WILKES-BARRE - For sale: Two-story single family home on South Welles Street, complete with washer, dryer, kitchen appliances - and ghosts.
Stacey Evans and her husband, Matt, are trying to sell her mother's house, but they're afraid its long-standing reputation as haunted might hinder the sale.
Enter investigators from nonprofit, Luzerne County based Deadline Paranormal to find out for sure.
On Sunday evening the house at 46 S. Welles St. swarmed with human activity as investigators placed cameras, recorders and assorted other electronic devices throughout both floors and the basement in order to check for paranormal activity.
Jim Fazzi and Tony Piontkowski, the veteran law enforcement officers who co-founded Deadline Paranormal, say the house dates back to the Civil War era and has a history of unexplained phenomena. Their goal is to rule out things with simple explanations and look further into those without them.
The house was built around 1860 by Augustus C. Lanning - "He's the guy they think might be here," Fazzi said, noting that one of the residents saw an apparition of a well-dressed man knocking on the door.
In the 1940s and 1950s there were two suicides in the house, Fazzi said.
He said since the 1970s, residents have seen apparitions including that of blood on the walls and floors; heard shrieks, moans, roaring noises, crashing sounds in the kitchen and scratching in the walls; and smelled an odor of decay. A resident allegedly found possible signs of voodoo: a tin containing a molar and chicken bones tied in the shape of a cross with a red ribbon.
The curving stairway up to the second floor seemed to be a focal point, Fazzi said. One story he heard was that of an infant who fell from its mother's arms, but instead of dropping down the stairs "wafted down gently."
"Basically, we think the house is active in the haunted way. It could be hexed, it could be something from the suicides hanging around," Fazzi said.
Stacey Evans thinks one of the haunts is her mother Katherine - also known as Kaye - Watkins, who died on Oct. 26, 2012.
Watkins' sister Judy Benson said the house was documented as haunted before Watkins bought it in 1980 - for cheap because of its reputation. But she agrees with her niece Stacey.
"She never wanted to leave this house, really, so she's probably still there," Benson said of her sister. "I believe she's there. She needs to move on and she doesn't want to move on. She has unfinished business."
The Evanses live in Whitehall and Stacey's brother Mark Watkins lives in Florida, so they have across-the-street neighbor Betsy Summers take care of the place and feed Watkins' two cats while it's up for sale.
"Betsy's a saint," Stacey Evans declared.
The Evanses tried Craigslist, but didn't get any serious offers for the house, so they just listed it with a real estate agent, Matt Evans said.
Members of Deadline Paranormal planned to spend most of Sunday night in the house, using conventional devices including cameras and digital recorders along with more specialized equipment like thermal imaging cameras, a REM pod that allows communication, and electromagnetic pumps that create energy for apparitions to draw from.
"We don't really look for orbs or anything like that. We kind of look for more proof than that," Fazzi said. "We look for the disembodied voices, EVPs (electronic voice phenomena) or full-body apparitions, which we have caught from time to time."
Rob Bresnahan wielded a Mel Meter, which detects electromagnetic fields and related changes in the environment. He announced a 3.5 spike in the living room, by the table, but it dropped back to 0.
"There you go. That's a strange occurrence," Fazzi said.
He explained that if the Mel Meter starts "spiking up to 3, 4, 5 and it's just all over the place, then we've got to look further into what's causing that."
On the steps, Adam Michaels used a thermal imaging FLIR camera but didn't find anything of note - at least with people standing around.
It could be days, or even weeks, before Deadline Paranormal members complete their investigation and make a determination.
But before they were even finished setting up the monitoring equipment on the back porch, the investigators got a hit. They flocked around a screen Bresnahan held, which showed video taken by a camera set up in the basement. An elongated white object, something like an electric eel, floated through the darkness and flitted away.
Stacey figured her mother didn't like all the strangers invading her house.
"If my mom was in her grave, she'd be rolling over," she said.