Followup: Drake University Dorm Under Ghostly Investigation

Previous report April 2008 Drake University Dorm Under Ghostly Investigation

"SPOOKY1" reads the license plate on the white truck that sits in a gravel driveway of a farmhouse outside of Waukee, Iowa.

There is nothing else to see but fields of corn and empty gravel roads. It would indeed be spooky if the sun weren't shining brightly in the cloudless blue sky.

This is the headquarters of the Iowa Paranormal Advanced Research Team and home of Dan Berger. Berger is the IPART General Manager and TAPS Regional Manager. He is a friendly guy who one wouldn't expect to be a full-time ghost hunter. But Berger speaks about the paranormal as casually as a businessman might speak about his office work, although far more passionately.

"There are a lot of people who're so shocked that there is actually a group in Iowa doing this," Berger said. "We're here to help the clients. My passion is to help people."

Ghost hunting is a full- time hobby of Berger's and the other investigators in IPART. It is an unpaid job that involves long investigations and even longer hours of analyzing gathered footage.

"We usually have investigations two or three times a month and collect anywhere from five to 10 hours of footage," Berger said. "Then we have to review and reexamine the footage."

This spring, Berger and his team conducted an investigation at Drake University's Herriott Hall on suspicions of paranormal activities.

"On the basement level, some investigators thought they heard the water in the showers running," Berger said. "But what we found was that the plumbing in those showers was so bad that the leaking just never stopped. So we debunked that."

The investigation team also used an Electromagnetic Field (EMF) detector to look for spikes of electricity, which may indicate a paranormal presence. 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.

"There was a lot of activity in Tony (Tandeski)'s (J'08) room. The EMF detector went off the charts two feet above his bed, but when it was lowered down to the mattress, there was nothing there," said Vicki Stinson, senior archivist and team leader for IPART. "It was very unusual."

Other unusual occurrences included unexplained coughing and sneezing noises from the third floor bathroom. Investigators tried to duplicate the noise after they heard it, but it did not sound the same. Another investigator thought he saw the shadow of a man in the hallway, but the quality of the video wasn't good enough to make an accurate call.

"When we were on the first floor, one of the doors started shaking violently," Stinson said. "We all got very excited, until we realized it was only security checking to make sure the door was locked. So you just can't assume it's paranormal. You really have to check it out."

At the end of the investigation, a few investigators heard a bathroom door on the fourth floor slam shut. The door had been held open with a heavy, metal trashcan.

"We spent an extra half hour trying to debunk that; I tried giving the door a little push to get it started, but it just wouldn't move again," Berger said. "I can't say that it was paranormal, but I couldn't figure it out."

Berger rated the Herriott investigation an average three on a scale of one to 10. He does not believe there is an active, malevolent force present in the residence hall.

"Sometimes there's just residual energy left that plays over and over like a broken record. It can trigger these little events, but it isn't malicious," Berger said. "There's nothing to be afraid of."

The ghost hunters believe that people can coexist with paranormal forces that are present. Berger and Stinson said IPART is there to help people understand these occurrences and calm their fears.

"Nothing really outstanding happened during the (Herriott) investigation," Stinson said. "But who knows? All the remodeling could have stirred up some energy."

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