So you just made your schedule and got stuck with an 8 am class in West Hall. The building is inconveniently located at the bottom of the hill, sure, but what do you know about the history of it? Last Wednesday, students and staff members accompanied Christopher Moon and John Zaffis on their paranormal investigation of West Hall. Before it was converted to a catholic high school and later an academic building for RPI, West Hall was a hospital originally built in the Civil War era for Irish immigrants who were denied treatment at other facilities. As legend has it, Betsy, who was a nurse at the hospital, now uses the building as her haunting grounds. Whether that is certain or not, the history within the walls made West Hall the perfect site for an investigation.
Christopher Moon, president of Haunted Times Magazine, led the group through the paranormal findings. Moon, a former rock star, is also an instructor at local Ghost Hunter Universities around the country. He attracts guests from all over the world who want to learn first-hand the secrets to finding ghosts. His documentary, “Chasing the Shadows,” follows Moon and his crew on some ghost hunts, where they provide some shocking evidence of communication with spirits. John Zaffis, “Godfather of Ghost Hunting,” has over 30 years of experience investigating paranormal cases that include exorcisms and possessions. He appears in Moon’s documentary, and was featured in “A Haunting in Connecticut,” a Discovery Channel documentary. He is the nephew of Ed and Lorraine Warren, who did an investigation in West Hall in 1999 by sensing energy, but not with technology.
After getting cooperation from the Arts Department and necessary officials on campus, the Rensselaer Union Speakers Forum—along with people from public safety, student activities, and the Arts Department—brought Moon and Zaffis into the boiler room. The space is under the ground floor and had originally been used as a furnace room to heat the building. As soon as they entered the room, electromagnetic field (EMF) detectors were showing abnormal readings. Moon advised the students to start taking pictures, as energy creates orbs that can be seen if the auto-adjust setting is off. These orbs look similar to dust spots, but apparently if the picture is zoomed in, you can almost make out a face in the circle. The room was full of energy, so there were lights showing up in everyone’s pictures.
After the students were done with pictures, Moon prepared a tape recorder to try and catch a conversation between the entities and the investigators in the room. He was very polite, explaining why the group was there, and thanked the spirits for letting the people into their world. Moon talked about the red dot on the recorder and asked the spirits to direct their comments to the dot. Afterward, Moon played the recording back on machines that he had brought with him. The students asked how many spirits were there, to which they heard a response of “80.” They also asked general questions about the spirit’s occupation, age, and feelings toward the people in the room.
After the boiler room, the investigators went to where the Poly office used to be, and the EMF machines again gave them abnormal readings. The visitors were again told to start taking pictures, and Moon hooked up “Edison’s telephone to the dead,” also known as “Frank’s box,” which Edison invented after his mother died to try to communicate with her. The machine is meant to pick up sound frequencies and convert them into real-time audible information. The crowd asked more questions, such as how many people were in the room. When the sound played back, there were three answers: a whisper of a “two,” a “nine,” and a “six.” Moon explained that there could be different levels of energy that might not even be aware of the other levels in the same space. Someone asked about Betsy, to which they heard “Frank knows.” There was also a piano in the room, and the spirit was asked to pluck a string. It made a noise like a musical note and asked if that was okay.
The final room they visited was the auditorium, and the pictures were showing many orbs on the stage. Once everyone sat down in the front row, the energy moved behind them as if the people were being watched, not vice versa. All in all, they were walking around looking for energy for almost four hours, until 12:30 am.
The next evening, Moon and Zaffis gave a lecture in the DCC sharing the information they gathered. While some people were skeptical of the findings, the two showed pictures of the orbs around the students and discussed the noises heard on the tape. The audience could choose to believe or not, but the evidence provided was shocking.
The Speaker’s Forum is a group of students under the direction of Cameron McLean. They are dedicated to bringing in lecture programs that both entertain and inform by taking academic teachings one step further outside the classroom.