A paranormal activity

Michael Stockinger

Sacramento has a rich history, with plenty of historic buildings, including the Capitol, only a short drive from campus.

But there is also a downside to living here.

We have inherited a city full of the dreams, lives and deaths of those who lived here before us, some of whom are still among us.Most go unseen, but some try to contact us, play tricks on us, and in many cases, terrify us.

In any case, American Paranormal Investigations, Inc. is ready to investigate and unlike the movies, it isn’t armed with proton-packs, containers to trap ghosts, or pet ghosts; but more realistically, it is armed with psychics, a medicine man, and spirit specialists who act like mediators between our world and the spiritual world.

Led by Bender, a foster care social worker and Chippewa Cree Medicine Man, the group offers something that many other groups investigating the paranormal don’t: cleansing of unwanted spirits and blessings to prevent further hauntings.

“I am Chippewa Cree, a combination of the two. The Cree from Canada, the Chippewa from Minnesota,” Bender said.-“I learned through my uncle by watching what he does and practicing with him.”

“He taught me ceremonies and practices,” Bender said. “So I do blessings and things like that when necessary. I’ve done three and have been successful with each one.”

That’s what sets him apart, Bender said. “Other groups will just say that it’s haunted, but we will try to find some kind of solution,” Bender said.American Paranormal Investigations, Inc. began in 2001 when Bender moved to California from Montana, and joined a local paranormal investigations group where he met Aaron Berry, now vice president and ghost/spirit specialist at American Paranormal Investigations, Inc.

“With that group we just didn’t do anything, we talked a lot about going out and investigating places, but plans always fell in,” Bender said. “So Aaron and I broke off and formed our own group.”

In the beginning, Bender said the group was comprised of unreliable psychics and people who came and went, only later did the group have a stable membership.

“We had people come and then disappear ?” we didn’t know what happened to them,” said Bender who laughed at the memory. “Six to eight months later we had a stable group.”

During the last few years the group has grown. A Web site was created for the group. And recently, the IRS has recognized the group as a non-profit group.”We don’t have to worry about taxes, and we can apply for grants and accept donations,” Bender said. Money is used for equipment, travel and lodging, Bender said.

Becoming a non-profit is something many other paranormal investigation groups are doing today, no doubt as a stamp of legitimacy as well as for money.

The team gets calls from businesses, residences, and investigates all free of charge.

“We’ve been to some interesting places, some businesses locally and some residences,” Bender said. In Sacramento, many buildings have something, possibly of the paranormal, going on, Bender said.

“We’ve investigated the record store called ‘Records’ and have been there four or five times,” Bender said. “We’ve done quite a few investigations in the basement.”

The store, located on K Street, has a basement that was the original store face of the building that leads to the old sidewalks of the city, before the city was raised to avoid flooding.

“We’ve picked up feelings from a little girl there, a guy in a letterman’s jacket, an old man who walks around, and a transient who was quite proficient in obscenity,” Bender said.

The group has also investigated the Fair Oaks Cemetery.”There are a lot of intense feelings there, and we have some very interesting photos that were taken there,” Bender said. “I have a hard time breathing there.”

The most frequent calls the team gets are from those who believe that their house is haunted.

“We get two to three calls a month at least, with more calls around Halloween,” Bender said.

When an investigation request is made, either by e-mail or phone, the group sends over group member to do a preliminary investigation.

“I ask the people questions, like ‘have you done drugs recently?’ I ask them if they had a history of bad mental health,” Kinnersley said.

“We talk to the people to see who they are to begin with,” Bender said. “We try to look at the rational explanations of the things that are happening and if we can eliminate the possibilities of why something occurring, we will do the investigation.”

Once all other possibilities are ruled out the team meets an hour before the haunting to decide what equipment they will use and what their roles will be in the investigation.

“We do a walkthrough and get a feel for the place and decide where the hotspots are and setup our equipment there,” Bender said.

The team’s equipment arsenal is comprised of camcorders, 35 mm and digital cameras, monitors, electromagnetic field detectors which pick up changes in energy fields, non contact infrared thermometers which uses lasers to determine temperatures, flashlights covered in red cellophane, and voice recorders that are used to record EVP or Electric Voice Phenomenon ?” which is when voice recorder picks up voices and words that are heard at different frequencies.

“We also use our two psychics on occasions,” Bender said. “We bring them in cold, we don’t tell them about anything that we have learned about the place or the haunting.”

“That’s one of the ways we make sure it’s accurate,” Bender said. “This works very well as far as what they notice.”

Afterwards, the team reviews the information and decides if further work is needed, and they offer a blessing if needed, Bender said.

“When we do a cleansing, we are ridding the house of negative or bad energy.- I use a Native American ceremony where I bless the home using some medicines that were passed down,” Bender said.-“They are burned and prayers are said to assist with the cleansing.”

Bender said the group is very diverse with members coming from very different backgrounds bringing a unique style and interest to the group; there is an EMT, a financial advisor for Franklin Templeton, a marriage counselor intern, a social worker, and an ex-profiler for the Santa Clara Police Department.”We all came without a background as far as the paranormal goes, but an interest in it,” Bender said with smile.

In dealing with the paranormal on a regular basis, one would think the group members to be too serious about their research, but this isn’t always the case.

During one outing the team was wearing watches that members could communicate with, and while one member was investigating alone in a dark room, Bender and Berry were in another.

Berry then whispered “get out” into the microphone, which she heard and quickly hurried outside in terror, screaming for everybody to get out of the house as well.

Berry and Bender later told her it was just a joke.

“We have fun and when the tension gets too thick, we try to lighten it up and laugh,” Bender said.

If you know of a haunting or are just interested in the team, visit the “American Paranormal Investigations, Inc.” at www.ap-investigations.com.

Michael Stockinger can be reached at [email protected]