Hunting Paranormal Activity in South Bend
Do you ever get the feeling that someone is watching you but there's nobody there? The hair on your arm raises up, your eyes start to water and you feel a chill run down your spine. Ghost hunters, like the Michiana Paranormal Investigations team, follow that chill. They chase it. For Halloween, I chased it with them.
That chase took us to the Birdsell Mansion in downtown South Bend. Built at the tail end of the 19th century, the monumental house has countless rooms spread across four hand-crafted stories. A real haunted mansion, if you will.
But we weren't the first group to look for ghosts in the house.
The owner tells me a group of investigators visited recently and didn't exactly treat the house, or its alleged ghostly inhabitants, with respect. Jeff Price with Michiana Paranormal says the spirits didn't like that.
"They said they had items thrown at them, someone was thrown down the stairs, someone got scratched, and it seemed like when they came in the weren't taking it very seriously," Price said.
Sounds scary, right? But for paranormal investigators it sounds exciting. The mansion's owners called MPI, which tries to draw a sharp line between "ghost hunting" and investigating paranormal activity.
Our investigation took us down the stairs to a dusty room in the basement filled with books older than me by about 100 years. The last time MPI was in that room, they don't think they were alone because they heard someone whispering to them on their audio equipment.
This time around, the house caught the team off guard--not because there was a lot of paranormal activity, but because there was almost none.
"Now, does that mean there's nothing there? No, it could have been an off night," Price said. "If it is truly haunted, whatever is there couldn't respected us and didn't want to bother us."
For MPI, it's okay they didn't find anything because they just want to help and the lack of evidence either means nothing is there or nothing malicious is there.
But we still have one more building to investigate.
Enter the South Bend Civic Theatre. Built in 1916, it's another iconic part of South Bend's history (a supposedly spooky part of its history, that is). Executive Director Aaron Nichols has heard plenty of stories from employees over the years.
"You talk to almost anyone here at the Civic and if you’ve done a couple shows here you’ve had an experience," Nichols said. "If that is just a tap on the shoulder in the scene where there’s nobody behind you or you go off stage and suddenly there’s someone who shouldn’t be where they are and you go and look again and they’re not there anymore."
Sounds like we came to the right place, but nothing really caught our attention until we listened back to our very first recording session. It sounds like a girl humming or singing but listen to it and the video above and decide for yourself what it is.
"[It's] not necessarily a ghost, but something that's paranormal and paranormal means something unknown," Price said.
We probably won't ever know for sure what made that sound but that's what makes paranormal activity so mysterious—so spooky.