11 Aug 2009
Lake Geneva women seek out the paranormal
Carol Breckenfeld left, looking at a ghost meter with audio alert on a headstone as Amy Tornow video tapes the event at the cemetery.
LAKE GENEVA — On a recent summer evening, Carol Breckenfeld and Amy Tornow headed to a small cemetery at the corner of County U and Eastside Road east of Lake Geneva.
Except for an occasional car passing on County U, the graveyard was deserted and quiet. The women's only companions were a news crew, voracious flies and a cool evening breeze.
Their job: Ghost scene investigation.
The Lake Geneva women frequently venture in cemeteries, old prisons, reportedly haunted houses and former asylums. They carry camcorders equipped with infrared lighting, digital voice recorders and electromagnetic field meters.
Their mission: To get answers from the beyond as to why "presences" still are roaming around Walworth County.
The two women run Ghost Scene Investigators, and they don't charge for their services.
"We would probably pay you to let us investigate your house," Tornow said.
"Our investigations are scientifically-based," Breckenfeld said. "If you get an electromagnetic field, there's a temperature drop, then something is making this happen."
Breckenfeld and Tornow say they use the EMF meter to detect presences, which normally are followed by a drop in temperature.
"We also use voice records because sometimes the human ear can't hear, but the voice recorder can capture it," Breckenfeld said.
The two women met in the 1980s, Tornow said. They became interested in investigating paranormal phenomena and creating equipment for the job.
Although most people would meet their efforts with a healthy dose of skepticism, that doesn't deter their confidence.
"I remember not wanting to tell anybody because people would think we're crazy," Tornow said.
"That was already a given," Breckenfeld joked.
Breckenfeld has a background in criminal justice. Tornow is a chef in Walworth County.
"I use my background in criminal justice to interview people," Breckenfeld said.
She said she also uses such techniques to provoke responses from presences, or ghosts, which they capture on their digital voice recorder.
As Breckenfeld walked through the cemetery near a dirty headstone with the name "Carolina" carved on it, she captured something or her EMF meter. The device, equipped with a backlit thermometer, also detected a tiny drop in temperature, which Breckenfeld said is typical in ghost hunts.
Clearly excited to have captured something, she kneeled down to ask a few questions.
"Do the cars ever bother you? What kinds of things bother you? Do we bother you?" she asked, always followed by about 20 seconds of silence during which Breckenfeld expects to get a response.
Then she joked: "Do the bugs ever bother you?"
After about 15 minutes, the investigators gave in to furious bugs and left.
"OK. Good night," she said while recording one last time.
"Is that the right thing to say to dead people?" she joked.
Later that evening, Breckenfeld used audio editing software on her laptop computer to process the recorded audio, heightening sounds and eliminating background noise.
But Breckenfeld swears there's a voice saying: "Keep him out," and, "Take him in ...yeah ...busted."
"In Savannah, Georgia, we had a man and two daughters, and they introduced themselves," Breckenfeld said. "Sometimes they just want to talk."