By Lindsay Toler
By Chad Garrison
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It was a dark and stormy night when the St. Louis Ghost Hunters first investigated the haunted house in Lake St. Louis. From the outside it seemed an ordinary dwelling on a quiet cul-de-sac, a small three-bedroom built into the side of a hill. But for nearly six years, a nasty spirit had been tormenting the owner, Nicole Weisman.
"The noises had always been there," Weisman recalls. "I put them off as nothing. But then I started getting feelings of ickiness. I got really bad nightmares all the time. I slept with a knife. I just felt scared. I'd sit in one room and see things out of the corner of my eye. I had an armoire in the bedroom, and in the bathroom mirror I'd see the door open on its own. I never got touched, but something would sit at the foot of my bed."
One day, Lindsey Piech, a coworker at Kennelwood Pet Resort in St. Peters, mentioned that she had started up a ghost-hunting group.
"I told her, 'As soon as I move out of my house, you can look at it,'" Weisman continues. "I thought they'd just practice with their equipment. Lindsey asked me a whole bunch of questions, and the last one was, 'Do you think your house is haunted?' I was quiet. I didn't want to say yes. Lindsey said, 'I know by the pause.' She knows me pretty well."
On that rainy January night, Piech and her colleagues Eric Bequette, Jen Leggett and Adam Gummersheimer, invited a psychic named Vicki Main to help with the investigation. The Ghost Hunters usually don't work with psychics, but they'd met Main during an appearance on RiverfrontRadio, a local online radio station, and were curious to see how she might handle a haunting.
The Ghost Hunters make audio and video recordings of all their probes — they believe electronic equipment can pick up things that the naked eye and ear cannot — and the first visit to the Lake St. Louis house was no exception.
Main had previously determined that the spirit was named Thomas and that he abhorred music, particularly Weisman's guitar playing. When he was alive, sometime in the 1800s, he lived in a farmhouse on the same plot of land.
First, the psychic and the investigators checked out the master bedroom. Main held up her dowsing rods, two L-shaped metal wands with metal casings around the hand grips so they could spin independently. An infrared video camera recorded what happened next.
On the video, Piech commands: "Make yourself known." The rods start to spin so violently they nearly strike Main in the face.
"We're going to ask you questions," Bequette tells the spirit. "The right rod means 'yes,' and the left wand means 'no.' Do you like Nicole?"
The left wand turns decisively away from Main.
"Did you like the people who lived here before?"
"Did you do bad things to children?" (Later, Bequette won't remember how he thought to ask that question. "It came into my head like it was already there.")
"Are you sorry?"
A speck of light darts across the video screen, and the camera pans to an infrared thermometer, which shows an abrupt drop in temperature.
"It was all more credible because of the other activity," Piech says afterward. "We all felt the swirling energy and the cold and had weird physical ailments."
"I got a headache behind my eye," says Leggett. "I was standing outside the bedroom, and suddenly it was like migraine strength."
"There was a weird pressure in the house," Piech goes on. "It was like someone was pushing on my shoulders. I felt it through my whole body."
"It was like something sitting on my lap," Bequette adds. "There was this bizarre coldness on me that lasted about five minutes."
"It molested me!" Leggett complains. "Every picture Eric took of me, there was something on my boobs."
The Ghost Hunters spent several weeks reviewing their audio and video footage, looking for light abnormalities and EVPs, or electronic voice phenomena. "We find most of our evidence while reviewing," Bequette explains.
By mid-March the team had discovered nearly a dozen questionable pieces of audio, in addition to the video of the interrogation and the streak of light. That's an unusual amount of activity for one night.
"We're very skeptical," Bequette explains. "We're there to find out what's happening in the room, regardless of if it's paranormal. We want to give our clients peace of mind. But you could also argue, if we put twenty hours into an investigation and didn't find anything, where's our fun?"
"[Weisman's house] was one of the most awesome nights we ever had," Piech says.
"Stuff was actually happening," Bequette agrees.
The house, they decided, definitely warranted another visit. They invited Weisman to join them and play her guitar to rile Thomas up.
Weisman was game but refused to look at the evidence the Ghost Hunters had assembled. "I have a vivid enough imagination," she says. "I don't want the nightmares to come back. I want to feel normal."