By Jamie Solis
IE’s paranormal investigation team takes on Downtown Riverside
What would you do if there was a perverted spirit in your bathroom who stole your money and shared a preference of you wearing silky panties? These aren’t obscure occurrences from horror films like The Conjuring or The Shining . . . these are documented findings of a paranormal investigation team right here in the Inland Empire.
As humans born into this chaotic world, we’re given one guarantee with life, and that is the inevitability of facing death one day. There are countless uncertainties surrounding our encounter the grim reaper, and it’s quite normal for one to develop a curiosity into what the afterlife entails. Despite your religion, beliefs or faith, there’s no absolute way of knowing for a fact what follows life. However, a group of curious individuals may have found a way of validating that the other side does exist. These brave analysts are the paranormal investigation team Cal~Para Research.
I was lucky enough to meet up with four members of the Cal~Para Research team at a haunted location that they’ve had intelligent communication with spirits at in the past. The investigation took place in the beautiful and historic downtown area of Riverside that is home to wide streets lined with historic buildings. Americans first began settling in Riverside as early as 1873, while it was home to the Spanish colonials before then, and Native Americans lived on the land even earlier. It’s safe to say that there are generations on top of generations of potential spirits lingering on this land—a perfect place for my first ghost hunt.
It’s a hot fall night and I find myself standing outside Downtowne Bookstore. The white stringed lights hanging against the brick building illuminate a path down a narrow walkway towards the entrance of the bookstore. The sun has set for the day, but there’s still enough light to make the experience feel less creepy. After all, I know I’m heading into a location that has been deemed a hot spot for paranormal activity. Upon entering the quirky bookstore, a friendly and inviting woman behind the counter smiled at me and graciously offered her assistance. I introduced myself, and she eagerly let me in on the many ghost stories that have happened within this old brick building.
While the exact history of the building is largely unknown, the owner of Downtowne Bookstore, Nadia, shared the little knowledge she has about its past. In 1927, this building was home to the newspaper Enterprise before merging with the well-known publication that’s still around today, Press Enterprise. At some point trophies were made here, and later it housed a record store. By 1974 it was a bookstore, which it still is today. Nadia has been here for 11 years, and throughout the years there have been countless instances that make her believe in the ghosts that inhabit Downtowne Bookstore. The first clue to the haunting was when Nadia and her sister opened up shop in ‘03. She explained, “On the top shelf, one book, we both saw it, eased out and dropped—all on its own, no earthquake, no wind, just all on its little lonesome.” Aside from this, Nadia frequently hears unfamiliar and unexplainable noises. Since then, Nadia and her sister have had multiple paranormal groups come to investigate the bookstore, and each group has had similar findings.
Nadia met the Cal~Para Research team when she was spending a day at the bookstore. Cal~Para had gotten a tip that all the downtown buildings lining Main St. are haunted, so they came by door to door offering their paranormal investigating services. Nadia graciously accepted, which started a long friendship of allowing the investigators to research this location frequently. The team has even installed a live-feed camera (a para-cam) in the basement, which catches footage between midnight and 4a.m. The first time Cal~Para Investigators came to the Downtowne Bookstore they caught an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) on a digital audio recorder. An investigator asked the simple question out-loud to the spirits, “Can you come over?” The recorder picked up a clear EVP response, “No, I’m dead.”
Downtowne Bookstore has had multiple instances of validation of the paranormal world existing within it. A photograph that was taken when Cal~Para first investigated this location years ago shows a glowing orb hovering in the basement—a proven hot spot for spirit activity. The hard evidence as well as the personal experiences that Nadia and her sister have had in the store validate their beliefs. Nadia assured me, “We really believe something’s here.”
Keep an Open Mind
After speaking with Nadia, I knew it was time to meet the Cal~Para Research team. I looked around for the ghost hunters, but didn’t see them anywhere . . . there was absolutely no one wearing white jumpsuits or oversized ghost hunting machines that resembled backpacks. Instead, Nadia pointed me to her right, where a group of friendly and regular looking women and one man were sitting in a circle. Here I’m introduced to my paranormal team for the evening, Kd the director and lead investigator, Jean the assistant director and lead investigator, Sue the investigator and John the web developer and investigator.
Made up of a group of about 20 individuals, the Cal~Para Research investigators are far from the GhostBusters portrayed in television and movies. These confident members all bring different strengths and perspectives to the group. Many in the team are self-described as “sensitive.”
While you may be more familiar with the terms medium or psychic, these individuals prefer to avoid the preconceived assumptions that may come with these labels. Rather, they have different levels of sensitivity into perceiving the spirits and paranormal world. On the other hand, there are also those in the group who identify as open-minded with a healthy sense of skepticism. The team’s diversity is centered on an eagerness to find the supernatural and is dependent upon using scientific means to validate their findings. While many of the group members are sensitive, they never base their case-findings off of perceptions alone.
Running into ghost activity seemed highly likely for the night as the team informed me that three spirits hang out in the upper floor of the bookstore, while a child and unfriendly male spirit linger in the basement. Headed down to the dark and book-cluttered basement, we began our ghost hunting session sitting in a circle with multiple investigative tools in the center. Early on, the child spirit showed itself to us by lighting up the K-II (Electron Magnetic Field Meter) twice, which is Kd’s favorite way to communicate with spirits. While the sporadic illumination of the red, green and yellow lights on the K-II shows a spirit may be present, an even more spooky experience that absolutely confirmed the existence of the child ghost within the basement didn’t happened until after the investigation concluded.
Nearly every member of the Cal~Para Research team carries a digital audio recorder, because EVPs are more common that disembodied audible voices that you would hear first hand. The team members frequently get EVPs, hearing the otherworldly voices on the recordings alone, because it takes a lot of energy for a spirit to project their voice from their fourth dimension into our third dimension, but they come through audible on recordings. I personally recorded the entire interview session in the basement, asking the team questions about their different experiences as ghost hunters. It wasn’t until I went home later that evening that I noticed 15 seconds into our basement session that there was a small child laughing on my recording—loudly and clearly. Where had this come from? There were no computers or TVs on . . . let alone any children in the area. I may have been extremely skeptical coming into this experience, but there is no denying this child’s laughter on my recording when nothing was present that could’ve accounted for that sound—it was just five adults in the dark basement. I didn’t hear the laughter at the time, even though the recording sounds as if the child was sitting right next to me. I recall Kd informing me that the spot I chose to sit in was also where they captured a video of white mist hovering—apparently I had chosen to hang out in a known hot spot.
Evidence Doesn’t Lie
The paranormal team shared other stories from previous haunt sessions. One of the investigators, Sue, is convinced the supernatural world exists, because it has reached out and physically touched her. One time in particular, the ghostly touch was backed up by an EVP.
Sue explained, “We were all sitting around doing EVPs, somewhat in the dark, in a young girl’s bedroom. And I just was standing in the doorway and basically just hanging my hands down, and I felt something go like that to me. (tickles the palm of her left hand with her right fingers.) And I thought ‘that’s weird.’ I thought it could be bugs—it was a hot night and we had doors and windows open. But I said something, I said ‘something just touched me . . . touched my hand,’ and we had an EVP, and it sounded like a little child saying ‘it was me.’ So that probably was my most compelling [evidence that the paranormal world exists], because I thought something and we got it confirmed.”
It is common for the team to collect evidence; however the evidence frequently disappears without reason. For example, Jean once captured a shadow dart across a room on her video camera. She went home and shared the tape with her daughter. When she went back to save the video, the three frames that the spirit was originally in had gone completely black—the image had disappeared. John is a skeptic who joined Cal~Para Research to find proof firsthand. He explained, “Once I turned 50, I started thinking about dyin’ so I’m thinkin’ what happens afterwards?” His ultimate goal is to capture a full-bodied apparition one day. On two separate occasions John has caught a visual mist on his video camera, and when he went back to save the image, it was gone. There is no way to explain why this happened without spirit intervention.
Going into this experience skeptical, I was impressed by the findings of the paranormal investigators, as well as my own. After having first-hand experiences and collecting indisputable evidence, my skeptical side has shifted towards open-mindedness. And although I didn’t run into any life-threatening or utterly terrifying events (which I’m grateful for to say the least), I did learn a great amount about the ins-and-outs of ghost hunting.
If you’re convinced that the house you’re living in has some unwanted guests, feel free to call the Cal~Para Investigators. Not only is their service absolutely free, but they pride themselves in keeping your case 100 percent confidential. You may find out that the lingering spirit is really your grandmother watching over your children, which is a common finding. The best advice Cal~Para Research shared would like to share is that you shouldn’t tamper with what you’re not educated about and experienced in when it comes to spirits. After all, you wouldn’t want a spirit attaching itself to you. And one other word of advice . . . whatever you do—don’t burn your Ouiji Board.