By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
MARGATE – A group of paranormal investigators enter a museum…
It sounds like a joke, but that’s how members of the Cape Atlantic Paranormal Research Society began their investigation into the paranormal phenomenon at Margate’s historic town hall, which houses the town’s historic artifacts, including a pair of Pat’s handcuffs.
According to Margate Historical Society museum curator Gwen Meade, who retired earlier this month, paranormal investigators visited the historical museum one afternoon last September. Although she gave them her usual tour of the museum, she didn’t learn until later in the tour the real reason for their presence. Before their tour ended, Meade learned that they were paranormal investigators.
“The first summer we were open, a woman came to take pictures and told us we had a ghost here because her camera wasn’t picking up images of the banned whiskey bottles,” Meade said.
Paranormal investigators Linda White, Joan Cousins and Mike Morrison visited the museum with their startling announcement that they wanted to do a full paranormal investigation of the site, which Meade was obliged to do.
“We’re helping anyone who’s in trouble and needs an investigation,” White said during the investigation’s big reveal on May 25.
White explained to a large crowd gathered in the Commission Chambers of Historic City Hall that paranormal events are anything that happens that can’t be explained by science and doesn’t fit the way the world works normally. This could include sightings, unexplained lights, sounds, smells, an uneasy presence, moving objects, doors opening and closing for no apparent reason, and hearing disembodied voices.
“Nine times out of 10 it’s a rational explanation,” White said, but during their extensive investigations, unexplained phenomena were uncovered. “We approach with caution and work in pairs, but no one knows what causes a haunting.”
Their surveys are conducted free of charge, but they accept donations to continue their work in the South Jersey area. Their investigations last for hours and include the use of infrared video cameras and sensitive audio equipment.
Cousins’ own home in Cape May provided much of the impetus for the creation of the paranormal investigative organization, she said. She no longer lives in the house she believes is haunted by spirits from the past.
The group presented the results of other investigations in the South Jersey area which included videos of floating orbs, shadows at the top of a set of steps leading from a basement and audio recordings of voices calling in darkness.
“Nobody knows where they came from, but I can tell you they exist,” White said, although the group isn’t interested in investigating demons.
Their presentation on the Historical Society Museum investigation also showed unexplained flashes of light captured using an infrared camera and a disembodied voice on audio equipment that cannot be explained.
The voice over audio provided the answer to a question White asked Morrison as Meade stood near the jail cell containing artifacts from the city’s first police department. On a shelf in the prison cell were several pairs of handcuffs. A liquor box cycling radio frequencies that normally record static, replied that the set of handcuffs belonged to “Pat”.
Further examination and conversation with family members of museum founder Pat Paterson confirmed that the handcuffs belonged to Pat, an undercover member of the Police Bar Patrol who assisted uniformed officers during the days of the Barbary coast. In fact, his name, “Pat” was engraved on the wrists.
Investigators also released infrared video showing an orb of light floating around one of the display cases. Although the video was recorded during the day, all shades were drawn tightly and the room was dark.
“I found it interesting,” said Margate resident Andrew Miller, 20. “I didn’t believe in ghosts, but now I’m in awe of all the equipment they use to capture these unexplained things. It would have been nice to see some demonic activity.
Another pair of visitors from West Atlantic County rushed to the presentation.
“We’ve always had an interest in the paranormal ever since my daughter Heather received messages from my late father,” said South Egg Harbor resident Donna Berchtold. “She was one and a half when he died and some of the things she said about him were true.”
Another time, while visiting Gettysburg, a tour guide told his other daughter not to touch the rocks. When she moved a rock, her sister Heather, who was taking photos at the time, felt her camera heat up and catch fire. A check of other photos revealed an “appearance” in the photo that cannot be explained, Berchtold said.
The Margate City Library Historical Society Museum, 1 S. Washington Ave., is open to the public. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Learn more at margatelibrary.org.
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