Galena, Illinois Restaurant's Paranormal Past and Present

Blackness conceals the two men.

Crouched in a corner, they linger in the attic, listening to discern late-night reverberations from other-worldly echoes.

A creak slashes the silence. An eerie hush descends in its wake.

Tom Froelich whispers into his radio, "Is anybody moving downstairs?"

The speaker in his hand crackles as the answer comes.

"Not. One. Inch."

Galena's ghosts had arrived.

A paranormal past

Jack Coulter remained on the main level of his Galena eatery, One Eleven Main. As far as he was concerned, professionals could handle this.

Wares zooming off shelves, voices taunting staff, invisible hands tapping customers -- the stories spread long before Coulter opened his restaurant in November. Only after he and his staff encountered apparitions and phenomenons did he come forward, he said.

"I suppose seeing is believing," he said. "I think there's a thin veil between life and death, and I think that veil is a little thinner here."

Perhaps the place's past provides the paranormal prerequisites. The building once housed Illinois' first mortuary and later a casket-making company. But Coulter did not seek a reason from the Chicago Paranormal Detectives as they investigated during the darkest hours between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

Coulter sought proof.

And he believes he got it.

Death and beyond

Rob Fabiani wears a gold chain around his wrist and neck. A cigar remains lodged between his lips. His arms are muscular, and he scowls when concentrating. In short, he's not the cop to tick off, and the homicide detective questions the unliving with the same intensity he does tracking death.

He and Tom Froelich co-founded the ghostbusters-like organization almost 18 months ago, several years after Fabiani stumbled across ghoulish evidence in a routine police investigation. Since then, two more police officers have joined ranks, plus a few crew members to tape the adventures for a television pilot. The supernatural stunner in the mix is Galena medium, Moriah Rhame.

Heat sensors, infrared lights, audio recorders, electromagnetic field detectors and computers help the group authenticate or disprove what once were rumors or fears.

"The thing is, ghosts, spirits, whatever you call them, don't act on cue. You can't make them show up just because you want them to," Fabiani said. "And if we do encounter something, we can't shoot it. We don't stand a fighting chance. At that point, it's like, 'Do you want to sit down and chat?'"

Ghostly arrival

Around 3:45 a.m., "Vincent" appeared.

Problem was, he reportedly did so through the restaurant's chef, Ryan Boughton -- the same man who captured three spectres in a picture now framed in the building's lobby.

According to Froelich, sensors started beeping and a light shined on Boughton, who then spoke in a voice unlike his own, saying, "I don't like you here. I want you out. I don't trust you." He called himself Vincent.

Boughton remembers the night up to the point and after the incident, but for five minutes, he recalls nothing.

"I know something happened. I just don't know what," he said.

Another Galena man understands the feeling.

Construction contractor Mike Harris was completing the bar area in the building when he turned to see a young boy. When he looked back, the boy vanished.

From then on, Harris counts himself a believer, despite plenty of scepticism on the subject.

"I don't think (seeing the ghost) has changed me, really," he said. "But you know what it has done? It's given me relief, because there's always that doubt in the back of your mind that you're not exactly positive what happens after you're deceased. But now, I definitely know there's something, and that -- that's a nice feeling."


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