When you live in Milwaukee and think your house is haunted, you don’t call Ghostbusters, you call a group like the Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee.
Michael Graeve, an investigator with the organization, has always been curious about the paranormal,although he considers himself to be a skeptic.
He joined other paranormal investigators, Bigfoot hunters and skeptics alike to discuss their work and attend lectures at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference at UWM on October 15 and 16.
“I don’t really believe a whole lot yet, but I’ve had some personal experiences that I haven’t been able to explain,” said Graeve. “Unfortunately, I haven’t captured those by audio or video to confirm what I’ve seen,so I always think maybe it was a mind game or my eyes playing tricks on me.”
Graeve said he doesn’t believe in ghosts but does believe in other aspects of the paranormal, like other dimensions. His group frequently investigates local homes as well as more prominent places, such as the Milwaukee Public Museum, the Riverside Theatre and the Milwaukee Theatre.
On October 13, Graeve’s organization led people through the Milwaukee Theatre, where a woman is said to haunt the bathroom. According to Graeve, while the tour group was in the bathroom, someone requested that the ghost flush the toilet if she didn’t want men in the room.
“And not even two seconds later, the toilet flushes,” said Graeve. “So we had a mad scramble of people thataren’t used to that, and they were trying to run away from it whereas we are used to it and we want to run towards it.”
The conference attracted a lot of local talent from around the Milwaukee area, including Milwaukee Ghost Tours and Investigations Founder Allison Jornlin, who spoke about historical Milwaukee hauntings in a lecture titled, “Milwaukee Forteana vol.II.”
One of the stories Jornlin discussed was about Father Theophilus Riesinger, a Capuchin priest in Appleton and Marathon, Wis. He traveled to Earling, Iowa in 1928 to exorcise a girl, rumored to be named Anna Ecklund.Jornlin said that the Earling possession was one of the cases that inspired William Peter Blatty’s book, “The Exorcist.”
“You know that pea soup vomit?” said Jornlin. “That’s her.”
Conference Director Tea Krulos presented Jornlin with a 2016 Wisconsin Researcher of the Year Award after her speech.
Although everyone at the conference shared a passion for the paranormal, only the most dedicated spend their weekends searching for answers to paranormal questions.
Jay Bachochin, founder of the organization Wisconsin Paranormal Investigators (WPI) Hunts the Truth,investigates homes and businesses that the owners believe to be haunted.
“We hunt the truth,” said Bachochin. “We’re going to debunk it first, prove it second.”
He has spent the last three years searching for Bigfoot and believes that he’s seen the tall, furry creaturetwice.
His most memorable sighting occurred in February while he was hiking with his four-year-old daughter. After 45 minutes of exploring the woods, they returned to their car. As they approached it, Bachochin said he spotted an auburn shape about 80 yards away from them that fled quickly.
“Now that one really got me because my daughter was there and I’m thinking if something can move that fast, whether I had a gun, a machete, how would I protect her?” said Bachochin. “At that point I was really ready to hang up my backpack and stop.”
Fernando Martinez, a member of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, also believes that he’s seen Bigfoot. He frequently explores areas of Wisconsin and Iowa with a local chapter of the organization.
“You see if you can find anything weird or peculiar about the area, and you look for different stick structures and prints,” said Martinez.
This was the second year of the Paranormal Conference. Local author and Conference Director Tea Krulos held the conference at the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center last year after publishing a book called “Monster Hunters,” which documents people who have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of the paranormal.
The conference took place on the second and third floors of the Union, with speakers lecturing in the Wisconsin Room and vendors holding tables in the Ballroom. The vendors ranged from paranormal organizations and allegedly haunted businesses to Butch Patrick, the actor that played Eddie Munster on the 1960’s television show “The Munsters.”
Misael Vasquez attended the conference as a fan of the paranormal. It was his first time at an event like this,but he enjoyed it and hopes to return next year.
“I’ve always been interested in the paranormal world and I thought it would be nice to see the stuff that happens around here in Wisconsin, just to check it out and see if it’s real or not,” said Vasquez.