Drake University Dorm Under Ghostly Investigation

Tony Tandeski ( J4), an assistant residence hall coordinator for Drake University, crawled into bed in his Herriott Hall apartment after a long day of classes and meetings. Just as he was drifting off to sleep, the sound of a deep male voice startled him back to consciousness.

"Just shut it!" the voice demanded.

Positive that his apartment was empty, Tandeski attempted to rationalize the strange voice. Maybe it was the residents on the floor above him, but it didn't sound like anyone he knew.

"That is definitely not one of the freshman boys," Tandeski said.

This was just one of many curious happenings in Herriott Hall, leading residents to deem it haunted.

"People said the showers were going on and off when no one was in them, or people have reported being touched when no one is around," said Marissa Lawson ( J3), a Herriott RA.

Lawson also reported hearing the mysterious voice that Tandeski had heard in her own room at a different time. The voice told Lawson to "stop talking."

"Apparently it's demanding," Tandeski said with a laugh.

Tandeski and Lawson decided to find out what was going on, so who did they call?

The Iowa Ghost Hunters!

The Iowa Ghost Hunters, formally known as the Iowa Paranormal Advanced Research Team (IPART), are members of The Atlantic Paranormal Society, or TAPS family, known for the science fiction show "Ghost Hunters."

According to IPART's Web site, iowaghosthunters. com, the organization promises to "bring professionalism, personality and confidentiality to each case we investigate. We will then help you understand some of the nature of the problem, supplying you with the information to understand why this is happening and how little danger is actually involved."

According to their Web site, IPART usually conducts an investigation of a house - or in this case, a college dormitory - "using equipment that can measure and record the paranormal," including voice and video recorders.

"They bring cameras and set them up throughout the night," Lawson said. "Then they store (the recording) on a hard drive so they can go back and look at it later, like when things show up in pictures that you don't see before they're developed."

Tandeksi said the ghost hunters use electronic voice perception as well. "It's kind of the same thing - you go back and listen to see if you hear anything you missed before," he said.

On the night of March 15, after all the dorm's residents had left for Spring Break, about 15 IPART members trained in detecting the supernatural set up shop in Herriott Hall. While there, several of the ghost hunters saw a basement shower turn on and off seemingly of its own accord, and three others witnessed a heavy, metal trash can slide across the floor unaided. Another team member reported seeing the silhouette of a hand reaching for the door handle of a second floor fire escape.

Additional findings included an electromagnetic field over Tandeski's bed. According to the Ghost Research Foundation's Web site, an electromagnetic field occurs any time electricity passes through a wire or an appliance that is operating. When using an EMF detector, hunters must first rule out any possible sources of the field, including wiring, running appliances or nearby buildings.

"We checked under my bed and in the room for electronics that could be causing it, but there weren't any," Tandeski said. "Then when we checked above my bed again, (the EMF reading) was gone."

According to ghostrus.com, a field that seems to move or appears and disappears while the background readings remain constant may indicate paranormal activity. There was also an unexplained, high-pitched scream during the night. The only people in the hall at the time were Lawson, Tandeski and the ghost hunters, and no one said they screamed. In fact, the ghost hunters who were upstairs at the time said they didn't even hear it, even though, according to Tandeski, the scream sounded like it came from the stairwell.

Despite the unusual occurrences, the ghost hunters will not consider anything to be definite proof of the paranormal until they analyze their footage. They collected approximately six hours of video and audio information, and it is expected to take about two weeks to examine it all.

However, Tandeski and Lawson both said they "definitely" believe in ghosts.

"Especially after everything (that's happened)," Lawson said. "I've always believed, though. And we tried explaining these things through science, but we can't."

"Yeah, we always try explaining it first," Tandeski said. "It's not like we're just jumping to conclusions. I'm a skeptic at heart."

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