliza and Chip all heard a soft sighing sound from thin air. Eliza said she had never heard that sound in the kitchen before.
Chip saw something move and followed a “major shadow” past the kitchen window into an adjoining room. Later evidence review showed a glowing orb that settled next to an office chair.
Chip decided it was time for NOPS to break out their Ovilus which promptly started spitting out words. “Property”, “sister”, “heart” came out in short order. The Roberts were taken aback because their pet cat named Heart was in the kitchen. Chip asked the spirit using the Ovilus to come up with words that were related to the investigation. It complied as the Ovilus said, “tragic”, “Frank”, “peace” and then, “Alice run!”
None of these names or words made much sense until Beth and her team did some historic research on the house and former residents. While they were doing that Eric had a chat with past owner Stephen Lotto who had lived in the house from 1975 to 1981. Eric asked Stephen, “Did you see our lady?” Stephen replied, “You mean the lady in the kitchen?” Stephen was familiar with her and told Eric that the spirit of the lady in the kitchen had frequently been observed checking the children’s rooms and looking in on Stephen’s mother-in-law. Stephen saw the lady wearing puffed sleeves, long skirts and a bustle. That was pretty close to the unexplained woman I saw catch fire.
Eliza and Eric had a chat with local historian Arlene Waters. One of the former owners of the house was a couple named Alice and Frank Mass and their numerous children. Eric and his wife recalled that the Ovilus had said both names during NOPS investigation.
Privately during a diary camera session Eric asked Eliza if the lady in the kitchen turned out to be Alice Mass, was Eliza leaning in the direction of evicting the spirit or allowing her to stay. Eliza didn’t have to think twice, she wanted Alice to stay.
Beth and her team located Joanne, a granddaughter of Alice Mass who had lived with her grandparents in the house between 1948-1952. Joanne agreed to talk to the Roberts and Chip on the phone. She described her Grandmother Alice as a saint and told the group, “I was so happy there.” as a child. Joanne said of her grandmother, “She was very, very attentive and loving.” When asked about her grandmother’s experiences in the house she said, “I think she was happy there.” It was clear no paranormal mumbo jumbo or potential family drama was going to be discussed by Alice’s adoring granddaughter.
This left some holes in what the Ovilus spit out. Why did the words, “tragic” or “Alice run!” come out during NOPS investigation? This was not addressed again during the episode. It could have been intentional to protect the privacy of Alice and Frank’s descendants.
Chip reassured the Roberts that nothing bad was in their house and that Alice loved them. After Chip’s visit the Roberts had no further interaction with the spirit of Alice Mass.
Frequently content and friendly spirits simply want to be acknowledged. I think that was the case with Alice Mass and perhaps also her husband Frank whom Chip still felt in the house.
This is going to be a fun show…. I hope Biography picks it up as a regular program. I also liked the chance for top-notch regional paranormal investigative groups to be involved and recognized for their work. I cannot imagine Chip Coffey inviting or enduring any lackluster groups. There are solid grass-roots people in this field and I am happy to see some of them on air.
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© Lynne Olson 2011. All rights reserved.