Kary LaMaster is a stay-at-home mom. But by night, she and a team of friends set out to prove the afterlife exists, investigating haunted places in and around Cloverdale.
The 37-year-old ghost hunter started the Nor-Cal Paranormal Research Society in June, along with her aunt, Betsi Hamilton, Henry Duna and John Lorence, the skeptic in the group. Since forming the nonprofit, the four have conducted paranormal investigations at the historic Gould-Shaw House Museum and the Cloverdale Cemetery, where they’ve had hair-raising encounters.
LaMaster said a camera recorded a lot of light anomalies during an overnight visit at the Gould-Shaw House, considered the oldest home in Cloverdale. She said the light orbs felt like surging bolts of static electricity.
Duna, a consulting utility forester, said he felt something touch his hand and later his hair and scalp while inside the house. When they entered the attic, he said he felt really cold and had to put on a sweatshirt, something he almost never does.
The overnight investigation did not turn Lorence into a believer, even though light-sensitive cameras filmed an orb swooping down on him. The 38-year-old Cloverdale native and automotive body shop production manager said he felt nothing.
“All three of them see this and feel that,” he said. “I had no idea what they were talking about because I saw nothing and I heard nothing.
“I want to actually see it with my own eyes,” he said. “I don’t want to have to watch a video.”
A 2017 study from Chapman University found nearly 1 in 4 people believed in some kind of paranormal activity. More than half of Americans believe in haunted places, according to the study.
LaMaster said she has experienced phenomena such as lights switching off on their own since she was a young child, though her family told her it was her imagination working overtime.
“Looking back, I never knew who or what they were,” said LaMaster, a mother of two who has lived in Cloverdale for most of her life. “All I knew was they were there to torment and scare me.”
Organizing a group of paranormal investigators, she says, is her way of shining a light on mysterious forces and, perhaps, finding explanations.
Hamilton, a 49-year-old licensed vocational nurse-turned-massage therapist, said she, too, had similar ghostly experiences to her niece.
“You can feel their energy,” Hamilton said. “Sometimes it’s creepy and sometimes it’s not.”
LaMaster said she has heard footsteps running up and down the empty hallways at night in her house, which had been vacant for two years before her family moved in within the last year. After she smudged the house with sage and put olive oil over the front door, she said the footsteps stopped.
On an outing to the Cloverdale Cemetery, as she was taking a photo of Hamilton walking up ahead, LaMaster got a puzzling text from a South Bay friend that read “Charles and Annie say hi and want to thank you for visiting.” The friend had no idea LaMaster was at the cemetery. Neither LaMaster nor Hamilton knew who Charles and Annie were, and the women said they were surprised when they found themselves standing near the grave of Charles and Annie Smith.
Nor-Cal Paranormal Research Society
Find the group on Facebook or at https://tinyurl.com/y77ug6z7.