Sun Newspaper
Ghostchasers: Video and digital cameras, electromagnetic field analyzers, divining rods, and motion detectors are among the many pieces of equipment used by Port Charlotte's Scott W. and Ellen "Sprout" D. while investigating paranormal activity.
06/28/04
Who ya gonna call?
They're ghost trackers, not busters.

PORT CHARLOTTE -- Talking to Ellen and Scott about ghosts, you almost feel like you've been sucked into the commercial in the movie, "Ghostbusters."

"Are you troubled by strange noises in the middle of the night? Do you experience feelings of dread in your basement or attic? Have you or your family ever seen a spook, specter or ghost? If the answer is "yes," then don't wait another minute. Pick up the phone and call the professionals..."
However, this pair just tracks. They don't bust.
"When we tell people we ghost hunt, they say 'really?' And there's a pause," Scott said. "And then they'll say, 'You know, this one time....'" "Everyone has a story to tell," Sprout said.
The two have lived in Charlotte County for more than 20 years and have only started Peace River Ghost Trackers recently. It began when Scott took a picture of his car being repainted -- and there was an odd aura that seemed to be floating over the roof of the car. "It kind of looks like smoke," Scott said, showing the picture. "But no one was allowed to smoke. And no one was painting at the time."
That was the trigger for the two to begin researching ghosts and paranormal activities. Armed with digital and film cameras, tape recorders, and motion and electromagnetic field detectors, the two have been invited to cemeteries and Charlotte County residences by owners who have experienced weird, unexplainable sounds, smells and sights. "You have to be a doubter first," Scott said. "You have to eliminate every reasonable explanation."
They do not name local places they have investigated, stating they do not want the owners harassed by thrill seekers or the curious. Plus, Sprout said, "the owners don't want others to think they're nuts."
Scott compares most ghost tracking expeditions to fishing -- you often come up empty-handed. "It's a pain," Scott said. "Sometimes, You have hours of footage, and there is nothing. And you're like, 'this sucks.' You have to really pay attention sometimes to catch something."
And there have been unexplained things caught on both film and audio tape. Muffled voices, when no one is around. Then there are the "orbs." Perfectly round glowing objects in pictures. Skeptics believe it is simply dust caught in the image. Ghost believers think there may be something else to it. Then there has been the equipment that dies for no apparent reason, only to revive again once they leave the area being investigated. "I usually carry at least 40 rechargeable batteries with me," Scott said. And then there are the "mysterious" pictures that have perfectly explainable answers. Rain. Pollen. Shadows.
Sprout and Scott were sent photos from a house owner, convinced he had captured "streaking" paranormal activity. He was disappointed with the couple's answer. It wasn't a ghost, a spook, a specter or a Poltergeist. It was a camera shutter set at too slow a speed. Shadows can be particularly problematic. "Palm fronds are the worst," Scott said. "We had a photo of this beautiful woman with long hair. We were like, 'Whoa.' We zoomed in and figured out it was the shadow of a palm frond."
The two said they also try to screen people who claim to have a paranormal experience. "We'll ask people if they are on any kind of medication," Sprout said. Sprout said they do not randomly investigate cemeteries in the middle of the night. For starters, it's illegal. Secondly, it's dangerous. Feet can find holes in the ground not visible to the eye, sending people sprawling. And that's milder than falling face first into an open grave.
Like rollercoaster enthusiasts that visit amusement parks nationwide, the couple has traveled to some notoriously haunted places like St. Augustine, the Myrtles in Louisiana and Bachelor's Grove Cemetery in Illinois. Savannah is on the list of places to go. For the most part, places have been overrated, they say, but they have had some experiences, good and bad. Some they don't talk about. And some things, they just don't do.
They don't handle demonic possession. If you're looking for an exorcism, you'll get referred. As for skeptics, Sprout and Scott aren't offended. "If that's their thing, that's fine," Sprout said. "Until you have an experience," Scott said.
"You may not. But once you do..." Peace River Ghost Trackers can be contacted at www.peaceriverghosttracker.com .
By: Renee LePere Staff writer