Paranormal investigators say police aren't the only force in their headquarters building
April 17, 2008 8:15 AM
Denise Kelly, Homestead police clerk, and Vicci Kenna, a secretary at the Homestead police station, watch images on a laptop computer while Tonya Buff of the Greater Pittsburgh Paranormal Society presents findings of paranormal activity in the building.
Shawn MacIntyre, an investigator with the Greater Pittsburgh Paranormal Society, talks about the movement of the cord in the basement of the Homestead Police Station.
By Mary Niederberger Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Vicci Kenna, a secretary for the Homestead Police Department, is going to spend a lot more time looking over her shoulder in the future, and it's not criminals she's worried about.
Mrs. Kenna listened along with police officers and staff yesterday as members of the Greater Pittsburgh Paranormal Society offered audio and video evidence that something strange is going on inside the building that houses the police station.
"I'm going to be waiting for taps on my shoulder when I'm typing," Mrs. Kenna said, after hearing that one of the paranormal investigators reported feeling a tap while in the building's attic during the Feb. 23 investigation. No one else was in the area.
What will happen if Mrs. Kenna gets tapped?
"They will probably have to call an ambulance for me," she said.
While Mrs. Kenna was feeling spooked, other staffers and officers felt vindicated. They have been reporting strange incidents for several years, including the sound of doors slamming and footsteps when no one was around.
There also were chilling tales about an electric typewriter turning itself on and starting to type while staffers were holding a meeting and a broken sidewalk cleaner turning itself on without any key in the ignition about two months ago.
As the reports became more frequent, Homestead police Chief Jeffrey DeSimone, who has not experienced any of the unusual happenings, allowed his officers to call members of the paranormal society to investigate. They set up shop in the building, under the chief's supervision, on the night of Feb. 23.
The police station is in the former Homestead Post Office at Amity and East Ninth streets, a building that is owned by Allegheny County.
Yesterday, society founder Tonya Boff of Green Tree and four other members of her group played audio recordings of noises they said were not caused by the society's investigators. She said it was the first investigation in about a year in which group members felt they had documented evidence of a possible haunting.
The first sounded like a scream and was picked up in the basement. The second recording, made in the attic, was of a door slamming, then a voice heard to say "Hey, Sam," then a louder slamming of a door.
They also played a video clip showing a video camera cord, which had been taped to the ceiling of the basement, appear to fly loose and sway back and forth.
"It's not like a simple fall. It's like someone pulled it down," said Shawn McIntyre of Reserve, an investigator with the paranormal society.
No one was in the basement at the time, but group members saw it because they were upstairs monitoring cameras in the basement.
A second video clip is of a shadow moving from right to left behind a window in an area once used to collect traffic fines. Officers who use a nearby entrance have reported a feeling that they are being watched as they walk by the window, Chief DeSimone said.
The video and audio clips were taken from 24 hours of video and 100 hours of audio recordings the group made in its investigation.
In addition, Mrs. Boff said she and another member of her group heard a door open and footsteps across the first floor the night of the investigation. No one appeared.
That's been a frequent complaint of those who work in the building.
She also said a group member in the attic reported being tapped on the shoulder and "having a hand pull her hair up."
Mrs. Boff said it appears the haunting of the building is "residual," which means it is in the background of the activity occurring there and not interactive with people who work there.
The staff won't have to put up with the alleged spirits much longer, as the borough is building a new station that is expected to be completed within a year.
Mayor Betty Esper, a skeptic since she's had no personal spooky experiences, made light of the situation after yesterday's report. Referring to the broken sidewalk cleaner that allegedly turned itself on, she said, "We have cleanup next week and I wish you could get that damned mower working again."