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Ghostly encounters

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EXTRA FEATURES: Truth Seekers Paranormal Investigations member Jeffrey Kingshows parents and children a few of the handheld devices the team utilizes on investigations and explains what their uses are before the kids hike.
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SPOOKY ADVENTURE:Two children look at one of the Truth Seekers Paranormal Investigations team’s handheld devices during the spirt box session at Okie Pinokie. The children were just a few of many that came out to participate in the kid’s hike/ghost hunt on Saturday hosted by TSPI.

BY Paige Conley - pconley@perutribune.com

It’s that time of year again when the leaves are changing, the days are getting colder and ghosts are coming out to play...at least that’s what Truth Seekers Paranormal Investigations aim to determine every time they venture to a new destination.

The team, made up of six investigators from Peru, Wabash, Converse and Mishawaka, met Saturday to host their second annual kids hike/ghost hunt at Okie Pinokie located near Ind. 124 and County Road 510 East. Even with the downpour of rain and a short delay, over 30 brave souls showed up to partake in the spooky adventure.

The crowd, three times larger than last year’s hunt, met at Burger King in Peru and caravaned to the site where the team explained a little bit about the equipment they use on their investigations and some history on the area.

While there are numerous legends surrounding Okie Pinokie including the most famous tale about Stephanie, the little girl who was tortured and killed in the woods, there is no actual documented proof on any of these stories, according to TSPI investigator Jeffrey King.

Even so, King acknowledges there are some weird things that go on in Okie Pinokie most likely due to the area being native land possibly even sacred.

“There are places out there that I think are just a lot of natural energy,” King said. “There are some weird things going on out there, some unexplained things, but we do our research to try and find the truth about what’s really happening and what’s going on.”

In fact, the team actually works to debunk many things that happen along their investigations before they assume it’s paranormal activity.

“Some of your paranormal groups try to make things appear paranormal that aren’t paranormal and we will try to explain it,” said TSPI investigator Hope Ripberger. “If there’s a reason behind something happening we’re going to try to explain why that’s happening and if we can’t we’ll call it paranormal.”

Since the team doesn’t really discuss anything that is false, the kids hike for King is more about nature and giving local children the opportunity to do something out of their usual routine.

“The kids hike for me is more of not a ghost hunt, but teaching them more of the nature and getting out and kind of experiencing things,” King said.

Similar to last year, the team led the families down a trail popularly used by horse riders until they reached a certain point in the woods where some “ghosts” were waiting to pass out candy to the children.

The team even conducted a spirit box session in which the team members asked questions to see if they would get any activity from some spirits nearby, a popular method used by the team to get a reaction from entities if it’s been a slow night.

In fact, the team has several go-to techniques they use on investigations to encourage interactions with spirits and sometimes they have to think outside of the box.

“We’d gotten no hits at this one location and we literally turned on a horror movie just to be casual and to see if anything would happen,” said TSPI investigator Amanda Kindley.

The team has also used trigger objects to get a reaction from spirits including toys for children or any object that resonates with the spirit to get it involved and even going as far as role playing as people from the time that spirit was alive.

“It’s necessary sometimes because they’re remembering what it was like,” said TSPI investigator Deena Simpson. “I mean you’re taking it back to where they remember.”

“It’s important to get their story,” Kindley said. “I mean, if the spirits are willing to talk to us it’s important for us to get their story.”

The team has been to several locations around Indiana including Roads Hotel, Atlanta, Monroe House, Hartford City, Thornhaven Manor, New Castle, Randolph County Asylum and The International Circus Hall of Fame and every time it’s a different experience.

All of the team members have different methods on how they approach an investigation including using their sense of feeling, scoping out the perimeter of the property to rule out any noises they might hear inside and just following their natural instincts on where to go first.

However, when an entity is near there are several concrete signs including an immediate increase or decrease in temperature, equipment begins going off or a member senses something around them.

“I think every one of us has been touched or something,” said TSPI investigator Corey Schnitz. “That’s a weird feeling.”

“Ectoplasm like where it feels like you have a spider web on you,” Kindley said. “It’s like a cold, electrical charge when you walk into something like that sometimes.”

While many of the entities they run into are harmless, there are some that are dark and angry which makes safety a number one priority, according to King.

“I do a lot of saging, a lot of different blessings, self-protection, things like that also because I feel there are things out in the unnatural world that can affect us and influence us,” King said.

Luckily there is a variety of religious beliefs within the group that makes covering every aspect fairly easy.

“Because we do have a very diverse team, we pretty much can cover each other,” Kindley said. “We just take care of each other.”

All of the team members recognize the importance of having faith in their profession.

“They are all as effective as the person believing in what they are doing,” King said. “That’s a very big part of anything. If you have faith and believe in what you are doing then that works.”

When going on an investigation, it’s important to remember to be respectful yet stern and to understand that not everything is paranormal.

The team tries to go on an investigation every month, but many times the investigation isn’t open to the public so the team can work on their skills and communication.

However, residents interested in learning more about TSPI and seeing some of the things they’ve come across on their investigations can find them on their Facebook page. Individuals can also stay tuned to their page for upcoming public investigations they may host in the future.