By CHRISTINE L. PRATT
MILLERSBURG -- They're pleasant, ornery and playful, and at least half a dozen of them live there, watching guests as they wander through the 28-room mansion.
That's according to the latest findings of the Central Ohio Paranormal Research Group, which returned to the Victorian House Museum on March 6.
And, although members of the group captured less than the 115 electronic voice phenomena captured during their Halloween visit, those they did record had better clarity, and for the first time ever, they obtained video evidence of a ghost interacting with one of two plasma balls, according to founder and senior investigator Rick Cosner.
The video shows the image of a hand come into the corner of the frame while a single finger touches and attracts the blue rays of light within the ball. Simultaneously, a drawn-out male voice is heard saying, "Weird."
It is followed by another male voice: "You know she was hit by that (presumably lightning)."
At the time of the recording Cosner was the only one in the ballroom where the recording was filmed. He was not near the plasma ball, and said he did not see any change in the light pattern and did not hear any voices at the time.
In fact, it was only after reviewing the recording several times that he saw the image of the hand, best visible at slow speed.
The video recorder also picked up several audio phenomena, including what Cosner interpreted as the voice of a young girl referring to the plasma ball as a "hoo hoo haa." While neither he, nor Nancy Cosner, also in the room, heard the voice at the time, both can be heard in the background talking and then spontaneously laughing, immediately following the observation by the soft voice.
Captured on an audio recorder, a woman's voice is heard in the ballroom saying, "Take me up to heaven."
During the setup process, an unknown male voice accompanies those of two of the crew as they yell between floors testing the equipment. There was no male with them and the voice, calling, "Hello," was not heard by those on site at the time, said Cosner.
Responding to the inquiry of an investigator, a woman's voice utters "Mike," when asked if she recalled him from a prior visit.
There was tapping and there were several incidents of cursing, captured within both the children's room and the lawyer's room. An affirmative response to a question suggests one of the spirits, a young girl, is named Dorothea, according to Cosner.
"It is our belief the Victorian House is indeed haunted by six to eight spirits if not more," according to Cosner's written report. "This was determined by the various voices heard in the EVPs between the two investigations.
"It is our opinion that there are no malevolent spirits that dwell at the Victorian House, and, in fact, from our evidence, they seem to enjoy the visitors that come through the house and sometimes can be very ornery. The Victorian House is as beautiful and rich in its history as it is a very haunted house," according to Cosner's report.
The investigation shows what many have suspected for years, according to Holmes County Historical Society President Beth Logan, who said she has never seen or heard anything otherworldly, but has felt strange presences and has had experiences with lights and music going on and off.
Some visitors, however, have reported seeing and having conversations with spirits in the house, she said.
With two investigations now completed, she and Historical Society Director Mark Boley said the opportunity exists to capitalize on something many have speculated over the years.
"I think some people now come for it, but they don't say it," said Boley, noting with completion of a second investigation "it sets the stage to promote bus tours and it opens the door to visitors who wouldn't have come to see it otherwise."
Perhaps the first scheduled event will be a public presentation of the findings of the Central Ohio Paranormal Research Group's investigations and other reported sightings. Twice on Oct. 30, the presentation will be given to an audience, with limited seating available.
The house will be open for self-guided tours that night.
Reporter Christine L. Pratt can be reached at 330-674-1811 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.