L AFAYETTE — Who ya gonna call to find out if Louisiana’s old ghost stories are fact or fiction?
An instructor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette wants it to be be him and his team, which plans to use digital cameras, voice recorders and other equipment to guide students as they delve into the mysteries of the paranormal this summer.
Ghost Hunting 101 is a three-day course UL-Layfayette is offering from July 11 to July 13 as part of its continuing education program. The leisure program is open to the general public and isn’t for actual college credit.
Instructor Brad Duplechien said that in addition to digital cameras and recorders, special e quipment that measures electromagnetic activity will be used to explore reported hauntings.
“An EMF meter detects any odd levels of electromagnetic energy in the air, which doesn’t mean something’s there but helps to tell us something strange is happening,” said Duplechien, who is founder of a group that investigates and researches paranormal activity across the state.
Duplechien’s group, Louisiana Spirits Paranormal Investigations, was formed in 2005 and is made up of six chapters, including the South Central Chapter.
It has, which has investigated several reportedly haunted locations in Acadiana, including the Grand Opera House, built in historic downtown Crowley in 1901.
The two-story opera house, used for entertainment purposes, is known to have a rich but what some say is a haunted history.
When a group from Louisiana Spirits investigated the Grand Opera House in 2007, they reported electromagentic spikes in a spot on stage where a worker reportedly died years ago and captured audio of what was interpreted as a female voice saying, “I can hear,” according to report the group prepared on its visit.
“There are several ghosts here,” insists Kim Gattle, director of the Grand Opera House. “There’s a man, a women, several children.”
Although some visitors attest to seeing ghosts at the opera house, which re-opened in 2008 after being closed for several decades, Gattle said, she has only heard them.
“I’ve heard a 3- or 4-year-old child one time calling out for its mom,” she said.
Louisiana Spirits has conducted at least 500 investigations at locations that share ghost stories similar to that of the opera house, and Duplechien has even begun giving lectures on his paranormal pastime.
In 2007, the Louisiana Spirits group was contacted to teach a ghost hunting course for a continuing education class at UL-Lafayette.
“They kind of caught like wildfire,” Duplechien said. “We’d fill up a class within a week or two.”
The fee for the course is $64.
Some past class investigations have been conducted at Crowley’s Egan Hotel and at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium.
As for the location of this year’s class investigation, Duplechien said he has his eye on the Southern Forest Heritage Museum in Long Leaf.
The museum was featured on the first episode of “Deep South Paranormal,” a series on the Syfy channel that debuted in April 2013.
Duplechien said the class will begin with a general introduction about how paranormal investigations are done and then will move into “a hands-on investigation” the second day, wrapping up the session on day three with a meeting to analyze and discuss the findings.
For information on Ghost Hunting 101, visit www.ce.louisiana.edu.