Saturday, June 28, 2014

Bad Apple

In taking my family's story public, I've received some pretty interesting emails over the past couple of years- emails from paranormal investigation teams wanting to visit our house; emails from prior owners/tenants of the house, dating all the way back to the early 1950's; even an email from a production company interested in featuring our story on a reality show.

A couple months back, I was contacted by the lead investigator of a paranormal team that wanted to investigate our house. I'd kind of closed the door on the whole investigation thing, as we've done it several times, but he was I agreed.

He brought his team out for an investigation, and the night went well- lots of evidence and experiences. A few weeks later, I was contacted again by the lead investigator, who wanted to collaborate on some different projects. The first was a presentation at a local historical society- he wanted me to join his group and speak about what it's like to live in a haunted house. So I took an evening out of my busy schedule and went, just for the heck of it.

My failed attempt at a selfie with the crowd before my speech.
Can you see the fear in my eyes?! (I hate public speaking.)

Following the presentation was another project- a documentary being made by film students about the paranormal investigation team. They wanted our house to be a part of the documentary. Sounded like a cool venture, so I agreed.  

We took an evening off from baseball and missed one of my son's games to stay home and conduct interviews. The following week, we stashed the dogs and the kids at various houses, skipped baseball again, and spent an entire day readying our house for the film crew and paranormal investigation team to arrive. Throughout the day, I attempted to contact the lead investigator to find out when everyone would be arriving- he'd previously given me a window of between 7:30pm and 9pm. He was unreachable. So imagine my surprise when the film crew arrived just after 6:00pm, WHILE I WAS IN THE SHOWER. Needless to say, I was none too thrilled. The last thing you want to be when you're preparing yourself to be filmed for an evening is rushed or stressed. And I was both.  

After a lot of hurrying around while the film crew mulled about outside, and still with no contact from the lead investigator, we eventually got it together. The film crew came in and began setting up, and my blood pressure began to lower. The investigation team arrived, and the lead investigator was full of apologies and excuses. We were good to go, right?

The film crew setting up.

Wrong. Within the first half hour of the paranormal investigation team arriving, I started to realize that there was something very wrong with the lead investigator. He was stumbling around, slurring his words, spilling food on the floor, passing out in the middle of conversations. He repeatedly claimed he was just tired, but I wasn't born yesterday, therefore I wasn't buying it.

As the night progressed, things got worse. His team covered for him as best they could- trying to get him to sit the investigation out, making excuses for him, etc. Being the stubborn guy that he is, he was his own worst enemy. He insisted on taking a film crew around the house while he "investigated."  

The highlight of the evening was when he came and sat on the couch beside me, and began asking me questions that made no sense and saying things I couldn't understand. He would pass out for several minutes at a time, then pick the conversation back up right where he'd left off. All the while, there was a camera just inches from his face, recording footage that was more appropriate for an episode of Intervention than a Ghost Hunters knock-off.

My husband's patience wore thin, and he went and got the other members of the team and asked them to remove their leader from the premises. They were understandably mortified, and tried their best to get him out of the house with the slight bit of dignity he had left. But he would have none of it. He argued, resisted, and caused a huge scene, all in front of the cameras. Finally, his partner was able to get him to agree to go home. We took a break, regrouped, and then resumed the investigation.

The team members that remained were professional, kind, and beyond apologetic. But there was just no recovering from the nightmare their boss had created. After a few hours of filming, they called it a night and headed home.

The next day, I received a couple of rambling voicemails from the lead investigator, apologizing and making all sorts of excuses. I'd already allowed him to waste so much of my time, I had no intention of letting him waste anymore. But then he sent me a written message that I simply couldn't ignore.  

In the message, he admitted to being on prescription medication during the investigation, but then proceeded to blame his team members for the majority of the things that went wrong that night. He blamed on them things that I personally witnessed him do, as well as things that never even happened in the first place- these people who tried so hard to cover for him, protect him, and fill in for him while he was high as a kite. None of them had a bad word to say about him, but he had nothing but bad things to say about them.

He was apparently unaware that I have a "no bullshit" policy, so he was surprised when I promptly set him straight. We haven't spoken since. I reached out to one of the members of his team to ask about the documentary, and she continued to apologize and make excuses for him until I set some facts straight for her. Seems he makes a habit out of lying to and manipulating others, and she was under some major misconceptions about what went on that night, as was the rest of his team. Once I informed her of what actually went on inside the house with him and the film crew while she and the rest of the team were outside scrambling to do his job for him, things really began to come together- for both of us.

On top of everything else, I found out that this "expert" had taken it upon himself to begin trying to recruit teams to come investigate my house, and was going to charge them a fee and keep half. Without my permission or authorization, he staked some sort of claim on our property and our story, and was trying to use my family to turn a profit and boost his reputation. Furious is not even the word.

It's my understanding that the group has disbanded since that catastrophe of a night, as he continues to try to lie his way out of it and misplace blame. The unfortunate thing is that some of his team members actually bought his lies and sided with him. But I suppose nothing can be done about those who refuse to see what's right in front of them.  

As for the documentary? Between the footage that was completely unusable due to the lead investigator's altered state, and the fact that the investigation that followed his departure was pretty much a complete mess because of his actions earlier in the evening, despite how hard his group tried to pull it back together- the portion of the documentary featuring our home and our story was left on the cutting room floor.  

All that time. All that inconvenience. All that drama. It was all for nothing. But one good thing did come of it, I suppose- I learned a very important lesson. I need to be more selective of the messages I respond to and the people I let in, because not everyone has my family's best interest at heart in all of this. Some people are only out for themselves- motivated by greed and the chance for exposure.  I guess in every bunch, there's bound to be at least one bad apple. If nothing else, I'm thankful for that reminder, I suppose.