Paranormal Seekers to study strange occurrences at several local businesses
August 23, 2009
ANCASTER -- Something mysterious, and perhaps paranormal, is going on in Lancaster.
A few local business owners have enlisted a local ghost hunter to get some answers to some hair-raising events.
Tammi Jo's CafÃ© and Catering co-owner Tammi Neighbor has had several eerie events in her restaurant, 111 N. Columbus St., since opening less than a year ago.
"There's too many things going on for it to be a coincidence," she said. "One time the restaurant was full, and we heard a whistle come from the center of the building. Everyone turned and looked, but there was no one there."
Neighbor's list of spooky events include a vase moving from one location to another day to day, water faucets turning on by themselves and a crate of rags spontaneously combusting.
Neighbor researched the building's history and learned it formerly belonged to an occult group before they were driven out of town.
She contacted The Ohio Paranormal Seekers, which will make several sound and video recordings to determine if spirits roam the cafÃ©.
The group will investigate four Lancaster businesses, including two places on either side of Tammi Jo's CafÃ©.
Lead investigator Chad Houghs said he hopes to get answers to the questions that are sending shivers down people's spines.
"I've been doing this for close to 10 years. I never ever ran across three businesses right next to each other wanting us to do an investigation," he said. "With those three all experiencing something, it is more likely to not be just a coincidence."
He will analyze Tammi Jo's CafÃ©, Paperback Exchange and Westerman's Tuxedo Junction on Saturday. He will investigate the Tavern at the Mill Sept. 10.
All investigations are being done for free.
Houghs realizes there are skeptics. He acknowledges he was among the skeptics until a life-changing experience.
"After my sister was murdered about four years ago and I heard her voice -- that's when I started getting more serious with it," he said. "That changed my outlook on life."
The Ohio Paranormal Seekers was co-founded by Houghs and several friends in 2007. The organization investigates paranormal activity in commercial and residential locations.
Houghs doesn't have formal training in "spirit searching" but said he has had several encounters with spirits or ghosts, asking questions, hearing answers, and hearing footsteps walk toward him.
"As much as I've heard about this area, I am kind of expecting to find something," he said.
Houghs said historical buildings, such as the more than 100-year-old buildings in the 100 block of North Columbus Street, might be more likely to have paranormal activity.
"In an old building, there are so many different people that have made their mark on that place," he said. "Maybe someone really enjoyed being there. That's one theory in the paranormal world."
He said he heard a spirit talking to him while he stopped in at Westerman's Tuxedo Junction in Lancaster.
"I was sitting there talking to Vicki (Westerman, co-owner) and heard someone talking upstairs. I apologized for keeping the owner from her other customer, but she said she was the only one there," he said. "I thought she was messing with me, but I went upstairs and there was no one there."
Westerman said she didn't hear the voice, but she also doesn't doubt the possibility of the building, 113 N. Columbus St., being occupied by some presence.
"It would be interesting if they did find something," she said. "But I wouldn't move. I've never felt unsafe here."
Tavern at the Mill owner Ron Hawk said the building, 431 S. Columbus St., has been known as a haunted building for many years. His employees discovered an old newspaper article detailing the death of a 19-year-old man named Luke who was killed in the elevator shaft in 1919 in the Tavern.
"I'm not the type of person to believe in ghosts or spirits, but a lot of my employees do," he said. "Nothing they find, or don't find, will surprise me."
He said employees have mentioned hearing pool being played while no one was by the table and the juke box turning on for no apparent reason.
"A lot of my employees are afraid to go down in the basement by themselves," Hawk said.
He has no plans of moving his business from the 115-year-old building, regardless of the findings by the paranormal investigators.
"I have a lot of money invested there," he said. "I'm not going to let any supposed ghosts scare me out of there."
Paperback Exchange owner Leanne McClellan said on two separate occasions she left a piece of mail on her desk before closing and each time the items were gone the next morning.
"The first time it happened I thought I was losing my mind, but the second time made me think more," McClellan said.
"I'm the only one that works here. Unless we have a ghost, I have no clue where it went."
She said it will be business as usual even if ghosts or spirits are found to be staying in the used bookstore at 109 N. Columbus St.
"I don't anticipate they'll find anything, but it's all in fun," she said. "After all, everyone loves a good ghost story."