This interview on Ghost Hunting Tips from Dwayne Claud will inspire many who have wanted to get out and try ghost hunting, but just weren't sure how to go about it. Mr. Claud is a published author of several books on the subject of ghost hunting and the paranormal as well as the Director of Western New York Paranormal of Rochester. Dwayne shares his experiences ghost hunting, both good and bad, with LoveToKnow Paranormal.
Interview: Ghost Hunting Tips from Dwayne Claud, Paranormal Investigator
Dwayne, how did you become interested in ghost hunting?
I have always had an interest in the paranormal even as a young child. It was perhaps my curiosity about life beyond death and whether there are things around us that we can't see. Although I never had a personal experience until I was much older, the burning curiosity was still there. I was in my early twenties doing public relations and advertising for a commercial haunted house when I ran across a posting on a website that talked about a penitentiary in Ohio that was letting people stay overnight and "hunt" for ghosts. This intrigued me. I spoke with the organizers of the ghost hunts at great length and they even shared information with me about another ghost hunt that they did in a different part of the state. This sparked my interest, so as an early birthday present for myself, four of us ended up trekking out to the Mansfield Reformatory in Ohio.
It was quite the trip; the area of Mansfield we stayed in was scarier than the penitentiary - straight from a Stephen King novel. I remember walking into a small diner where everyone became silent and turned to watch us until we went over and sat down. Now that was just down right spooky. Anyway, our small group of adventurers went on the ghost hunt not knowing anything about what we were doing. We had two people with psychic abilities, a non-believer and then there was myself, anxious to see a ghost or experience something. I was the only one that didn't. In fact, it was the non-believer that had most of the experiences. Go figure.
It was about a year later that I had the opportunity to do a tour of an old asylum here in Western New York now known as Rolling Hills. I went through it with a young high school student doing a report on its history and the legends of ghosts that were there. I followed along snapping pictures, capturing some very interesting photographs I just couldn't explain. Several individuals that I sent the photos to told me that they were spirits. My curiosity was awoken more, so I decided that it was time for another trip to Ohio. This time we went to Dresden Ohio, to a location known as Prospect Place. Let's just say that the things that I experienced there went far beyond what I ever really expected to happen. It was an experience that many of us battled through for the next six months to a year.
What was the first place you went ghost hunting, and what were the results?
I would have to say my first ghost hunt was actually the Mansfield Penitentiary in Ohio. The results were, well, less than spectacular. I have rolls and rolls of 35mm film with nothing on them to prove anything. I really think the lack of "results" was due to the spirits just not showing an interest in me the evening we were there, and really a lack of experience in paranormal investigating. Since then, I have returned to Mansfield and picked up lots of great things. The experience just goes to prove that things don't always jump out and say boo from the darkness, and spirits aren't always cooperative. The lesson learned is to get as much education and experience as you can and persevere.
If you had to make a list of basic equipment for a ghost hunter, what would it include?
I would suggest that any beginning investigator be armed with a minimum 6.0 mega pixel digital camera for taking pictures at the highest resolution, a voice recorder and an led flashlight. I personally use green to save my night vision. Keep your senses wide open to the possibilities, and always keep your faith in your back pocket for protection and guidance.
Why did you decide to write a book on Rochester, NY haunts?
There are just so many wonderful haunted places throughout New York State that I thought others should know about them. Certainly you can do a search on-line to find some, but they are not the same ones. In Rochester Haunts and the follow up books Finger Lake Haunts (fall 2009) and Southern Tier New York Haunts (Spring 2010) we look at a wide variety of places that not only include local urban legend, but also the experiences, the history and the paranormal investigations behind them. I decided to do these books to blend together all of these wonderful aspects of those locations since no other books have done that.
Did you investigate any of the haunted areas in Rochester with your group?
Oh, certainly. Western New York Paranormal investigated a great many of the locations found in Rochester Haunts including Rolling Hills, Geva and the Auditorium Theatres, Rochester Armory, Eastman Dental Dispensary and Valentown among many others.
Do you have a particular favorite haunted spot in Rochester?
I would have to say that my particular favorite in Rochester is the area around Mount Hope Cemetery. There are so many wonderful stories and experiences from around that cemetery that when you even just walk around the perimeter, any investigator is bound to get something with EVP, photographs or just speaking with roaming spirits using dowsing rods.
Are there any things that a new ghost hunter shouldn't do?
One thing that television shows like Ghost Hunters do that I highly recommend NOT doing is provoking spirits. You see these shows where investigators go in and yell at spirits, call them names and just "poke them with a stick" to get a reaction. Ghost hunters need to beware that the reaction they can get isn't one they may expect. I once watched a 300-pound man who was over six-feet tall brought to his knees by a spirit strangling him just because the investigators wanted the spirit to prove it was there.
You've also written a book, Baptism By Fire, about demonology. Would you share a little about it?
Baptism By Fire is a book specifically about cases involving the demonic that have occurred in western New York. It contains three specific cases. One involves a demonically infested home and the owners that were trapped there. Another is the case of a woman experiencing a possession, and the third is my own personal journey that started me on my path. Everything happened exactly as documented in the book. It's a look into the world that lies in the darkness where demons are. It gives investigators some benchmarks of what to look for along with some evidence for them to consider.
Many ghost hunters are worried about running into a demon during a ghost hunt. Do you have any advice for them?
As I told someone once, if you read the back of our team shirts, it reads- "PARANORMAL INVESTIGATORS: If you see us running, you'd better try to keep up". If investigators go to enough locations, at some point they will run across a demonic entity. They are nothing to mess with because they can destroy your life. I've seen it happen even to the strongest. My best advice is:
- If you know there is a demon at a location, or suspect one, don't go. Get in contact with someone who has experience.
- Say a prayer of protection before you go into such a location.
- Say a prayer of cleansing before you leave a location. Always be alert, and keep your faith in your back pocket. It is just as important as your scientific equipment.
Do you have plans to write any more books on ghost hunting in the future?
In October 2009, Finger Lake Haunts: A Ghost Hunter's Guide will be released, and in February 2010, Southern Tier New York Haunts; A Ghost Hunter's Guide will be released. Both books are published by Schiffer Books and will be available locally in Barnes & Nobles, Borders and Walden Books. They will also be available on Amazon. Another demonology book is on the horizon as well and due out in the spring.
Individuals interested in learning more about Dwayne Claud can visit his blog at Dwayne Claud - Demonologist.