25 October 2012

Local Ghost Stories - Gacy House and a Quick Survey of Modern-Day Ghost Hunting

This is Noony, your host for today's exploration into ghostly phenomena around Chicago.

Okay, that was my working hypothesis when I started to write my post for this week.  It quickly turned darker and more reality-based as I wandered the pages of one of my husband's local guidebooks, one that centers on ghost stories around the Windy City.  I came across the chilling factoid that I am a neighbor of John Wayne Gacy.  Not a literal neighbor, but in the sense that he lived, and murdered, in Norwood Park, just 3 neighborhoods away from where I sit, typing this.  Chilling.

Mug Shot of John Wayne Gacy
Photo from Wikipedia (1)
The interesting part about Gacy's murders is that several of them were solved by the use of psychic evidence.  In the book Chicago's Street Guide to the Supernatural, author Richard Crowe, with Carol Mercado, relate how the lot where Gacy's house stood continued to remain barren in two oval spots, photographed 3 times over 2 years.

Several theories abound about why plants would not grow on those spots.  The location of buried victims, the ground remained disturbed until new owners purchased the lot and changed the physical address.  The land recovered after that change and grass finally grew on the site.

Despite this, speculation has surfaces regarding other possible sites used as dumping grounds by Gacy.  His construction company worked all over Chicago.  He was convicted of thirty-three murders, but authorities don't know if there are more bodies that have yet to be uncovered.  Other psychics have attempted to discover signs of his victims.

The use of psychic phenomena in criminal investigations is viewed with skepticism by many in law enforcement, and with good reason.  Some so-called psychics have been charlatans, bilking people out of money and raising false hopes.  On the other hand, there have been verified discoveries by psychics that have lead to the arrest of criminals, so it's hard to say with black-and-white certainty one way or the other whether psychic phenomena are empirically true or not.

In the last few years, the public has grown more fascinated with the possibility of psychic phenomena.  Shows like Ghost Hunters, now on the SyFy network, detail the work of real paranormal investigators armed with modern-day technological tools to support their psychic detection.

Dean Radin has researched consciousness and related phenomena for over 20 years and has worked on psychic research for the government.  He ran the paraphsychology program at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, when I lived there, and the program was greeted by great fanfare in the press.  (I regret not going to study with him, actually, since that would have been an interesting, and unusual, course of study.)  My point in bringing him up, though, is that not all psychic research is by new age devotees.  There's some pretty heavy science behind trying to figure out, conclusively, whether or not this stuff exists - and, if it does, to what extent and in what ways.

Curious about these practices, I wandered over to Meetup to see if there were others who decided to try to find Casper with an EMF meter.  It turns out there are many groups who meet on a regular basis to do just that.  There are six groups just in the Chicagoland area.  If you're curious, head over to Meetup.com and type "ghost hunting" in the search box.  Perhaps a group meets in your town?  If not, why not start one?  You might find the next local murder house.  ~shiver~

1.  "John Wayne Gacy," Wikipedia entry, Photograph accessed 10/24/2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wayne_Gacy

2.  "Biography," Dean Radin's website, accessed 10/24/2012 from http://www.deanradin.com/NewWeb/bio.html

3.  "The Top Ten Best Video Clips From Ghost Hunters (TAPS)," YouTube, accessed 10/24/2012 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciHf4WXKY4E

4.  Chicago's Street Guide to the Supernatural:  A Guide to Haunted and Legendary Places In and Near the Windy City, by Richard T. Crowe with Carol Mercado, Carolando Press, Inc., Oak Park, IL, Second Printing, 2001

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