By Katie McBride
When Patti Starr was a young girl, her parents tried to protect her. Starr told her parents she thought she was seeing and hearing ghosts, and her parents said it was her daydreaming or overactive imagination at play.But when Starr grew up and still saw and heard things, she became convinced it wasn’t her imagination.
“As I got older, I realized it wasn’t daydreams; it was real,” said Starr, certified professional ghost hunter and president of Ghost Chasers International.
Starr, along with psychic medium Chip Coffey, will educate Eastern students Nov. 15 on the art of ghost hunting. Student Life is hosting the event as part of the Thursday Alternative Getaway program.
The hunters will give a lecture at 9 p.m. in the Keen Johnson Ballroom, after which they will lead a live ghost hunt at several buildings on campus. These buildings include Keen Johnson, Burnam, Sullivan and possibly a few others, said Lonnie Scott, assistant director of student involvement and leadership in the Student Life office.
“I thought that, because of the history of hauntings on campus, it would be something enjoyable for students,” Scott said.
Starr said she plans to show students evidence from prior ghost hunts.
“You’ll be able to see an unbelievable amount of audios I’ve got and photos and videos. It’s years and years and years of experience,” Starr said.
Starr began her work with ghosts in the early 1970s and has photographs of ghosts that date back to that time, she said. In the 1990s, she began to work on capturing evidence of ghosts and got involved in the scientific side of ghost hunting.
“In 1999, I decided I’m going to do this for a profession,” Starr said.
Starr teaches Introduction to Ghost Hunting and a more advanced ghost-hunting course at the Bluegrass Community and Technical College.
She hosts the Bardstown Ghost Trek, which operates every Saturday night, June through October. Starr also owns the Brick and Mortar Ghost Hunters Shop in Lexington. The shop has a number of ghost hunting materials online at ghosthuntershop.com. Starr has ghost-hunted in three countries and 26 states over the course of many years. On top of running a store and teaching classes, Starr also ventures to different colleges, giving lectures and ghost hunts. The evidence takes years to build, Starr said.
If she gets one audio or two photos at a ghost hunt, “that’s grand.” So it takes years to build up the number of photos, audio and videos she displays at colleges.
Starr said students who think they are living in a haunted building should first investigate the occurrences and recreate what happened. For example, if a door pops open and you think a ghost is behind it, recreate the scene and make sure it wasn’t just the wind or a draft from another door opening.
“If you start to get real concerned, first of all you want to ask yourself how it makes you feel,” Starr said.
If you feel threatened or intimidated by what is happening, Starr suggests finding someone who is an accredited ghost hunter and asking him or her to investigate.
Starr said ghosts are rarely evil or threatening.
“Hollywood has done the spirit world such an injustice,” Starr said. “Everybody thinks that 99.9 percent of ghosts are evil or demonic. How many people do you know who are hateful or spiteful?” Starr asked.
The same ratio of evil people to “good” people is true in the spirit world, Starr said. She added not every person who dies becomes a ghost.
“They have a choice in the spirit world. the whole beauty of our lives here on Earth is that we’ve been given a choice,” Starr said. “Whatever your perception of life and death is is your reality.”
Some people think there is no afterlife, and so they wake up Earth-bound, Starr said.
“A lot of times they’ll figure it out themselves and cross over,” she said.
When they come to Eastern, Starr and Coffey will try to determine why some of Eastern’s most famous ghosts are still around, Starr said. The first hour of their presentation will include a seminar in the Keen Johnson Ballroom. They will discuss the basics of ghost hunting, including equipment, so students can understand how the process works. Then they will show some of their evidence from different ghost hunts.
“Some of the videos we have are awesome,” Starr said.
Coffey will discuss “the psychic abilities that he uses in order to figure out who is haunting,” Starr said. Starr will verify Coffey’s findings through scientific evidence.
After the seminar, Starr and Coffey will conduct a live ghost hunt through some of Eastern’s buildings.
Scott recommends students arrive early to the lecture because Student Life is expecting a large number of students to attend. Only students who attend the lecture can take part in the ghost hunt.
Students are advised to bring cameras or video and audio equipment.
“We want them to capture things, too,” Starr said.