The Elms, Excelsior Springs, MO: July 4, 2020
The first stop on BS Paranormal’s Haunted Road Trip 2020 was The Elms. It was about eight to nine hours from my house in Colorado (with stops). Once I arrived, I was fairly nervous about my odds of getting permission to investigate. I checked in to my room, which was not a traditionally haunted room, and I took five trips from my vehicle to my room to get the gear, suitcases, and food/drinks all up. My room was 204.
Upon getting situated in my room, I went downstairs to speak with Jay, who was working the front desk, but also runs the Friday evening ghost tours at The Elms. We spoke about the stories and me ghost hunting. I was given permission and free reign to film anywhere in the hotel, as long as I signed up for the ghost tour. I signed up, but it wasn’t for a few hours, so I went upstairs to investigate the room and take a nap.
Despite not having a traditionally haunted room, I was informed by Jay that most people who have worked and do work at the hotel do believe that the building itself holds spirits. The stories and the paranormal energy is everywhere, not just a specific place. Though, some places have more powerful stories than others.
Upon investigating my room, I had one occurrence that I could not immediately or perfectly explain. My EMF (electromagnetic field) reader went off at the foot of my bed. My phone was not close enough to the device to set it off like that, and when it first went off my phone was far from me. I grabbed it to film as the weird readings happened. That was the only experience I had in my room. I finished up the investigation and took a nap, filming me sleeping.
When I awoke, the first thing I did was go downstairs to speak with Jay some more. He allowed me to read a notebook of haunted experiences at the hotel by guests. Some of them were clearly made up, but some of them were subtle and interesting enough to catch my eye. One of my favorite haunted hotel room tropes is objects moving when you turn around. There were multiple entries where that happened. I was hoping to catch something that dramatic happening on the camera.
After dinner and the fireworks show (it was Independence Day), the ghost tour began. Jay hosted. We went around the building. Two places stood out to me. First, the fifth floor stories, and the Ballroom. The ghost tour was informative and a great guide on where to spend my energy investigating for the evening.
After the ghost tour, I spoke with the evening manager Austin, and the night clerk, Cameron. They were awesome, and we had a lot of great exchanges of ideas. As we spoke, the evening died down a bit, and I went into the ballroom to investigate.
Jay told of two big experiences in the ballroom that made me want to spend significant time in there. First, he saw a blonde woman dressed like an employee walk through the room, flip her hair, and vanish. Second, there was a kid at an event who said a man named “Ace” was in the storage closet. So, I wanted to attempt to find both.
I used my thermal camera, EMF reader, audio recorder, and my phone (which I used as my regular camera). I did get one odd reading off and on throughout the hour session in the ballroom, and that still doesn’t have a satisfactory explanation to me. I also had my EMF reader buzz in my hand on one wall, once, that I was never able to replicate. There was one wall, the wall the bordered the ballroom from the kitchen, that gave off really high readings. When I went to get Cameron to witness, thereby support, my experience, he was super busy, but I met two wonderful people who joined in and completely changed my night.
I met Dawn and Kira, a mother and daughter. They asked to join me, and my audio and cameras were out of batteries, so I figured why not. The three of us went to the ballroom, where we used the EMF reader more. The wall against the kitchen was still high. I went into the closet where “Ace” was supposed to be and got really high readings. Finally, we went to the wall that made my EMF reader buzz, and nothing. I could not replicate it, so that is a bit odd to me.
Dawn suggested we check out all of the floors. The fifth was closed, but we went down the halls of floors one through four. We even went into the Truman Office, which for me, a historian, was pretty awesome. Throughout the evening we got some readings that would start to connect in my mind of what is actually happening at The Elms.
The Evidence and Reasoning:
The evidence at The Elms is light to say the least, but I had only one night, it was loud and busy, and I was on my own with my equipment most of the night. With Dawn and Kira, I only used the EMF reader, nothing else.
I want to transcribe evidence chronologically (you can find the video on our YouTube page). First, there was the odd EMF bump at the foot of the bed. I have an explanation, but I am not too happy with it. I chalk it up to the air conditioning kicking on and flooding the room for a few seconds with electromagnetic energy. My phone was not close enough to the device to make it act up in any way, and it only lasted a few seconds after I grabbed my phone and started filming. So, that is a strange one to me, but the A/C is a decent enough explanation, I think.
Second, during an EVP session in my room (204), it did sound like a whisper occurred under my voice once while I was talking. I am honestly not sure what it could be, and it is the only piece of evidence from the Elms that I do not have an explanation from. That is also in the YouTube episode.
Third, while I was downstairs, there are noises on the recorder from the bathroom. Two “hello[s]” can be heard and a “Go on, get out” can also be heard. I did not ever hear the people next to my room while I was in my room. The party outside was loud, but not loud enough to be heard so clearly on the recorder. Nevertheless, the logical explanation is that those voices were coming from the bathroom next door.
Fourth, while I was napping, there is the sound of something moving across the floor. It is faint, and I know our viewers would need headphones or to turn their audio up loud for that part, but the sound is there. I didn’t even catch it. Bradley did upon his review of the audio. I think it could be one of three things: One, paranormal; two, a fart; or three, a snore. Those three things are my conclusions with that.
Fifth, After I came back to the room, immediately after on the ghost tour, the camera on the laser grid caught an “orb.” Both Bradley and I completely discredit the existence of orbs, because that could be dust, bugs, or debris that catches light. However, there are plenty of people who do believe in orbs, so we include them in every video when they come up.
Sixth, this is the most “compelling” evidence for the paranormal at The Elms. I was taking pictures of the halls, windows, and staircase areas on the tour, because their are stories of things appearing in the stairs. I did catch an image that some people I shared it with think is the blonde woman in a worker’s outfit. I was trying to see if anything would pop up as a reflection, and where the window is reflecting a chair and lamp, their seems to be a blonde woman. I do believe the only thing happening in the picture is a glare on top of the lamp and couch occurring just right to make it seem like it took an image of a spirit.
Finally, the last thing to note on this investigation is that the journey of Dawn, Kira, and I, which started in the ballroom. I had high EMF readings along the wall that borders the ballroom with the kitchen. That was the only consistent thing in the ballroom. The wall that vibrated my detector no longer did anything, and the random hits near the one pillar never came back.
The three of us did look into the closet more, and I went much further in, reading the wires along the wall with very high hits. Like, 22.5 milliGauss. We decided the ballroom was inactive either way and decided to check the other floors. Each floor continued to add up to the same thing: The same wall along the ballroom, going all the way up the hotel had a consistently high EMF reading.
High EMF reading caused by wiring or electrical issues are believed by some, with minimal scientific evidence to support it, to cause headache, lightheadedness, dizziness, paranoia, hypertension, and even hallucinations in high doses for substantial periods of time. The three of us (Dawn, Kira, and I) reminded ourselves that during the ghost tour Jay brought up those feelings as well from guests who experienced things. He, himself, even stated he had feelings of heaviness or light-headedness.
By the end of the night, I was left with a major conclusion based on five hours of investigating. The Elms is a giant fear cage. A fear cage or EMF box is a space where high EMFs are in the air and are impacting people physiologically. If there are entire walls giving off the reading that go up the whole building (and Dawn, Kira, and I did discover them), then everyone might be under the influence of EMFs rather than paranormal activity.
I do believe, however, that The Elms did not tell me all her secrets. I want to go back for a more significant period of time and investigate more thoroughly. The weird hit in the room, the EVP under my voice, and the picture leave me curious enough to want to debunk and/or discover more. So, do I, Scott, believe The Elms is haunted? Right now, no. But, that is pending another investigation.
The Hampton Inn-Downtown Montgomery: July 5, 2020
This hotel was very exciting for me, because I spent a significant amount of time in my childhood in Montgomery. My mother’s extended family lived there and we would regularly visit. So, finding a place in Montgomery to investigate in season one was pretty awesome.
I arrived at the hotel around 8:00 PM. It took about 30 minutes to get set up. I asked for a manager, who was out for the evening, but upon hearing I was there to investigate, he (John) came back out and opened spaces up for me to investigate. He told me some of the stories and paranormal events he and his employees have experienced. The overall atmosphere of the hotel was quite pleasant. I never felt uneased or uncomfortable in any way. It is also a gorgeous hotel that feels of its own history.
I started investigating around 10PM and investigated until 1AM. John joined me in the basement for that portion of the investigation and on the fifth floor momentarily to explain a story that I will get to later. I never physically experienced anything; no voices, figures, shadows, or unexplained phenomena were manifesting to my senses. Which brings up the evidence from the hotel.
There is little evidence from the hotel. But, what I do have are some interesting and particularly timed events that raise curiosity enough to mention.
First, I am approaching the fifth floor window where I place a ball and a growl can be made out on the audio, not before I get to the window and not after I leave the window. The sound is brief and only at the window. If it was a snore from one of the two rooms on either side of me, then the sound should be audible as a approach and back away. I am left speculating that the growl might be a distant car as the window faces the street below.
Second, there is a muffled breathy voice when I was in the basement with John doing a thermal session. This is either one of us breathing loudly, which I didn’t mark as we investigated or it was John softly talking to where I didn’t register it while recording. If it was neither of those things, then this might be an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon).
Third there was a strange audio coming from my recorder in the elevator. It sounded as if someone was grabbing or rubbing the recorder. I intentionally pulled the recorder out of my pocket before we got to the elevator so I could continue to record clearly. The audio could be interference with electrical systems in the elevator, but that should not even be a thing. Nevertheless, there was some type of interference or something that wasn’t visible was trying to grab the recorder and the resulting sound was the evidence.
The fourth and final evidence is visual, but less convincing. As I was filming on the banister and doing an EVP session, an “orb” gracefully came into the camera’s view and wisped elegantly out again. The orb moved in a slow rotation pattern on the left side of the screen. I was not able to turn any lights off, so it isn’t easy to see. The banister where the orb was filmed is a spot where employees and John himself have seen shadows move across. I do believe the orb was a piece of dust, but the location and timing was interesting, and it was the only orb caught on the second floor throughout filming.
Overall, my impression was that the Hampton Inn-Downtown Montgomery (formerly The Greystone Hotel) is not haunted, but there was enough curious occurrences that were caught on camera or audio that I would be willing to go back with more time and gear.
Hotel Defuniak, Defuniak Springs, FL: July 8-9
This hotel is on the list of haunted road trip, because Bradley was supposed to be there for some of it, but he had other responsibilities to handle. I worked this hotel for two days solo. Because I was investigating alone, I consider it part of the Haunted Road Trip.
I arrived at the Hotel around 3 PM. When I was checking in the hotel employee noticed that I requested Room 8, and she immediately asked if I was another investigator. I smiled a scoff and replied, “yeah, but I am a skeptic looking to debunk Haunted places.” She smiled back and said that a lot people do claim to experience things, but that she-working there 6 years-never had. So, I already had a sense that nothing was going to happen at this location either.
I only had one suitcase and a backpack on me that I was going to drop off before I unloaded the gear. As soon as I entered Room 8, I heard a little girl giggle. I was at Bradley’s house for a few days prior to this hotel and he has three daughters. I immediately thought that my mind was playing tricks on me or there was some recording device in the room. I was adamant about searching every crevasse of the room for a playback recorder or something like that. I went downstairs to grab the gear and go back up. This time no giggling upon entering the room, so I knew if something was in there that it wasn’t triggered by opening the door to the room. I also want to note only four other people had rooms that evening, all adults, no children. I even met three of them at the bar downstairs later in the evening.
After setting up the gear and testing the batteries of all the equipment, I decided to record a late-afternoon EMF/EVP session. I put the K2 meter on the foot of the bed near a voice recorder and hosted the session. I like starting out with this because upon reviewing The Elms and Hampton Inn-Downtown Montgomery Bradley and I learned that audio had more mysterious (or dramatic) elements to it than video. We caught the occasional “orb” on video but up to this investigation, nothing else was present. So, I am asking questions, and about three questions in I get a hit. I don’t trust it so I move the audio recorder away in order to clarify that there is no electrical interference. I keep asking questions and some have responses and others don’t. I request that there be some “ground rules” light up once for yes and two for no is one that is used frequently. I was getting some activity that made it light up after I spoke.
I asked how many people are in the room, and the K2 meter lit up three times. I asked if they were counting me and it lit up. As I asked more questions, it seemed as though the answers were less than ordered and more random. One explanation that both Bradley and the Manager of the Hotel, Ernie, gave was that it could have been the two sisters playing with it and each were giving answers confusing the results. Despite the reality that the device should not have been going off at all, I do not buy into a ghost-sibling spat, but that the device going off was just random. The whole session was about twenty minutes. I was left with some interest and thoughts, but it was still not real evidence to me. The one thing that keeps me grounded on this is that the room had six cameras, a cell phone, three digital recorders, a room phone, a clock, a TV, and an air conditioning thermostat on at the same time in this room. The electrical power from all of these devices together might have caused energy fluctuations the meter picked up. Another thought is that the K2 meter is a badly made device that is designed to give off random reading to make people think something is there. The latter of the two ideas grew less popular with me as I did more investigations and got better at using it. I realized whenever I used it, that it normally never went off unless near an active electrical object. It would also go off if it was tapped or hit on something with significant pressure. It did not go off otherwise. This plus that giggle started me thinking that maybe there is more to this place. Nevertheless, I kept myself grounded in the science I trust, the logic of the events, and the skepticism that hauntings are likely in all cases to be sociological in nature.
I set the room up the way I wanted with cameras covering the whole room, plugged in as to not die, and toys set up to be moved. I went downstairs to have dinner in the hotel restaurant and meet the manager. The manager is also the head chef of the restaurant, so I ate and asked about employee experiences. I got some mixed answers. I decided to go up after my meal and do an EVP session with the thermal on. Then came the experience that made me rethink everything, including my sanity.
I used tonal and conversational techniques that I learned in my educational training that utilizes basic principals of child psychology to get kids to trust you. I used this in the questioning of the EMF session earlier, and I was using these techniques here as well. My thermal started shifting from green and yellow to blue, visually, as I asked questions and just made conversation to the air. Then, without the air kicking on, I felt a wave of cold come over me, moving from my right side to my left side. The thermal camera went blue. It was focused on a ball on the floor that I was hoping would move. Then I felt pressure on my left leg as though a kid about as small as a 5 or 6 year old was sitting in my lap. About four seconds later I felt a small pressure on my torso as though the body of the child leaned against me. I asked blatantly, “Are you sitting in my lap?” “Are you cuddling me?” It was like a frozen wind rushed through the center of my body, and as quickly as it was happening, everything stopped.
I was filled with emotion and was light-headed for a few second. When I felt somewhat normal, I left the room and walked downstairs for a while. I went back up after the jitters left me and called my wife and I called Bradley. I never call Bradley. We just text. I spent about an hour trying to rationalize this moment. I came to three convincing possibilities. One, I gave in to the story of the hotel, the giggling I heard, and the EMF session, and let myself believe long enough to imagine experiencing this event. That is all another way of saying my imagination got the best of me due to the power of persuasion. Two, I had an amazing personal experience with the paranormal. Or three, due to all of the equipment around me and the EMFs in the room, assuming they were the cause of the EMF/K2 session earlier, I was experiencing EMF poisoning from the room. None of these three explanations satisfy me. I shut everything down about an hour later, leaving the room to record in the meantime. Nothing else happened that night.
I woke up determined to do some debunking and/or try to get clear audio or a clear visual confirmation of anything paranormal. I finally had a chance to speak with Ernie, the Manager, and we discussed my experience and the overall hauntings associated with the hotels. He told the story of the two girls and that other investigators have brought gear to show a inter-dimensional portal in the hotel that he believed the freemasons opened up with satanic rituals. That is where he lost me. But, he did explain that Room 7 has just as many experiences as Room 8, and the morning before I arrived a psychic was there reading the room and said a woman’s spirit is in there. All I believed in and cared about was that people claim there is activity in the back hall area of the upstairs area. Ernie then gave me the key to Room 7 to investigate that evening along with Room 8. I decided to plan how to divide the gear between the two rooms.
In Room 8, I had a camera focused on the toys that I had on the floor and on a shelf for half the day. I moved them both to the top of the fridge for the second half of the day. I had an audio recorder on the dresser, and I set up a minicamera on the shelf the toy car was on facing the room. In Room 7, I used my non-IR camera facing the room from the door and an IR camera facing a laser grid I aimed at the bed. People claim to see a woman on the left side of the bed from the direction of the door. I wasn’t receiving too many hits on the second day. At least none that I noticed at the time. I did investigate downstairs as well that night.
Overall, on day two there were no experiences that I witnessed that made me think twice like on day one. Room 7 had nothing, and I later learned turning on the bath has been said to activate some happenings in Room 7. The downstairs area only brought one piece of evidence and it was an EVP while coming downstairs. You can hear an unclear voice on the audio recorder when I was the only person on that half of the hotel. It says what sounds like to Bradley and I as, “Ladybug.” If there was someone shouting loud enough from the other side of the downstairs area, maybe the audio picked it up whereas my brain ignored it. I was fairly sharp and focused, so I am left scratching my beard on that one.
Room 8 had one surprise upon evidence review. The ball that I placed on top of the fridge moved on camera. It is a wobble. It doesn’t coincide with my movements in the room in any specific way that we noticed. The air might have caused the wobble, but then it should be pushing constantly one way. I did move the K2 meter next to the ball for the purposes of catching any light flashes if something moves. The light never went off, but even against the meter the ball moves. This is one that I would need to go back and try to recreate in order to find out what was happening there. I do think that it was likely me causing movement walking across the room setting more gear up, and moving the ball, and there is just not a pattern. Certain steps at certain points causes the floor to slightly move-enough to make a ball on the fridge wobble.
After day two, I get all the gear into the car and am ready to go. The maintenance man of the hotel asks what I found, stating he has worked there for weeks overnight and alone and never experienced one thing to suggest that the hotel is haunted. I told him that the evidence on camera is unknown, and I don’t know about audio yet either. As I was checking out, I told him and the employee at the desk my thoughts on the hotel were, and still remain, as the following: “Hotel Defuniak is as haunted as a hotel could be…take that as you will.”
I do not know if my experiences there was a product of my imagination mixed with the rich historical feel of the hotel and the stories that I read over and over again about the supposed ghosts of two little girls that haunt Room 8, or if I had personal contact with the paranormal. Because I do not know, I still cannot say for certain that ghosts are real. Nevertheless, I do want to go back one day and attempt to find out, for certain, rather or not The Hotel Defuniak is haunted, or if it’s BS.
The Eldridge, Lawrence, KS: July 18, 2020
This was the last stop on my trip that allowed me to film and investigate. I investigated four haunted hotels on my own (one other very unpleasant hotel that is not mentioned) and with one Bradley this year. So, six haunted hotels total. Of those six, five were extremely pleasant and amazing experiences. I (or we) were welcomed with open arms and without a heads-up that we were coming. I was invited in offered tours and given free reign over every location where I went.
I am so happy that the final adventure to end the BS Paranormal’s Haunted Road Trip for 2020 was at The Eldridge. I arrived at about 12 PM, which is remarkably earlier than usual. But, the trip had exhausted me. I got everything inside and took a two-hour nap. I woke up and began to plan the investigation for that evening. After planning what I wanted, I went downstairs and introduced myself officially, other than to check in. I was given a notebook with all of the stories of employee and guests’ experiences. I read over them for an hour or so, and then grabbed an early dinner. I really did not have any creep factor at this hotel. It did have a feeling of history in it, but not creepy-haunted vibes.
I went back upstairs after a few conversations, reading accounts, and dinner to prep the gear. I was given room 507, which is considered one of the most haunted rooms in the hotel. I decided to keep an IR going in the room, because people have stories of a spirit sitting or laying on the bed with them. I filmed the rest of the hotel on my phone and a mini IR, which Bradley and I called the hat cam or the pen cam. I kept an audio recorder going in my room, and I had an audio recorder on me. I also brought the thermal and K2 with me in case I decided to do sweeps and other recordings.
I was given a brief tour of the hotel in the late afternoon prior to investigating, and was told about the hotspots in the hotel. There was the Room of 6 and this chair in a hidden-away space up some medieval-looking stairs that is said to never collect dust. The lobby is also a hotspot. Many people wrote down they saw shadows or heard voices in the lobby. The ballroom has also inspired fear in many who visit, with outlines of people dancing or shadow whipping across the room. These are the places that I knew I wanted to explore, so my plans were set and the investigation was going to begin.
The first room I investigated was my own. I started when the sun was still a bit up, so probably around 8:00 PM. I did an EVP session with my phone as a camera, since the IR was pointing at the bed. I was speaking into the air letting any potential apparition know that I don’t care about their past, that I wanted to connect with them. I did get an EVP in response. A voice can be heard saying, “really?” Of course I do not hear it with my own ears, I was feeling as though this place was going to produce no evidence at all. Nothing odd happened in my room during that part of the investigation.
I then go down the stairs to the ballroom, which was my first focus of the evening. I wanted to play with the acoustics of the room and determine whether or not that can mess with people. What I discovered was that if you walk fast enough, but not too fast, your steps and room can form an echo that makes it sound like multiple people walking when only one person is there. I also caught, in real time, a picture of an “orb” on the floor. This was was a bit strange because I tried to recreate it to no avail. Nevertheless, I consider it a glare and moved on. There was no video or audio evidence in the ballroom.
I moved downstairs to the Room of 6, where there are sounds of people talking, shadows walking, and objects being moved. It was an awesome room. The stain glass was illuminated slightly, but on camera the room was much brighter than it was with my own eyes, so I used the camera to see. Nothing moved, and there were no shadows. I did ask for communication, I heard a knock, which I caught on the phone mic and on my audio recorder. It was a strange moment, but only happened once and might have been someone upstairs or an object settling. I also caught a “hey man” and “get out” on the EVP, and I am at a bit of a loss for a reasonable explanation for that, because I was alone and when I wasn’t talking it was very quiet.
I went up to the magic chair that does not collect dust, and it was dusty and loud. I think the A/C unit for the entire hotel runs from that space. The old chair is said to be haunted because it never collects dust. It was, again, quite dusty. Nevertheless, I did the EVP session, filmed the EMF detector on the chair, and nothing came of it. I decided to check out as much of the basement as possible. I really felt comfortable at the hotel and it felt really familiar. I don’t know if I was ever this comfortable in any other place. Nothing ever happened nor did anything strange occur while investigating down there.
I moved on after about an hour to the lobby. No on except the employee at the desk was present in the lobby (it was around 11:00 or midnight), and I decided to film and do EMF sweeps, and EVP sessions for a while. I had the IR hat cam clipped to a hat and sat it on a chair in the back of the lobby facing the elevators. Even in the light, IR is great at catching movement and anything that captures or reflects light. The elevators are a huge hotspot for activity according to the stories, so using IR with the lights on had some reasoning behind it. The story goes that a old-timey elevator man and/or a little boy can be seen near or on the elevator and then they will vanish in front of people. There are also accounts of the elevator going up to the fifth floor and coming back down in the early morning hours.
I did not get any EMF readings and nothing on audio from the lobby. The IR hat cam, however, caught something interesting. I either caught a reflection of an entity crossing the room, or I caught a piece of debris floating through the air. Debris is logical, therefore, likely. It is an interesting clip. Below is a moment of the clip:
This evidence did not convince me too much, because again the line could be debris. There was an air conditioning vent on the other side of the room, and light enough debris can float across the room. Still what are the chances that it would float across the room in front of a darker object that would make it appear on a tiny IR Camera? I don’t know, but the probability is calculatable.
After collecting all of the stuff from the lobby about 15 minutes later I went up to the second floor where steps could be heard from in the lobby despite no guests being on that floor. I went up and walked around, but no noises or sound at all. I figured out after a little sleuthing that the fireplace echoes the A/C unit in the ceiling and it can sound like a person pushing a cart or stomping around above the lobby.
I decided to go to bed and sleep after that. I did set an alarm to wake up at 2AM, because activity is said to pick up around then. I did not have the will to wake up. However, my equipment in the room recording did catch someone saying “wake up” and “get out.” I did hear a loud breath with my own ears as well, but I also thought that could have been some folks getting down next door, because that was the logical thing to assume.
This hotel was both extremely comfortable and familiar to me. After reviewing all of the evidence and thinking about my own experiences, I conclude that all of the evidence is explainable in some way. The Eldridge is a historical and interesting place, and the stories of unrestful spirits give it a mysterious aura. I want to go back and investigate more thoroughly, but for now, I cannot say the Eldridge is haunted.