Local ghost hunters check into claims of paranormal activity



If there's something strange, in your neighborhood, who you gonna call?

In western Kentucky, it isn't the Ghost Busters you'd call, but the Phantasmic Ghost Hunters (PGH).

Investigators of the strange and paranormal, PGH duo Gavin Kelly and Paula Henson of Paducah spend their spare time exploring places most people avoid, hoping to find evidence of something many don't believe in: life after death.

Beginning today anyone can take a peek at what PMG has found by streaming their self-produced television series, "The Paranormal Journey," on Amazon Prime.

Each episode features a different investigation, a different story. For about two years Kelly and Henson have criss-crossed the Midwest and Southeast looking into claims of paranormal activity in abandoned homes, hospitals, asylums and schools.

"I'm interested in finding out, where do you go when you die?" said Kelly, an IT professional by day. "We're trying to prove the existence of life after death, by using equipment and experiments with sound, different energies. We like to either disprove stories or prove that there really is something there."

"I do it because of the stories," said Henson, whose "day job" is in customer service. "I live and breath research, he can tell you."

Their first investigation was into mysterious goings-on in Henson's nearly 100-year-old home on Paducah's Southside. Henson said she'd never had any problems until she remodeled the house following a fire. Things would move from where she put them last. She and her daughters would hear knocking on walls and on the pipes, she said. They heard whispers at night.

"We went ahead and investigated her house, just for kicks," said Kelly, who lived just a few blocks away at the time. "I had a Sony Handycam, a digital recorder and a digital camera, and I bought this device called a Ghost Meter Pro. That's the first piece of equipment I ever bought. I figured, what the heck. Why not?"

Henson did some research on her home and her land, tracing it back to what was once a plantation before it had been split into smaller lots. She found the name of the land's original owners and learned more about them in the "good old McCracken County Family History book" at the McCracken County Public Library. From there, she tracked down the family's descendants until she found one who would speak with her. The woman had records in her family Bible of a 5-year-old boy named Frederick dying of whooping cough in what was now Henson's home, Henson said.

"I was like all right, let's try this, let's investigate," Henson said. "And it interested me."

During that first investigation they said they captured a photo of an apparition and an "EVP," an electronic voice phenomenon.

"It was 2014 when we did that first investigation," Henson said. "We have learned a lot more since then."

They began posting videos of their investigations online, and within their first year got picked up by the Mississippi-based Ghosttales Television Network. That exposure brought them sponsors for everything from sensors to camera equipment to lighting. Eventually they got their deal with Amazon Prime for "The Paranormal Journey."

PGH investigations usually start with Henson hearing a story. If she hears the same story from enough people, she'll do a little research -- just like she did with her own home -- and see if the story matches the history. If it does, PGH may then contact the property owner for permission to investigate.

"We don't always find something," Kelly admitted. "If we go somewhere, and we don't get anything, we still put an episode together. We just focus on the history. Either way, it's a learning experience, for us and for the viewers."

Locally, PGH has investigated the Lloyd Tilghman House, the Hotel Metropolitan and several Civil War battle sites, though none of those investigations is included in the first season of "The Paranormal Journey."

"We have two or three places in Paducah that are still on our wish list," Henson said. "The Katterjohn Building is one. People have come to us with so many stories about that. C.C. Cohen's, too. We'd like to tell these stories, just so they can be known."

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