I've known Marcus and Clare for the past three years, and spent many hours with them as they combed haunted local locations for any signs of paranormal activities. They are not what you think of when you think of a typical team of ghost hunters, like the loud-mouthed dramatic folk you see on the SyFy Channel.
Marcus Lindsey and Clare Benavides make up Paranormal EXP along with Jason Gates, and they've spent the past nearly five years recording and experiencing some supernatural occurrences. They even went on a few reality shows (and won one!)
I was honored last year when they invited me to a special ghost chase at the old Los Angeles Herald-Examiner building in downtown Los Angeles which is known to be haunted and was built by the architect who built Hearst Castle. It was rainy and the roof leaked, and what Clare didn't know is that Marcus was going to pop the question on the top floor and ask her to marry him.
She accepted of course, and it was very romantic.
But what does it take to be investigators like this, and be among thousands of paranormal investigators from across the country to be on the Travel Channel’s TV show Paranormal Challenge, and other such shows?
“I think we got in because we looked a bit different,” said Clare, a 32-year-old teacher who works with autistic children. “I’m Hispanic, Marcus is Asian and Jason is white. We also have a good chemistry and we joke around a bit together, and we are calm.”
Marcus added, “But we do get scared sometimes.”
Their multi-ethnic look is different than most of the teams around the country, they said. Most of the ghost hunters around the country tend to be white males, and rather serious. “We try to find any rational explanation at first, we look to see if the camera has malfunctioned, and try to rule out the paranormal,” said Benavides.
Marcus, a 34-year-old paralegal investigator, who has loved reading ghost stories from the time he was 6 years old added: “We look back at the history of the area, and see what has happened in the past. We look to see if there’s water around, what the area is built on and what kind of rock is around.”
Even with all the skepticism, they have recorded unexplainable voices on their equipment that seem like they are from the great beyond. The voices are usually short phrases, sometimes not audible until the recorder is played back, called EVP, for electronic voice phenomenon.
On their website is recorded their most frightening close encounter with a spirit at the Vulture Mine in Wickenburg Arizona. They write:
While sitting there with the recorder next to him on the floor, a voice is heard saying, “Look up.” Immediately before Marcus stated that he felt he had been scratched. As he came down, Clare was able to see that there was a long and thick red line on his neck and had not seen him scratch himself in any manner.
“It was like fingers burning on my neck,” Lindsey said. “I had these red marks.” (The photographs of the scratches and the voice are posted on the website http://www.paranormalexp.com.)
Clare promised she didn’t scratch him, and Marcus said he noticed that if other psychic investigators have been to a site, then activity seems to increase on their instruments. The Ghost Adventurers camera crew had just come through the Vulture Mine before Martcus's attack.
On the TV show, the team was filmed over three days at the creepy abandoned hospital in Boyle Heights. The teams were to use the same equipment at the same location. The reality show revealed the personalities of the individual team members through their trials during the testing.
For now, Paranormal EXP is a hobby for the team. They have the equipment in the car and even sell online some of the specialized devices like the K-II EMF Detector and the Trifield meter TF100XE.
Clare said, “We generally don’t charge, it’s a nonprofit experience. We want to help people.”
Marcus added, “We also want the opportunity to test more places where something has already occurred.”
They don’t consider themselves psychics, or having any unusual powers. Their equipment can often be picked up at a Radio Shack, but they do offer specialized equipment for recording paranormal phenomena.
Clare explained that it is very difficult to say something from the other side, which is why they only record phrases and words that sometimes seem insignificant.”
Their team won because the judges thought the three investigators presented their evidence well, and they remained skeptical throughout. They also captured the best audio of a disembodied voice that even impressed Skeptic Magazine editor Michael Shermer.
Linda Vista Hospital was known for it’s hauntings before the teams went into the building, in particular when a doctor was killed by gang members when he couldn’t save one of their members.
Zak Bagans hosts the show, and his judges included Shermer, Dave Schrader who wrote The Other Side and has a talk radio show and paranormal investigator Ursula Bielski.
Bagans said he picked the very different teams because one group was very emotional and Paranormal EXP was very logical and scientific.
“I feel it’s a responsibility in helping a family cope with a loved one and help them move on,” Lindsey said.
They toured the hospital with a set of devices and Gates said he felt chills when they entered one particular room at the hospital. Lindsey actually challenged any entity to come over and attack him or scratch him and he repeated, “Touch me, touch me” over and over again.
The team did not win any money on the show, but they hope this provides them enough notoriety that they will be sought after.
I've been with them when they went to The World Famous Comedy Store, located in Hollywood and they offered a tour of Haunted Midnights at The Comedy Store.
Marcus said, “Paranormal research is becoming more and more mainstream now, and it’s taken more seriously by the general public.”
See video and hear recordings of their research on their website: http://www.paranormalexp.com