Paranormal group, MCGH, investigates the spooky with a scientific method.
By Nick Moretti
Photography by Jacob Giampa
Motor City Ghost Hunters are ready to believe you. Whether you’re seeing strange shapes, hearing inexplicable sounds, feeling cold spots or smelling a hint of ozone, there are very few paranormal phenomena new to this team. However, one of the impressive aspects of the team is that they are truly there to help those who call. They bring professional and investigative credibility to every case they deem worthy of attention in the form of the qualifications of its team members.
“We have a lot of very talented people. We’re not a bunch of folks going around on a Friday night running through a graveyard,” says John McCormick of Howell, retired and a co-founder of MCGH. “We have four professional researchers on the team who will spend 30 or more hours doing background research on a case; nurses who can verify if anyone who calls us may be having experiences due to their meds; and electricians and HVAC professionals who can go over the actual construction of a home or building to ensure it isn’t wiring causing the lights to flicker.”
Although most people who contact the team seem sincere, when dealing with the paranormal, one can’t be too scrutinizing. Brenda Ozog, 45, of Wayne is a social worker who is also involved in the vetting process. “Some people we have to rule out for mental health issues so there’s a questionnaire to fill out,” she says. “I’m a mental health professional, so I call them back after being contacted. We ask if they are diagnosed with anything? Are they on medication for anything that requires a med reading? Sometimes houses have such old wiring they can create weird dreams and hallucinations, so we always see if anything electrical or physical in the home could be the cause in the pre-investigation.” One such case did involve a man hearing voices through a baby monitor of conversations he’d claim to have already had. Alas, it was determined that his meds were the culprit.
When McCormick was 14, he visited a friend’s house in Howell that instigated his eventual forming of MCGH. His friend lived in an old house known as the “Pest House,” where, in the 1800s, people were sent to die of incurable diseases. He saw the spirit of a child in period clothing carrying a lamp, wearing a stocking cap, crossing from one doorway to another — a child believed to have been responsible for at least one of the two fires at the old building.
“When I was about 18, I started investigating with some of my friends here in Howell and it’s been on and off ever since,” McCormick says. “When we first started, there weren’t a lot of teams and a lot of them were going on Craig’s List doing meet-up groups. We didn’t like what we saw. It was mainly people meeting at the coffee shop and then trespassing at cemeteries.”
The original group was McCormick’s wife at the time and their two best friends. Thinking there was a more professional way to investigate, they started their own team, with McCormick being the only founder still on the team. Not just anyone is accepted. Applications are submitted and one is chosen among many applicants for any unique talents that strengthen MCGH. “We seek people out who have actual things to bring to the team,” McCormick adds. “We have very talented people, a team of 15 from all over the state of Michigan, including Houghton Lake, the east side of Detroit, Monroe, Flat Rock, Howell and East Lansing.”
One such talent is Christopher Handsy, 49, of Grosse Pointe Woods. Not only does Handsy have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, but he’s also a designer and engineer of heating and cooling systems. Handsy participated in nearly 20 investigations with the team. “I’m an unwilling skeptic,” says Handsy, who wants to believe but puts science before wishful thinking. His healthy approach to the paranormal started at an early age. “My interest began in fourth grade, watching TV shows like In Search Of …, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and scary movies like The Legend of Boggy Creek and The Mysterious Monsters,” Handsy says.
“This was also the era of books like Chariots of the Gods and phenomena like the Bermuda Triangle. Fortunately, we had a teacher who took it seriously and our library at school actually had media kits and film strips on this stuff.” Handsy became involved with the team in recent years after watching shows like Ghost Hunters and Haunted Pets, and found them using instruments similar to those in heating and cooling, and noticing they were being used incorrectly. Handsy decided to look around for a local ghost-hunting team and, after seeing McCormick’s picture, realized he was a heating and cooling customer with a duct cleaning business at the time who Handsy already knew. Coincidence? “I was impressed because they were doing things the right way, very thorough. People always worked in pairs, and there were strict procedures in how data was gathered and reviewed,” Handsy adds.
ALL BUT PROTON PACKS
As for that equipment used in hunting spirits, MCGH has an impressive arsenal that includes devices for detection (EMF meters, dowsing rods, pendulums, static electricity detectors, frequency detector, motion detectors, ion counter), energy emitters (EM pumps, EM white noise generator, Shumann resonance generator, ion generator, REM pods), audio recorders, video cameras and lighting enhancements, a thermal camera, UV lighting, modulation devices and environmental monitoring devices such as thermometers, humidity detectors, air particle counters and an anemometer.
While technical equipment and expertise go a long way, Ozog brings a bit of her own talent to the team, in addition to her professional background.
“I was always interested in the paranormal because I had a lot of visitations from deceased family members in my dreams,” Ozog says. “When I was 14, my great-grandma passed, and my mom and I got a call while we were in the living room and we saw a cross on the wall made of light, like something shining through the window except we didn’t know where it came from.”
She eventually found her way to the MCGH where her interest in doing historical research helped get her onto the team. “I’m into genealogy, so they gave me a chance,” Ozog adds. “I’m a member of Daughters of American Revolution and groups like that, so I happen to bring in some actual historic research experience to help us approach our research in a more professional method. There may be something in the past to back our findings.”
For McCormick, the team’s comradery is familial. He trusts his team and that’s why it isn’t easy to become part of it. “People who call us may have their own pictures or audio but we don’t use it in our cases, only material that we’ve actually captured ourselves,” McCormick says. “Because I trust every member of the team, if someone says he saw a dancing ghost, I will believe him.” The team has had people contact them only to attempt to deceive them, but with all the recording and camera equipment, a hoax perpetrated on the team is unlikely to succeed. It’s the sincerity of MCGH that truly sets them apart.
“In the period I’ve been doing this, I’ve found people from all different aspects of life,” McCormick says. “We may get a mother distraught because her kids are seeing things and she doesn’t know what to do because people will think she’s nuts, for example. The goal is always the same: We want to help people.”
Nick Moretti is the editor of “The Bell Witch Anthology,” available on amazon.com and has seen a ghost.
WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO CALL?
To ensure that MCGH isn’t wasting their time, there is a vetting process for anyone who contacts the team. Why might someone call? Perhaps one of these points may apply:
• Does it seem you lose items only to have them reappear later in a place you had already checked?
• Do cats or dogs seem afraid of certain places?
• Do lights or televisions turn on and off on their own?
• Have you heard your name called when you are alone?
• Have you heard footsteps when you are alone?
• Have you heard strange scratching or knocking coming from within the walls?
• Have you noticed any negative changes in your or another’s attitude?
• Do you feel at times you are being watched?
• Do you notice movement or shadows out of the corner of your eyes?
• Have you seen doors open and close on their own?
• Do you notice odd cold spots in centralized locations with no explainable origin?
• Do children seem to have unhealthy relationships with imaginary friends?
• Has anyone used a Ouija board or similar item in the location?
• Do photos sometimes appear with unexplained mist or orbs in them?
• Have any tragic deaths taken place in the building or on the grounds upon which it was built?
For more information on the Motor City Ghost Hunters, including many articles on their cases, public events and how to contact them, visit motorcityghosthunters.com.