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The Night Afterlife

Matt Harvey discusses past brushes with the paranormal and what it is like to be an investigator.

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Meet the Team

An introduction to the California Ghost Hunters crew.

The Settling

The team leaves to let the house settle.

The Hunt

Let the hunt begin!

Investigation Recap

A recap of the evening.

Paranormal Playgrounds

By Michael Green

At the age of eight, Matt Harvey had his first encounter with a ghost.

While sleeping on the top of his bunk bed, Harvey would often see a dark shadow circle him late at night. One evening, with nobody else awake, a pillow was pulled out from underneath his head and fell to the floor, said Harvey.

“I was so scared that I didn’t want to climb down,” recalled Harvey. “So I decided to lean over, I grabbed the pillow and then I heard laughing.

After his first brush with the paranormal, Harvey decided to build a fort out of bed sheets for protection. Since then, his techniques have become more refined.

California Ghost Hunters Background

Harvey established California Ghost Hunters in 2005. And, for half a decade, the group has aimed to educate others about a life that extends beyond our standard existence.

“People have always been questioning, ‘is there ghosts, is there an afterlife,’ and to bring solid concrete evidence to the table, it is so amazing to be part of that,” said California Ghost Hunters tech manager and investigator Amy Remington.

The team, which is composed of eight members, is stationed in Southern California, but operates throughout the state. California Ghost Hunters has investigated everything from lighthouses to hotels, generally seeking to inform and educate clients.

“We usually show them, hey, look, nothing felt threatening to us, nothing tried to hurt us or tried to get us out of the house,” said Harvey. “It just wants to coexist with you.”

Harvey was inspired to start California Ghost Hunters during a cross-country road trip with his wife. Along the way, the two stopped at a small lighthouse in Cape Cod.

While visiting, power cut out to the lighthouse, leaving Harvey and his wife in the dark. Harvey eventually struck up a conversation with the wife of the lighthouse owner. She commented that the location had never experienced such problems in its 180-year history. Suddenly, Harvey felt the urge to deliver a message.

“All of the sudden I blurted out, ‘there is an old lighthouse keeper, he just wants you to know he’s here,’” said Harvey, as he reflected on the interaction.

No sooner had the words come out of his mouth than the electricity turned back on in the lighthouse, claimed Harvey. The stunned woman quickly asked Harvey if he was a paranormal investigator and what group he was with.

Harvey, who was 23 at the time, was tickled by the question. He and his wife had casually explored the paranormal together as a hobby to that point, but were not serious investigators.

The moment inspired Harvey to further explore ghost hunting with his friends. Once his friends lost interest, however, Harvey started a meet-up group for people who shared his passion. That group eventually became the California Ghost Hunters.

Almost 500 investigations later, California Ghost Hunters has grown into much more than a casual hobby for Harvey.

Case Background

On April 30, California Ghost Hunters was called in for a follow-up investigation at a house in Brea. The homeowners reported several issues in the past: hearing footsteps, feeling watched, doors opening by themselves, utensils flying out of kitchen drawers and sightings of an old woman on the stairs. The house is also allegedly located near Indian burial grounds.

“I wouldn’t even stay in the house if I was alone,” said the homeowner, who requested to remain anonymous. “I would sit out in the backyard until someone came home.”

After initially finding little evidence, California Ghost Hunters uncovered several significant pieces of audio in a follow-up investigation. The material, which was gathered over a year ago, revealed distinct voices coming through on the team’s recording equipment.

“Something was definitely trying to communicate with us last time,” said Angelena Madrid, a lead investigator for California Ghost Hunters.

The disembodied voices, also known as electronic voice phenomena (EVPs), confirmed that there was paranormal activity in the house. Shortly after the visit, California Ghost Hunters sent a reverend to cleanse the home.

Since then, however, there were reports of unknown voices throughout the home, books moving by themselves and one member of the family feeling a breath in their ear late at night. The homeowners also recently discovered unidentified bones underneath the house, which they immediately discarded.

California Ghost Hunters agreed to explore the home for a third time after the complaints were received.

“Hopefully they [the ghosts] will open up to us, if anything is [still] there,” said Harvey before the investigation. “You can go in and not get anything, which would be very disappointing.”


An EVP from the second investigation revealed a little girl's voice saying, "Here I am." Listen closely to the end of the audio clip.

Ghost Hunting

Harvey, along with Madrid and Remington, decided to conduct the investigation without any other members, hoping that a smaller group would have better odds of gathering new evidence. The latest Brea case marked the first time that California Ghost Hunters brought a journalist along for an exploration.

The ghost hunters primarily used a combination of motion sensors, audio recorders and cameras to conduct the investigation. A monitor and digital video recorder (DVR) were set-up in the garage to record any additional evidence.

California Ghost Hunters also used electromagnetic field (EMF) detectors to find ghosts. EMF detectors can show any sudden changes in energy fields that are potentially caused by paranormal activity.

“When you go into a pocket of warm air, that’s just energy, it’s called natural EMF and they pull on that,” said Harvey. “So, if there’s a cold spot, usually the theory behind that is that they pull the energy out of that air.”

The primary goal of the investigation was to have any spirits in the house interact through the gear that was on site.

“We’re just trying to communicate, get them to communicate, try to get them to manipulate the gear,” said Harvey. “The theory behind it is that they don’t actually talk into our recorders, they use the noise inside to manipulate it.”

In order to elicit responses from any spirits that may have been present, the team asked questions, played interactive games and looked for dramatic changes in the atmosphere of the house.

“If there is anything going on in the house, we have tons of different ways to see if they’re there,” said Remington when asked about searching for ghosts.

The inquiries included requests to slam doors or knock on furniture, questions regarding the ghosts’ intentions in the house and queries about the home’s history. Often, the investigators aimed to get an instant response.

“I’m constantly striving to have anything that’s potentially interacting with us do something on cue,” said Madrid.

Various games that were played involved black jack, mimicry games and guessing cards. The intent behind such action was to encourage participation from any ghosts present in the rooms.

The ghost hunters also took note of changes that had to do with lighting, temperature and sound. All variations noted during the investigation needed to be confirmed by every team member in order to be considered legitimate.

With each action, the ghost hunters waited for a response. The hope was that any evidence gathered could provide new insight.

“We enjoy it. We go in really looking to get some answers,” said Harvey.

Case Results

California Ghost Hunters generally takes about two to three weeks to fully process evidence gathered from an investigation. Preliminary results, however, revealed relatively little activity in the house.

“You just never know when you go into an investigation what’s going to happen,” said Harvey. “Sometimes you get really lucky and you get a lot of good evidence. Sometimes you go into a place and it’s all scratching your head.”

The ghost hunters did note some questionable sounds within the house over the course of the investigation. Some team members thought that they potentially heard muffled voices and footsteps.

The team also experienced possible instances of paranormal activity in one of the children’s rooms. Some of the activity reported included a sudden decrease in temperature, increased darkness in the room and an EMF detector going off.

“I was a little shocked that we didn’t have more activity,” said Harvey. “Everything just seemed much quieter.”

Harvey later commented that the house seemed to “feel different” from the last time California Ghost Hunters investigated. He added that the reverend, who came after the last investigation, potentially cleansed the house of any spirits.

Still, Harvey remained optimistic that a review of the evidence would turn up new findings.

“Most of the time we don’t know that anything’s happened until we get back down, we get done with the investigation, get home and start to review it.”

Until the final evidence comes in, Harvey and his crew plan to continue their research into the paranormal. And with every California Ghost Hunters investigation comes a greater understanding of the unknown.

“A lot of these people are scared,” said Harvey while reflecting on his favorite aspect of ghost hunting. “They don’t know if they’re just hearing things, seeing things, over-dramatizing something or if it’s really happening. It’s very appealing to me to go back in and say, ‘listen, you reported these things and here’s what we have. This happened to us.’ And they can go, ‘Whoa, I had that happen too.’ So they feel better about what’s going on.”

The stories: 24 Hour Diner | Bicycle Kitchen | Club Hwood | Crime Scene | Flower Market | Food Trucks | Ghost Hunters
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