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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Ghost hunter seeks answers for the unexplained

Scholar by day, ghost hunter by night, one SE Campus ghost hunter steers natural curiosity to another realm in a pursuit for supernatural solutions.

Tom Bradford is a crew member for Researching Investigating Paranormal or RIP, an Arlington group founded by Robbie Prince that conducts paranormal investigations throughout the state of Texas.
Bradford said he became interested in the paranormal when he was a child because of several strange experiences he encountered. He recalls seeing full-size shadow figures walk past and described an unoccupied room where cabinet doors were inexplicably opened. He became a serious paranormal investigator about a year ago.

“I’ve always dabbled with it,” he said.

Though some of the places RIP Crew visits are confidential, others are not, Bradford said. RIP Crew has investigated haunts in Austin, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Seguin and other Texas cities.

“Seguin is one of the first towns in Texas,” he said. “There’s a lot of weird stuff that goes on there. It is one of the paranormal meccas in Texas.”

Bradford would not concede he has ever felt scared.

“I’ll tell you this: My hair stands up,” he said.

Recently, RIP Crew acquired a full-spectrum camera and laser thermometer to add to its arsenal of ghost-hunting gadgets, including infrared cameras, electromagnetic field detectors, voice recorders and a ghost box.

“They say spirits can pick words out of it [the ghost box],” he said. “I’m not a big fan of it. People like it because it responds.”

Once, while investigating a cemetery in Buda, Texas, the ghost box kept repeating “serial killer,” Bradford said. For the most part, RIP Crew tries not to provoke anything.

One local building Bradford has investigated is Six Flags Mall in Arlington, where he said he felt an unseen something about knee-high brush past him.

“People have said they’ve heard dogs barking from inside the mall,” he said. “I have a picture of some eyes reflecting back at me from the mall.”

Bradford said the photo appears to be a set of eyes glaring from within a dog’s head, which is sort of cocked. Although Bradford believes most of what is seen on TV is fake, his encounter sounds eerily similar to hellhounds on TV’s Supernatural.

“I’m not sure what I believe yet,” Bradford said. “That’s why I investigate.”

Although many interesting things happen, they are hard to prove, and reviewing hours of footage is time-consuming and not always fun, Bradford said.

RIP Crew has an audio recording from Turner Falls, Okla., where crew members asked if anyone was there and another voice [not theirs] can be heard saying, “Leave them alone.” Bradford said RIP Crew’s cameras once captured an image of a squiggly line zipping over a bed and through a bedpost after the last of the investigators had bedded down for the evening.

During a visit to Hill House Manor in Gainesville, Bradford heard a rather fierce growl. “Let’s get the hell out of here,” a fellow hunter said. But Bradford insisted they stay and try to find out what was happening there.

SE psychology associate professor Karl Robinson said everyone has his or her own opinions and beliefs about the paranormal.

“The goal of science is to come up with the answer that has the most support,” he said.

Robinson said many times people want to confirm their beliefs and do not look at all the contingencies.

“You have to be a critical thinker,” he said. “You have to open yourself up to all possibilities.”

If ghosts really do exist in the paranormal realm, science should be able to predict where the ghosts are, Robinson said. But so far, that has not happened.

“When you put it to the scientific method, it falls apart,” he said. “People have tried.”

Robinson said some groups seriously study the paranormal.

“I would just encourage people to do it with a critical mind,” he said.

SE psychology instructor Jose Velarde said some scientific journals deal specifically with the paranormal. However, it is a small community.

“I think as a scientist you are never against something, but you let the facts speak for themselves,” he said.

Scientists try to weed out the truth from the untruth, Velarde said. In science, nothing is proved. Instead, supporting evidence is offered, if found.

Velarde cosponsors the Socio-Psychology Club on SE Campus, which has considered conducting its own paranormal investigation. He thinks such an investigation would give students an opportunity to gain experience in the scientific method and encourage them to think critically.
“Maybe it pans out, maybe it doesn’t,” he said. “But at least we looked.”

Velarde said serious pursuit of the unknown is never a waste of time. If early astronomers had never gazed at the stars or Christopher Columbus had not explored America, we would not have the knowledge we have today. He thinks the desire to explore is a universal trait in man.

“Man is a curious creature,” he said. “We want to know what goes bump in the night.”

While investigating those bumps recently at the Palace Theatre in Seguin, Bradford monitored equipment, ate pizza and walked with small groups of ghost hunters through the vintage theater.

Among other activity, guests said they witnessed a plug remove itself from an outlet, scratches appear on the backs of two ghost hunters and a cell phone SIM card fried. Bradford said that sometimes happens on investigations.

Stopping near a padlocked projection room door in the upper balcony, Bradford asked a potential spirit, “Are you inside this room?”

Becoming active, the ghost box spurted what a radio producer interpreted as “Knock on it.”
“I’m knocking,” Bradford said pounding again.

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