Another close call for PSI [photo by Paul Benninghoff]


PSI pokes around bumps in the night

The Region is steeped in colorful history. And, according to a local group fascinated with otherworldly phenomena, it is fraught with the mysterious.

The area is home to numerous haunted sites, including homes, businesses and, not too surprisingly, cemeteries. That's what the Paranormal Society of Indiana has discovered after numerous investigations.

The group is composed of Northwest Indiana residents Jim Haniford, Michelle Bugarin, Wesley and Valerie Leach, and Paul Benninghoff. They met through the Indiana Ghost Trackers in 2003 where they gained experience in paranormal investigations and formed their own group two years later.

Members are motivated by a desire to explore what lies beyond the veil of ordinary human existence and to help others understand the reasons behind ghosts and hauntings and overcome the fear triggered by the unknown.

PSI's cases can take members all over the area and demand dogged determination.

"We are like detectives," Haniford said. "We need to look at everything. From what is in the environment, family dynamics and the cultural beliefs and traditions, not just of the client, but of the beliefs and traditions of the possible ghost. For it may give us a reason as to why the deceased person is still hanging around."

Each case is unique, and the group adapts its approach accordingly. Some cases can be solved through counseling over e-mails. Others may require an onsite investigation and historical research on the location at the center of case.

One of the inherent difficulties in each investigation is determining whether a client's experience is, in fact, paranormal in nature. PSI attempts to rule out natural occurrences as the cause of bumps in the night, eerie feelings in a dark corner of a basement or odd temperature shifts in the air. Once everyday possibilities are discounted, PSI explores other avenues.

The group's most memorable case to date involved what members considered to be the most haunted location in The Region: the old Porter County Home, which has been demolished since.

The building was used as a poor farm in the late 1800s and well into the 1900s, housing the impoverished, transient and mentally impaired. People who encountered unexplainable occurrences reported doors opening and closing, disembodied voices, ghost sightings and the playing of period music from no apparent source. Suffice it say, the home was PSI's favorite place to investigate.

For someone experiencing paranormal activity, PSI suggests keeping a detailed journal of events that document time, place, date, general mood before and after the event, weather conditions, people present who experienced the activity and each person’s perception of the experience. With such detailed information, a lot of answers can be gleaned and a cause for the activity may be discovered.

Those looking for assistance with paranormal activity can contact PSI through its website, administered by team member Michelle Bugarin, at Local investigations within the area are performed free of charge.