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Elisha Krystal Goldsmith, the lead investigator from Crawley Paranornal Investigations (CPI), talks to DAVID SAUNDERSON about her experiences delving into the unknown.
SPOOKY ISLES: What inspired you to start investigating paranormal activity in the local area, and how did you develop your approach to these investigations?
ELISHA: I have always been fascinated with the paranormal and believed in it way before I experienced strange things. I would love to know more about the afterlife and want to try and find answers. By watching lots of paranormal shows, this helped me approach investigations and learn from experience. No investigation is ever the same.
Can you share a particularly memorable investigation you’ve conducted in the local area, and what made it stand out to you?
Unfortunately, at the moment, nowhere in Crawley allows investigations. However, I did do a private house investigation in Crawley with the help of my brother. This was my third house investigation, but first one within Crawley. This stood out to me as the lady needed help as she and her eldest son were being followed and watched in their home.
How do you stay objective and scientific when investigating the paranormal, and what measures do you take to prevent personal beliefs or biases from influencing your work?
Even though I am a believer in the paranormal, I am also a sceptic. Not everything is paranormal as much as we want it to be! We always try to debunk anything that happens. For example; if we hear a creak on the floor, ,this could be due to an old building. Or if if the temperature suddenly drops, we look for any air con/vents . If an object moves, this could be due to a draft, etc, so we ask spirit multiple times to repeat to get confirmation.
As stated above, I am a believer, but just because I believe and want it to be paranormal, doesn’t mean to say it always is. You have to go into every investigation with an open mind and not get your hopes up that it will be an active night, ,as paranormal activity is not guaranteed to always happen . Also, our minds are a strong thing! We try to go into each investigation without any knowledge of the hauntings. This is because if we sit in a room where we know someone has experienced seeing a shadow, our brains might start to make us think we are seeing shadows!
Have you ever encountered any local locations that were particularly challenging to investigate, either because of logistical issues or because of the nature of the paranormal activity you encountered?
As stated above in question three, we have not really investigated within Crawley. We have done investigations in the Arundel Jailhouse and the Hastings True Crime Museum, which are not very far from Crawley. When we investigated the Hastings true crime museum, it was located right next to a pub on a Saturday night. There was a live band playing, so this contaminated our investigation. The music was too loud, and we could not focus on our experiments. This was, of course, an issue with trying to capture any evidence, especially audible evidence.
For future investigations, however, this allowed us to investigate not only the history of our locations but the surrounding areas to avoid any noise contamination.
How do you determine which equipment to use during investigations, and what do you believe is the most useful or reliable tool in your arsenal?
We use a variety of equipment, ranging from EVPs to SLS cameras and trigger objects. If we know a certain room has the most activity, we will then set up trigger objects such as REM pods and motion sensor lights. We also set up cameras on tripods to capture anything whilst we are not in the room.
We always start with an EVP session to see if we get any voices. We then start to use all our equipment. If we feel we are getting lots of activity, we then get the SLS camera and thermal camera out to see if we can capture spirits visibly. The most effective equipment we have used is the Ouija board. I know people have mixed feelings on this like it is evil, not safe and you are opening a portal etc.
I feel that if you know how to use it and open and close the board, then it is fine. We have had some great responses on the board at Hastings and at Tonbridge Castle. I think it is no different from using any other equipment. With all the equipment, you need to be careful and respectful of the spirit. I also cleanse the board after each use. We say hello and goodbye and thank the spirit for communicating with us.
Have you ever had a case where you were unable to find a rational explanation for the activity you observed, and how did you reconcile that with your scientific approach?
Whilst we have had some great activity on our investigations, we have not had anything yet where we cannot find a rational explanation.
On our recent investigation at Sandwich Guildhall, one of our REM pods was going off every 5–10 minutes, then every few seconds.
I moved it around the room twice to see if it would continue – which it did. So, I decided to swap it for another REM in another room that had not yet sounded. When I swapped them around, it still went off! I decided to swap it for another one from another room, but it still went off! But the very first REM that was in that room did not go off in any of the other rooms. The only time the REM pod went off was in that same original room! This led us to believe something was in that room with us because something kept touching the REM! I wanted to test to see if the REM was faulty, even though everything had brand new batteries in it!
What do you think are some of the most common misconceptions or stereotypes about paranormal activity, and how do you work to dispel these beliefs in your investigations?
The main misconception I hear is that everything is fake and in your head. Whilst I agree that alot of things can be easily faked these days through apps etc, it does not mean to say paranormal is fake. There has to be something after this when we die. As for sceptics who say it is in our heads, explain to me how multiple people experience the same things. Please explain to me how a door can open and close on its own with no windows open, no drafts, and you being the only one in the room. Well, at least you think you are alone!
I believe that some people are just not open to the possibility that ghosts are real and have to see it to believe it. Whilst I understand this, I know of people who have had strange experiences but still do not believe. For example; my dad was a security guard at Eton, an all-boys college. He said he heard loud footsteps and the smell of cigars. However, he checked the CCTV, and no one was around. Yet he says ghosts are not real. Whilst I understand it can take a lot for someone to believe in something, I feel they should not just dismiss it simply because they have not experienced it for themselves.
We dispel these beliefs in our investigations because we believe ghosts are real, so we block out any negativity from anyone who says it’s all fake. We like sceptics to come along to help us debunk anything. A lot of times, this is how people are turned into believers!
How do you navigate ethical considerations when investigating paranormal activity, particularly when it involves potentially sensitive or personal information?
This is not something we just do for fun or because we are bored. This is a passion of ours, and we take all investigations very seriously. We are not just talking to a ghost; we are talking to someone who was once alive. This could be someone’s mother, father, sibling, child, etc. We not only want to make contact with the other side and capture amazing evidence, but also try to help them move on. Do they know they have passed? Do they remember how they died? Why are they haunting this place? Are they stuck?
These are all questions we ask ourselves and want to know. We always approach each investigation with the utmost respect. Everyone wants respect, so why would the spirit not want the same? We always introduce ourselves too to try and build trust so they know who we are. We always say we don’t mean you any harm or disrespect. We always tell them the reasons for our being there too. We ask each question nicely. If we encounter a darker spirit, then we approach this differently if being nice does not work.
On a private house investigation, we were doing a spirit box session. A male said his name was Peter. Then, after we had all introduced ourselves, the male spirit answered with “Hello, all.” This is on our YouTube channel. This is an amazing response and shows the spirits are willing to communicate if approached correctly.
What do you believe is the most important element of conducting a successful paranormal investigation, and how do you ensure that all team members are aligned in their approach?
The most important element for me in conducting a successful investigation is to make sure everyone is in high spirits. I generally do believe if your energy drops then so will activity. Of course, this does not apply to every investigation, as you might have a quiet night with regards to paranormal activity. I always say to my team to stay positive, be open-minded, but do not get your hopes up! Communication is important amongst the team too. We always come up with a plan on how we will do the investigation and where we will be setting up our tripod cameras so we do not waste any time. Another important element is trying experiments that everyone wants to do. I always say to my team, “Where shall we investigate next? What equipment did you want to use?” etc, so everyone is included.
How do you engage with the local community and other investigators or experts in the field, and what value do you believe these collaborations bring to your work?
We have a Facebook page to engage with our followers. Some are local, and others are from all over the world. We follow other paranormal teams and events pages as we like to see the locations they go to and the evidence they capture. I am in talks with another team to join them on some investigations to help with costs, etc. for both teams. We are now also going to start inviting members of the public to join us on some investigations, as we have had a lot of questions asking if they can join us. Usually we prefer to work in smaller teams but the more the merrier!
The value this collaboration will bring for our team is a good reputation. If we join other reputable teams and work closely with them, we will also make friendships with like-minded people. We might even learn things from each other. It will also help us to spread the word about our investigations to the public too and give people the chance to experience the paranormal for themselves.
What role do you think technology will play in the future of paranormal investigations, and what developments or advancements do you hope to see?
Technology is something we rely on during our investigations. It helps us communicate with the other side, so it plays an important role. Whilst we can sometimes see and hear strange things with our own eyes and ears, this is not always the case. For example; cameras and EVPs pick up things that the human ear can not. I have come to learn that when reviewing any footage, we hear lots of noises, voices, etc that we did not hear at the time. EVPs are good as you can play it back in real time to listen out for any response we do not hear in the moment. So whilst we might think we are getting no answers, a spirit could actually be answering us but we do not notice until after that night.
I have seen some advancements so far, one being the Spirit Box. The SBP-7 Spirit Box is loud and static and sometimes it is hard to decipher if we are getting any voices coming through due to all the background noises. However, there are now different kinds of spirit boxes/portals that have no white noise and have noise reducation .
I would love to see a piece of equipment that can actually pick up spirits visibly in their true forms and not just as stickmen on the SLS cameras.
How do you stay grounded and maintain your mental health when dealing with potentially frightening or unsettling situations during investigations?
Luckily, so far we have not yet encountered any unsettling or frightening things on any of our investigations. The closest we have gotten to dark spirits was at the Hastings True Crime Museum, where there were items used by killers on display. We got the word “kill” multiple times and “ha ha ha” on the Ouija board. But this did not scare us as as we always remain strong and do not let our guard down to let anything affect us.
Ultimately, what do you hope to achieve through your investigations into paranormal activity in the local area, and how do you believe this work can benefit the broader community?
On our investigations, I hope to achieve many things. Firstly, I would love to go to a very active and scary location and capture the best compelling evidence ever that will shock our followers.
I want to also be able to grow our Facebook Page and YouTube channel within the paranormal community. I hope our investigations can help others too, especially if someone needs our help or is being haunted in their own home.