WEST POINT – Howls, objects moving by themselves, unexplained noises.
not a horror movie if it's real.
I got that and more when I followed North Mississippi After Life, a Tupelo-based
paranormal investigation team, to Waverley Plantation Mansion to watch the group conduct a paranormal investigation.
Waverley just has a feeling about it. The feeling that someone else – not necessarily
good, but not necessarily bad – is there, too. It doesn't help that the house is in the woods, so howls and goosebump-inducing
noises surround it.
Melyssa Rodriguez and Todd Childs – who give tours of Waverley and take care
of the house – asked me if I heard some of those howls. They said they'd never heard them before.
When the NMAL team arrived just after sundown, Rodriguez and Childs gave a history
of the house. Usually they don't relate any ghostly stories to paranormal groups before the team investigates, but this time
they did. Two children died in the house in the late 1800s, Rodriguez said. The girls were sisters; one died of diphtheria,
while the other broke her neck when her head got stuck in the balcony's spindles. Both girls have been seen or heard by staffers
and tourists, she said.
Tina Jones, founder of NMAL and chief investigator, broke her team – made up
of active members Lisa Kyle, Stephanie Murrell, Amber Godwin, Toni Kay Nicholson and Samantha Brown – into pairs and
gave them ground rules. The most important: If you get scared, tell your partner and leave the area that's scaring you. Then,
Childs and Rodriguez extinguished every light – except one – in the four-story mansion.
The team scoured the house, taking temperature and electromagnetic radiation, or
EMF, readings. The EMF detectors measure magnetic radiation in a room and usually spikes when an energy is present. They also
recorded everything with voice recorders and constantly took photos.
But each team member experienced technical glitches – some of their cameras
turned on and off by themselves or ran low on batteries, even though the batteries had been fully charged before the investigation.
Jones said spiritual energies often drain batteries or cause equipment to malfunction.
Something made her near-new EMF meter useless – it worked only once, and that
was to detect an electric blanket. Jones unplugged the blanket and plugged it back up to make sure it was the blanket, and
not a spirit. It was. The blanket, that is.
A later experience, however, couldn't be explained. Some parts of the downstairs
bedrooms are roped off because of tourists, and Jones and I were standing near a rope.
"Something's hitting my leg," Jones said. The rope was swinging back and forth. "I
didn't hit it," she said – besides, she was too far away to have hit it. Instead of slowing down, the rope sped up,
and then came to a dead halt.
Juju and activity
The investigation concluded about two hours later. Jones said she will spend about
a week or two going over every piece of evidence collected twice, just to make sure she won't miss anything.
She said a member of the team caught a face in a mirror at Waverley, but she hasn't
worked on the rest of the evidence yet.
But based on that night's events, "I can say Waverley is active. I can't say it's
haunted," she said.
Call it what you will, but there is a vibe at Waverley.
"This place definitely has some kind of juju going on. This place just has a feeling
about it," Childs said.
The Waverley Plantation Mansion was built between 1856 and 1857. The house was abandoned in 1913, and sat vacant until the
Snow family purchased it in 1962. During those 50 years, fraternities at Mississippi State University sent pledges to stay
the night in the house, which they called "the spook house." Waverley is located about 10 miles east of West Point off Highway
50. For more information, call 494-1399.
• The Waverley Plantation Mansion will be featured on HGTV's "If Walls Could
Talk" this Sunday at 10 p.m. and again on Nov. 3 at 5 p.m.
• Standard paranormal investigation tools:
camera: Catches photos of orbs or mists, which could be spiritual energy.
- Voice recorder: Captures electronic voice phenomena
– ghostly voices.
- Electro-magnetic radiation detector: Measures the magnetic radiation in a room, and usually
spikes when a spirit or energy is present.
-Thermometer: Measures temperatures; spiritual energy may increase or decrease
the temperature of a room.
• A few ground rules for ghost hunting, according to Tina Jones, founder of North Mississippi
– ALWAYS: go with a friend, carry a cell phone and extra batteries, charge batteries before going
out and ask for permission before investigating anywhere (including cemeteries).
- NEVER: Whisper (it can be misinterpreted
on a recorder), smoke or drink during an investigation.
• To join North Mississippi After Life, or to have the group
investigate your house, contact Tina at 255-5868.