HAMMOND | With the sound off in the John Dillinger Museum, the buzzing of fluorescent lights above was the only thing audible until Danielle Garrison began to speak into the recorder she was holding.
"What year is it?" she asked the air. The other four people around her also threw out questions.
"Is there anybody here with us?"
"John, are you or your gang here?"
"What did you really think about (FBI) Agent Melvin Purvis?"
Garrison and the other visitors are members of Crossroads Paranormal, an Indiana paranormal investigation group that is hoping today's 75th anniversary of the death of infamous bank robber John Dillinger will spark some otherworldly activity in the Hammond museum. After all, it's home to his casket, original tombstone, a death mask used to make a posthumous cast of his face and the pants he was wearing in 1934 when federal agents shot him dead outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago.
Garrison and the other investigators said they are looking for residual activity -- an imprint on the artifacts that may play back like a recording.
"We might expect to hear a gunshot," she said. "We're not expecting John Dillinger to walk up and say, 'Hi.'"
After getting a walk-through of the museum Tuesday evening by Erika Scheeringa, director of public and community relations for the South Shore Convention & Visitors Authority, the group began its recording exercise, which intended to capture electronic voice phenomena -- possible evidence of paranormal activity.
The tour and recording session were part of a preliminary test. The group will be back today with the hope that the museum's first public display of the wooden gun Dillinger used to break out of the old Lake County Jail in 1934 and the energy of the crowd viewing the artifact -- along with the gun itself -- will trigger something special.
Investigators will play back the recording made Tuesday night in the hope of hearing from Dillinger or others in the pauses between questions.
"Nine out of 10 times, you won't get anything," Garrison said. "But it's that one time that's exciting."
For more information about Crossroads Paranormal, visit http://www.crossroadsparanormal.com.